UPC\AC Renewables Australia has begun construction on its 720MW New England Solar Farm, an important milestone for the project and the Uralla region’s position at the centre of the clean energy transition.
The occasion was formally celebrated at a sod turning ceremony at the entry to the solar farm site, about 6km northeast of Uralla.
NSW Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, Uralla Shire Deputy Mayor Isabel Strutt, and UPC\AC Renewables CEO Anton Rohner, came together to mark the occasion.
More than three dozen workers are now on-site undertaking earthworks and road and drainage construction across nine kilometres of local roads before work can begin on the solar farm site.
The solar farm construction and road upgrades are being led by Green Light Contractors with the road design, survey and construction being undertaken by locally based businesses that have expanded their local workforce to support the project.
Other New England based surveying and engineering businesses have completed survey work for the site, as well as plans for the onsite operation and maintenance building.
Up to 700 jobs are expected to be created from the solar farm and battery project during peak construction and there will be an additional 15 ongoing roles throughout the solar farm’s operational life.
Mr Rohner said the project would continue to drive opportunities for local businesses, employment and help grow the local economy.
“The local community, our project landowners and civic leaders have been very supportive of the project over the past three years,” Mr Rohner said.
“We’re extremely excited to see construction start and the opportunities that are being returned and created for local business and workers.
“Once fully complete, the solar farm and battery project will be Australia’s largest hybrid solar and battery energy storage facility.
“It will play an important role in the energy transition already underway across the country.”
The road works involve upgrades to Big Ridge Rd and the intersection of Barleyfields Rd and the New England Highway.
They are expected to take about three months to complete. They will allow safe access for construction on the solar farm site, which is expected to begin towards the middle of the year.
The New England Solar Farm and battery project will be built in two stages.
The first 400MW (AC) stage and the 33/330kV substation will be installed on the northern section of the site by Green Light Contractors.
While the first stage of the associated 400MWh battery project, a 50MW/1hour Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) capable of dispatching energy to the grid at times of high energy demand, will be constructed with the support of the NSW Government’s Emerging Energy Program.
The solar farm will connect with the existing 330kV transmission power line that crosses the site.
Once fully constructed, the project is expected to produce 1,800,000MWh of clean, renewable electricity each year; enough to power more than 250,000 typical NSW homes.