The second phase of the Bungala Solar Project – a 110 MW solar power plant – started feeding electricity into the grid last week, making Bungala the nation’s largest operating solar farm.
The two plants, covering 600 hectares of land and consisting of about 800,000 solar panels, bring the Bungala project to an operating capacity of 220 MW, with the potential to power more than 95,000 homes.
The entire first phase of the project was commissioned in September, after the first feeder of Bungala Solar 1- a 45 MW portion of the 137.7 MWdc Bungala Solar One PV plant – was switched on in May.
Although it is currently the largest completed solar power plant in Australia to date, Bungala will soon be overtaken by other big projects in the development pipeline, such as innogy’s 349 MWp Limondale Solar Farm and Maoneng’s the 255 MWp Sunraysia Solar Farm in New South Wales, Total Eren’s 256.5 MWp Kiamal Solar Farm in Victoria.
The entire Bungala project is owned by Italian power utility Enel, through its subsidiary Enel Green Power, and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund, which together invested US$157 million ($218 million) to acquire the first phase of the project from Bungala Solar Holding Pty Ltd., a subsidiary of Australian developer Reach Solar Energy. The purchase of Bungala Solar Two by Enel and DIF reached financial close last July.
All of the power generated by Bungala 1 and 2 will go to Origin customers based on long-term power purchase agreements with Enel Green Power.
Origin Energy said that the commencement of commissioning for Bungala 2 Solar Farm in South Australia last week was a significant step forward towards its goal to source 25% of energy for its customers from renewables by 2020.
According to Origin, Bungala is one of a number of its solar projects expected to be commissioned by the end of the year, including Clare, Daydream and Darling Downs solar farm in Queensland. Together, these developments will add 376 MW of emissions-free solar energy to Origin’s portfolio.
Origin plans to add a further 530 MW of renewable energy with the commissioning of the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm near Ballarat in Victoria next year, thus expanding its renewables portfolio to nearly 1,650 MW.
In terms of energy storage, Origin Energy has also progressed its projects. Last week, the electricity retailer won federal government funding for a feasibility assessment on plans to double the capacity of its Shoalhaven pumped hydro scheme in New South Wales, from the existing 240 MW to 475 MW, and thus allow for greater storage of renewable energy.
Origin has pledged to halve its direct emissions by 2032. It plans to achieve the goal by exiting coal, increasing its reliance on gas and adding more renewable energy to its portfolio.