- Townsville City Council in Queensland has given conditional approval for a parcel of land to be used for a polysilicon factory
- Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners plans to build the fab and use the output for its solar and battery manufacturing investments globally
- It has also partnered with Solquartz to integrate its metallurgical silicon metal processing plant in the complex with the polysilicon fab
Upstream solar manufacturing is on its way to Australia after private equity firm Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners secured a major parcel of land in Queensland, Australia to build a large state-of-the-art polysilicon manufacturing factory.
The Townsville City Council has granted Quinbrook conditional allocation of 200-hectare land in Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct that’s being developed on a total 2,200-hectare land as an environmentally sustainable, advanced manufacturing processing and technology hub.
Quinbrook has proposed to develop the polysilicon plant at Lansdown due to the ‘access to low-cost-renewable power’ here. The production facility will be powered by a large-scale solar and storage project that will be located on adjacent land.
This aspect will make the project one among the greenest polysilicon plants in the world, according to the project company.
High-quality silica quartz for the factory will be sourced from North Queensland. Quartz and silicon mining company Solquartz, which has secured 64 hectares of land at the precinct to develop a metallurgical silicon metal processing plant, has been roped in by Quinbrook to integrate the project into its larger polysilicon manufacturing plant (see Silicon & Solar Module Fab In Australia).
However, polysilicon produced here has strategic value for Quinbrook as its Senior Director Brian Restall explained, “We have strong relationships with and are a major customer of leading solar and battery manufacturers across the globe – meaning components manufactured here in Townsville will be exported to these leading manufacturers and made into finished solar modules and batteries.”
He added, “Our aim is that Quinbrook will ultimately purchase that equipment for our global power generation projects with total confidence in the supply chain that produced them. This is a ‘win win’ outcome.”
Notably, Quinbrook is invested in the world’s largest planned solar and storage project, the AAPowerLink with up to 20 GW and 42 GWh capacity, respectively (see Mike Cannon-Brookes Takes Over AAPowerLink Project).
The council has included a strict timeline for the project to come to fruition under the land allocation terms. Quinbrook plans to start work on the project once the right operating partner is chosen by the company.
With hardly any domestic solar PV production capacity and growing demand for this renewable energy generation, Australia needs to own fully integrated silicon and solar cell supply chain to de-risk the overall solar supply chain, according to a CSIRO report from December 2022 (see Call For Fully Integrated Australian Solar Supply Chain).