A major milestone for the Australian energy sector has been achieved with the appointment of a lead EPC contractor for the commencement of the first stage of the 720MW (AC) New England Solar Farm and battery project.
The New England Solar Farm is being developed by leading renewable energy developer UPC\AC Renewables Australia across two sections of land near Uralla in the New England region of NSW.
The solar farm and battery project will be built in two stages, creating up to 700 jobs at the peak of construction and around 15 ongoing jobs over the life of New England Solar Farm.
The first 400MW (AC) stage and the 33/330 kilovolt (kV) substation will be installed by Elecnor on the northern section of the site.
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The first stage of the associated 400MWh battery project, a 50MW/1hour Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) capable of dispatching energy to the grid at times of high energy demand, will be constructed with the support of the NSW Government’s Emerging Energy Program.
The New England Solar Farm received development consent from the NSW Independent Planning Commission in March 2020.
The grid connection agreement with TransGrid, the owner and operator of the NSW electricity transmission network, was signed in June 2020, which will allow the project to connect to the existing 330kV line that crosses the solar farm site.
Once fully constructed, the project is expected to produce 1,800,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity each year; enough to power more than 250,000 typical NSW homes.
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The first round of a community grants program that is being funded by the solar farm was launched this month, with $100,000 in the first round and ongoing funding tied to the completion of the project.
The solar and battery project will be Australia’s largest hybrid solar and battery energy storage facility.
The project will be funded by the shareholders of UPC\AC Australia, a JV between UPC Renewables and AC Energy, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation in the Philippines.
The project will deploy single axis tracking technology that will allow solar panels to follow the path of the sun, while also allowing adequate space for sheep to continue grazing on the land in between and underneath the panels.
The first stage works are expected to be completed over the next two years.