UPC gets federal approval for $350 million wind and solar hub in Tasmania | RenewEconomy

UPC gets federal approval for $350 million wind and solar hub in Tasmania

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UPC says it has federal approval for Jim’s Plain wind and solar hub in Tasmania, and is now seeking final approvals for Robbins Island wind project and transmission line.

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UPC Renewables says its $350 million renewable energy park at Jim’s Plain in north-west Tasmania has received development approval from the federal government, and it will now seek approval for an even bigger wind installation on nearby Robbins Island.

Jim’s Plain is a proposed 240MW wind and solar park with 31 wind turbines, totalling around 160MW, with rest likely a mix of solar PV and likely battery storage.

The project is not likely to go ahead, however, until federal approval for the bigger Robbins Island wind project (up to 900MW) and the connecting transmission line from Robbins island to Hampshire is received.

UPC, which is developing the combined project with AC Energy, says that around 500MW of the combined project can go ahead without the proposed Marinus Link to the mainland, and the development of Tasmania’s “battery of the nation” project, but the full capacity will depend on that new link going ahead.

“This is the third and final approval required for the project with the Tasmanian EPA and Circular Head Council recently approving the project,” the companies said in a statement. “This is a significant milestone in the full development of Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Parks in the North West of Tasmania.”

The Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Park is expected to employ up to 150 people over a two-year construction period and up to 15 full time permanent, local direct jobs once operational.

UPC says it will now focus on finalising the development application for Robbins Island Renewable Energy Park for submission later this year and the development applications for Robbins Island to Hampshire transmission line in 2021.

UPC said in a statement that it is keen to continue the discussion with the community in regards to a community benefits program to share the benefits of these projects. Aspects of the project has attracted strong criticism from at least one local group, and from former Greens leader Bob Brown.

David Pollington, Chief Operating Officer said “ It has taken a lot of hard work supported by detailed investigations to reach this important milestone. We thank all the stakeholders for their feedback and engagement on Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Park and look forward to progressing this development.”

“The Jim’s Plain Development, along with the Robbins Island Development, will deliver low cost energy and, coupled with hydro, provides dispatchable, affordable, reliable clean energy for Tasmania and interstate,” David Pollington, the CEO, said in a statement.

“We are keen to continue discussions with the community in relation to the concept and potential structure of a community benefits program to help the community share in the value of these projects.”

UPC and AC are also involved in a bidding contest for listed renewable energy company Infigen Energy, although their latest bid has been trumped by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola.

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