CWP Renewables has announced plans for a second large-scale solar and battery storage project in northern NSW, adding to the huge wind, solar and battery storage hybrid facility at the Sapphire Energy Hub.
CWP is currently building the 270MW Sapphire wind farm, helped by a contract for part of the output from the ACT government, and in 2018 is looking to begin construction of a 170MW solar farm, along with 50MW/100MWh of battery storage.
It has now revealed that a further 600MW solar farm – with battery storage of at least the scale of Sapphire – is being proposed at the Sundown project nearby.
It will be located south of the Gwydir Highway in the Inverell shire (see map above) – right in the heart of the New England electorate being contested by former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.
CWP has lodged a formal development application with the NSW government’s department of planning, which it expects to be complete by mid next year.
By that time, construction of the Sapphire wind project should be nearly complete, construction of the Sapphire solar and storage facility should have begun, and contracts will be sought for the Sundown solar and storage project.
Ed Mounsey, the company’s head of development, said the addition of solar, along with storage, will complement the company’s other wind farm developments and “provide a tailored solution to energy users.”
Mounsey told RenewEconomy that the Sapphire storage project would be sized at around 50MW/100MWh, and look to do balancing, time shifting, arbitrage and network services. The company has already called a tender from battery storage companies.
The storage component for the Sundown project has yet to be sized, but Mounsey indicated that it would be at least as big as the Sapphire storage facility.
All the projects will depend on contracted off-take agreements for at least part of the project. The Sapphire wind farm has a 20 year contract for 100MW with the ACT government (at $89/MWh fixed), but the remainder will go “merchant”.
The solar and storage facilities could follow the same blueprint.
“This is the new narrative in the industry, firming up renewables, complementary wind and solar …. it helps to take the politics out of these investments,” Mounsey said.
CWP has also unveiled proposals for a 250MW solar thermal and storage project near Townsville in north Queensland.
The Sapphire and Sundown projects are all located in the seat of New England, and in a press statement Joyce said the area was “leading the nation” on renewable energy.
“These projects will also see a significant increase in local employment and investment in the community, which is great news for the local area,” he said.
Other projects include the White Rock wind and solar farms, a 600MW pumped hydro storage proposal, and another 300MW solar farm has been proposed by Infinergy.
The NSW member for the Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, described the initiative as “fantastic” and said it reinforced the Northern Tablelands as a regional hub for renewable energy.
Inverell major Paul Harmon said the project represented a significant investment in our region, both for construction and for operation and maintenance.
The Sundown project will connect into the same 330 kV line as the Sapphire Energy Hub, and offer the opportunity to other developments in the region to share a new connection point.