Spark reveals plans for 2.5 GW renewable energy hub

Mytilineos solar farm


Spark Investment offshoot Spark Renewables intends to develop a 2.5 GW hybrid wind, solar PV and battery storage project near Jerilderie in the heart of the state’s South-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

The site for the proposed Dinawan Energy Hub is on the route of the planned $2.28 billion Project EnergyConnect, the high-voltage electricity transmission interconnector stretching between New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia.

Spark said the hub is also strategically positioned in relation to the proposed HumeLink, a 500 kV transmission upgrade to increase transfer capacity from the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme, and the VNI West interconnector.

The company, which owns the 100 MW Bomen Solar Farm near Wagga Wagga, said the hub would generate enough electricity to power more than one million average Australian homes per year and significantly offset the impact of coal-fired power station closures in NSW.

Spark Renewables head Anthony Marriner said the proposed project is in the early stages of planning with work to commence on preliminary studies and consultation in the coming months.

“We are only at the start of the development process and the proposed project must undergo a rigorous planning and assessment process which includes environmental studies,” he said.

“We are also committed to extensive community and stakeholder consultation to identify the possible environmental, economic and social impacts, as well as opportunities and mitigation measures.”

While there are no significant commitments in place, it is anticipated that construction of stage 1 of the Dinawan Energy Hub would begin in 2024 with the first operations to commence in 2025.

Spark Infrastructure managing director Rick Francis said the hub will serve as a “corner-stone project” in the South-West REZ and will accelerate the development of new renewable generation in the zone.

“It will unlock significant renewable generation capacity consisting of wind, solar and battery energy storage across NSW in the coming years, providing resource diversity to renewable generation planned in the other REZs,” he said.

“This proposed major new renewable project further underpins the need for new and expanded high-voltage transmission links within NSW and to Sydney which are crucial as the energy transition continues to accelerate in our quest for a sustainable energy future for Australia.”

The Dinawan Energy Hub is part of a major shift for Spark which owns 49% of the major network operators in Victoria and South Australia and a 15% stake in NSW transmission network operator Transgrid.

Determined to capitalise on growth opportunities presented by the transition of Australia’s electricity market to renewable energy sources, Spark is targeting more than $1 billion of investment in renewable energy generation by 2025.

The Bomen Solar Farm, which came online last year, was the first renewable energy asset in the Spark’s portfolio but the company said it has a ~2.2 GW development portfolio of wind, solar, storage and green hydrogen projects.

This includes an 60 MW extension planned for the Bomen Solar Farm as well as a yet to be identified 150 MW solar+storage project and a 350 MW wind farm in NSW along with a massive 600 MW wind farm project in South Australia.

“We are evaluating further opportunities for Bomen Solar Farm, including storage,” Francis wrote in the company’s annual report. “Other areas we are exploring include wind, solar and storage projects across the NEM.”

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