WA’s largest solar farm changes hands as SUN Energy rises


Singapore-headquartered Surya Utama Nuansa (SUN) Energy said it has signed a binding agreement, subject to conditions, to acquire 100% of the assets of the 132 MWdc/100 MWac Merredin Solar Farm in Western Australia’s (WA) Central Wheatbelt region from China-based project developer Risen Energy.

West Australia’s largest completed solar installation with an annual electricity output of 274 GWh, Merredin Solar Farm has been exporting at full capacity to the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) since August 2020.

SUN Energy’s purchase of the solar farm marks its first foray into the Australian market as it continues to build a “rapidly expanding” renewable energy portfolio in the region.

Established in 2016, SUN Energy is one of Indonesia’s most prominent solar PV developers with a strong focus on the commercial and industrial sector. The company said it has a portfolio of 40 completed projects and 80 MW under contract and is now actively pursuing regional expansion.

SUN Energy has also added a 17 MW solar farm in Thailand to its portfolio of owned assets.

Image: SUN Energy

SUN Energy said it had already secured 50 MWp of solar projects in key markets including Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam while the acquisition of Merredin Solar Farm will boost its plan to achieve 2 GWp of operational capacity by 2025.

SUN Energy chief executive officer Philip Lee said Merredin is an integral part of the company’s expansion strategy and provides the group with a strong foothold to grow in the most developed and dynamic renewable energy market in APAC.

“The Australian market is key for us, given the long-term potential for renewable energy and its geographical proximity,” he said.

“The acquisition supports our strategy to become one of the leading renewable energy companies in the region, through a combination of new project development and selective acquisitions.”

The Merredin Solar Farm is located on 460 hectares of former farming and grazing country about 260 kilometres east of Perth. The project comprises more than 350,000 solar PV panels and has an annual electricity output of 274 GWh, enough to power about 42,000 Australian homes.

The project, which is adjacent to Western Power’s Merredin Terminal Substation, has also secured development approval to deploy up to 20 MW/40 MWh of battery energy storage onsite.

The solar farm sits alongside Western Power’s Merredin Terminal Substation.

Image: Western Power

SUN Energy said it will work with Risen Energy to jointly explore development of the battery energy storage system (BESS) after the acquisition process is completed.

Risen Energy Australia chief executive officer Archie Chen said the solar PV module supplier and project developer will remain as the operation and maintenance (O&M) contractor for Merredin after the acquisition.

“We are very pleased to team up with Sun Energy for Merredin Solar Farm,” he said.

“This is the second large-scale solar farm that Risen Energy has completed in Australia, and the signing of this agreement is well aligned with our long-term strategy to grow our position as a solar powerhouse and to achieve our new growth targets in Australia.”

Risen, which also owns the 121 MW Yarranlea Solar Farm in Queensland, has previously announced its ambition to deliver 2 GW of renewable energy to the Australian market and Chen said the company is looking forward “to delivering more renewable energy projects to the Australian market in the coming years”.

SUN Energy’s acquisition of Merredin Solar Farm comes just months after mining giant BHP signed an offtake agreement for the facility to supply up to 50% of the miner’s electricity needs for its Nickel West Kwinana refinery over the coming 10 years.

BHP’s power purchase agreement (PPA) commenced on February 1 and will displace around 364,000 tonnes of CO2 over the duration of the contract, which also has an option for extension beyond its scheduled 2031 end date.

The project also has an agreement with Sunshot Energy for the offtake of Large-Scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) generated by the solar farm.

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