French renewables giant Neoen secured planning approval for the first stage of the $2.3 billion Goyder South project in South Australia this week, according to The Advertiser.
The group aims to win new projects at a pace of at least 2 GW per year over the next four years. If achieved, that would give it more than 10 GW of assets in operation or under construction by year-end 2025, from 4.1 GW at the end of 2020.
Neoen has timed its aggressive strategy well, as it has been reported that the first stage of what could be 1.2 GW of wind, 600 MW of solar, and 900 MW/1,800 MWh of battery storage has secured planning approval. The project, which should create more than 300 construction jobs and rely on the yet-to-be built SA-NSW Interconnector (Project EnergyConnect), is proposed for sites near Burra, South Australia.
“Goyder South will not only support South Australia in reaching its goal of net 100% renewables by 2030, it will deliver income security to farmers, as well as jobs to the Goyder region,” Neoen Australia Managing Director Louis de Sambucy told The Advertiser.
The project will be constructed in three stages. The first stage, now approved, will involve the construction of 400 MW of new renewable energy by early 2022.
“Approval means hundreds of jobs can be created in regional South Australia, boosting the economy as we recover from the global coronavirus pandemic,” said South Australia Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, noting that Goyder South builds upon the South Australia-New South Wales interconnector, which the South Australian state government is working to deliver in cooperation with industry.
Neoen’s revenues rose by 18% to €298.8 million (357 million) in 2020. The company is clearly now looking to reinvest its profits. It said that a “strong first-quarter increase in storage” was a contributing factor to its 2020 revenues.
Neoen Chairman and CEO Xavier Barbaro said that the company's ambitious plans through 2025 are “predicated in particular on the strong development prospects of the countries in which we currently operate and on the quality of our local teams.” As a way of ensuring capital for this growth, Neoen will adopt a “farm-down policy of selling full ownership or a majority stake in projects in its secured portfolio,” Barbaro added.
This marks a moderation in the company’s long-held “develop-to-own model.” But it's not a full departure, as “assets sold pursuant to Neoen’s farm-down policy will not exceed 20% of the gross annual increase in its secured portfolio.” The two subsequent stages will depend upon the completion of Project EnergyConnect.
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