Australian engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor Decmil has announced the 200 MWac (255 MWdc) Sunraysia Solar Farm in southwest New South Wales (NSW) has been approved for operations and the process to obtain substantial completion is expected to be finalised before the end of the month.
ASX-listed Decmil said in a statement that regulatory testing of the Sunraysia project has been successfully completed, and it is progressing well with the performance testing required to obtain substantial completion.
As a result, the Sunraysia Solar Farm has been approved for “unconstrained operations”, with a number of minor conditions to be addressed within the first three months of operation.
Decmil said the formal process for obtaining substantial completion under the contract has also commenced and is expected to be achieved on or before 31 January 2022.
“This will then enable conclusion of the EPC contract and a transition into the operation and maintenance contract,” the company said.
“The achievement of this milestone means the technical obligations of regulatory compliance of Sunraysia Solar Farm have been demonstrated and achieved.”
Majority owned by UK-headquartered infrastructure investor John Laing (90.1%), with Australia-based renewables developer Maoneng holding the rest, Sunraysia has been dogged by delays since it was first announced in 2017.
Construction of the solar farm near Balranald in the state’s south-west began in early 2019 and it was expected Sunraysia would begin production later that year but it has been repeatedly delayed by technical and transmission issues.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) finally approved the solar plant’s registration in November 2020 but the delays in the formal commissioning of the project continued. Those delays have sparked a court dispute between Sunraysia and Decmil centred around the contracted date for substantial completion.
The Sunraysia Solar Farm comprises more than 750,000 solar modules spread over an 800-hectare site. The facility is expected to generate approximately 529 GWh of energy per year when commissioned, which is the equivalent to powering up to 50,000 households.
The solar plant is supported by power purchase agreements (PPA) with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and AGL Energy, both of which cover a 15-year term.
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