Biggest solar and battery project in NSW waved through by Plibersek

Image: Lightsource bp

Federal environment minister Tanya Plibersek has given a green tick for what will be the biggest solar farm in New South Wales, and a neighbouring big battery that could also be the biggest in the country.

The Sandy Creek Solar Farm, which will be located 25 kms southwest of Dunedoo in the central west of NSW, will feature a solar farm rated at 840 MW (dc), or 750 MW (ac), which would beat the New England solar farm as the biggest in the state.

The size of the battery storage system is yet to be finalised, but a scoping study prepared in April, 2022 for the owners, Lightsource bp, suggested a battery size of up to 3,000 MWh, which would make it the biggest in the country to date.

The Sandy Creek project is located within the proposed Central West renewable energy zone, but is still to work its way through the NSW state government planning process.

It is one of a number of significant renewable and storage projects being developed by Lightsource bp, even after the sale of a handful of its most advanced projects to Beijing International Energy Australia last year.

Those sold projects included the Wellington, West Wyalong and Woolooga projects already in operation and the Wellington North and Wunghnu projects aiming to be operational in the second half of 2024. They totalled more than 1 GW of capacity.

Lightsource bp retains a portfolio of solar and battery storage of more than 7.5GW across Australia and New Zealand, and says it is exploring other investment opportunities in the sector, including wind, battery storage, and integration with green hydrogen production.

Plibersek said in a statement that the Sandy Creek project has been “green-lit” by the federal government following assessment under Australia’s national environment law.

“We want to unlock Australia’s potential to be a renewable energy superpower. It’s a huge task – we’re working overtime to get there,” she said in a statement.

“I’ve now ticked off 45 renewable energy projects with another 128 in the approvals pipeline. This is an exciting time. As well as lower emissions, it means cheaper, cleaner power for all Australians.”

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