Innogy begins construction of Australia’s biggest solar plant

Innogy begins construction of Australia’s biggest solar plant

German renewable energy giant Innogy says it has made a final investment decision on the 349MW Limondale solar farm in New South Wales, and will begin construction of what will be Australia’s biggest solar farm in October.

Innogy is majority owned by RWE, one of Europe biggest utilities and carries its push into renewable energy., Limondale, locales near Balranald in the south west of the state, is one of two solar projects Innogy recently bought from Overland Sun Farming – the other being the 115MW Hillston project.

Preparation works and pre-piling tests are currently underway, with construction works expected to commence this October. Commissioning of the plant will take place progressively, with full commercial operation expected in mid-2020.

“It makes me proud that we can now start with the construction of our first utility-scale PV plant in Australia – one of the continents with the highest solar irradiation per square meter, said Hans Bünting, chief operating officer, Renewables, of Innogy.

To expand renewable energies it is of vital importance that beside the excellent yield the country is supportive for increasing the share of renewable energies.”

Innogy plans to spend $650 million developing the Limondale and Hillston solar projects, although it appears it is yet to finalise the final ownership and financing structure of the projects. Both will be built by the Innogy subsidiary Belectric.

Innogy is not just any old energy firm. It is 75 per cent owned by Germany’s RWE, one of Europe’s biggest energy utilities, and boasts annual revenues of more than $A70 billion.

The company’s “old assets” such a coal and nuclear generation were left behind in RWE, while Innogy holds the so-called “future” energy businesses – renewables, network and retail businesses – that will focus on a “modern, decarbonised, decentralised and digital energy world.”

Innogy has established an Australian based team headed by Thorsten Blanke, who said renewable energies can help bring down electricity prices in Australia, which are among the highest in the world.

“Wind and solar are cost-effective alternatives (to fossil fuels) in a country with excellent natural renewable resources.”

Innogy Renewables Australia is exploring further renewable opportunities including further solar, battery storage and wind (onshore and offshore) locally.

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Belectric says Commissioning of the plant will take place progressively, with full commercial operation expected in mid-2020 and expects to be in charge of construction works and take over the operation for the Hillston solar plant as well.

“Belectric Australia has a team of around ten employees and expects many hundreds of additional staff to be indirectly employed via its subcontractors during the construction phase of the two large scale projects and the ongoing operation and maintenance,” the company said in a statement.