New England Solar Stage 1 officially opens

Two ACEN Australia employees walking through the New England Solar Stage 1 project
New England Solar Stage 1 (Image: ACEN Australia)

Stage 1 of ACEN Australia’s New England Solar project has been officially opened by Climate Change and Energy Minister the Hon. Chris Bowen MP, marking a milestone in the project’s six-year journey.

The 720MW project is being developed in two stages and was approved by the NSW Government in 2020. The first 400MW stage of the project has been in construction since March 2021. It is one of Australia’s largest solar projects to be participating in the NEM, with Stage 1 requiring the installation of close to a million solar panels. 

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New England Solar was granted formal registration to send power into the NEM by the Australian Energy Market Organisation (AEMO) in December 2022 and since that time has been generating renewable energy. Stage 1 of the project is expected to be generating at full name plate capacity of 400MW in the coming months. 

During construction, up to 400 workers have been on site during peak activity, upgrading and maintaining roads, installing and building supporting infrastructure, and constructing and connecting tracking systems and installing solar PV modules. Around 80% of this peak workforce has been filled by personnel from the New England region. 

ACEN Australia CEO Anton Rohner said the event was an important milestone for the energy transformation underway across NSW and Australia. 

“I truly believe that the work ACEN Australia is doing to accelerate Australia’s transition to a renewable energy future is here and now—and it starts with New England Solar,” he said. 

“We decided to build New England Solar on a fully merchant basis to ensure it is online in time to help replace closing coal fired power stations in NSW. We wanted to get things built, to decarbonise Australia.” 

New England Solar is being built with the support of host landholders, First Nations people, and the Uralla community. 

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“They are at the heart of what we do, and I want to personally thank them for putting their trust in us. Through their support we are together pushing the boundaries of traditional industry thinking and pioneering modern projects for modern energy needs,” Rohner said.

ACEN Australia is investing more than $5 million in community funding into Uralla over the next 25+ years as part of New England Solar. 

New England Solar is located near Uralla in the NSW Government’s New England Renewable Energy Zone. 

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