Construction starts on Australia’s ‘largest’ hybrid solar and battery energy storage system

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The New England Solar Farm has been developed by UPC\AC Australia. Image: UPC/AC Australia.

Construction has started on what claims to be Australia’s largest hybrid solar and battery energy storage facility.

The New England Solar Farm comprises a 720MW hybrid solar and battery project across two sections of land near Uralla in New South Wales (NSW). It is being developed by UPC\AC Australia – a joint venture between UPC Renewables and AC Energy, a subsidiary of the Ayala Corporation in the Philippines.

 The project will be brought to life in two stages. In the first stage, engineering procurement and construction (EPC) partner Green Light Contractors, a subsidiary of Spanish solar company Elecnor, will build 400MW of solar capacity, a substation and a 50MW/50MWh battery energy storage system. This stage is expected to be completed in early 2023, after which Green Light will add a further 320MW of solar capacity, and extend the battery capacity to 400MWh. The Elecnor subsidiary will carry out operation and maintenance (O&M) for two years after the project comes online. Surrounding roads connecting to the solar farm are also being upgraded this month, and are set to be completed in June.

A statement from the project developers said the entire construction period could create roughly 700 jobs, with 15 of those ongoing during the solar farm and battery system’s lifetime. It will also be designed to allow adequate space for sheep to continue grazing on the land in between and underneath panels.

A grid connection agreement with local distribution network operator (DNO) Transgrid was signed last June, before Elecnor won the EPC contract for the project in October. Once developed, it is hoped the New England Solar Farm will produce 1.800GWh of clean electricity per year, powering around 250,000 homes in the region.

The project will support NSW’s plan to deploy 12GW of clean power generation assets and 2GW of energy storage by 2030, turning the region into an “energy superpower” in its transition to renewable resources.

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