The $130 million solar farm is expected to take around 18 months to construct and will produce around 200 GWh of energy per annum once operational. It will see 167,000 PV modules deployed alongside civil and electrical infrastructure.
While the 93 MW project was sold to Enel Green Power, the Australian renewable energy platform of Italian utilities giant Enel Group, it appears Leeson Group has maintained some level of involvement – with the news of start of construction announced through Leeson Group’s LinkedIn.
The Girgarre Solar Farm appears to have been something of a pet project for Peter Leeson, who discovered the site through a local real estate agent, picking it up from a diary farmer selling due to drought conditions, according an article on Leeson’s website. There are conflicting versions of exactly when this happened, with Leeson’s website saying it was 2015, and the LinkedIn post citing 2017.
Either way, it appears that after Enel Green Power purchased the site, Peter Leeson personally began an involved process of community engagement, which begun with hosting a lunch on-site with neighbours. This dedicated process apparently led to the Girgarre Solar Farm progressing through the planning and permitting stages with zero objections from the local community.
The project also apparently donated the revenues from a crop which sprang up on the site to the community. The unnamed crop generated $70,000 which was given to the Girgarre Development Group, who used it to upgrade shared facilities in town.
Enel Green Power’s portfolio and projects
In mid 2022, it was widely reported Enel Group was looking to sell a substantial share in Enel Green Power to help fund an estimated 3.6 GW development pipeline in the country.
Swiss bank Credit Suisse was engaged to launch an auction for Enel Green Power’s Australian assets in August, and the Australian Financial Review reported Enel was looking to sell down 50% to 80% of the portfolio, preferring to remain involved as the asset manager.
Reports of bids emerged in August and ran through to September, but after that news of the sale died out. It isn’t clear if a major stake Enel Green Power’s portfolio was eventually sold.
Either way, just last week Enel Green Power announced it had received initial approvals from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) for its first hybrid project in Australia – a 96 MW solar farm and 20 MW battery in the Central West and Orana Region of New South Wales.
The company is hoping to start construction on that project – located in one of the state’s first Renewable Energy Zones – by the middle of the year.
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