Maoneng unveils details of proposed NSW energy hub 

Artist's impression of solar panels at Maoneng's proposed Merriwa Energy Hub
Image: Maoneng

Australian renewable energy company Maoneng has unveiled details of a proposed energy hub consisting of a 550MWac solar farm and 400MW/1,600MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in regional New South Wales. 

The near gigawatt capacity project is designed to address the regional energy supply and grid stability needs of the National Electricity Market (NEM).

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Once approved, construction of the solar farm and battery is expected to take 18 months, creating up to 500 full-time equivalent jobs during the peak of activity, and requiring up to 20 permanent operational staff for the 35-year life of the project. 

Maoneng’s development application providing details of the proposed energy hub south of Merriwa, in the Upper Hunter Shire Council area about 180km northwest of Newcastle, will be lodged with NSW’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as a first step in the State Significant Development assessment process. At this stage, completion of the project is expected in 2025.

With a proposed solar array area of 780ha, on current estimates the new solar farm would comprise around 1.3 million photovoltaic solar panels mounted on single-axis trackers, plus associated buildings and infrastructure. It would also involve the construction of a new substation directly connecting to the NEM via TransGrid’s existing 500kV transmission line that runs along the south of the site. 

The land is currently used primarily for grazing, and the impact on the surrounding community, with whom consultations have begun, is expected to be largely contained to construction activities and traffic management on local roads. 

Maoneng co-founder and CEO Morris Zhou said the energy hub project represented a significant step forward for dispatchable solar generation in NSW, and a milestone in the company’s evolution. 

“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.

“We have deliberately chosen the site based upon its robust connection to the existing grid, making efficient use of the infrastructure that exists today. 

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“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.

“As an Australian business that develops both energy generation and battery storage projects, we are committed to supporting the national transition to renewable energy, and looking to a future with many new commercial opportunities for entrepreneurial companies.”

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