Bomen solar farm near Wagga Wagga now operating at full capacity | RenewEconomy

Bomen solar farm near Wagga Wagga now operating at full capacity

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New 100MW Bomen solar farm near Wagga Wagga has been given the all-clear by AEMO and grid owner to operate at full capacity.

Bomen solar farm. Supplied.
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The new 100MW Bomen solar farm north-east of Wagga Wagga has been given the all-clear by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the local transmission grid owner TransGrid to operate at full capacity.

The transition to full commercial operation for the Bomen solar farm has been swift and apparently uneventful, particularly compared to the issues that have faced projects elsewhere in the grid, particularly west of Wagga Wagga in south west NSW and in north-west Victoria, but also in other parts of the grid.

See our new story: Biggest solar farms in NSW face major output cuts in latest network shock

Bomen is now owned by Spark Infrastructure, the first major generation project bought by the company that owns distribution networks in Victoria and South Australia, as well as a 15 per cent stake in Transgrid.

“This is a very important milestone for Spark Infrastructure,” CEO managing director and CEO Rick Francis, said in a statement.

“On our first investment in renewable generation, we are very pleased to have delivered the Project under-budget especially when considering the significant challenges and delays experienced as a consequence of COVID-19.

“This would not have been possible without the excellent performance of Beon Energy Solutions as EPC contractor and the invaluable work done by AEMO and TransGrid during the commissioning process.” Beon is a subsidiary of Spark Infrastructure.

Spark bought Bomen solar farm from Energy Estate in April, 2019. See Tectonic shift as network owner buys solar farm, points to renewable future. Construction began in June last year, reaching mechanical completion in late January 2020. Energisation was completed on 27 February 2020 and commissioning commenced in late February.

“The Bomen Solar Farm has been able to export 100% of generation since mid-June 2020, with all inverters live and operational, after which there were no further restrictions applied to the farm’s output. The solar farm is currently generating in line with expectations,” the company says.

The project features 310,576 bi-facial solar panels (which allow electricity to be generated from light reflected to the back of each panel) and has a 10-year power purchase agreement for Westpac, and other  PPA’ with retailer Flow Power across 5, 7 and 10 year periods. In aggregate Westpac and Flow Power will purchase 95% of the farm’s output over the first five years.

The $180 million solar farm is expected to generate  annual revenues of approximately $13.5 million  per annum on average for the first five years, and won’t be faced with the same constraints that are likely to be imposed on more and bigger solar farms on the weaker part of the grid on the other side of Wagga Wagga.

“We are confident in our Value Build Strategy and believe our ongoing investment in renewables will create an attractive diversified asset portfolio that delivers value for our Security holders,” Francis said in the statement. He made no mention of previously canvassed plans to expand the solar farm or to add a battery.

But he has previously warned that Spark will choose carefully on new purchases, noting the curtailment of five solar farms in north western Victoria and south west NSW that had their output curtailed by half due to the “weak” network.

Other mostly completed large scale renewable energy projects in the same area have had their connections delayed by up to a year, while others have been warned to wait up to 7 years for a connection. Now, even more solar farms are being warned that they will have their output curtailed to avoid the risk of “voltage collapse” on the network on the western side of Wagga Wagga.

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