Renewable energy developer ACEN Australia announced the opening of Stage 1 of its New England Solar project, located near Uralla in the NSW Government's New England Renewable Energy Zone. It is one of Australia's largest solar projects participating in the National Electricity Market (NEM).
New England Solar was approved by the NSW Government in 2020 and is being developed in two stages with a total estimated capacity of 936 MWdc (720 MWac). Stage 1 of the project commenced construction in March 2021 and has close to one million solar panels installed.
With a green light into the NEM from the Australian Energy Market Organization (AEMO) last December, the project is set to generate solar energy at full nameplate capacity of 521 MWdc (400 MWac) in the coming months.
"The event is an important milestone for the energy transformation underway across NSW and Australia. I truly believe that the work ACEN Australia is doing to accelerate Australia's transition to a renewable energy future is here and now—and it starts with New England Solar," said Anton Rohner, CEO of ACEN Australia.
"We decided to build New England Solar on a fully merchant basis to ensure it is online in time to help replace closing coal fired power stations in NSW. We wanted to get things built, to decarbonize Australia," added Rohner.
ACEN Australia has also born social responsibility in mind during the project development. As part of New England Solar, it is investing more than AUD 5 million (USD 3.3 million) over the next 25+ years through the Uralla Grants Program to support and promote resilience, prosperity, sustainability and recreational activities in Uralla. At the completion of Stage 1 construction, AUD 200,000 (USD 133,730) in grants will have already been delivered.
ACEN Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of ACEN, the listed energy platform of the Philippines-based Ayala group. The company has over 1 GW capacity in construction and more than 8 GW capacity in the development pipeline.