The lead contractor has been appointed for the 400MW first stage works for the New England Solar Farm and Battery project – signaling the start of construction works early in 2021.
The signing of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) agreement with a lead contractor is the another key commitment required for the project to proceed.The New England Solar Farm is being developed by leading renewable energy developer UPC\AC Renewables Australia across two sections of land near Uralla in the New England region of NSW.
The solar farm and battery project will be built in two stages, creating up to 700 jobs at the peak of construction and around 15 ongoing jobs over the life of the solar farm. The first 400MW (AC) stage and the 33/330 kilovolt (kV) substation will be installed by Elecnor on the northern section of the site. The first stage of the associated 400MWh battery project, a 50MW/1hour Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) capable of dispatching energy to the grid at times of high energy demand, will be constructed with the support of the NSW Government’s Emerging Energy Program.
The New England Solar Farm received development consent from the NSW Independent Planning Commission in March 2020.
The grid connection agreement with TransGrid, the owner and operator of the NSW electricity transmission network, was signed in June 2020, which will allow the project to connect to the existing 330kV line that crosses the solar farm site. Once fully constructed, the project is expected to produce 1,800,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity each year; enough to power more than 250,000 typical NSW homes.
The first round of the Uralla Grants program that is being funded by the solar farm was launched this month, with $100,000 in the first year and ongoing funding tied to the completion of the project.
The project will deploy single axis tracking technology that will allow solar panels to follow the path of the sun, while also allowing adequate space for sheep to continue grazing on the land in between and underneath the panels.
The first stage works are expected to be completed over the next two years.
UPC\AC Renewables CEO Anton Rohner said the agreement was a major milestone for the project, the local community and UPC\AC Renewables.
“Not only are we providing clean energy to the grid, with the support of the NSW government we are providing dispatchable energy, in the form of a 50MWh battery. It will provide much needed jobs and an injection of capital into the New England region. We’ve been working very closely with the local Uralla community and our other stakeholders on this project for the past three years. It is exciting to reach this milestone. An upgrade to the local roads connecting to the solar farm is already progressed, as well as completion of environmental management plans. We expect to start on-site construction of the first stage of the solar farm in 2021.”
Elecnor Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Elecnor S.A, has been appointed by UPC\AC Renewables as the EPC contractor to deliver the first 400MW (AC) stage of the project including the substation works. Elecnor is a highly experienced international company that specialises in the development, engineering and construction of renewable energy infrastructure and space technologies. It will be responsible for the detailed design, engineering and procurement of the New England Solar Farm project, as well as ongoing operation and maintenance services in the first two years of operations.
A number of local businesses and contractors have already been working on the project, including surveying, engineering design and geotechnical studies.
We hope to hold further information sessions over the coming months for local businesses and contractors that are interested in sub-contracting or other work opportunities with the project.