ACEN gives green light for 400 MW Stubbo Solar Farm

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Renewables developer ACEN Australia announced on Monday a final investment decision has been made on the $800 million (USD 513 million) Stubbo solar project and key contracts have already been executed, allowing the 400 MW project being developed in the New South Wales (NSW) central west tablelands region to fully proceed.

The final investment decision comes after ACEN signed a connection agreement with infrastructure service provider Lumea and the execution of a PV module supply contract and comes just weeks after the parent company committed $800 million towards the construction of the project.

“ACEN Australia is pleased to kick off the construction of the Stubbo solar farm,” ACEN Australia chief executive officer Anton Rohner said in a statement. “Again we have been able to close and commit to a project on a merchant basis and, in the case of Stubbo, do this on our balance sheet.”

This plant will be ACEN Australia’s second 400 MW solar farm, after the New England Solar Farm currently being commissioned.

The 400 MW solar project is located within the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in the Mid-Western Regional Council region and will connect to the existing 330 kV network between Wollar and Wellington.

The Stubbo Solar Farm is being built across 1,250 hectares of mostly cleared grazing land in the Central West region of NSW.

Image: ACEN Australia

It is expected the project will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 185,000 average Australian homes.

The project’s development approval also includes provisions for a 200 MW/200 MWh battery energy storage system, allowing for the project to eventually be adapted to dispatch energy when it is most needed during peak hours and provide grid stability services.

Rohner said the finalisation of the connection agreement with Lumea, the commercial arm of transmission network operator TransGrid, was a major step in moving to the committed stage.

“It was good to work with Lumea to achieve this major milestone and confirm the connection of Stubbo Solar to the 330 kV Transgrid network,” he said. “The ability to get the connection agreement done illustrates the value of ACEN Australia’s strategy of connecting into secure and robust parts of the Transgrid network.”

Lumea chief executive Richard Lowe described the Stubbo solar project as a “vital” part of the state’s energy transition.

“This is an important milestone in the transition to a cleaner grid and delivering cheaper energy for consumers into the future,” he said.

Construction of the Stubbo Solar Farm proper is due to commence before the end of the year while a notice to proceed for the road works to site was issued last week to council. It is expected the project will generate up to 400 jobs during construction.

This FID announcement comes just days after ACEN secured $75 million of debt funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The support of the federal government’s green bank is part of a $600 million debt raise from ACEN to help fast-track the delivery of its 8 GW Australian renewables pipeline of solar, wind, battery and pumped hydro.

ACEN International chief operating officer Patrice Clause said the company’s recent string of successes in Australia all contribute to its goal of 20 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

“We are fully committed to our net-zero ambition and are thankful to all our collaborators like Lumea, our local communities, our EPC contractors, module suppliers, and financing parties for joining us on this very important journey,“ he said.

ACEN Australia said it has more than 1.5 GW of projects under construction or at an advanced stage of development, including the New England Solar Farm, New England Battery, and Valley of the Winds projects in the NSW New England and Central-West Orana REZs, as well as the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain Wind projects in north-west Tasmania.

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