The largest solar project in the Australian state of New South Wales has officially opened, with ACEN Australia confirming that its planned 720MW New England Solar Farm is now progressing through the first 400MW phase of the commissioning process.
AC Energy, the Australian unit of Philippines-based clean energy company, said it was working through various “holding points” with the 400 MW first phase of the New England Solar Farm. The project is part of a massive solar and energy storage project under development near Uralla, New South Wales.
ACEN Australia CEO Anton Rohner said the first phase of the solar plant is now progressing through the breakpoint testing process. The Australian Energy Market Organization (AEMO) gave the project official approval to send electricity to the grid in December. Rohner said the first phase is expected to produce at full capacity of 400 MW in the coming months.
“We’re going through the deployment process as we speak,” he said. “We’re at about 100MW today, and … you’ll see us ramping up to full production in the next 4-5 months.”
The New England Solar Farm is being developed in two phases. It will eventually include a 720 MW solar installation combined with a 50 MW/50 MWh large battery that can be scaled to 200 MW/400 MWh.
The construction of the first phase of the large battery has already started. ACEN expects that the financial investment decision for the second phase of the solar plant will be made later this year, and construction will begin before the end of 2023. When the entire 720 MW project is complete, it is expected to generate 1,800 GWh of renewable electricity each year – enough to supply more than 250,000 households.
Rohner said ACEN has decided to build the New England Solar Farm entirely on a commercial basis to ensure it will be online in time and help replace shuttered coal plants in New South Wales.
“We wanted to build things, reduce Australia’s carbon emissions,” he said. “I truly believe the work ACEN Australia is doing to accelerate Australia’s transition to a renewable energy future is here and now – and it starts with New England Solar.”
ACEN CEO Eric Francia said the official opening of the New England Solar Farm makes Australia a “bulwark” for the company’s renewable energy expansion in the region.
“The Australian team will continue to leverage the country’s outstanding clean energy potential to help ACEN achieve its target of 20 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030,” he said.
Francia said ACEN Australia has more than 1GW of capacity under construction and more than 8GW of capacity under development.