MANILA, Philippines — AC Energy Inc. is fast-tracking the construction of a mega solar farm in Australia after securing a deal to connect the project to the grid.
The company’s joint venture with UPC Renewables, UPCAC Renewables Australia, signed the connection agreement with TransGrid for the connection arrangements for the 720-megawatt (MW) New England Solar Farm.
The project will be connected to TransGrid’s 330-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Tamworth to Armidale in northeast New South Wales (NSW).
The connection agreement will also cover the delivery of connection services over the life of the project.
“This is an exciting development to finalize the connection agreement for one of the largest solar farms in the national electricity market,” UPCAC Renewables chief executive officer Anton Rohner said.
“This was one of the last pieces of the development puzzle, and we will now look to commence construction activities shortly,” he said.
The development approval from the NSW Independent Planning Commission was obtained earlier this year which allowed the commencement of early works for construction, AC Energy said.
The New England solar farm near Uralla in New South Wales, once fully constructed, will produce enough renewable energy to power around 250,000 homes each year.
Project construction is expected to take around three years with generation being brought online in stages.
Australia company UPCAC Renewables also plans to install a large-scale lithium-ion battery storage facility, which will assist with electricity grid stability and provide firm capability to deliver energy at peak periods, lowering prices for consumers.
“Building this new solar farm will be a remarkable achievement, one that will put UPC/AC Renewables at the forefront of harnessing Australia’s strong potential in renewable energy and its world class solar resources,” AC Energy International chief operating officer Patrice Clausse said.
The project will bring significant value to the local community with up to 500 direct construction jobs during the construction period with opportunities to employ locals from Uralla and the region.
A community fund was also created with an initial fund of $100,000 in the first year of construction, and ramp up to $180,000 per annum when the project is fully commissioned.
“This is the culmination of three years of hard work by our team and excellent engagement with the local community. The end result will be a solar farm development that adds significant value to the local community over the long term though investment and jobs. I thank the Uralla community for supporting the project,” Rohner said.
The 720-MW solar project is part of AC Energy’s aspiration to exceed five gigawatts (GW) of renewables capacity and generate at least 50 percent energy output from renewables by 2025.
Last year, AC Energy’s power portfolio registered an attributable capacity of over 1.8 GW in operation and under construction, spanning projects in the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the company increased its attributable energy output by 25 percent to 3,500 GW, of which 50 percent came from renewable energy sources.