Development of Australia’s largest hybrid solar and big battery facility, the 720MW New England solar farm, moves a step closer after an engineering, procurement and construction contractor was locked in for the job.
Developers UPC\AC Renewables Australia said on Monday that the Australian arm of Spanish-based company Elecnor had been appointed as the EPC contractor to deliver the first 400MW stage of the project.
The solar panels and a 33/330kV substation will be installed by Elecnor on the northern section of the site, along with the first stage of the associated 400MWh battery project, a 50MW/1hour Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).
The deal will also see Elecnor responsible for ongoing operation and maintenance services in the first two years of operations. UPC\AC says on-site construction of the first stage of the project is expected to begin next year.
The massive $768 million hybrid project is being builtin two stages across two sections of land near Uralla, after being given the all-clear by the state’s Independent Planning Commission in March.
The battery component of the solar farm is being developed with the support of the NSW government’s Emerging Energy Program, and the project’s grid connection agreement was sealed with TransGrid in June.
UPC/AC said construction of the project would create up to 700 jobs at its peak, and around 15 ongoing jobs over the life of the solar farm. Once complete, it is expected to generate 1,800,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable electricity a year.
“This is a major milestone for the project, the local community, UPC\AC Renewables and most importantly the transition of the country’s energy system,” said UPC\AC Renewables CEO Anton Rohner in a statement on Monday.
“Not only are we providing clean energy to the grid, with the support of the NSW government we are providing dispatchable energy, in the form of a 50MWh battery.”
AC Energy International chief operating officer Patrice Clausse said building the New England Solar Farm was a “remarkable achievement” that would put UPC\AC Renewables and Australia at the forefront of renewable energy development in the Asia-Pacific region.
“As we adopt new technologies in the construction of Australia’s biggest solar farm, we also aim to play a prominent role in spurring sustainable and inclusive economic growth in NSW,” Clausse said.
“Together with our long-time partner, UPC Renewables, AC Energy intends to harness Australia’s growth potential for renewable energy while contributing to their renewable energy goals.”
Elecnor Australia managing director Joseph de Pedro said the company was “extremely pleased” to have been awarded one of the most significant solar PV projects in the Australian energy sector.
“The UPC\AC Renewables team has considerable ability as developers and project owners of renewable energy developments. We look forward to working with them and the Uralla community on this project,” de Pedro said.
As well as the New England solar and battery project, UPC\AC is also developing the Baroota Pumped Hydro Project (250MW) and Bridle Track Solar Project in South Australia (300MW), the Axedale Solar Farm in Victoria (160MW); and the Robbins Island Renewable Energy Park and Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Park in North West Tasmania (1,000-1,200MW), a key project for the Marinus Link and “Battery of the Nation Project”.
The New England Solar Farm will be funded by the shareholders of UPC\AC Australia, a JV between UPC Renewables and AC Energy, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation in the Philippines.