Stellata wins approval for 120MW solar farm, largest in W.A.

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Perth-based Stellata Energy has won approval for a 120MW solar plant near Merredin, in Western Australia’s wheatbelt, adding to the growing queue of large scale renewable projects lining up for construction after a near four-year investment drought.

Stellata has teamed up with UK investment manager Ingenious investment to build the Merredin solar farm, which would be the largest in the state when built.

Construction is due to go ahead in mid 2018, and while finance is in place, the company is still weighing up whether to seek a power purchase agreement of go “merchant” and sell on the market.

“The Merredin Solar Farm will bring clean energy to thousands of homes across the Perth area, as well as the creation of hundreds of jobs in local communities. We look forward to replicating this achievement across our pipeline of solar projects,” director Troy Santen said in a statement.

This is the first move into big solar for Stellata, which specialises in the commercial solar space but says it has a pipeline of large and small solar projects approaching 200MW, almost exclusively in WA.

The state now has a pipeline of more than 1,000MW ready to go, after a four-year investment drought that saw just 2.6MW of large scale renewables added to the grid from 2013 to the end of 2016.

The projects include the 130MW Badgingarra wind farm, to willbuilt alongside the existing 80MW Emu Downs wind farm and the 20MW Emu Downs solar farm; the 300MW Yandin wind project; the Sun Brilliance 110MW solar project near Northam, the 30MW Byford solar project near Perth and the 30MW expansion to the Greenough River solar farm, as well as a 10MW solar plant planned for Northam by Carnegie Clean Energy.

Stellate says its 400 hectare solar farm will produce around 260GWh a year, and will be “battery ready”, and has planning approval for storage.

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Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.

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10 Comments
  1. George Darroch 1 year ago

    2018 is looking like a boom year. How many GW of solar capacity is in the pipeline now?

    • FeFiFoFum 1 year ago

      4.5GW across Australia.
      Has the feeling of a bubble about it.

  2. Jonathan Prendergast 1 year ago

    I presume this is planning approval only?

    In which case, it joins the >10,000 MW pipeline of projects with planning approval but not closed financially to proceed.

    • GlennM 1 year ago

      The definition of a pipeline is that things need to go in one end before they can come out the finished end…so this is all necessary…

      • Jonathan Prendergast 1 year ago

        I was more remarking that the article says ‘wins approval’, but doesn’t mention what type of approval it is.

        But also, many projects have reached this point, and not progressed for many years, or fallen away.

        • FeFiFoFum 1 year ago

          Exactly !
          The final approval they need is a connection approval from Western Power.
          Prior to this you need shire council approval, planning approval, maybe an enviro study plus that approval.
          The list goes no.

          The only ones that are definitely going ahead will be on the list that have connection approval as this will only be given once all the other approvals are in place.

          Typical timeframe and cost form the start of the process is 12 to 18 months and up to $1 million , if you follow all the steps in the Western Power connection guideline.

          A lot of these announcements are premature, with that other 100MW project earmarked for Cunderdin still “in progress” which is now over a year late from the initial projected operating date.

          • Jonathan Prendergast 1 year ago

            I would say the ones that are definitely going ahead are the ones that reach financial close, but we rely on their announcement for that. So maybe the best evidence is actually construction activity onsite!

    • Alastair Leith 1 year ago

      Article says finance in place but they’re yet to decide to go merchant or sign a PPA. That’s interesting, typically finance hard to obtain without a PPA in Australia, the UK developers may have deep pockets.

      “Construction is due to go ahead in mid 2018, and while finance is in place, the company is still weighing up whether to seek a power purchase agreement of go “merchant” and sell on the market.”

      • Jonathan Prendergast 1 year ago

        All of the 10GW that have planning approval have construction dates nominated, but it all comes down to PPA and financial close, or investors sign off on going merchant. You have to speak with your project with confidence that it will progress publicly and to staff, but it all depends. Economically, the sooner you build renewables the better, electricity and LGC prices are high now. There is little reason to wait, if you really have everything lined up. Only reason I can think of is staffing and resources as there are so many projects underway at the moment.

  3. FeFiFoFum 1 year ago

    It may not even be planning approval (would be nice to know what “approval” they mean).
    May be approval from the developer and the backer to proceed with the application process ( start the clock ticking and start spending money).

    The sentence where it says the “state has a pipeline of more than 1000MW ready to go” paints the picture.
    These are proposals to AEMO of an intent to build a project who have likely also started the application process with western power for a connection approval.
    Some have been in this que for 3 or 4 years and still no connection approval.

    If you look at the load profile for the SWIN on the AEMO website you will see its peaking around 2500MW.
    The largest single source of generation is 700MW of roof top solar.
    And you want to add another 1000MW of renewables to this mix ?
    There’s a clue why the approvals aren’t coming through.

    Plus construction cannot start till you have connection approval.

    I can’t imagine a single project getting approval now without adding some storage or demonstrating that they can load shift, or agreeing to be curtailed often, as the network cannot handle all the additional daytime solar impacting the load curve profile of the network in addition to the current 700MW of roof top solar (and growing).

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