Yet more gigawatt-scale plans for solar farm development in Australia have been revealed, with German-based Wirsol Energy and new Australian player Renew Estate announcing the joint development of a proposed 1GW plus project pipeline, starting immediately.
The companies said on Thursday that the ambitious solar pipeline – 400MW of which they say is already underway, and set for construction in 2018 – would include storage-ready projects, “ready for the next-generation of renewables development in Australia.”
RenewEconomy reached out to Renew Estates for more detail on the solar plans, and is awaiting a reply. But comments in the companies’ media release suggest existing coal hubs like Victoria’s Latrole Valley and the Hunter Valley in NSW are considered ideal sites for solar and storage.
News of the two companies’ plans follows the March announcement by Wirsol – which has already delivered more than 1GW of solar projects in Europe – of its successful entrance into the Australian market, with the acquisition of three new large-scale solar projects totalling 198MW.
And in May, the German head-quartered Wirsol opened an office in Sydney, as a base for its growing plans for both Australia and the broader region.
The partnership – the two companies will be co-located in the Sydney suburb of Manly – says it is already looking further afield, as well, and was in the process of identifying several development opportunities in the wider Australia-Pacific, with projects in Fiji and New Zealand showing “particular promise.”
Renew Estate says it will be “supported” in the solar venture with Wirsol by global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, as well as by ACT-based energy advisory firm, Beast Solutions.
Simon Currie, who is the global head of energy at Norton Rose Fulbright said the “innovative partnership” would focus on delivering “future-ready” projects incorporating storage and enhancing the reliability of Australia’s grid system, and should look to build renewables in the nation’s former coal hubs.
“Dramatic falls in the cost of solar and wind energy and storage technologies mean we can now plan for a zero carbon future with affordable, reliable and sustainable energy,” Currie said in comments on Thursday.
“The renewable energy industry should look for opportunities to regenerate and repurpose existing hubs like Port Augusta and the La Trobe and Hunter Valleys.”
Renew Estate director, Byron Serjeantson, echoed the importance of future-ready renewable energy projects – a topic that also featured prominently in the Finkel Review of Australia’s energy market security.
“Great renewables projects will benefit all stakeholders; starting with the community and landowners, local government and industry and all Australians, who ultimately benefit from a cleaner and cheaper source of energy,” Serjeantson said.
“By bringing together the right team and working hard at what we do, we aim to be a key contributor to a strong and well-regarded renewables industry of the future.
“Watch this space.”
Wirsol managing director, Mark Hogan said his company was “delighted” to be working with Renew Estate, and hoped to bring a fresh approach to solar development in the Australian market.
“We have already successfully entered the Australia market with the acquisition of the first large scale portfolio of solar farm projects (200MW in QLD and VIC),” Hogan said.
“We have delivered over 1GW of innovative solar projects in Europe and are now committed to developing a portfolio across Australia”.