Adani Renewables’ ongoing bid for regulatory approval for its long-delayed 140MW Whyalla solar farm in South Australia is back in the lap of the state’s Essential Services Commission after an updated application for an electricity generation licence was submitted on Wednesday.
The updated application – the original was submitted all the way back in November of 2018 – was submitted by fully-owned Adani subsidiary Whyalla Renewables, and seeks a licence to operate the Whyalla solar power generator starting next month.
“Licence to Operate the Whyalla Solar Farm is sought from 15th of April 2020, as we require certainty for the project,” the application says.
“Also the Licence is a pre-requisite to AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) registration, therefore, we require the licence and finalised technical conditions from ESCOSA to finalise the GPS and AEMO Registration,” it adds.
The amended application appears to change the project “contact person” nominated by Whyalla Renewables, and the date sought for the licence, which was originally set at a hopeful December 04, 2018. The new application again states the project has no battery storage planned.
The Whyalla solar farm, 385km north of Adelaide, was announced about three years ago and was originally intended to be completed in early 2019.
And while all necessary approvals for construction were finalised last year, lingering uncertainty around grid connection and off-take partners has kept the $200 million project in limbo.
The project would be located close to the Whyalla Steelworks, which was bought by UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, who intends to construct a total of 1GW of solar and storage to reduce the plant’s energy costs, and for other major energy users in the state.
And in an ironical twist to the tale, Adani – which is also the proponent of the highly controversial Carmichael coal project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – in April last year raised objections to one of Gupta’s Whyalla solar projects, citing concern over the impact on two bird species.
The objection, revealed in planning documents filed to South Australia’s State Planning Commission, referred to the 280MW Cultana solar farm, designed to provide power to the Whyalla Steelworks, and located right next to the Adani Renewables project.
Whether this comes back to bite the company remains to be seen – the new application will be subject to a public consultation and submissions period closing on April 09, 2020.