CWP Renewables, the company behind the 270MW Sapphire Wind Farm to be built near Glen Innes, is contemplating a 200MW solar farm and a battery storage facility to partner the project in what would be the biggest hybrid wind-solar installation to date.
CWP has submitted an application to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a 200MW solar farm, which would be twice the size of the biggest existing solar farm in the state, the 105MW plant at Nyngan.
It also plans battery storage and the project is proposed to be located on five freehold properties within and adjacent to the wind farm.
“There is already a natural correlation between the generation profiles of wind and solar in the New England,” said chief operating officer Ed Mounsey.
“Harnessing this in combination with storage will allow for large-scale firm dispatchable renewable energy to be exported from the region.”
The co-location of wind and solar farms is becoming increasingly popular. At the nearby 170MW White Rock wind farm being built by Goldwind, a 20MW solar farm is also being added, while a 10MW solar farm is nearing completion at the Gunning wind farm near Goulburn.
In Queensland, the Kennedy energy park combining wind, solar and storage is about to begin construction of its first stage, although the long term plans hold for a 1200MW facility comprising 600MW of wind and an equal amount of solar PV.
If the project goes ahead it will mean that the area – in the heart of the electorate of deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce – will become one of the major centres of renewable energy in the country, possibly beaten only by north Queensland, where Joyce wants to build a new coal generator.
Another company, Infinergy, has also been looking at building a 300MW solar farm in the area.
Mounsey says the company is looking to begin construction in 2018.
CWP Renewables is also looking at bringing in a level of community ownership to its Sapphire wind farm, which would be the first time in Australia that it has been achieved in a project of this scale, although smaller projects, including Hepburn and Coonooer Bridge in Victoria, among others, have significant community ownership.