The Spanish energy giant Iberdrola has announced construction has begun of its 317MW hybrid wind and solar farm near Port Augusta, the company’s first greenfields project in Australia, and the largest wind and solar hybrid project in the country.
The $500 million Port Augusta Renewable Energy Project – featuring 207MW of wind generation and 110MW of solar – is located near the former site of South Australia’s last coal-fired power station, along with the 220MW Bungala solar farm and the 126MW Lincoln Gap wind and battery projects that have helped replace it.
It is also located in the heart of the electorate of state energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, who wants the state to reach its target of “net 100 per cent renewables” by 2030, a target that will be accelerated if the proposed new link to NSW, Project EnergyConnect, is built as planned.
“We have seen quick progress in challenging times, so it is great to have spades in the ground already on our first ever project in Australia,” Iberdrola country manager Fernando Santamaria said in a statement.
“Port Augusta is a major commitment in terms of investment and clean energy capacity, both for the Australian renewables market and for Iberdrola’s global project portfolio.”
Iberdrola is a global company of significant scale, with a market value of more than $A100 billion, and is one of a number of multi-nationals building large scale renewables in Australia, along with the likes of Enel Green Power, Total Eren, BP, and Shell.
Iberdrola is also completing its purchase of the listed renewable energy company Infigen, which will give it an operating portfolio in Australia of more than 800MW – mostly wind and the Lake Bonney big battery – and a development pipeline of more than 1,000MW.
“The Australian renewables sector as a whole offers great potential and, as a long-term operator, this flagship project highlights our commitment to invest in countries where we see good conditions for clean energy to grow,” Santamaria said.
The event was due to be attended by both van Holst Pellekaan and state Liberal premier Steven Marshall, who also noted that Singapore-based Nexif has just begun construction of the 86MW second stage of the Lincoln Gap wind project, which will eventually grow to 364MW.
“These projects provide a critical boost to South Australia’s post-Covid economic recovery, and are encouraged by the SA-NSW interconnector which provides them with new export opportunities,” Marshall said in prepared comments.
Van Holst Pellekaan said Port Augusta will showcase a new generation of renewables designed to provide predictable power more uniformly across the day.
“The project’s combined solar and wind generation output is expected to closely match South Australia’s electricity demand profile which will help place downwards pressure on electricity prices while also assisting with the security and reliability of the grid,” he said.
“These regional renewable energy projects are an example of how the State Government is delivering on its vision for South Australia to achieve 100% net renewable energy by 2030.”
The enthusiasm, and attendance, of the South Australia Liberal government is in stark contrast to the federal government, which despite boasting about the amount of renewables built in Australia over the last couple of years – from a policy that it had tried to kill – has not sent any Coalition prime minister or energy minister to visit a wind or solar farm in the seven years it has been in office.
Current energy minister Angus Taylor didn’t even make it to the opening of a major wind farm, Crookwell 2, in his own electorate, which is not surprising given his long track record of opposing wind developments.
Iberdrola says around 200 jobs will be supported during construction of the Port Augusta project, with 20 full-time jobs based on-site once construction is completed in 2021. It will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 180,000 Australian homes.
“The South Australian Government has worked closely with us during the construction planning, and we were happy to be able to show the Premier and Energy Minister the progress at the site today,” Santamaria said. “The project is delivering jobs and significant economic value for the local region.”
Iberdrola bought the project from DP Energy, which has been working on developing the project for years, and will remain involved until completion. The two main suppliers for the Port Augusta project are Vestas, which will install 50 wind turbines with a 4.2 MW capacity, and Longi, which will deliver nearly 250,000 solar PV panels.
Elecnor will construct the storage areas and access roads, as well as delivering the export transmission line, the substation and wind farm Balance of Plant. India’s Sterling & Wilson will construct the solar farm.