Juwi lands Greenough River solar farm expansion deal

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Synergy’s renewable energy joint venture Bright Energy Investments (BEI) has chosen German EPC contractor Juwi to complete the expansion of Australia’s first grid-scale solar farm. The second stage of the Greenough River project in Western Australia will see 30 MW of solar PV developed adjacent to a 10 MW Stage 1 project.

The new contractor was appointed following the termination of the previous $60 million contract with RCR Tomlinson, which entered administration late last year bringing work on its projects to a standstill. Once one of the leading EPC contractor in Australia, the Perth-based engineering company’ solar arm was wound up after it suffered huge write-downs on two of  its Queensland PV projects.

Following an extensive process associated with the contractor’s administration and liquidation, BEI has signed a new contract with Juwi for the Greenough River project expansion. “For juwi this project represents a significant milestone in Australia building upon our success in the off-grid market where we have already delivered the Sandfire Degrussa solar project and are currently finalizing the delivery of two further projects located at Heron Island in Queensland and the Agnew Gold Mine in Western Australia” said Cameron Garnsworthy, Managing Director of juwi Australia.

The 10-MW first stage facility was developed by joint venture partners Synergy and GE Energy Financial Services and has been generating electricity since 2012. Its output is purchased by WA Water Corp for its Southern Seawater desalination plant.

The project’s expansion was originally announced in November 2017, when Synergy was looking to partner with the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) and establish a green power fund, which would attract private capital and help the state-owned energy retailer meet its 2020 renewable energy commitments by sourcing up to additional 300 MW of green power within three years. 

Last year, construction and building industry superannuation fund Cbus Super stepped forward, alongside DIF as the majority investors in Synergy’s solar and wind portfolio. Established with the goal to encourage the development of large-scale renewable energy projects in Western Australia, BEI is 80.1% owned by  Cbus Super and DIF. The joint venture’s portfolio includes the Greenough River Stage 2, the 35 MW Albany Grasmere Wind Farm and the 180 MW Warradarge Wind Farm.

Once completed early next year, Greenough River Stage 2 is expected to provide the energy needs for around 16,300 average Western Australian households. BEI General Manager Tom Frood said the new contract will enable the expansion to recommence immediately, with a revised scheduled for completion in early 2020.

“The expansion of the Greenough River Solar Farm will be an important contributor to Western Australia’s energy supplies and there has been a lot of hard work to gather the project back together and renegotiate a way forward,” Frood said.