APA opens new solar farm in its Western Australian renewables precinct

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Slowly but surely utility-scale solar activity is picking up the pace in Western Australia with another big PV project added to the grid. Located in Hill River, about 200 kilometres north of Perth, the 19.25 MW Badgingarra Solar Farm was officially opened by APA Group on Wednesday.

The $40 million solar farm consists of almost 62,000 solar panels, utilising NEXTracker’s single-axis trackers. It spreads across 40 hectares of land and is capable of powering more than 6,000 Western Australian homes. The development is co-located with the 130 MW Badgingarra Wind Farm officially opened in May.

The $355 million co-located Badgingarra Wind and Solar Farm development is underpinned by an agreement with Alinta Energy for the purchase of all the energy, and the Large Scale Renewable Generation Certificates generated by the two projects, through to December 2035.

The Badgingarra projects are part of APA Group’s renewables precinct that also includes the 80 MW Emu Downs Wind Farm and 20 MW Emu Downs Solar Farm, which was the first of the 12 large scale solar farms funded under ARENA’s $92 million round to be completed. The total combined capacity of the precinct, which includes 85 wind turbines and nearly 140,000 solar panels, is approximately 250 MW.

Over the next 25 years, APA expects its clean energy precinct will save over 8.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere, and provide renewable energy for more than 220,000 Western Australian households each year.

Furthermore, the gas pipeliner’s renewable energy portfolio includes the 130 MW North Brown Hill Wind Farm in South Australia and the 110 MW Darlington Down Solar Farm in Queensland opened just a couple of weeks ago. The $200 million solar project developed and constructed with the help of a $20 million grant from ARENA was inaugurated after significant delays resulting from grid connection issues and last-minute changes of engineering and construction partners.

Addressing the launch on Wednesday, WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston said: “Projects such as the Badgingarra Solar Farm demonstrate that we can create regional opportunities built around cleaner and cheaper energy sources that supports increased power reliability in the regions. The McGowan government is committed to helping the State compete for, and capture, a significant share of these high-value, fast growing energy technology opportunities.”

Only last week, Western Australia’s utility-scale PV pipeline received a major boost on the back of South Energy’s plans for two massive solar projects, the 183 MW Waroona Solar Farm and the 100 MW Benger Solar Farm. Another big hybrid project featuring 120 MW wind and 50 MW solar PV secured all state and federal approvals earlier this year, while plans for the giant 11 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub , which is planned to export power to Southeast Asia via subsea cables and supply big miners and green hydrogen projects in the Pilbara region, are slowly progressing.

After a years-long investment slowdown, WA’s large-scale renewables development picked up the pace earlier this year after the commencement of construction works on Risen Energy’s 132 MW Merredin Solar Farm, which will be the state’s biggest solar project once completed. In addition to the expansion of the Greenough River Solar Farm, Australia’s first grid-scale solar project, there are a couple of wind farms that are expected to be completed in WA in the next 12 months.