Maoneng has lodged a development application for construction of an energy hub in regional New South Wales, including a 550MWac solar farm and 400MW / 1,600MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). 

The near gigawatt capacity project is designed to address the regional energy supply and grid stability needs of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and would be one of the largest renewable energy hubs in Australia.

Once approved, construction of the solar farm and battery is expected to take 18 months, creating up to 500 full-time equivalent jobs during the peak of activity, and requiring up to 20 permanent operational staff for the 35-year life of the project. 

A development application providing details of the proposed energy hub south of Merriwa, in the Upper Hunter Shire Council area about 180km northwest of Newcastle, will be lodged with New South Wales’ Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as a first step in the State Significant Development assessment process. At this stage, completion of the project is expected in 2025.

With a proposed solar array area of 78ha, on current estimates, the new solar farm would comprise around 1.3 million photovoltaic solar panels mounted on single-axis trackers, plus associated buildings and infrastructure. It would also involve the construction of a new substation directly connecting to the NEM via TransGrid’s existing 500kV transmission line that runs along the south of the site. 

The land is currently used primarily for grazing, and the impact on the surrounding community, with whom consultations have begun, is expected to be largely contained to construction activities and traffic management on local roads. 

Maoneng Co-founder and CEO, Morris Zhou, said the project represented a significant step forward for dispatchable solar generation in New South Wales, and a milestone in the company’s evolution. 

“This project will support the New South Wales Government’s large-scale solar generation and battery storage strategies as the state moves towards increasing use of clean energy,” Mr Zhou said.

“We have deliberately chosen the site based upon its robust connection to the existing grid, making efficient use of the infrastructure that exists today.

“The Merriwa Energy Hub would be one of the largest renewable energy hubs in the country and, while it’s still early days, we expect the construction process to support hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, as well as significant investment into communities experiencing a shift away from fossil fuel.

“As an Australian business that develops both energy generation and battery storage projects, we are committed to supporting the national transition to renewable energy, and looking to a future with many new commercial opportunities for entrepreneurial companies.”

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