Major utility EnergyAustralia has signed a long-term deal to buy 100MW of the output from a yet to be built solar farm in New South Wales, marking the gen-tailer’s fifth renewable energy PPA in just seven months.
The deal is yet another coup for French renewables developer Neoen, which is building the solar farm in Coleambally, in the NSW Riverina district, pending financial close of the project.
Just two weeks ago, Neoen was named as one of the winners – alongside Tesla – of the bid to build the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery installation in South Australia, next to its 309MW Hornsdale wind farm.
The relatively new company is also building the 195MW wind farm and 20MW/34MWh battery array to supply Nectar Farms in Victoria, and is also building another three solar farms in western NSW, totalling 133MW, after winning grants in ARENA’s large-scale solar tender.
It has also built a 10MW solar plant at the Degrussa copper mine in WA, with 5MWh of battery storage.
Construction of the Riverina solar project is set to begin in late 2017, and will have an capacity of 150MW once completed.
The project is also expected to create around 300 jobs during the construction phase, with a further seven ongoing operational roles to be filled once construction is finished.
For EnergyAustralia, the Coleambally power purchase agreement is the utility’s fifth since its December 2016 announcement of a $1.5 billion program to underpin new wind and solar projects across eastern Australia.
All up, EnergyAustralia has contracted new wind and solar developments with more than 500MW, including all the output from the 48.5 Manildra solar farm in NSW; 80 per cent of output from the Ross River solar farm in Queensland; all output from Victoria’s 60MW Ganawarra solar farm; and 60 per cent of the 113MW Bodangora wind farm in NSW.
“EnergyAustralia’s 12-year commitment to the Coleambally PPA is an important step in developing this new solar farm as we expand our renewable energy portfolio in Australia,” Neoen Australia managing director Frank Woitiez said on Thursday.
“Now, with EnergyAustralia’s support firmly in place, Neoen can concentrate on reaching financial close before the end of 2017.”
EnergyAustralia’s Mark Collette said that, despite the company having a neutral view of which technology would replace coal in Australia, it was pleased to add a “quality renewable project like Coleambally” to its portfolio.
“Bringing on these new supplies will require billions of dollars of investment, but doing nothing means higher prices and less reliable energy for all customers. Families and businesses are depending on industry and government to get it right,” Collette said.
“The reality is renewable energy will in time come to underpin the national electricity market – it makes business sense, it’s good for the environment and it’s what our customers want.
According to Neoen, Coleambally Solar Farm is currently in the environmental assessment and connection studies phases of development. Ultimately, around 560,000 solar panels will be installed on 550 hectares of land, connecting to the national electricity grid and generating approximately 380,000MWh annually.