An important milestone has been reached at the $170 million Finley Solar Farm with Stage 1 or an equivalent of 85 MW ready for back energization. Developed by ESCO Pacific, which is managing construction on behalf of owner John Laing, the 175 MW solar farm is expected to produce enough energy to power 59,000 NSW homes.
The construction milestone was announced by Canadian Solar, which is supplying solar modules and operation and maintenance services on the project. The PV manufacturing heavyweight is also handling the EPC duties on the Finley farm together with Signal Energy Australia.
The plant is fully owned by U.K.-based infrastructure investor John Laing, which announced the Finley financial close only a month after the group’s close of another solar investment in the region, the 255 MWp Sunraysia Solar Farm. It invested $108.6 million in the latter project, which is nearing completion, taking a 90.1% stake.
Both Sunraysia and Finley are located in the Riverina region, the hotspot of large-scale solar activity in NSW, alongside: the 70 MW Wyalong Solar Farm , 333 MW Darlington Point Solar Farm , 349 MW Limondale Solar Farm, 150 MW Coleambally Solar Farm and the 109 MW Sebastopol 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.
Waiting for the interconnector
The Riverina region is in line for a grid upgrade through the proposed $1.5 billion electricity interconnector between Robertstown and Wagga Wagga. On the South Australia side of the line, for instance, the 500 MW of solar PV collocated with 250 MW/1000 MWh of battery storage near Robertstown is joined by the Solar River Project, comprising a 200 MW solar PV and 120 MWh of battery storage. The latter project is likely to add another 200 MW of solar and 150 MWh of battery storage in a second stage if the proposed high-voltage transmission line to Victoria, which would be added to the interconnector, goes ahead.
On the NSW side of the line, Australian-Chinese renewables developer Maoneng said it was preparing an additional 500 MW of solar to be added to the Sunraysia project and commissioned in line with the proposed SA/NSW interconnector, together with additional energy storage.