By Myrna M. Velasco
AC Energy, which is the energy investment arm of the Ayala group, along with its joint venture partner UPC Renewables, will be accelerating the construction of their blueprinted 720-megawatt (ac) New England solar farm project in Australia.
In a press statement, AC Energy indicated that development approval was already secured early this year from the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission, which will then allow “the commencement of early works for construction.”
The UPC\AC Renewables, which serves as JV corporate vehicle for the project, recently inked a connection agreement with TransGrid, the operator of the power transmission system in New South Wales and the Australian capital territory, for the wheeling and delivery of generated electricity from the solar farm’s site through Tamworth to Armidale in the northeast of NSW territory.
“This is an exciting development to finalize the connection agreement for one of the largest solar farms in the national electricity market,” said Anton Rohner, chief executive officer of project-firm UPC\AC Renewables.
He explained that the grid connection “was one of the last pieces of the development puzzle,” and that so far concretizes aim to already kick-off construction activities in the immediate term.
“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,” the Ayala firm said.
As conveyed by Patrice Clausse, chief operating officer of AC Energy International, “building this new solar farm will be a remarkable achievement, and 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.”
According to the Ayala company, the construction of the solar farm will take around three years, and the generated electricity will be “brought on-line by stages.” The final cost of the project has yet to be firmed up.
UPC\AC Renewables is also planning to install utility scale lithium-ion battery storage facility, to underpin “electricity grid stability and provide firm capability to deliver energy at peak periods.”
Essentially, the project firm emphasized that the amalgamated solar and battery storage technologies will bring down electricity rates for consumers.
“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,” AC Energy said.
Another value-creating proposition of the project is the creation of a community fund that shall be funneled with $100,000 dollars in the first year of construction – and to be ramped up to $180,000 per annum, at the full commissioning of the solar facility.