The ambitious renewable energy plans for South Australian industrial town Whyalla are moving forward with a green light for the 280 MW Cultana Solar Farm. The PV project is one of the developments envisaged under the $1 billion renewable energy initiative launched by Simec Energy Australia, part of UK steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance.
The $350 million Cultana Solar Farm boasts an 600 GWh of energy generation per year – enough to power almost 100,000 average homes – drawn from 780,000 solar panels. It is expected to break ground in October and generate 350 jobs during construction and 10 full-time positions upon completion. Construction will take 12-15 months.
The project received the green light from SA Minister for Planning Stephan Knoll, under condition to reduce the impact it may have on native vegetation in the area. While construction of the solar farm is not expected to impact the Whyalla Conservation Park, Simec Energy Australia will need to submit Environmental Management Plans for both the construction and operation of the project before initiating construction, as well as undertake progressive revegetation at the site.
At the launch of the 1 GW renewable energy program last year, the company confirmed that its second solar project under the program in the vicinity of the Cultana Solar Farm was already in development, noting that the two project would make one of Australia’s largest solar farms. On the occasion, Gupta said even larger projects would follow in other states.
Other projects within Gupta’s program include: cogeneration at GFG’s Whyalla Primary Steel plant using waste gas; trailblazing pumped hydro projects at GFG’s Middleback Ranges mining operations and a massive lithium‐ion battery (120 MW/140 MWh), which would surpass the 110 MW/ 129 MWh Tesla big battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in terms of size.
The pumped hydro project in the Middleback Range on Eyre Peninsula was one of the 12 projects shortlisted under the Coalition’s Underwriting New Generation Investment scheme, which comprised six renewable pumped hydro projects, five gas projects and one coal upgrade project in New South Wales.