Sunraysia solar farm (also known as Balranald solar farm) is a 255MW utility-scale solar photovoltaic power project being developed in New South Wales, Australia. It will be one of the world’s largest solar farms after completion and will be monitored and operated remotely from Sydney.
Maoneng Group is developing the project with an estimated investment of A$275m ($195m). The project was first announced in May 2016 and received approval from the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements in June 2016. It is expected to generate approximately 530,000MWh of electricity a year, which is sufficient to power more than 50,000 homes.
The solar farm is expected to be completed by December 2019 and generate roughly 400 jobs during construction.
Sunraysia solar farm location details
Sunraysia solar farm will be constructed on a 1,000ha site of private freehold land situated 17km south of the Balranald town centre and 140km south-east of Mildura.
The site is under the Balranald Shire Council Local Government Area and can be accessed from Yanga Way.
It was selected due to its proximity to metropolitan load centres such as Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney.
Sunraysia solar farm make-up and transmission details
The solar farm will be installed with high-efficiency solar panels from JinkoSolar along with its HC Cheetah series products.
The farm will incorporate NX Horizon smart solar trackers powered by NEXTracker’s self-powered motor drive, which uses less steel and enables wider rotation angles. It also eliminates the need for electrical wiring and trenching, which in turn increases reliability and design flexibility and lowers operation and maintenance costs.
A 220kV substation will be constructed to transfer the power generated by the solar farm to Transgrid’s transmission network and distribute throughout New South Wales and Victoria.
Maoneng has signed an equity agreement with John Laing for the development of the project. John Laing will invest A$108.6m ($77m) and earn 90.1% interest in the project in return, while Maoneng will retain the remaining 9.9% interest.
Nord L/B, ING, Mizuho, Bank of China, and National Australia Bank (NAB) have provided debt financing for the project.
Power purchase agreements
Maoneng has signed two power purchase agreements (PPAs) with University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney and AGL Energy (AGL) to supply electricity generated by the Sunraysia solar farm for 15 years.
The PPA will enable UNSW to reach its goal of carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020 and also enable AGL to achieve its target of moving towards eco-friendly and economical energy.
Maoneng is acting as the key construction manager and asset manager, while Jacobs provided the engineering services.
Decmil was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project and will also be responsible for handling the operations and maintenance activities after operations commence.
Schneider Electric is the key supplier of power conversion units for the project and will also supply inverters, transformers, and ring main units.
The solar panels will be supplied by JinkoSolar, while the smart solar trackers will be supplied by NEXTracker.
TransGrid has received the contract for connecting the solar farm to the National Electricity Market. The company will also be responsible for the substation, transmission, and network augmentation work under the build, own, operate and maintain (BOOM) model.