After announcing recently that its 121 MW Yarranlea Solar Farm is approaching module installation readiness, Risen Energy held a groundbreaking ceremony last Friday at its second Australian project, the 132 MW Merredin Solar Farm in Western Australia (WA).
The PV module manufacturer announced the acquisition in October. The Merredin project was bought from local solar developer Stellata Energy, a joint venture formed by Ingenious Infrastructure, a U.K.-based investor in renewable energy projects, and Australian solar company Stellata Energy, with an eye on investing more than $200 million in solar projects across Australia.
It represents Risen’s second project in Australia, after it fully acquired the 121 MW (AC) Yarranlea Solar Farm in Queensland, which the company plans to operate entirely on a merchant basis. Just weeks ago, the company announced that construction on the project is progressing.
“Merredin Solar Farm is our second acquisition of a utility-scale solar farm which we will progress from detailed engineering design, through construction, commissioning and ultimately the operation,” said John Zhong, Project Development & Investment Director, Risen Energy (Australia).
Last year, Risen increased its renewable target in Australia from 1 GW stated earlier to over 2 GW of projects that it will be looking to acquire in stages. “We will be acquiring projects that are shovel ready, projects that are looking for financial and/or EPC partner, projects that are looking for a co-developer,” Zhong said at the time.
“The largest solar farm committed to construction in WA”
The Merredin Solar Farm is located on 460 hectares of former farming and grazing country adjacent to the Western Power Merredin Terminal and will connect to the Merredin Terminal at 220 kV. Western Power is currently expanding its facility at the Terminal to enable the solar farm to connect. A diesel power station is also located adjacent to the Terminal on Robartson Road.
It is anticipated that around 200 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the plant which will feature approximately 360,000 solar panels. Once operational, the solar farm will employ three to five full time maintenance workers during its operational lifespan of 30 years.
The project is expected produce around 281 GWh of electricity annually, enough green energy to power approximately 42,000 Western Australian homes.
Although it was initially scheduled to begin construction last year, the project remains on track to start exporting renewable electricity into the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) in late 2019. The developer has confirmed full construction on the Merredin project was slated to begin soon and continue through to mid-late 2019.
The PV manufacturer and project developer notes that the development approvals have established certain conditions on the Merredin project construction. These include sourcing permits for elements of the installation, the upgrading of identified roads potentially impacted by the development and compliance with environmental requirements.
The Merredin Solar Farm will endeavor to use as many local resources as is possible including labour, equipment, contractors and accommodation. As it noted previously, Risen is tapping local construction companies and service providers on its other project as well.
The Chinese manufacturer will supply its modules to the project, which will be coupled with a big battery of an unspecified capacity to provide continuous power during periods of peak demand.
Risen has committed that, at facility’s operating life, all physical infrastructure will be removed, and the land returned to its former agricultural use.