Melbourne-based South Energy said it has secured a string of approvals for three of its proposed solar power and battery energy storage projects, located in Victoria and Western Australia, totalling 392 MW of new generation capacity.
South Energy said the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) had provided Generator Performance Standards (GPS) approval for the 205 MW Campbells Forest Solar Farm being developed on a 360-hectare site near Raywood, about 20 kilometres north of Bendigo in central Victoria.
The large-scale solar and battery project, which secured planning approval in 2020, will include approximately 609,000 solar panels installed on single-axis trackers, a 20 MW/20 MWh battery energy storage facility, and a new terminal station for connection to the existing Bendigo-Kerang 220 kV transmission powerline.
Once complete, the project is expected to generate enough green energy to power about 70,000 average Australian households, helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 421,000 tonnes per year.
South Energy described the GPS approval as “one of the most complex and significant milestones for the project” which is being developed in the troubled West Murray Zone of the National Electricity Market (NEM) that straddles northwest Victoria and southwest New South Wales.
Renewable energy generation projects in the weak-grid, high-resource area have had to deal with curtailment issues but South Energy said AEMO has provided its backing for the Campbells Forest project.
“Despite the challenges in the West Murray Zone … AEMO has determined that the project can operate in accordance with the required standards, after completion of a range of detailed studies including a full impact assessment,” the company said in a statement.
“This reflects the project’s technical robustness and South Energy’s meticulous forward thinking when developing large-scale projects at strategic locations.”
South Energy said it will continue to work with AEMO and other parties to complete the connection contracts in the coming months, with the aim of achieving financial close in early 2023. Construction of the Campbells Forest Solar Farm is targeted to commence in Q2 2023, with commercial operations expected by the end of 2024.
South Energy Technical Director Johan Laban said the company has also secured GPS approval for its $110 million Frasers Solar Farm being developed near Toongabbie in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
“The GPS approval is an extensive and at times complex process,” he said. “We are very pleased to have received this approval and would like to express our gratitude to both AEMO and AusNet for their continued support throughout journey, culminating in South Energy achieving this great milestone for the project.”
The 77 MW solar farm is being developed on a 110ha site about 2km south of Toongabbie in the state’s east. The project, which could potentially include an up to 20 MW/40 MWh battery energy storage system, will comprise an estimated 228,000 solar panels and is expected to generate enough clean energy to supply an estimated 29,000 homes.
The project will connect to the grid via AusNet Services’ existing Morwell-Maffra 66 kV distribution powerline which is adjacent to the project site.
South Energy has already obtained planning approval and construction is expected to commence in Q1 2023 with a target commercial operation date of Q3 2024.
The company is also progressing its $150 million Benger Solar Farm project in Western Australia. The Regional Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) has approved South Energy’s plan to build a switchyard as part of the 110 MW solar farm being developed near Wellesley, approximately 140km south of Perth.
The switchyard will allow South Energy to establish a micro-grid, offering power generated at the proposed solar facility to commercial clients in the nearby Kemerton industrial area. The company said any excess green power will be exported to the main Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM).
South Energy anticipates commencing construction of the solar farm and switchyard in the first half of 2023 with the project, which also includes capacity for a battery storage system of up to 10 MW/40 MWh, becoming fully operational by the end of 2024.
The Benger Solar Farm is one of two South Energy is developing in WA’s southwest. The company is also pushing ahead with the development of the 210 MW Waroona Solar Farm near the town of the same name, about 115km south of the Benger project.
In its home state of Victoria, South Energy has three more PV projects in the development pipeline, including the West Mokoan (190 MW), Kennedys Creek (145 MW) and Goorambat (75 MW) solar farms.
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