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Shell unveils 120 MW Queensland PV project, to supply QGC onshore gas operations

Shell Australia has “well advanced” plans for a 120 MW utility scale PV array to supply its QGC onshore gas operations in northern Queensland. The announcement was made Shell Australia Chairman Zoe Yujnovich during a speech today, in which she pointed to an Australian “energy transition” in which “electrons will play a bigger role”.

The QGC operations sprawl across a landmass the size of Belgium and is Shell’s largest LNG project globally. Image: Shell

Fossil fuel giant Shell’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations globally is set to be partly supplied by PV power. Shell Australia announced the move today, which will come in the form of a 120 MW solar farm to be developed on land that forms some of its QGC fracking operations in Queensland. The gas is liquefied, in an energy intensive process, at the 8.5 million tonne Curtis Island export facility near Gladstone – the company’s biggest LNG operation globally.

Shell Chair Zoe Yujnovich announced the large scale solar project today, which she says “If green-light” will reduce the carbon footprint of the company’s Queensland gas extraction activities. She was speaking at a Melbourne Mining Club event today at the Melbourne Town Hall.

“The solar project concept supports our global pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations,” said Yujnovic.

The project is slated to be located near the town of Wandoan, adjacent to the QGC Woleebee Creek Operations Hub.

No indication was made as to when Shell would make the solar project investment decision, although it would likely finance the move from its own balance sheet. No timeline for the project, or decision has also been provided.

During the speech Yujnovich spoke to the external factors that influence investment decisions for Shell, and in the wider energy industry. She argued forcefully for gas exports to continue to be facilitated, but also pointed to the urgent need for certainty regarding energy policy. “As our resources projects span several terms of government, and the last thing this industry needs are policy backflips and turmoil,” said Yujnovich.

“The forthcoming election should signal to the legislators and policy makers what Australians want: cross-party agreement on energy and climate policies.”

While the Shell Australia executive noted that while producing and supplying LNG will remain the company’s focus, it is “considering” how best to serve its customers in light of the Australian energy transition. Shell Energy Australia was established in 2017 to play a bigger role in the east-coast gas market. The company acquired the QGC operations in 2016, through its acquisition of BG.

“The energy transition will fundamentally change the energy Australians need and want, and we see great opportunities to bring compelling offers to market,” said Yujnovich.

Sonnen hits 3,000 Australian sales

Yujnovich also pointed the role battery supplier sonnen is playing in supplying Australian customers. During the speech she noted that sonnen has supplied 3,000 battery systems to Australian households, “and has plans for growing their business here.”

In May 2018, Shell Ventures led a €60 million investment round into sonnen, which was targeted at financing the company’s expansion into the Australian and U.S. markets.

Shell has been widely tipped to acquire sonnen outright, or dramatically increase its stake in the residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) battery supplier in 2019. A Shell Australia spokesperson refused to be drawn as to whether on such “speculation”.

Sonnen began assembling batteries in South Australia late 2018, and has qualified for the South Australian Government’s Home Battery Scheme. It targets a production of 10,000 batteries a year at its Australian production facility, looking to supply both the Australian a wider Asia-Pacific markets.

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