255 MW Sunraysia Solar Farm nears completion

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The 255 MW Sunraysia Solar Farm is one of Australia’s largest solar projects. Owned and operated by Australian-Chinese renewables developer Maoneng and UK-based infrastructure investor John Laign, the project is set for completion by December 2019. The news has been welcomed with great excitement at UNSW, with the university set to receive 100% of its electricity from the project from 2020 onwards.

UNSW Estate Management signed a 15-year power purchase agreement with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy in December 2017. The agreement is the first of its kind as it brings together a retailer in Origin Energy, Maoneng as project developer and a ‘corporate’ in UNSW towards the goal of cover 100% of the university’s energy demands. The tripartite agreement will see UNSW purchase up to 124,000 MWh of renewable energy per annum from the project, approximately 25% of its generating capacity.

The project’s completion means that UNSW will meet a key commitment towards its environmental sustainability goals. “Excellent progress is being made with the construction of the solar farm and we are on target to achieve our ESP goal,” said UNSW Energy Manger Nicholas Jones. The university is excited about the near-fruition of the agreement, saying that “staff and students will be able to visit the site for data sharing, research and case study purposes.”

UNSW’s credentials as a solar research hub are very well established, both at home and abroad. It is not difficult to imagine scores of budding UNSW solar engineers and researchers using Sunraysia as a learning tool for years to come.

AGL Energy has also signed a 15-year power purchase agreement with the project, an agreement which will see Sunraysia’s electricity form part of the NSW Generation Plan as it looks to transition towards a renewable grid with the decommission of the aging Liddell coal-fired generator.

Since the ASX-listed EPC Decmil Group broke ground on the site in late February between 350-400 people have been directly involved in its construction. With all the earthworks, trenching and cable laying complete and the installation of more than 755,000 JinkoSolar 255W Cheetah mono PERC modules, well over the halfway mark, the completion of one of the largest solar farms in the world is set to be operational just in time for summer.