Three solar projects approved for regional NSW

By Sustainability Matters Staff
Thursday, 09 February, 2017

Solar projects located in Dubbo, Parkes and Griffith are among the first of 12 approved grant applications to reach financial close as part of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Large-Scale Solar Competitive Round.

Worth $230 million in total, the three projects received $16 million from ARENA and $150 million under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) large-scale solar financing program, representing the CEFC’s most substantial commitment to large-scale solar to date.

The projects are:

  • A 55 MW solar farm 10 km west of Parkes, consisting of 206,000 solar panels across 210 ha and expected to generate enough solar to power about 20,500 homes.
  • A 30 MW solar farm southeast of Griffith, consisting of about 112,000 solar panels and expected to generate enough solar to power about 11,500 homes.
  • A 25 MW solar farm over two sites — one east of Dubbo and one north of Narromine — consisting of about 80,000 solar panels on 80 hectares across both sites. The Dubbo Solar Hub is expected to generate enough solar to power about 9500 homes.

Together, the plants will consist of more than 400,000 panels and are expected to deliver 110 MW — more than half of the solar capacity currently produced in NSW and enough to power 41,500 homes per year.

“This competitive round has driven costs down and investment up,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

“The plants will cost around $2 per watt of capacity — one-third cheaper than AGL’s plants in Nyngan and Broken Hill, which cost $2.8 per watt in 2014 and were competitive at the time.”

All three sites have recorded relatively high levels of solar radiation, while existing infrastructure has helped minimise construction costs. They will utilise single-axis tracking technology, which is more efficient in capturing the sun’s energy than fixed solar PV.

The three projects are owned by French renewable energy company Neoen, whose sponsor counsel was law firm Baker McKenzie and whose EPC contractor for the three farms is Bouygues Construction Australia. Neoen has signed commercial power purchase agreements (PPA) with energy retailer ENGIE to sell energy from Griffith and Parkes, with the Dubbo project progressing on a merchant basis.

Construction of the plants is expected to create around 250 regional jobs and to be completed by the end of 2017.

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