A project boasting 1.5 GW of solar PV and 500 MWh of energy storage broke ground 100 km north of Brisbane on Wednesday (February 20), becoming Australia’s largest solar development to enter construction. While no public announcement was made, renewables industry body the Smart Energy Council posted a photo from the ground breaking ceremony today on Twitter.
Not much is known about the developer, Sunshine Energy, as the plant appears to be its first and only project, judging from its website. According to a company extract from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Sunshine Energy Australia was registered in 2017 in Mitchell, in the Australian Capital Territory, with a headquarters in Melbourne. Its principle shareholder is Hong Kong-based Eastern Union Limited, and the bulk of its shares are owned by former director Anthony John Youssef and current director Chi Man Li, both of whom have a residence in Australia.
The massive project was given the green light by Queensland’s Somerset Council in mid November, following a review. The council noted the application had been referred to various government departments and agencies for input.
“This was a complex development application put together by Ethos Urban planning consultants, who have been involved in other large infrastructure projects throughout Australia, on behalf of Sunshine Energy Australia Pty Ltd,” Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said at the time.
The plant is set to sprawl across 2,055 hectares east of Harlin along the D’Aguilar Highway, and be developed in three 500 MW stages. It will connect to the 275 kV high voltage national distribution network in Queensland.
Alongside the 1.5 GW solar farm, the project will feature two substations and a 500 MWh energy storage facility to be added later, putting the estimated cost at around $3.5 billion.
“The site has been largely cleared in the past and is within one hour of the 570 MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant at Splityard Creek, which is also in the Somerset Regional Council area,” Lehmann had previously stated, noting the site was attractive because of its proximity to the high voltage power network and Brisbane. (Source: pv magazine)