Solar River Project Update

Solar energy project near Robertstown

Image: skeeze

South Australia’s huge Solar River Project, in the Robertstown region in the state’s Mid-North, is gearing up to get under way.

The first stage of the Solar River Project is to include 200MW of solar panel capacity and a 100MW lithium- ion battery system (the project web site just notes it as 120MWh).

The Advertiser (paywall) reported on Monday that Downer has inked an “early contractor involvement” (ECI) deal concerning the project. ECI arrangements enable a contractor to be involved in the early phases of a project, before design has been completed, in order to leverage specialist knowledge the contractor has that can assist in finalising design.

Downer’s renewable energy experience in Australia includes Ararat Wind Farm Project (Victoria – 240MW), Sunshine Coast Solar Farm (Queensland – 15MW) Clare Solar Farm (Queensland – 100MW) and Ross River Solar Farm (Queensland – 148MW).

Previously to start in January, construction of Stage 1 of Solar River is now expected to commence in May and take approximately 2 years.

As to how large stage 2 will be – the project site states “200MW with 150MWh battery”. There could also be other stages subsequent to that, but any further development past Stage 1 will depend on issues such as securing power purchase agreements and the construction/status of the SA/NSW interconnector project, known as RiverLink. The proposed new interconnector would run from Robertstown to Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, via Buronga.

The clean power station will be connected to the grid via a low profile 275,000-volt line with pole construction designed similar to other lines in the area.

Solar River Project Pty Ltd says Stage 1 will create 350 regional jobs during the construction period and 45 full time permanent jobs for the 25-year life of the facility. The company has also committed to supporting local sporting teams with sponsorship and facilities upgrades. Local roads utilised during construction will be upgraded and maintained.

South Australia has more than a dozen large-scale PV projects at various stages – including Bungala, Tailem Bend and Cultana. Plans have also just been publicly released for another huge solar + storage project near Robertstown.

The state is no slouch on small-scale solar power either, with more than 241,600 systems installed across South Australia as at the end of last year, representing 991MW of capacity. Just over 32% of dwellings in South Australia have solar panels on their rooftops. Small scale per capita capacity works out to be 570 watts, well ahead of the Australian average of approximately 315 watts.

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.

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