The new 150MW Coleambally solar farm in south-west New South Wales – the biggest solar farm in the country so far – is setting new records, both in terms of output, and the speed of installations and connection.
The solar farm has been producing into the electricity grid at or near its full capacity for some weeks now, but owner Neoen, the newly listed French renewable energy developer that also owns the Hornsdale wind farm and the neighbouring Tesla big battery in South Australia, only formally announced its completion on Friday.
Earlier this year we reported on the speed with which Neoen took an initial project development proposal to financial close – in barely a year from late 2016 to early 2018. And the speed records have continued since.
Site preparations began in January 2018, with full construction and connection completed between March and September 2018. What is more surprising, given the delays experienced by many other project developers, was the speed of connection.
It is believed to have taken the shortest time from “notice to proceed” to full injection of any solar farm. The EPC contractor was Bouygues.
Neoen’s Australia boss Franck Woitiez says Coleambally is a landmark project for the company and Australia’s renewable energy sector, producing the highest energy output of any solar farm in the country’s National Electricity Market at present.
Its output profile also puts paid to the myths of solar farms peaking only in the middle of the day. production figures show Coleamblly reaching production peaks at around 8.30am, and continuing until after 4pm, thanks to its tracking technology.
Coleambally is supported by a 12-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with energy retailer EnergyAustralia, which will take about 70 per cent of the solar farm’s energy output. The remainder, including large-scale certificates, will be sold directly to the market.
Neoen expects the 567,800 solar PV panels will produce more than 390,000 MWh of clean, emission-free, renewable energy per annum, a capacity factor of around 30 per cent.
Coleambally will soon be overtaken in size by the Bungala solar project in South Australia, which has fully completed its first 110MW stage, and is now looking to complete its second 110MW stage.
“Coleambally Solar Farm is an example of the projects that will underpin a modern energy system in Australia,” Wotiez said in a statement.
“Through the course of its development, we have received enthusiastic response at the regional and state level.
“As a long-term investor in Australia’s renewable energy future, we are proud of this achievement and would like to offer our sincere thanks to the Riverina community for allowing us to realise the full potential of this landmark project.”