German investment company Wirtgen Invest has begun its foray into the Australian solar market with the purchase of the Glenrowan West Solar Farm. It is hoped the 140 MWp “ready-to-construct” project outside Wangaratta in Victoria will see completion by the end of the year.
Wirtgen Invest purchased the project from Overland Sun Farming and will team up with fellow German company WiNRG which has been managing the project, specifically the coordination of legal and technical aspects of due diligence, the purchase of modules, contract negotiations and EPC selection support.
The project will utilise approximately 350,000 solar modules for the generation of around 261,100 MWh of clean solar energy annually. In other words, enough solar energy to power 65,000 four-occupant households and providing an annual CO2 emissions reduction of 110,000 tonnes.
“The country (Australia) offers ideal conditions for major projects of this kind,” said Wirtgen Invest in a statement. “This investment in the Australian solar market is one with great potential for the future for Wirtgen Invest.”
Though Glenrowan West Solar Farm represents Wirtgen Invest’s first foray into the Australian large-scale solar market, the firm does have large-scale solar experience. Specifically, a similar 200MWp solar project in Portugal.
The project, previously suggested to cost in the range of $120 million, was given permission by the Benalla Rural City Council in 2018. It’s ideally situated just west of Glenrowan, a small town made famous as the place where bushranger Ned Kelly made his last stand.
Glenrowan is located in a tricky transmission corridor. Last month the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and TransGrid announced they were seeking submissions on several transmission investment options, including upgrades to the existing VIC-NSW interconnector corridor, new corridors such as Bendigo and Shepparton, and expansion upon existing corridors such as that running from Kerang to Red Cliffs, or Shepparton to Glenrowan. The Shepparton to Glenrowan expansion is the most immediate concern as the region was identified as one of three extra renewable energy zones (REZs) in the Draft 2020 Integrated System Plan. The Glenrowan and Shepparton terminal stations were identified alongside Wagga Wagga in New South Wales and Wide Bay in Queensland.
Wirtgen Invest’s purchase of the Glenrowan West Solar Farm and ambition in the large-scale Australian solar market is a good sign, if not a necessary nudge, that we need to get a move on with the ISP and its transmission upgrades in order to accommodate the growing queue of large-scale solar projects.