While choosing renewable energy now can mean a bigger electricity bill, prices are heading downwards relative to coal-fired equivalents. As solar and wind technologies gets better, and more generators are built, renewable energy should only become more affordable. So what new projects can make eco-friendly energy more affordable near you?
Renewable energy infrastructure is booming in Australia, with more and more wind and solar farms springing up across the landscape. Investors are recognising the value of building more sustainable energy alternatives as more energy users become concerned about the environmental impact of traditional electricity generation methods. For example, Indian developer Adani is looking to invest $5 billion in renewable energy projects in Australia over the next five to 10 years.
There are actually a massive number of solar and wind farms in the works across the country – far more than we could cover in one article. Instead, read on for a selection of some of the biggest upcoming projects to show you the trajectory the Australian energy market is following.
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Gullen Solar Farm (near Goulburn, NSW)
The Gullen Solar Farm is currently in the final stages of construction and is expected to commence operations by September 2017. It has been built on the same site as the existing Gullen Range Wind Farm, which has meant less supporting infrastructure needs to be built, such as access roads. The 10MW solar farm is projected to produce about 22,000MWh (22GWh) per year – enough to power about 3,100 NSW homes.
White Rock Wind Farm (near Glen Innes, NSW)
This project set in the New England Tablelands is nearing completion of Stage 1 of construction, projected to be by the end of 2017. The full project is approved for up to 119 wind turbines, which will add over 300MW of capacity to the grid. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has even joined the construction crew, breaking ground at the site in his electorate.
— CleanEnergyRegulator (@CERegulator) August 15, 2017
Sapphire Wind Farm (between Glen Innes and Inverell, NSW)
By CWP Renewables
Set to be the largest wind farm in NSW, the Sapphire project will have a massive 270MW output, 100MW of which is already contracted to the ACT Government to help them meet their target of 100% renewable energy by 2020. The first turbines are expected to be installed in October 2017, with construction scheduled to be fully complete in September 2018. The Sapphire Wind Farm neighbours the existing Glen Innes Wind Farm and under-construction White Rock Wind Farm.
Tailem Bend Solar Farm (near Lake Alexandrina, SA)
By Snowy Hydro & Equis Energy
Being constructed on land already owned by Snowy Hydro, the Tailem Bend project will be used to add further solar supply to customers of Snowy Hydro-owned retailer Lumo Energy. The Tailem Bend Solar Farm will have a 120MW generation capacity, enough to power 40,000 homes, plus a 50MW battery farm with capacity to increase that to 100MW within four years. Tailem Bend will be the first “battery-ready” solar farm in the state. It will also include a 28MW diesel fuelled generator, to be relocated from the Hunter Valley, as a source of backup power during peak demand periods. The current schedule projects completion by 2018.
Whyalla Solar Farm (near Whyalla, SA)
Just outside of South Australia’s third largest city, the Whyalla Solar Farm will have a generation capacity of 140MW. Current plans are for construction to commence in early 2018, with energy production to begin from early 2019. In addition, an expansion to the Whyalla project is in the concept stage, which would significantly expand on the plant’s generation capacity.
— Origin (@originenergy) June 23, 2017
Stockyard Hill Wind Farm (near Ballarat, VIC)
Victoria is currently home to the largest operating wind farm by capacity (Macarthur Wind Farm, 420MW) but is soon to top its own record with the Stockyard Hill project. The wind farm has been approved for 157 turbines, with construction to begin in early 2018 and energy production to begin by late 2019. This will add a massive 530MW of energy generation capacity to the grid, enough to power about 340,000 Victorian homes each year.
Longreach Solar Farm (near Longreach, QLD)
By Canadian Solar
Making use of Queensland’s reputation as the sunshine state, Canadian Solar began constructing a modest 15MW capacity solar farm near Longreach early in 2017. The project is forecast to provide enough power to supply about 5,000 Queensland homes. Interest in building solar energy farms across regional Queensland’s west is booming, particularly as farmers look to other sources of income in the face of drought problems.
Rugby Solar Farm (Mackay region, QLD)
One of Adani’s three solar farms currently under development across Australia, the Rugby solar project will add 200MW of energy generation capacity to the Queensland grid. The property being used is owned by a local cattle farm, on land less suitable for grazing. Construction is set to begin this year.
— ES&D (@esdnews) August 7, 2017
Wandoan Solar Farm (near Wandoan, QLD)
By Equis Energy
At a staggering 1,000MW (1GW) capacity, the newly approved Wandoan Solar Farm project will be Australia’s largest and even among the world’s largest. The Western Downs facility will also have the capacity to later add battery storage. Construction will begin in 2018, with generation projected to begin in 2019.
The next big revolutions in renewable energy infrastructure will likely be in solar power battery storage – while Australia has plenty of sun and wind to turn into electricity, our capacity to fully rely on it for our power needs will be limited until we can store it efficiently. Battery storage technology is making rapid progress, and thanks to investments such as the Tesla battery system being developed in South Australia, us Aussies may well be among the best beneficiaries.
Keep an eye out on what infrastructure projects are in the works in your state to follow the progress towards more accessible and affordable renewable energy.