Western Australia’s utility-scale PV pipeline has received a major boost on the back of South Energy’s plans for two massive solar projects. Only a fortnight after the Melbourn-based developer secured approval for the 183 MW Waroona Solar Farm, the company’s proposal for another project only 40 kilometres away, the 100 MW Benger Solar Farm, will go before the Mid-West/ Wheatbelt Joint Development Assessment Panel early next week.
The 183 MW solar project will be located on a 308-hectare site approximately 11 kilometres south-west of Waroona. It will feature 488,800 solar panels mounted on single-axis trackers and collocated with 20 MW of battery storage. The facility is expected to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 67,000 homes and is planned to be operational by 2022.
The Mid-West/ Wheatbelt Joint Development Assessment Panel approved the $250 million Waroona project on November 15 under conditions, including an amended site plan taking into consideration sensitive wetland areas that need buffer zones. South Energy has already laid out plans to install solar panels far enough apart and high enough to allow for agricultural activities, such as sheep grazing. The company has also committed to supporting the development of community projects in addition to creating approximately 250 jobs on the Waroona project during the construction phase and four jobs during its operation.
South Energy is also working on plans to build a 100 MW Benger Solar Farm some 20 kilometres north-east of Bunbury, which will be discussed at the local joint development assessment panel on Monday. The smaller $150 million Benger Solar Farm proposed for development on around 187 hectares is recommended for approval subject to a number of rather standard conditions. The project will have around 265,000 solar panels and a battery storage system of up to 10 MW/40 MWh and be up and running by the end of 2022.
The developer’s projects are among the biggest in the ones in Western Australia. Presently, the largest solar farm under construction is Risen Energy’s 132 MW Merredin Solar Farm, which broke ground in March. In its home state of Victoria, South Energy has five more big PV projects at the planning stage, including: Raywood (200 MW), West Mokoan (190 MW), Kennedys Creek (145 MW), Goorambat (75 MW) and Frasers (75 MW).