Renewable energy developer UPC\AC Renewables Australia confirmed work has commenced on the first stage of its massive $768 million hybrid solar and battery project in NSW’s New England region.
UPC\AC Renewables CEO Anton Rohner said work has already started on stage one of the 720 MW solar farm which will be coupled with a 400 MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).
“It is exciting to reach this milestone,” he said. “UPC\AC Renewables Australia first walked these lands with the farmers three-and-a-half years ago and today we’re starting construction on one of the southern hemisphere’s largest solar farms.”
The New England Solar Farm will comprise more than 2.4 million solar panels, 150 power conversion units, and a lithium-ion battery storage facility. It will connect to TransGrid’s existing 330 kV transmission line that crosses the 3,362-hectare development site.
The solar farm will be installed in two stages. Stage one includes a 400 MW solar farm comprising about 980,000 PV modules mounted onto a horizontal single-axis tracking system.
The first stage will also include 50 MWh of integrated battery storage and a 33/330kV substation.
The first stage is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023 with the company hopeful it will be able to commence construction on the second stage prior to then.
Once fully operational, the facility is expected to produce 1,800 GWh of electricity annually, enough to power more than 250,000 homes.
“Once fully complete, the solar farm and battery project will be Australia’s largest hybrid solar and battery energy storage facility. It will play an important role in the energy transition already underway across the country,” Rohner said.
“The local community, our project landowners and civic leaders have been very supportive of the project over the past three years. We’re extremely excited to see construction start and the opportunities that are being returned and created for local business and workers.”
The project will help build out the New England REZ, one of five renewable energy zones included in the NSW Government’s electricity “road map“, which is designed to support more than $32 billion of investment in renewable energy generation, storage and transmission in the state.
Elecnor Australia has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the first stage of the project. The Spanish-owned renewable energy group will perform the job through its Green Light Contractors subsidiary.
Elecnor will also be responsible for operation and maintenance in the two years following start-up.
Initial works will include upgrades for the local road network connecting to the New England Solar Farm site.
UPC\AC Australia, a joint venture between UPC Renewables and AC Energy, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation in the Philippines, said up to 700 jobs are expected to be created from the solar farm and battery project during peak construction.
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