SMA to supply Australia’s biggest solar farm


German inverter supplier SMA continues to build on its strong presence in the Australian solar market segment with a new deal to supply Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub in Queensland. Generating 400MWac through almost 90 SMA skids, Western Downs will be the largest solar project in Australia, and one of the largest solar projects undertaken by SMA globally.

Western Downs will be powered by the SMA MVPS 6000-S-AU, operating at 1500 Vdc. The inverters will be manufactured by SMA in Kassel, Germany, and assembled in Wodonga, Victoria, with transformer manufacturer Wilson Transformer Company (WTC). “This project is a landmark for SMA, it represents our focus on supporting developers like Neoen who are committed to focusing on owning and operating high-quality solar assets,” Joshua Birmingham, Project Sales Director, SMA Australia.

The SMA MVPS 6000-S-AU brings together two Sunny Central 3000-EV inverters, transformers, and medium and low voltage switchgear, onto a galvanized base – rather than being fully containerized. Delivered pre-configured on a 40-foot skid, the SMA MVPS electronics is a central inverter solution developed with WTC specifically for Australian utility-scale projects. The two companies teamed in 2018 to develop the Power Skid, an Australia-dedicated turnkey solution available in different architectures, with WTC providing the medium and low voltage switchgear – among other componentry.

Project partners

Plans to build Australia’s largest solar farm were confirmed only weeks ago following French renewables developer Neoen’s contract to sell most of the project output to the Queensland government-owned renewable energy generator, CleanCo. The power purchase agreement will contribute over 30% of the energy required for CleanCo to meet its target of 1 GW of new renewable generation by 2025. 

The project, located 22 km south of Chinchilla in the state’s south-west, will generate energy to power 235,000 Queensland homes, or enough to power every home on the Sunshine Coast. The $570 million investment by Neoen is expected to create up to 400 jobs for the local and South West Queensland area when construction begins in July. Connection will be via publicly-owned Powerlink’s existing Western Downs substation via a new overhead line, with energy generation scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022.

“Neoen are proud to work with SMA on the Western Downs project. Their proven track record in the Australian market, combined with their experienced team locally, backed up by the team in Germany made SMA an easy choice” Thibaud Kaeppelin, Procurement, Neoen Australia.

As suggested by industry sources and now confirmed by SMA Australia, the Western Downs Green Power Hub will be built by Mumbai-based EPC heavyweight Sterling and Wilson. In its largest order in Australia announced earlier this week, the Indian multinational company has bagged $525 million in EPC contacts along with $85 million in operations and maintenance. In announcing the contract, Sterling and Wilson did not name the project.

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