Adani’s Whyalla 140MW solar plant set for construction in 2018

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Green industrial revolution continues at Whyalla, with Adani Group’s 140MW solar farm approved for construction.

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Indian energy giant Adani Group has received the green light to begin building a 140MW solar farm north of Whyalla in South Australia, the company’s second major large-scale solar project to get the nod for development in Australia in the past two weeks.

Adani – which is perhaps best known in Australia for its controversial plans to develop the nation’s largest coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – said on Wednesday it would begin construction of the $200 million PV project some time next year, after receiving development approval.

The plant, to be located 10km north of Whyalla on SA’s Port Lincoln Highway, will generate 100MW, with potential capacity of 140MW, with the addition of battery storage said to be under consideration for the solar farm.

It is proposed the power will be injected into the 132kv network between the Whyalla Central and Cultana substations.

The approval for the SA plant follows news from two weeks ago that Adani was ready to start work by on a 100-200MW solar farm proposed for south-west of Moranbah in Queensland’s Bowen Basin – the heart of Australian coal country.

As we reported here, the chief of Adani Australia’s renewable energy division, Jennifer Purdie said work would begin on the first 65MW of the Rugby Run Solar Farm by the end of the year, after Adani gained development approval from the Isaac Regional Council.

Like the Rugby Run project, the Whyalla project is significant for its location, in a steel manufacturing hub that is at the centre of a green industrial revolution.

Helping to lead this revolution is UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, who last week followed up his purchase of the bankrupt Whyalla steelworks with the purchase of a majority stake in Zen Energy, the Adelaide-based solar and battery storage company chaired by economist Professor Ross Garnaut.

As Garnaut told Reneweconomy last Thursday, SIMEC Zen, as the new joint venture will be called, hopes to reduce energy costs at Whyalla by at least the 30 per cent achieved by Gupta when he took over British Steel and transformed its energy supply to majority-based renewables.

“We think we can do at least that,” Garnaut says. Zen is looking to an 80MW solar plant near Whyalla, as well as pumped hydro in nearby exhausted iron ore mines. EnergyAustralia is also looking at pumped hydro at Cultana.

As for Adani’s Whyalla solar plant, the company says it is committed to commencing works in 2018, and could be generating power by early 2019.

In May, Adani signed a contract to source $73 million worth of Whyalla steel that would be used to construct a double-tracked rail link between its Carmichael mine site and a port at Abbot Point.

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.

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8 Comments
  1. Joe 1 year ago

    ‘Adani’…and…’RE’…this can’t be right. Is this some sort of green washing exercise by Adani. If they are so into these new Solar projects then what is the point of that environmental abomination…The Carmichael Mega Coalmine.

    • George Darroch 1 year ago

      Not at all. Their business is making money, and if this government is going to help them, then they’re going to take our money for coal.

      I think they’re realised that the tide has turned though.

    • Mike Westerman 1 year ago

      Google them – they have a lot of RE in India, and big plans for RE in Australia.

    • stucrmnx120fshwf 1 year ago

      Yes, it’s Alice in wonderland stuff, the price falls in solar and storage, have been consistently underestimated, capacity produced, underestimated by at least an order of magnitude. But Tony Seba, isn’t the one they’re listening to, it’s Tony Abbot, why not give a coal miner, a free $1 billion railway to nowhere, because it’ll be a stranded asset, by the time construction, even commences.

  2. BushAxe 1 year ago

    The tsunami approaches, run Tony run! Be interesting to see who picks up the PPA, retailer or industrial customer?

  3. Matt 1 year ago

    So five years from now there will well and truly be days where SA makes 100% RE assuming network can accommodate and regulators allow it . Anyone think that storage and export will be in catch up mode? Seems at least some of the time, there will be so much energy they wont have anywhere to put it.

    • BushAxe 1 year ago

      Yep, the need for PHES and an interconnector with NSW within the next five years is critical now. There’s 500MW of solar and 228MW of wind to be built in the next 18 months. Then there’s another 500MW of each looking good after that.

      • Malcolm M 1 year ago

        Need to first use the Heywood inter-connector to its thermal capacity of 1150 MW, whereas it is currently limited to 500 MW for export and 600 MW for import.

        There would be large transmission losses of ~20% on the NSW inter-connector, compared with ~10% via Heywood. According to files on the AEMO website, the Broken Hill gas generator and solar farm receive prices 20% less than the NSW reference price because of the transmission losses of taking the power to load centres, whereas power exported via Heywood joins the Vic 500 kV network, which has huge capacity and minimal thermal losses.

        The wind farm investors who have collectively lost ~$5m in renewable energy certificates since the SA curtailment began in June 2017 should offer to fund a more detailed study with AEMO to develop more evidence-based operational rules for inertia in the SA market. AEMO’s most recent study didn’t include synthetic inertia from the 100 MW big battery, which would be sufficient to cover the tripping of any of the gas generators. Once this is operational it should be feasible to increase export limits from SA to Vic via Heywood, and also to reduce the minimum number of gas generators operating in SA.

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