NSW green-lights 100MW solar farm plus battery for Riverina region

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ESCO Pacific plans to build a 100MW solar and battery power station near West Wyalong have won approval from the state government.

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Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash
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Plans to build a 100MW solar and battery power station near West Wyalong in the New South Wales Riverina region have won approval from the state government.

The $130 million project, which is being developed by ESCO Pacific, is slated to begin construction by the end of the year, or in early 2020. It is reported to have approval for 25MWh of battery storage, alongside the 100MW of PV.

The solar farm adds to an impressive pipeline of renewable energy projects at various stages of development across the state, and – according to NSW planning minister Rob Stokes – marks the 26th solar farm to have been approved by the government since 2017.

Stokes said the 100MW project would generate up to 150 jobs during its construction, and generate enough renewable energy to power around 37,500 homes.

“The Wyalong Solar Farm will add to the growing hub of solar energy projects in the Riverina, bringing a fresh boost to the economy and diversifying industry for the region,” the minister said.

“These solar projects have already contributed to communities throughout the Riverina and are also supporting the creation of a thriving renewable energy industry in NSW.”

The state’s newly appointed energy minister, Matt Kean, said the Wyalong Solar Farm would also help the NSW Coalition meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We are committed to delivering affordable and reliable energy for the people of NSW, while also reducing emissions and acting on climate change,” Kean said.

The news has not been so up-beat for wind energy in the state this week, however, with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment opposing development approval for the Crookwell 3 Wind Farm after receiving submissions raising visual and noise concerns about the project.

As we report here, that project happens to be located within the electorate of federal energy minister Angus Taylor, who has been outspoken in opposition to wind farm developments, and did not attend the opening of the Crookwell 2 wind farm earlier this year, despite being the local member and the country’s energy minister.

For ESCO Pacific, the approval of Wyalong Solar Farm adds to its already considerable success in Australia, where it has developed some of the country’s biggest PV projects to date, including the 148MW Ross River Solar Farm in Queensland.

The company was also the original developer of the Finley Solar Farm, which is nearing completion west of Albury, in New South Wales.

That 170MW project – which was recently sold by ESCO to John Laing – will help to power BlueScope Steel’s Port Kembla Steelworks, through a 7-year power purchase agreement to take the bulk of the project’s output.

The landmark deal sealed by ESCO and Schneider Electric is expected to supply the equivalent of 20 per cent of BlueScope’s Australian electricity purchases, “significantly” reducing costs and providing price certainty.

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