ESCO Pacific’s 70 MW NSW solar project gets connection go-ahead

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The 70 MW Wyalong Solar Farm developed by ESCO Pacific has been given a tick of approval by Essential Energy to connect to the local grid. The project is now committed with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The project was given the green light by the New South Wales government in May. The $130 million development is expected to create over 200 jobs in the state and power up to 37,500 homes. Commissioning is due to commence in mid-2020.

The plant will join a number of large-scale solar developments in the Riverina region, including: the 17o MW Finley Solar Farm, 333 MW Darlington Point Solar Farm , 150 MW Coleambally Solar Farm and 255 MW Sunraysia Solar Farm. The region has been popular among developers as it offers grid connection via an existing 132 kV transmission line from Temora to Lake Cowall, and falls within the NSW Government’s South West Priority Energy Zone.

The three Energy Zones in the New England, Central West, and South West NSW regions, identified in the state government’s Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, are described as areas with high energy potential where planned transmission infrastructure upgrades are able to connect multiple projects at lower cost. The zones correspond to the Renewable Energy Zones identified in the AEMO’s Integrated System Plan, a blueprint on how to manage the grid and pave the way for the energy transition to 60% renewables over the next 20 years.

The West Wyalong project has the approval to potentially integrate a 25 MW battery storage system in the form of lithium-ion batteries housed in containerized packs.

The project will bring ESCO Pacific’s total Australian developments generating or under construction to 566 MW. Currently, the developer is managing 353 MW of Australian utility-scale solar assets and a further pipeline of projects under development in excess of 1 GW.

Most recently, ESCO Pacific developed and managed the financing and construction of the 175 MW Finley Solar Farm, which was sold to U.K.-based infrastructure investor John Laing. The project has contracted 66% of its output to BlueScope Steel under a seven-year power purchase agreement hailed as Australia’s largest corporate PPA.