Lightsource bp gets approval for 600MW NSW solar energy hub


The solar arm of oil major BP, Lightsource bp, announced on Thursday it had received approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for its 400 MWdc (350 MWac) Wellington North Solar Farm, which will be built next to the 200 MWdc (174 MWac) Wellington Solar Farm which is ‎currently under construction.

The Wellington North project, which was acquired from AGL last year, will be constructed on a 970-hectare site approximately seven kilometres north-east of Wellington, near Dubbo in the state’s central west.

“We are very excited about the planning approval of our Wellington North Solar Farm, this is an important step forward in our ambition to help Australia transition to a lower carbon future,” Lightsource bp Australia country manager Adam Pegg said.

“In a few years our 600 MWdc Wellington solar hub will be producing 1,173,000 MWh of renewable electricity, the equivalent to powering 170,000 Australian homes, saving 938,000 carbon emissions annually.”

The project will use 1.2 million bifacial solar modules and will link to the grid via a 330 kV transmission line connected to Transgrid’s Wellington Substation. The development approval ruled out the installation of a battery storage facility or system but the department said there was nothing preventing Lightsource bp from seeking to modify this consent to install a battery storage facility in the future.

The company has indicated construction of the solar farm is due to begin soon with the project expected to generate ‎‎400 jobs.

Since partnering with bp in 2017 and entering the market in 2018, Lightsource bp has developed a significant pipeline of large-scale solar projects across Australia and Wellington North is the latest addition to the portfolio.

The company, which has commissioned 1.3 GW of solar capacity and manages approximately 2 GW of capacity under long-term operations and maintenance contracts globally, expects to commence construction of its 107 MWdc West Wyalong Solar Farm in NSW and the 210 MWdc (176 MWac) Woolooga Solar Farm in Queensland later this year.

The Wellington Solar Farm is nearing completion.

Image: Lightsource bp

The 200 MWdc Wellington Solar Farm is close to completion and when operational, the plant will produce approximately 435,000 MWh of clean electricity a year. Most of the project output has already been contracted by Snowy Hydro via a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Together, the Australian portfolio exceeds more than 900 MWdc and once operational, will make Lightsource bp one of the largest solar owners and operators in Australia.

Frédéric Baudry, the president of bp Australia, said the projects form part of the company’s transition from an international oil company to an integrated energy company.

“We are proud to be progressing strong positions in renewables and contributing to Australia’s, and bp’s, net zero by 2050 ambitions,” he said.

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