Another Riverina solar project gets go-ahead


A gold rush of large-scale solar developments in the Riverina region has continued with the approval of a 90 MW project, the West Wyalong Solar Farm. The $135 PV project is proposed by the British-headquartered solar arm of oil major BP, Lightsource BP, which recently secured finance for its first Australian PV project.

Situated 17 kilometres north-east of the town of West Wyalong, the solar farm will be colocated with a 50MW/90MWh battery storage facility which will store solar energy for dispatch into the grid outside of daylight hours and during periods of peak demand. The installation has been designed so that agriculture can continue on-site, meaning the landowner will be able to graze sheep under the panels. The project will generate up to 300 skilled construction jobs, and once it has been commissioned, there will be three on-going roles available.

“The West Wyalong solar farm will add to the growing hub of solar energy projects in the Riverina, bringing a fresh boost to the economy and diversifying industry in the region,” said Mike Young, Executive Director of Energy and Resource Assessments at the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Earlier this year, another 70 MW solar development located near the township of West Wyalong secured planning approval and acceptance from the local grid operator Essential Energy to connect to the transmission network. The project proposed by ESCO Pacific has also received the green light for 25 MWh of battery storage.

The two PV plants will join a number of large-scale solar developments in the Riverina region, including the 17o MW Finley Solar Farm, 333 MW Darlington Point Solar Farm , 349 Limondale Solar Farm, 150 MW Coleambally Solar Farm, the 109 MW Sebastopol Solar Farm and 255 MW Sunraysia Solar Farm.

The region has been popular among developers as it offers grid connection via an existing transmission line from Temora to Lake Cowall, and falls within the NSW Government’s South West Priority Energy Zone. Namely, the Government has a long-term plan to deliver three renewable energy zones in the State’s Central-West, New England and South-West regions, which builds on its NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy and supports the implementation of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan. Last month, the NSW Government unveiled a plan to deliver Australia’s first coordinated Renewable Energy Zone in the Central-West and unlock 3 GW of new generation.

“Since 2017 the Government has approved a total 30 solar projects across the State, these have the potential to provide nearly 5,000 construction jobs in the regions and support around $5.8 billion of investment in regional NSW,” Young said.

Overall, there are some 19.4 GW of large-scale renewable energy projects approved or progressing through the planning system, and around 2.5 GW of grid-scale solar under construction in the state. The NSW Government has committed to achieving net-zero emissions for the state by 2050 and doubling its renewable energy capacity to more than 10,000 MW by 2021.

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