New South Wales to host major renewable energy hub

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New South Wales is in line for its largest wind, solar and battery hybrid project called the Sapphire Renewable Energy Hub, which will feature around 470 MW of renewable energy capacity.

The company behind the 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm, CWP Renewables has confirmed it received planning approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a 200 MW solar+storage project, which will be collocated with the wind farm.

The Sapphire Wind Farm commenced construction in January 2017 and is expected to be fully operational in coming months.

It is one of the wind projects contracted by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government as part of its 100% renewable energy target. The ACT has supported 100 MW of the Sapphire Wind Farm, which contributes around 12% of its target. It started exporting electricity to 48,000 ACT homes in May.   

Construction of the solar and battery infrastructure is anticipated to commence in early 2019 and will take approximately 14 months.

CWP’s Head of Development, Ed Mounsey, said that the expanded project will bring next big wave of renewable energy investment to the New England region, together with renewable energy leadership.

“The New England region is unique, in that there is a natural correlation between the generation profiles of wind and solar. Combining wind and solar together with battery storage will allow large-scale, dispatchable renewable energy to be exported from the region”, Mounsey said.

Earlier this year, CWP Renewables partnered with Swiss investment manager Partners Group to deliver a total of over 1.3 GW of solar, wind and battery projects across NSW, under the so-called Grassroots Renewable Energy Platform. Although not confirmed, it could be that the new solar+battery project will be developed under this partnership. Partners Group made an $250 million investment into the 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm when it first joined forces with CWP in 2016. 

The renewable energy hub is expected to be of great value for the local economy creating a significant number of jobs.

“Construction of the wind farm has created 150-200 FTE (full time equivalent) jobs over an almost two year period. Construction of the solar and battery infrastructure will create a further 150-200 FTE jobs and will extend the benefits for local businesses,” Mounsey said.

Although impressive in size, the project is not the largest one that the ambitious developer is involved in.

CWP Renewables has been confirmed as partner on a proposed 9 GW wind and solar project in Western Australia, comprising 6 GW of wind and 3 GW of solar capacity. The project is divided into two phases: the 3 GW phase that will generate power to the Pilibara region, and the 6 GW export phase, which will export renewable electricity to Jakarta and Singapore via subsea high voltage DC cables.