Getting into the Den of Coal Power Generation, is solar power in Swanbank a possibility?


Swanbank lies about 6 miles southeast of the city of Ipswich and 25 miles southwest of Brisbane central business district. Bordered by Ripley on one side, Swanbank is a suburb of the city of Ipswich. This study tries to measure the challenges and the potential for solar power in Swanbank.

Swanbank is primarily an industrial and commercial area. Land usage in this area for a long time has been allocated for setting up industries. Even more so Swanbank is the center of electrical power generation in the area of Southeast Queensland. There are quite a few challenges for solar power in Swanbank.

Surrounded by creeks and lakes Swanbank provided ideal ground for setting up thermal power plants. The Swanbank power plant was commissioned in 1966 to serve the area around Ipswich and greater Brisbane. Since then the Power plant has grown manifold.

Over the years the Swanbank power station added 4 more power plants. Swanbank A was the first and with Swanbank B are two primary coal burning power generators. Swanbank C, D and E were sequentially opened and all these were gas powered turbines, which have lower emissions compared to the coal plant. Of these Swanbank E is the largest and the cleanest in relation to the amount of power it produces.

However, the Queensland government owned Power Company which runs the power station decided to close the Swanbank E power station as selling the gas on the market was much more profitable than actually producing electricity from it and then selling it as power. This was a regressive step as to step up any shortfall another coal powered station which was closed some time ago is going to be re-started.

The area in an around Swanbank is primarily populated by Industrial and commercial parks. There are many production and holding facilities for a lot of companies in and around the area which require a lot of electrical power.

Currently Queensland has a huge oversupply of electricity. There is also lot more power generation plants than required. Most of the power consumption in Queensland goes to commercial and industrial requirements with household and public requirements being a small fraction of the total demand.

The scope of solar power in Swanbank is very limited as of now. With power over production and cheap prices for industrial clients, there is very little need or initiative to change from thermal power to solar power. However some of the requirements can be reduced through prudent planning.

Newer establishments can definitely put solar power to reduce power consumption from the grid. Although conventional power will remain a mainstay, business houses in Swanbank can afford to put solar power for non-essential functions which can be left on autopilot.

With the planned development of the Ripley area just south of Ipswich, solar power can make inroads into at least lower power requirement areas. The industrial areas around Swanbank will be hard to change in the near future, especially with more supply than demand. Solar power in Swanbank will have to find ways to cut down the coal burning and emissions overtime by encouraging solar power strategically.