The exhibition period for Neoen’s proposed Culcairn Solar Farm project in New South Wales kicked off last week.
The project is a 350 MW (AC) / 402.5 MW (DC) solar farm and battery storage facility to be constructed near the town of Culcairn, approximately 45km north of Albury and 70km south of Wagga Wagga.
The facility will be comprised of up to 1.1 million solar panels installed on single axis trackers and between 67 and 75 containerised inverter/transformer units located across the site. As for the battery storage aspect, that will be up to 100 MW / 200 MWh capacity. The lithium-ion batteries are to be housed in approximately 50 containers.
Culcairn Solar Farm will connect to the existing 330 kilovolt (kV) TransGrid Jindera to Wagga Wagga transmission line, which runs through part of the site.
There’s also a tourism aspect to the development – it will include a viewing platform close to existing public access routes, enabling visitors to view the facility and providing information on the project and its surroundings.
The project site comprises about 1,351 ha of freehold land (development footprint: 1,126 ha) which has been largely cleared of vegetation and is currently being used for crops. Sheep grazing may be able to occur once the solar farm is operation. At the end of its service life (30 years), the site would be returned to its pre-works state.
All going well, Neoen is keen on commencing construction in mid to late 2020, which would take 16 to 18 months. Up to 500 employees would be required for the 8 to 12 month peak of construction and five to ten operational staff for the life of the project.
The exhibition period for Culcairn Solar Farm ends on the 27th of this month. The project is classified as a State Significant Development and further details including the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) can be viewed here.
Neoen In Australia
Founded in 2008 and headquartered in France, Neoen had more than 2.8 GW of wind, solar and storage capacity in operation or under construction as at March last year. The company has set a target of 5 GW in operation and under construction by 2021.
Neoen has a solid track record in Australia – among its projects is the “Tesla Big Battery” (formally: Hornsdale Power Reserve) near Jamestown in South Australia, which will soon be even bigger. In 2018, Neoen commissioned five solar projects with a collective capacity just north of 250 MW (AC). Last year, its Numurkah Solar Farm project (100MW AC) in Victoria began full-scale commercial operation. Numurkah is one of two solar energy plants offsetting electricity used by Melbourne’s tram network.