Innogy SE, the cleantech spinoff from one of Germany’s major utilities RWE, will enter the large scale solar development business with the acquisition of two major projects in NSW. The project sale price has not been disclosed, however investment in the projects will likely total more than €400 million (AU$630 million).
The company describes both projects as being “well advanced”, with land, planning and grid connection approvals in place, and designs and construction details soon to be finalized.
Neither Limondale and Hilston have PPAs and innogy has informed pv magazine that it intends to sell the plants’ output on the wholesale market – meaning they will become the largest merchant projects in the country by a considerable margin.
Alongside the project acquisitions, innogy has reports that it intends to open a subsidiary in Australia – likely in Melbourne. The company plans to develop solar PV, large scale battery storage and onshore wind projects in the country.
“With the acquisition of two of Overland’s Australian solar development projects, innogy is entering into a strongly growing renewable energy market,” said Uwe Tigges innogy SE CEO, in a statement.
The Limondale project is set to have an installed capacity of 347 MW. It is to be located close to the town of Balranald in NSW’s Riverina district. Construction is planned to commence in Q2 2018, for completion by the end of 2019.
The Hilston Sun Farm, 115 MW, is also located in the Riverina district. Innogy reports that construction should begin “by the latest” in Q3 2018, with grid connection also by the end of 2019.
Belectric, a pioneering large scale solar and battery storage developer, appears to have played a key role in the project acquisitions. Belectric was acquired by innogy in January 2017. It operates a subsidiary office in Melbourne.
“Thanks to Belectric’s existing network, we have been able to make our first significant utility-scale solar investment, not just anywhere, but in Australia – the continent with the highest solar irradiation per square meter,” said innogy COO Hans Bünting, in a statement.
At this stage, innogy plans to tap Belectric as EPC and O&M provider on both projects. Belectric has developed over 2 GW of PV power plant projects. It is particularly adept at deploying thin film technology for its utility scale solar projects.
The project purchase will have to be approved by Australia’s Investment Review Board and by the Federal Treasury. The sale is expected to be finalized in Q2 2018.