NSW: Wellington solar+storage project gets regulatory nod

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Currently at the forefront of Australia’s utility-scale solar PV uptake, with five major operational projects, New South Wales looks determined to keep that leadership.

Last week, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment approved a project proposed by US module manufacturer First Solar, involving a 174 solar farm plus a 100 MWh battery.

The $270 million project located near Wellington is planned to feature 440,000 solar panels and 50 inverter stations. According to First Solar, it will create around 200 jobs during construction peak.

The department issued the approval following a period of public consultation from 14 December 2017 until 28 January 2018, noting that while the capacity of the proposed solar farm may increase over time as technology improves, the footprint of the development will not.

In 2017 alone, NSW derived approximately 19.6% of its energy from renewable sources, while  the rest came from fossil fuels, including 75.8% from coal and 4.6% from gas. But, with no plans to develop new coal power stations, the state is currently experiencing a rapid uptake in renewables, like wind and solar farms.

In terms of approvals, the NSW government reported that it had doubled the number of utility-scale solar projects in 2017 to 10, with an accumulated capacity of over 1 GW,  and went on to approve another solar plant in 2018 – 170 MW solar project in the Riverina, known as the Finley Solar Project.

The construction of the Wellington solar+storage project is pencilled in for the third quarter of 2018.