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Energy & Utilities

How CleanCo Queensland is powering a cleaner energy future

9 Jan 2023, by Amy Sarcevic

Since taking on the role of Chief Executive at CleanCo Queensland in July 2022, Tom Metcalfe has been at the helm of a 1100MW portfolio of low-emission and clean energy generators.

He oversees two run-of-river hydros in far north Queensland, the state’s only pumped hydro at Wivenhoe, and one of Australia’s most efficient combined-cycle gas generators at Swanbank.

However, Mr Metcalfe says CleanCo is only starting out in its journey, with the organisation’s portfolio set to grow exponentially over the next decade.

Ahead of the Queensland Energy Conference, Mr Metcalfe discusses CleanCo’s plans to harness the abundant natural resources and skilled workforce of Queensland and help the state thrive in a net zero future.

Reutilising retired fossil fuel infrastructure to support environmental and social outcomes

CleanCo is thinking innovatively about how it can accommodate new renewable energy generation and storage; at the same time, supporting positive social and economic outcomes for local communities.

Among its portfolio of work to this end, the organisation is currently looking at options to redevelop the Swanbank Power Station Precinct in Ipswich.

Mr Metcalfe said CleanCo is bringing the retired coal generating precinct “into the 21st Century” and is exploring the site’s potential to host renewables, utility-scale energy storage, and hydrogen production.

“Transforming coal generation sites to clean energy hubs is a key initiative of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan and we are taking that step with Swanbank,” he said.

Parts of the site will also be redeveloped to enhance community amenity and support social outcomes in the surrounding area.

“The idea is to combine our own aspirations around renewable power and storage with the needs and expectations of the community.

“To this end, we will invite the community to collaborate on the redevelopment through an authentic co-design process, giving them genuine input over how we utilise parts of the site we aren’t dedicating to energy production and storage.”

While Mr Metcalfe says there are some non-negotiables, all reasonable ideas will be considered.

“It isn’t, “tell us what you think of this idea” but rather, “what does the community need?” But of course, there are some features of the site that will need to be considered when planning community spaces – we need to continue operating the Swanbank E Gas-fired Power Station, and other parts of the site will require some rehabilitation.”

Around the corner

For CleanCo, the stage is already set for a big year in 2023, with around 600MW of wind and solar energy to come online progressively over the next six months. This energy will come from three different renewable projects CleanCo has invested in:

· Western Downs Green Energy Hub – at 400MW, the project is being developed by Neoen and is set to be Australia’s largest solar farm. CleanCo has a 320MW power purchase agreement.
· Kaban Green Power Hub – the cornerstone of the North Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), the 157MW wind farm is being developed by Neoen. CleanCo has a capacity purchase agreement.
· Dulacca Wind Farm – the 180MW wind farm being developed by RES is ideally located in the Western Downs region. CleanCo has a 126MW power purchase agreement.

CleanCo also has a 400MW power purchase agreement with Acciona helping to underpin the 1GW MacIntyre Wind Farm – the largest onshore wind farm in the southern hemisphere which is due to come online in 2024.

The renewable energy generated by these projects will supply some of CleanCo’s largest customers including BHP and Coles.

With a significant number of growth projects in the pipeline, and a mandate to propel the energy transformation forward, Mr Metcalfe says he is excited about CleanCo’s future.

He will talk further about projects at the Queensland Energy Conference, to be held 22-23 February 2023 at the Rydges South Bank Brisbane.

Joining Mr Metcalfe on the stage are Paul Martyn, Director-General, Department of Energy and Public Works, Queensland Government and Chris Shaw, Deputy Director-General | Hydrogen, Department of Energy and Public Works, Queensland Government.

Learn more and register your place here.

Tom Metcalfe

Mr Metcalfe has more than 30 years’ experience in the global energy sector. As President of both We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service in the United States, Mr Metcalfe oversaw the delivery of gas and electricity to approximately 3 million customers. In his prior role as Executive Vice President at We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service he had responsibility for almost 8000MW of generation. Mr Metcalfe’s wide-ranging experience includes renewable and non-renewable generation where he has had responsibility for development, construction, operations and maintenance. He also led essential support organisations, including engineering, planning, training, safety and environmental sustainability. Mr Metcalfe has successfully delivered more than 5000MW of new generation in the United Kingdom, Asia, Australia and the United States. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree with honors from De Montfort University.


Visit Queensland Energy Conference Website

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