A South Australian solar farm spearheads a billion-dollar renewables scheme which includes solar power, battery storage and pumped hydro-electricity.
British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta launched the 280 MW Cultana Solar Farm project this week. His company SIMEC ZEN Energy is backing the 1 GW clean energy program worth more than $1.3 billion.
Gupta believes renewable energy will eventually replace coal in energy-intensive industries throughout Australia.
Renewables scheme construction begins early 2019
Construction of the Upper Spencer Gulf solar farm will begin early 2019. The project should then provide 600 GW hours of annual generation. This is enough to power 96,000 average homes.
The 780,000 solar panels will cover an area of 11 square kilometres – that’s 550 times more area than the Adelaide Oval.
A second solar installation will then be built nearby. The two assets will create one of Australia’s largest solar farms, Gupta says.
Renewables scheme part of Gupta’s clean energy transition
Gupta sees Cultana solar farm as the first step in Australia’s industrial transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
He says because the cost of renewable generation is dropping “dramatically and quickly” around the world, high carbon emitters like coal have no long-term future.
However, according to Gupta, coal and traditional fossil fuels will still play a part in Australia’s transition to clean energy.
Continued investment in renewables will drive affordability and reliability of energy supply. Yet traditional fuels like coal also ensure an “orderly transition”.
Range of renewables in extensive Gupta portfolio
Solar power is the primary asset in the Gupta portfolio. Yet it also features a wide range of other renewable facilities.
SIMEC ZEN Energy is delivering a $700 million solar installation to help power the company’s Liberty OneSteel plant in Whyalla, South Australia.
It will be backed up by a 100 MWh battery storage facility in Port Augusta and a pumped hydro plant in the Middleback Ranges.
Dispatchable baseload power is therefore delivered more cheaply than traditional forms of generation, Gupta says.
His ‘green metal’ strategy uses renewable energy throughout the plant. Gupta also bought a 50.1 per cent share in ZEN Energy to ensure a secure supply of energy.