Sanjeev Gupta’s Simec Zen Energy has chosen to use solar modules from Wuxi Suntech for the 280MW Cultana solar farm it plans to build near Whyalla, along with a 100MW battery, and an associated pumped hydro storage facility.
The choice of Suntech is revealed in Simec’s application for a generation licence from South Australia’s Essential Services Commission, as the company continues to navigate its way through the maze of development, regulatory, generation and registration approvals.
The Cultana solar farm recently won development approval from the S.A. government, despite concerns about the future of the Western Grass Wren and the slender-billed Thornbill by Adani Renewables, the subsidiary of the Adani group under pressure over its treatment of the rare black throated finch at the Carmichael coal project.
The Cultana solar farm will comprise more than 880,000 solar modules and be located next to, and help power,. the Whyalla Steelworks bought out of bankruptcy by Gupta in 2017 with the aim of using cheap, green power to revive its fortunes.
It’s a similar tack taken by Townsville-based zinc refiner Sun Metals, which invested in its own 106MW solar farm to provide one third of its electricity needs, slash costs, and provide a lower cost base to underpin a $300 million expansion.
This is, of course, contrary to everything that the conservative politicians and the Murdoch media will tell you. So, despite have one of the best examples of how renewables can power heavy industry in their own back-yard, the LNP proponents of a barmy plan for a new coal-fired power station in the area won an increase in support at last week’s election.
In South Australia, the potential of renewables is more readily accepted. Simec has a long-term contract through the South Australian Chamber Of Mines & Energy (SACOME) buying group process to supply give large businesses, and the company also supplies the government’s retail load.
Simec says the licence application for the planned 100MW Playford utility scale battery, which will “firm up” supply from the Cultana solar farm, will be made separately. The exact amount of storage, represented in megawatt hours, has not yet been decided.