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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1249 asked in the Legislative Council on 24 October 2019 by Hon Robin Scott

Minister responding: Hon W.J. Johnston
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on


1249. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the minister representing the Minister for Energy:

It has been reported that the federal government will provide a taxpayer-funded loan of $114.4 million to the Chichester solar gas hybrid project in the state's north.

(1) What has been the state government's involvement in the approvals of this project?

(2) Does the minister concede that solar power is only effective as long as the sun is out, and the weather is fine?

(3) When a mine site typically operates 24 hours a day, does the minister concede that solar power alone cannot sustainably provide a mine site with the required power across any given day?

(4) When a Canadian company has offered to supply such mine sites with nuclear power at no cost whatsoever to the taxpayer, does the minister agree that we should have discussions about nuclear power as an option for our state?


I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question. The following information has been provided to me by the Minister for Energy.

(1) Alinta Energy holds integrated regional licences for generation and transmission. Information on approvals specific to this project is not available at short notice. It should be noted that the state is the lender of record under a master facility agreement signed between the state government, the commonwealth government and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

(2)–(3) Large parts of Western Australia's world-class resources provenances coincide with world-class solar resources. While solar obviously does not provide power 24 hours a day, solar is nonetheless of considerable value to energy users, including mine sites. Solar power, backed up or firmed, with battery storage and traditional generation such as gas or diesel, can reduce the total amount of fuel used at a site, reduce fuel and fuel transport costs, and reduce the project's greenhouse gas emissions. There is a rapidly increasing number of projects, like the Chichester solar gas hybrid, that aim to combine gas or diesel generation technology with new renewable technologies, new storage technologies, and new control system technologies into energy supply systems optimised to meet their specific needs at the lowest cost. This innovation is essential to a highly competitive future for the state's resources sector and should be given every support.

(4) Mining companies are not asking the state for nuclear power. They know full well that the state's outstanding renewable energy resources and the state's stable, reliable, competitive gas supplies offer well-proven and lower cost energy solutions than hypothetical nuclear applications, without the risks.