Sanjeev Gupta’s 280MW Cultana solar farm near his Whyalla Steelworks is one step closer to construction, with his majority owned Simec Energy Australia securing a partnership agreement with Shanghai Electric to build and complete the plant.
Gupta travelled to Shanghai this week to secure the deal with president of Shanghai Electric, Huang Ou. Under the partnership, Shanghai Electric will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services to the project, with the project expecting to create 350 jobs during construction.
The 280MW Cultana plant recently received the greenlight from the South Australian government, following a sole objection lodged by Adani Renewables, which intends to develop a solar farm on a neighbouring site and raised concerns about the fate of local birds and flora.
Simec Energy Australia is part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, an international business group that is revitalising steel manufacturing facilities in Whyalla in South Australia.
The EPC contract announcement follows the selection of Wuxi Suntech as the supplier of more than 880,000 solar panels to be installed at the site.
Through Simec Energy, Gupta intends to invest $1 billion in clean energy projects including solar and pumped hydro projects, with the $350 million Cultana solar farm representing the first stage.
“Cultana Solar Farm is an ambitious project that will deliver globally-competitive renewable energy on a large scale to power-heavy industry. It is a great step forward in our vision to revitalise industry and we look forward to working with our partners to bring our renewables projects to life,” Gupta said.
Shanghai Electric is one of China’s largest power equipment manufacturers, as well as a provider of turn-key project solutions.
“As part of Gupta’s GFG Alliance, additional investments in large-scale battery storage and a pump-hydro energy storage project are expected to follow the commitment to the Cultana solar farm. Gupta has sought to combine investments in heavy industry and clean energy technologies in hope that he can revive the South Australian manufacturing sector.
The GFG Alliance entered the Australian market with Gupta’s acquisition of steel manufacturer Arrium, who had entered voluntary administration in 2016. The company, which operated the Whyalla steel works, was subsequently branded Liberty OneSteel under the GFG banner.
Gupta’s future plans include establishing a new ‘next-gen’ steel manufacturing facility in Whyalla, with an expected production of 10Mtpa.
“Our planned Next-Gen project will ignite a new industrial revolution in Australia. These projects are shining examples of GFG’s commitment to create a sustainable future for industry and build stronger local communities,” Gupta said.