Adani confirms $300m Australian solar investment

Adani – the Indian energy giant – has released further details of its planned large scale solar PV projects in Australia that were first reported in pv magazine earlier this week.

The conglomerate has confirmed that it will invest an initial US$300 million (AUS$400 million) on developing the two solar farms, one of which will be located on a 600 hectare swathe of land near Moranbah in central Queensland that will be between 100 to 200 MW in size.

The other solar farm will be situated in the Whyalla region in south Australia. Land rights for both locations have already been secured, with the Whyalla plant expected to be 120 MW in size and create 350 jobs during its construction, which will begin late next year.

The installation in Moranbah will be called the Rugby Run solar farm, named after the Rugby Run grazing property located nearby. Adani is currently in talks to build the largest coalmine in Australia, and this sizable solar investment will go some way towards sating environmental groups that have been critical of Australia’s mining growth, despite a number of towns – Moranbah included – being financially crippled in recent years due to a slump in coal mining.

"Adani is fundamentally an energy company, not a miner, and its expertise is shifting rapidly towards becoming a clean energy producer in India and now in Australia," said Peter McCallum of Mackay Conservation Group. "This is a sensible move that recognizes the long-term future of electricity production is in renewables."

Adani said on Thursday that the solar projects are "part of our balanced approach to power generation with coal-fired, solar and wind plants supporting the energy policies of the nations in which Adani operates".

The Indian firm also said that the Moranbah array would be "one of the world’s most advanced solar energy plants", but would not reveal any further details. Construction will begin in mid-2017, with completion penciled in for 12 months later.

The Whyalla project also promises to bring in much-needed jobs and investment into the region, and Adani’s plans were welcomed by the region’s officials. "Whyalla City Council strongly supports renewable projects, and we believe Adani’s solar generator project will bring major benefits," said Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer.

Giles lawmaker Eddie Hughes added that Whyalla has "sun, land, a skilled workforce and a supportive community; those attributes have attracted the interest of Adani".

Adani already has 793 MW of installed solar PV capacity under its belt in India, including the 648 MW solar installation in Tamil Nadu.