China-Australia renewable energy developer Maoneng Australia says it has landed the biggest ever power purchase agreement for solar power in Australia, as part of AGL’s plans to replace the ageing Liddell coal generator with renewables and storage in 2022.
Maoneng said it had signed a 15-year PPA with AGL for 800,000MWh of renewable energy per year – the equivalent of a 300MW solar PV plant.
The bulk of this capacity will be met with the proposed 250MW Sunraysia solar PV plant near Balranald in New South Wales, while the rest could come from other projects such as its Midgar solar farm, or “shovel ready” projects held by other parties.
“The Sunraysia Solar Farm will be the first of several solar farms which Maoneng will work with AGL to develop. We are pleased to have entered into a contract with AGL that provides certainty for renewables development and energy security,” said Maoneng vice president Qiao Nan Han.
“In the absence of bankable PPAs during a period of political uncertainty, we believe that the AGL contract sets us apart from the market.
“The second project underpinned by the AGL contract, the Midgar Solar Project, demonstrates our continuous efforts to transition Australia out of fossil fuel dependency. We remain committed to making a difference in the energy sector, one solar panel at a time.”
The price for the PPA was not revealed – as is typical in Australia – but it comes as part of package, with a total cost of $76/MWh that includes an upgrade to the Bayswater coal plant, a new 250MW gas peaking plant (expensive), and 25MW of demand response.
AGL’s contract is part of its plan to build a total of 1.6GW of renewable to help replace the Liddell coal generator which it confirms it will close in 2022.
Some 650MW of wind energy has already been contracted and is being built at the Cooper’s Gap wind project in Queensland and the Silverton project near Broken Hill in NSW. Now it has committed to this 300MW of large-scale solar.
AGL says a further 750MW of wind and solar may be built or contracted to replace Liddell, depending on the shape of national policy and the actions of other market players. Decisions would be made in 2020 and 2021.
Maoneng recently awarded a contract to Decmil for the construction of the Sunraysia solar farm, which it expected to begin construction in the second quarter of 2018, and will be “storage ready”.
It has retained Rothschild to help advise on financing options for the new solar projects. It expects gas to play a critical role to compliment renewable energy in the short term, but says “it will only be a matter of time” before large batteries start taking over that role.
The company has already built a 13MW solar farm in the ACT (pictured at top).