Emu Downs Solar Farm Completed

The 20MW Emu Downs solar farm north of Perth, which is the largest solar farm in Western Australia and co-located with the 80MW Emu Downs wind farm and the under construction 130MW Badgingarra wind farm, has been completed. This will make the 230MW project the largest of its type, nationwide (for now!). It utilises single axis tracking technology from NextTracker and will help cover baseline power around lunchtime when wind patterns are weaker. 

Emu Downs Solar Farm / Wind Farm

Emu Downs Solar Farm Wind
Emu Downs Solar Farm (source: apa.com.au)

The Emu Downs wind + solar farm is the largest wind+solar project in Australia, beating the NSW Southern Tablelands’ Gullen Range Wind Farm and Gullen Solar Farm (165.5MW / 10MW respectively) It’s also bigger than the previous second biggest wind/solar  White Rock Wind Farm and the White Rock Solar Farm (175MW / 20MW), located New England Tablelands of NSW. 

APA received $5.5m funding from ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) back in 2017 for the 20 megawatt solar photovoltaic farm, also entering into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to sell the electricity and STCs to energy provider Synergy until 2030. 

This will make the Emu Downs facility the first of 12 large-scale solar farms ARENA funded – with three in NSW (Griffith, Parkes, and Dubbo) almost complete, according to RenewEconomy. Emu Downs’ $5.5m was part of $92m ARENA gave the 12 solar farms which will eventually output a massive 492MW. 

APA CEO Mick McCormack made a statement in a media release to thank ARENA for helping them get the Emu Downs Solar Farm up and running:

“APA is grateful for ARENA’s support over a number of years to get this exciting project, APA’s first solar farm, constructed and delivering an enhanced energy solution from our combined wind and solar farm.” 

APA also bought the Darling Downs Solar Farm from Origin in the middle of last year, and it’s expected to finished construction this year. 

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Beelbee Solar Farm approved by WDRC

The Western Downs Regional Council has approved the Beelbee Solar Farm, which is owned by the APA Group (who are also responsible for the Darling Downs Solar Farm which they purchased from Origin Energy in May with an option over the Beelbee project). This is the ninth solar farm approved for the Western Downs region. 

Beelbee Solar Farm
Beelbee Solar Farm Location (source: Google Maps)

About the Beelbee Solar Farm

The Chronicle has reported that the Beelbee solar farm will feed between 150MW and 240MW into the national electricity grid. It will also include up to 100MW of battery storage. The Deputy Mayor of Western Downs, Andrew Smith, was quoted in the paper and was very excited about the opportunities APA Group are providing to the local area with their solar investments. 

“What a month it’s been and I’m told there’s even more development applications in the pipeline,” Cr Smith said.

“Complementing their Darling Downs Solar Farm, their commitment to bring another renewable energy project to our region highlights the Western Downs’ economic strength and impressive portfolio on the solar energy scene.

Smith also noted that the planning and development assessment team at Western Downs have been working hard to minimise the turnaround time for development applications, telling the Chronicle that the Beelbee Solar Farm was approved in “less than six weeks”. It’ll be interesting to see how this helps the Western Downs compete against Toowoomba solar farms – let’s hope we see a lot more in the future as their close proximity to Brisbane means that it could be a great opportunity to feed energy back into the grid for Australia’s third largest city. 

No word yet on PPA’s, but Origin Energy will buy all the renewable energy generated by the Darling Downs solar farm (which will generate 110MW) from 2018-2030, so perhaps the APA Group will piggyback onto that for a PPA with the Beelbee solar farm. 

 

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Australian Renewable Energy Agency Solar Grants – 12 Plants Reach Financial Close in April

Australian Renewable Energy Agency
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have reached a significant solar milestone with their funding of PV plants in Australia. As of EOM April 2017 all 12 plants currently receiving grant funding from ARENA have reached a “financial close”. A financial close refers to the fact that all plants are fully financed with council and environmental approvals. They also have agreements in place with regards to grid connection, construction, and engineering. Nine of the plants have already begun construction and, when completed, the 12 plants will generate enough renewable energy to power 150,000 homes. All together, the 12 plants will generate 468.8MW of solar energy – and this doesn’t count at least six more plants being developed without any assistance from ARENA.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht noted that the total cost of plant production has decreased by 40% over the last three years. The amount of grant funding required to launch large-scale solar projects has also shrunk dramatically – from $1.60/watt three years ago to just 28c per watt in 2017. In addition to this, there are at least six PV plants in advanced stages of development that have received no funding, an indication that the industry has advanced to a level where it’s financially feasible to develop solar plants even without any government intervention and Australia is well on its way to reaching our 2020 renewable energy target (large-scale renewable energy generation of 33,000 GWh)

The 12 plants received a total of $92m in grants from ARENA – in addition to $1bn provided by private investment.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Funded Solar Plants

The Solar Plants ARENA have funded and their capacity:

  1. QLD – Kidston Solar Park, 50MW
  2. QLD – Longreach Solar Park, 15MW
  3. QLD – Collinsville Solar Power Station, 42MW
  4. QLD – Oakey Solar Farm, 25MW
  5. QLD – Darling Downs Solar Farm, 106.8MW
  6. QLD – Whitsunday Solar Farm, 52.8MW
  7. NSW – White Rock Solar Farm, 20MW
  8. NSW – Dubbo Solar Hub, 22.4MW
  9. NSW – Manildra Solar Farm, 42.4MW
  10. NSW – Parkes Solar Farm, 46MW
  11. NSW – Griffith Solar Farm (Neoen), 26.4MW
  12. WA – Emu Downs Solar Farm, 20.1MW

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