Sydney-based renewables developer Maoneng said the proposed Merriwa Energy Hub, to be built in the Hunter region of New South Wales (NSW), would be one of the largest renewable energy hubs in the country, comprising a 550MW solar farm and a 400MW/1,600MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).
Maoneng co-founder and chief executive officer Morris Zhou said the $1.6 billion energy hub, to be built just south of Merriwa, about 180 kilometres north-west of Newcastle, had been designed to address the regional energy supply and grid stability needs of the National Electricity Market (NEM).
“This project will support the NSW Government’s large-scale solar generation and battery storage strategies as the state moves towards increasing use of clean energy,” he said.
“The Merriwa Energy Hub would be one of the largest renewable energy hubs in the country and, while it’s still early days, we expect the construction process to support hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, as well as significant investment into communities experiencing a shift away from fossil fuel.”
Maoneng said the solar farm will comprise about 1.3 million bifacial solar panels mounted on single-axis trackers installed across 780 hectares. The project will also involve the construction of a new substation which will connect to the NEM via TransGrid’s existing 500kV transmission line that runs along the south of the site.
“We have deliberately chosen the site based upon its robust connection to the existing grid, making efficient use of the infrastructure that exists today,” Zhou said, adding the solar farm and battery would each have a connection into the substation.
“We wanted to make the battery flexible, so it can operate independently of the solar farm,” he said. “The best value for money is a battery directly connected to the network, where it can still do arbitrage but also all the other functions that the network needs.”
Maoneng said a development application for the Merriwa Energy Hub is expected to be lodged with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in the coming weeks.
The company is aiming to achieve financial close by the December quarter of 2023 with Maoneng targeting completion of the project in 2025. Construction of the solar farm and battery is expected to take 18 months with an estimated 500 full-time equivalent jobs to be created.
Zhou said the project has already attracted interest from infrastructure investors and construction groups and both the solar farm and battery energy storage system would be backed by power purchase agreements.
The proposed Merriwa Energy Hub is the latest addition to Maoneng’s pipeline of renewable energy projects.
The company, which retains an interest in the 200MW Sunraysia Solar Farm being developed in southwest NSW, is also developing the 240MW/480MWh Mornington battery project in Victoria and the 225MW/450MWh Gould Creek storage project in near Adelaide in South Australia.
Maoneng also has three other standalone battery projects on the go, with 450MW/900MWh of energy storage spread between sites at Lismore, Tamworth and Armidale in regional NSW.
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