Plans to build one of Australia’s biggest solar farms in the New South Wales Riverina district are set to be realised, after the state government waved through a 900MW project proposed for Yarrabee Park.
Construction approval for the almost $1 billion project was granted in the dying days of 2018, as NSW looks to rapidly transform its grid from one dependent on centralised coal generators to one dominated by renewables.
To help fast-track this transition, the NSW government in November unveiled a Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, to increase grid capacity in three key energy zones in the state’s central-west, south west and New England regions.
It also published a Large-Scale Solar Energy Guideline, designed to lead applicants and the community through the assessment process for state significant solar farm proposals.
The eminently significant Yarabee Solar Farm – which will have the potential to power a city of almost 1 million people – is being developed by Australian firm Reach Solar Energy.
“When built, this new solar farm will have the capacity to power a city nearly twice the size of Newcastle,” NSW energy minister Don Harwin said.
“This project will support over 450 construction jobs over the construction period of around four and half years, providing a significant economic boost to the local economy.
“The project will significantly increase our energy capacity while contributing to a cleaner energy future for our state – a win win.”
New South Wales currently has nine major operating large-scale solar farms, with a total
capacity of around 500MW – and six of which were commissioned in 2018 alone, Harwin said.
Another seven solar farms are under construction in the state, representing a further 530MW of capacity and around $720 million in investment.
Further back in the development pipeline, however, the numbers get much bigger, with almost 70 more solar farms with a combined capacity of more than 10,000MW having been granted, or still seeking, planning approval in the state.