SIMEC ZEN Energy starts 1-GW Aussie renewables plan with solar power

Solar panels. Author: Chris Baird. License: Creative Commons. Attribution 2.0 Generic.

August 15 (Renewables Now) - UK steel entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta today announced the first project under an ambitious plan to add 1 GW of dispatchable renewable energy capacity in South Australia.

SIMEC ZEN Energy, a unit of the Gupta group’s commodity conglomerate GFG Alliance, will build a 280-MW solar park near Whyalla that will be capable of generating 600 GWh of electricity annually. It expects to obtain development approval in the fourth quarter and initiate construction activities in the first trimester of next year.

The Cultana solar farm is the first of a number of projects planned for the area as Gupta’s commitment to invest USD 1 billion (EUR 883m) in renewable energy projects in South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf. The plan is to ensure long-term green and low-cost power supply for large industrial users in the Aussie state, including Whyalla steelworks.

The so-called Cultana solar farm will use 780,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels with an output seen to be enough to supply nearly 100,000 average households and offset about 492,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year. The developer has already commenced preliminary consultation discussions with the local community, it said in a statement.

The project is expected to create 350 direct jobs during the construction phase and 10 ongoing operation and maintenance positions, following completion.

A second PV project under the 1-GW scheme is also in development and will be built in proximity to the 280-MW facility.

GFG Alliance last year acquired the Whyalla steelworks and other steel assets and also took a majority stake in Australia-based ZEN Energy. The latter and GFG’s energy division SIMEC Energy formed SIMEC ZEN Energy and then announced plans to transform the business by building and contracting large-scale solar and energy storage capacity.

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.883)

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