French utility EDF eyes large-scale solar in Hunter Valley


Australian miner Malabar Resources confirmed this week it had signed a memorandum of understanding with EDF Renewables, the green energy unit of French utility Electricite de France, to develop renewable energy projects in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales (NSW).

While Malabar did not provide specific details about the planned projects, the company has already secured development consent to build a 25 MW solar farm at the site of the former Drayton open cut coal mine south of Muswellbrook.

Malabar chairman Wayne Seabrook said the Maxwell Solar Farm would generate approximately 60 GWh per annum of clean energy, adding that the existing transmission infrastructure in the region provides an opportunity to “substantially increase” renewable energy generation in the area beyond that 25 MW.

Seabrook said the partnership with EDF would bring global and local expertise for large-scale solar development in the Upper Hunter region.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with a global leader in renewable energy,” he said.

“Our partnership comes at an exciting time for renewable energy in the Hunter Valley after the NSW government established the Hunter-Central Coast region as the state’s fourth Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in late 2020.”

The Maxwell Solar Farm is to be built at the site of the former Drayton open cut coal mine in the Hunter Valley.

Image: Malabar Resources

EDF has been steadily building a portfolio of wind, solar and battery storage projects in Australia as part of its global efforts to double its renewable energy capacity from more than 30 GW of wind, solar and battery assets to 60 GW by 2030.

EDF unveiled its first renewable energy project in Australia in May, acquiring 100% of the 280 MW Banana Range Wind, Farm in Queensland from Goldwind Australia and Lacour Energy.

The $500 million project, in the heart of the Queensland Central REZ, also has planning approval for large-scale battery energy storage. The project is currently in the feasibility phase with construction expected to commence late 2022.

“We are very happy to take this important step in Australia with the Banana Range Wind Farm, which will be developed by EDF Renewables’ local team as part of a broader project pipeline,” EDF Renewables Asia-Pacific vice president Patrick Charignon said at the time.

“Our projects will deliver competitive, reliable, renewable power and help drive the transition to a sustainable energy future.”

EDF has also floated plans to develop a $250 solar farm near Winton, west of Tamworth in NSW with the company attending a public meeting in Winton at the end of May to discuss the potential of the project.

While details about the proposed Nottingham Park Solar Farm are scarce, the company said it has begun designing and mapping the project and will continue to work on it for another 12 months before a final decision is made.

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