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Australia’s largest solar and battery power plant is slated to be built in NSW early next year.
Maoneng Australia and Decmil had signed a memorandum of understanding to construct a 250-megawatt direct-current solar photovoltaic power plant and planned to start building as soon as April or May, Maoneng vice-president Qiao Han said on Tuesday.
Once built, Sunraysia will be more than double the size of the current largest solar plant, a 102-megawatt generation facility at Nyngan in NSW. It will take the mantle of the largest operating solar project in the southern hemisphere from Nygnan once operational.
The construction contract is valued at about $275 million.
The solar farm will be about 17 kilometres from Balranald in NSW and 140 kilometres south-east of Mildura in Victoria. It will generate at least 530,000-megawatt hours of electricity annually, powering homes in both states.
The project could also be one of the first solar farms in NSW to utilise batteries for storage of excess power.
“This will provide greater energy reliability and allow the solar farm to produce electricity during periods of peak demand rather than only during sunlight hours,” Decmil said in a statement.
Mr Han said the solar farm would increase energy security for the national electricity market and provide additional supply in the year ahead.
“This development will play a large part in offsetting some of the recent closures of thermal generators within the region as well as bringing opportunities for those looking to transition from fossil fuels into the renewable energy sector,” Mr Han said.
Once completed, Sunraysia, together with the company's other solar farms, would be monitored and remotely operated out of Sydney.
While there are three proposed projects that will eventually be larger - Equis Energy’s 1000-megawatt solar facility in Wandoan, Queensland, Lyon Group's 330-megawatt Riverland site in South Australia, and Photon Energy’s 316-megawatt plant in NSW - Sunraysia will be built before these projects.
Sunraysia is Maoneng’s second major Australian solar investment, following the completion in recent years of the 13-megawatt Mugga Lane solar park in the ACT.
The Mugga Lane solar farm generates around 24,500-megawatt hours of electricity annually, which is enough to power 3000 homes.
The Sunraysia agreement follows the NSW government’s release of new large-scale solar energy draft guidelines, which classify this project as a state-significant development.
Under the new guidelines, a solar energy development is classified as a significant project if it has a capital investment value of more than $30 million.
Decmil’s shares rose 1.27 per cent on Tuesday before closing half a cent weaker at $1.175.