The Chillamurra Solar Plant at Goondiwindi in Queensland

Development of Australia’s largest power plant

Construction of Australia’s largest solar power plant the 349 MWp Limondale solar farm near Balranald in the Riverina district of NSW is due to commence in October. Preparation works and pre-pilling tests are already underway and Commissioning of the plant will take place progressively, with full commercial operation expected in mid-2020.

German energy company and plant owner innogy SE has appointed its Australian subsidiary Belectric Australia to take control of the construction works and operation and maintenance.

Belectric is described as an experienced company in the global solar market with nearly 2 GW of executed projects globally, including projects in Australia, and is among the world ́s leading O&M providers in the sector.

Belectric Australia has a team of around ten employees and expects many hundreds of additional staff to be indirectly employed via its subcontractors during the construction phase of the large scale project and the ongoing operation and maintenance.

Hans Bünting, COO Renewables of innogy SE said “It makes me proud that we can now start with the construction of our first utility-scale PV plant in Australia – one of the continents with the highest solar irradiation per square metre. To expand renewable energies it is of vital importance that beside the excellent yield the country is supportive for increasing the share of renewable energies.”

Due to innogy’s expansion into the Australian market, it established the subsidiary innogy Renewables Australia whose chief executive Thorsten Blanke commented “Electricity prices in Australia have risen strongly over the past decade and are among the highest in the world. An expansion of renewable energies can contribute towards reducing the energy costs for customers. Especially wind and solar are cost-effective alternatives in a country with excellent natural renewable resources.”

In addition to Limondale, innogy signed a contract to take over the project rights for the New South Wales development project Hillston in early 2018, with a planned capacity of 115 MWp. The transfer of the project company to innogy is anticipated to take place toward the end of this year.

The planned investment volume of both projects – Limondale and Hillston – totals more than $650 million.

innogy will review all options regarding the future ownership and financing structure of the projects in order to maximise value for the company and shareholders.

Meanwhile the Melbourne based team of innogy Renewables Australia is exploring further renewable opportunities including further solar, battery storage and wind (onshore and offshore) locally.

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Still in NSW, earlier this month Genex entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement for the acquisition of the 50MW Jemalong Solar Project development near Forbes in central west NSW.

The Acquisition is complementary to Genex’s existing solar and hydro power projects in North Queensland and reflects the Company’s aim to become one of the market leaders in renewable energy and storage development.

Genex’s longer-term strategy is to expand its portfolio of assets and diversify into other regions within the National Electricity Market.

The Jemalong solar project is well-advanced, with all necessary land and development planning approvals secured and significant progress made towards finalising the grid connection works.

Although the majority of the construction funding for the Project will be provided via project finance debt, similar to the 50MW Kidston Stage 1 project, Genex is also considering a range of funding options to fund the balance (including a sell down in project-level interest).

Commenting on the announcement was chief executive Genex Power James Harding who stated “As a result of the strong revenues earned to date from the Company’s 50MW Kidston Solar Project, we are able to utilise our cash reserves to diversify our project portfolio into NSW and create a stronger revenue pipeline.

“The Kidston Stage Two Pumped Storage Hydro and Solar Project remains the principal focus of the Company, and we continue to make significant progress towards finalising the remaining components necessary to achieve financial close.

“The Jemalong Solar Project offers a good opportunity to create a step change up in revenue and both expand and diversify the Company’s portfolio as we complete the development of Stage 2 at Kidston.”

He thanked the vendor, Vast Solar, for its progress to date on the Jemalong Solar Project.