NBN Co’s Solar Farm Project: Are We There Yet?

Wyalong Solar Farm
A solar energy project that will help power the operations of Australia’s NBN Co has seen some delays, but it shouldn’t be long until showtime.

NBN Co was established in 2009 by the Commonwealth of Australia as a Government Business Enterprise (GBE) to design, build and operate a wholesale broadband access network across the country – which it (eventually)1 did.  As at the end of last year, more than 12.2 million premises across Australia were classed as “Ready to Connect” (RTC) to the NBN network and more than 8.5 million premises had connected to it.

It’s an energy-intensive business and in December 2021 NBN Co announced a commitment to 100 per cent renewable electricity purchases from December 2025. It also signed on to the RE100 – a global initiative involving major companies committed to running on renewables.

In July last year NBN Co’s progress towards achieving this commitment took a big step forward with construction commencing of a solar farm in regional New South Wales. The 260-hectare clean power station near West Wyalong incorporates approximately 127,000 solar panels.

NBN Co has inked a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to take approximately 80 GWh per year from the 75MW Wyalong Solar Farm, which is more than 50 per cent of expected energy generated annually by the facility. NBN’s offtake represents approximately 55 per cent of the company’s energy consumption in NSW and 19 per cent of its national electricity consumption.

Power generation from Wyalong Solar Farm was somewhat optimistically expected to begin in late 2022, but like the NBN itself, there’s been a delay. Unlike the NBN rollout delays, it shouldn’t be very long.

In its 2023 Half-Year Report for the six months ended 31 December 2022 released yesterday, NBN Co said due to weather-related impacts and delays, the solar farm is currently expected to begin operations in the second half of FY23. This comes as no surprise as the site was looking rather soggy when construction kicked off last year.

Wyalong Solar Farm construction site

By “FY23”, it’s assumed FY22/23 – so the facility should be ready for prime time within the next few months, all going well.

More Renewables On The Way

Beyond the Wyalong project, there will be additional renewable electricity purchases through further PPAs. On a smaller scale, the company is also reportedly using solar panels at some of its facilities, but I wasn’t able to find any further information how many systems have been deployed or their nature.

Among NBN Co’s other climate mitigation efforts, it’s working towards reducing annual energy use by 25 gigawatt hours by December 2025, and using electric or hybrid vehicles “where suitably available” by 2030.

The company is deploying more full-fibre connections2, stating these are more energy-efficient and will reduce overall energy demand. NBN Co. also sees its role in reducing greenhouse emissions in a much broader sense.

“NBN Co can play an important role in helping homes and businesses to reduce their energy demand by providing connectivity that enables new modes of work and by supplying access to the digital tools businesses need to operate more efficiently.”

NBN Co’s 2023 Half-Year Report can be downloaded here.

Footnotes

  1. Let’s not go there, this is a website about solar power :).
  2. Which should have been done in the first place! But see footnote above.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Speak Your Mind

Please keep the SolarQuotes blog constructive and useful with these 5 rules:

1. Real names are preferred - you should be happy to put your name to your comments.
2. Put down your weapons.
3. Assume positive intention.
4. If you are in the solar industry - try to get to the truth, not the sale.
5. Please stay on topic.

Please solve: 30 + 1 

Get The SolarQuotes Weekly Newsletter