Sapphire renewable energy hub wins approval – solar and storage to come | RenewEconomy

Sapphire renewable energy hub wins approval – solar and storage to come

CWP Renewables wins planning approval to add 200MW solar plus battery storage to existing 270MW wind farm at Sapphire in northern NSW.


Plans to add large scale solar and battery storage facilities to the existing 270MW Sapphire wind farm in northern New South Wales – and to create one of Australia’s biggest renewable energy hubs – have won state government approval.

The company behind the ambitious hybrid wind solar and storage project, CWP Renewables, said on Friday it has received planning approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a 200MW solar plus storage project.

CWP says construction of the solar farm and battery infrastructure – which will combine with the wind farm to create the Sapphire Renewable Energy Hub – is now expected to begin early next year, and take around 14 months.

The Sapphire Wind Farm, which began construction in January 2017, had 28 turbines in place and in operation in May this year, and is expected to be fully operational in coming months.

As we reported here, Sapphire is one of the many large-scale renewable energy projects contracted by the ACT government, as part of its efforts to transition to 100 per cent renewables.

Located 18km west of Glen Innes in the northern Tablelands, it is also one of a number of wind and solar projects in the heart of the New England electorate of former deputy prime minister and ex-Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

CWP, which moved its headquarters to Canberra as part of its tender for the project, has also been working to establish an investment model that will provide an opportunity for the local community to invest in the project.

In comments on Friday, CWP’s head of development, Ed Mounsey, said that the expanded project would bring the next big wave of renewable energy investment to the New England region, together with renewable energy leadership.

“Construction of the wind farm has created 150-200 full time jobs over an almost two year period. Construction of the solar and battery infrastructure will create a further 150-200 full time jobs and will extend the benefits for local businesses,” he said.

“The New England region is unique, in that there is a natural correlation between the generation profiles of wind and solar. Combining wind and solar together with battery storage will allow large-scale, dispatchable renewable energy to be exported from the region.

“This is the future of energy generation in Australia, being constructed right now.”

Other major wind projects, including White Rock, Gullen Range, Snowtown, and Kennedy, are also adding, or have already added, solar to their wind facilities.

The addition of battery storage to solar and wind farms is also rapidly becoming commonplace, as project developers look offer “firmed” energy off-take deals to commercial and industrial customers, as well other paid services to the grid.

Just this week, Infigen Energy announced it was adding a 25MW/52MWh Tesla Powerpack battery storage system at its Lake Bonney wind farm in South Australia.

Elsewhere, Electranet is installing a 30MW/8MWh battery at the Wattle Point wind farm on the Yorke Peninsula, and Nexif Energy is to add 10MW of battery storage to the new Lincoln Gap wind farm in Port Augusta, and the battery size could be tripled.

Tilt Renewables is also building a 21MW/26MWh battery storage facility along with a 44MW solar PV plant next to the Snowtown wind farm.

In Victoria, installation of a 25MW/50MWh battery system – also made up of Tesla Powerpacks – is underway at the 60MW Gannawarra Solar Farm in the state’s north-west, jointly owned by Wirsol Energy and Edify Energy.

While in May, works began on the Bulgana Green Power Hub in the regional town of Stawell – which will pair Tesla Powerpacks with Neoen’s Bulgana wind farm to deliver 100 per cent renewable energy to what will be the country’s biggest vegetable glasshouse, owned by Nectar Farms.

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