Renewable energy company ESCO Pacific has received approvals from the New South Wales government to build a new solar farm and batteries that could provide green power to about 37,500 homes in the state.
The $130 million, 100-megawatt solar farm and 25-megawatt battery will be built near West Wyalong in the New South Wales Riverina region. Australia is seeing a rise in the number of solar farms in rural and regional areas.
ESCO Pacific said construction will begin towards the end of 2019, or by early 2020 at the latest.
Comprising 350,000 solar panels up to four metres high, the solar farm is expected to operate for about 40 years. The government has also labelled the solar farm as a ‘state significant development’, as it generates electricity and has a capital investment of more than $30 million. The designation means it is approved by the NSW government, and not the local council.
ESCO Pacific previously built one of Australia’s largest solar farms, the Ross River project, located outside Townsville, in Queensland, which is capable of powering 54,000 homes.
The NSW government said ESCO Pacific’s West Wyalong project is the latest in a growing list of renewable energy developments in the state’s regional and rural areas, and will create 150 new jobs during its construction.
“The Wyalong solar farm will add to the growing hub of solar energy projects in the Riverina, bringing a fresh boost to the economy and diversifying industry for the region,” NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes said.
In December, the NSW government also approved Reach Solar Energy’s $1 billion, 900-megawatt Yarrabee Park solar farm near Wyalong, in Narrandera, capable of powering 315,000 homes.
BP is also planning to build a 248-megawatt solar farm near Wyalong.
The NSW government has approved 47 large solar farms in the state. Six are already under construction.
There have been 12 solar farms and 13 wind farms built to date, providing renewable power to about 1 million homes across the state.
“These solar projects have already contributed to communities through the Riverina and are also supporting the creation of a thriving renewable energy industry in NSW,” Mr Stokes said.
New wind and solar projects planned for NSW now have twice the capacity of the state’s coal-fired power stations.
NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said the West Wyalong solar farm will help the state achieve its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
“We are committed to delivering affordable and reliable energy for the people of NSW while also reducing emissions and acting on climate change,” Mr Kean said.
“We have a booming solar industry in NSW, which will become a vital part of our energy mix as we transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.
“The Wyalong solar farm has the potential to offset up to 212,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, reducing overall emissions and put downward pressure on prices.”
This is the equivalent of taking about 45,000 cars off the road, according to US Environmental Protection Agency data.