Lightsource BP is proposing a new utility-scale solar farm in South Australia. The U.K. solar developer will soon host a community information event in the town of Mannum to give residents and interested parties an opportunity to find out more about the 100 MW project and the company’s plans.
The solar installation would be built on 540 acres of land west of central Mannum. The 100 MW plant would annually generate enough electricity for 34,700 households. Around 300 regional jobs would be created in the construction phase, as well as two to three on-going roles during operation.
According to Lightsource BP, the proposed design ensures that 15 hectares of native vegetation would be retained and impacts on waterways would be avoided. The solar farm is also designed to allow for sheep grazing beneath and between the rows of panels, while also supporting beekeeping, which may be an additional use for the land in the future.
“We are hosting this information evening to have an open and transparent discussion with residents,” said Adam Pegg, Australia country manager for Lightsource BP. “It’s an opportunity for us to present our plans, research and further information about our business and have a two-way discussion with residents. During the event, we aim to discuss why the land area has been chosen and the benefits of our proposals.”
Oil and gas majors on the move
After closing its subsidiary, BP Solar, in February 2012, British Petroleum made its first move back into PV in 2017, with the acquisition of a 43% stake in British renewables firm Lightsource. The company played a major role in the U.K. solar boom and had emerged as one of Europe’s leading solar developers before it turned its focus to overseas expansion.
Lightsource BP’s first proposal in Australia was the 50 MW Naring Solar Farm in northern Victoria, Australia, followed by the 15 MW Winton Solar Farm. Last year, the developer was successful in a bid to provide renewable energy to state-owned retailer Snowy Hydro in New South Wales, in a massively oversubscribed 888 MW tender. The company’s bid was one of eight projects to win across the tenders and will take the form of a 105 MW solar farm. It will be fully funded, constructed and maintained by Lightsource BP, and will provide electricity to Snowy Hydro under a 15-year PPA.
Total Eren, meanwhile, launched construction on Victoria’s biggest solar farm, the 256.5 MW Kiamal Solar Farm and is looking to add a second stage with a generation capacity of up to 194 MW. On top of that, the renewables developer – which is 23% owned by French oil and gas major Total – is exploring commercial options for an approved 380 MWh of energy storage.
Multinational oil company Shell secured approval for a 250 MW solar power plant in the Western Downs region of Queensland, and unveiled plans for a 120 MW utility-scale PV array to supply its onshore gas operations in the northern part of the state.
Enel Green Power Australia, a subsidiary of Italy’s Enel, owns the 275 MW Bungala Solar Farm in a joint venture with the Dutch Infrastructure Fund. The project, located near Port Augusta, South Australia, is one of the largest solar facilities in the country.
Enel also recently launched construction of the 34.2 MW Cohuna Solar Farm, one of three solar projects allocated in the first Victorian renewable energy auction. And Italian oil group Eni also entered the Australian renewables market earlier this year by acquiring the Northern Territory’s largest solar project, the 33.7 MWp Katherine Solar Farm. The list goes on.
According to a recent report by Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy, in the Asia-Pacific region outside China, renewable energy investment will overtake spending on upstream oil and gas projects as soon as next year. And Australia is set to emerge as one of the leading investment destinations.