Risen breaks ground on ‘merchant’ 121 MW Yarranlea project

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Construction on the Yarranlea solar farm, located 50km southwest of Toowoomba, is underway. Project owner Risen Energy held a ground breaking ceremony with the local mayor and a Queensland state MP yesterday.

Risen acquired the 121 MW solar farm from Yarranlea Solar Pty Ltd in February, 2018. In announcing the 100% acquisition, Risen noted that it plans to operate the project entirely on a merchant basis.

“Due to wholesale electricity markets, Risen Energy will fund 100% of the Yarranlea Solar Farm project without finance,” said John Zhong from Risen Australia in a statement – at the time of acquisitoin. “No PPA is attached to the Yarranlea Solar Farm project so we decided to go ahead with merchant to capture the NEM spot price.”

Risen has indicated that space within and around the project has been set aside for battery storage.

“Energy storage means spare electricity in the daytime could be stored and used during peak periods and at night, further enhancing profitability and reducing power generation costs of the Yarranlea station,” Zhong added in a statement to accompany the project’s commencement.

That Risen is confident that positive returns can be achieved on a merchant project of this size is notable. With the funds required for such projects at hand, such moves could prove influential in extending PV power plant development in Australia beyond the RET.

Low-cost components from Chinese suppliers, which have built a considerable track record developing projects on their home soil during China’s solar boom right across the supply chain, will likely enhance the competitiveness of large scale solar on wholesale markets

“To facilitate development of the project, we have assigned experienced experts to analyse our ongoing projects, while preparing for development of additional power stations that we will own and operate ourselves,” said Zhong.

Risen Energy is targeting 1 GW of PV power plants to develop in Australia entirely in-house. It is looking at Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia for further opportunities.