Bungala Solar Project: Origin agree to buy Reach Solar’s Port Augusta Solar Energy

Bungala Solar Project: Construction set to begin

Construction at the 300mw Bungala Solar Project is set to commence shortly as Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) have signed a Power Purchase Agreement to buy all energy generated by the plant, which will be built by Reach Solar.  The project (for those interested, view the DA here) is set to occupy 800 hectares of Bungala Aboriginal Corporation‘s land – situated about 10km north east of Port Augusta. This will be known as the project’s second phase – Bungala Solar Two.

The Bungala Solar Project will generate 220mw of energy by using solar panels that follow the sun’s position throughout the day. The site will be ‘battery storage ready’ and have capacity for another 80mw at the end of construction. According to RenewEconomy, Reach has submitted proposals for both 20MWh of battery storage and 100MWh – so we’ll see how that goes in the next few months. Watching the growing significance of energy storage during the creation of these new PV solar farms is fantastic – the technology is starting to reach the point where it will be a mainstay of every solar farm.

Reach Solar Energy
Reach Solar Energy Logo (source: reachsolarenergy.com.au)

Port Augusta’s Renewables Future

Reach CEO Tony Concannon lauded the ‘great news’ for Port Augusta during its transition to a ‘renewable energy hub’. The project is expected to create up to 350 jobs throughout its construction and is being financed without any government assistance. City Mayor of Port Augusta, Sam Johnson, was also proud of the result, advising that “Our vision is for Port Augusta to be the renewable energy capital of Australia and the confidence Reach has shown in our city strengthens our resolve to achieve this title.”

According to Reach Solar, the Bungala Solar Project will be one of Australia’s largest solar farms – it will be ready to start supplying power by summer 2018 but it will not be fully operational (220mw) until around August 2018.

In other Port Augusta renewables news, $450m wind farm (the 212mw Lincoln Gap Wind Farm Project) is also quite close to signoff – read more here.


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Tony Concannon, former head of GDF Suez (Hazelwood plant): ‘solar and storage already cheaper than gas’

Tony Concannon, former Australian boss of Engie (formerly (GDF Suez) and current chief executive of Reach Solar Energy, has made a submission to the Finkel review last month. Concannon’s submissions says the combination of solar energy and storage is already ‘competitive’ with the gas fired CCGTs (Combined Cycle Gas Turbines).

Tony Concannon Solar
Tony Concannon (LinkedIn)

Concannon’s submission to the Finkel review on February 21 notes that “Renewable generation and energy storage costs continue to fall rapidly. Reach received estimates in late December 2016 for solar PV and energy storage (40MWh to 100MWh) which translated into a tariff between $110/MWh to $130/ MWh. This is already competitive with gas-fired CCGT and costs are expected to reduce further”. It’s interesting to note that Concannon, as former boss of Engie (i.e. the company that run Victoria’s ‘Hazelwood’ brown coal generator which is Australia’s most polluting brown coal generator) has completely shifted focus to renewables. It’ll also be interesting to see whether these estimates are able to hold up in practice.

Reach’s Current Solar Projects

As per RenewEconomy , Reach Solar Energy have approval to build 300MW PV (Photovoltaic) solar power station 7km north east of Port Augusta (on a former ostrich farm) in South Australia, and a contract from Origin Energy for two 110mw solar farms as part of the Bungala Solar Project. The ‘Nature of Development’ as per the application states the “Bungala Solar Project – 300 MW Solar Voltaic Electricity Generation Plant” – so it’ll be interesting to see how many MW they end up producing (the $660m Port Augusta solar array will start with 100MW and scale up to the planned 300MW according to The Guardian) and how this affects effective tariffs after they are completed. If costs do continue to reduce as quickly as per the below image indicates it’s only a short matter of time before we do see the energy market become cheaper than gas-fired CCGT. Once regulations around storage of this energy are organised Australia will be in good shape to meet its Paris target by 2030.

PPA Graph Australia
Bundled PPA (power purchase agreement) Prices as per Origin presentation.


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