Equis Energy to build Australia’s largest solar project

Singapore-based Equis Energy is set to build Australia’s largest solar farm, an 1000 megawatt solar farm near Wandoan, north-west of Brisbane, as the roll-out of renewable projects continues at pace.

The Wandoan South Solar Project, which will cover 1424 hectares of land and create up to 600 jobs, will be the largest utility-scale solar project in the country – more than three times the size of the current largest project under construction.

Western Downs Regional Council on Friday approved the $1.5 billion Equis Energy project saying the council was committed to the roll-out of large-scale solar projects in the region. The Equis project is expected to be delivered in three stages.

“We are serious about cementing the Western Downs as the energy capital of Australia and securing the enormous economic and community benefits that will bring to our region,” Mayor Paul McVeigh said.

Equis Energy, which is Asia’s largest independent renewable energy developer and investor, has already allocated $400 million towards two other renewables projects in Australia, including an 100 megawatts solar project in Collinsville, North Queensland, as well as a power purchase agreement with Snowy Hydro for an 100 megawatts solar project near Tailem Bend, South Australia.

The largest solar farm currently in operation in Australia is AGL Energy’s 102 megawatt Nyngan solar farm in NSW, with the largest proposed solar farm under construction is Lyon Group’s 330 megawatt Riverland Solar Farm in South Australia.

The largest proposed solar project in Australia is SolarQ’s $2 billion 350 megawatt project at Gympie, north of Brisbane, which has the potential to expand to 800 megawatts.

There are 17 other big renewable projects in the pipeline in Queensland – with a capacity of 1172 megawatts – as the Palaszczuk Labor government attempts to pivot the state from predominantly coal-based energy to 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

It comes as EnergyAustralia has rejected Queensland Investment Corporation’s almost $1 billion law suit against the $1.78 billion sale of its Iona gas storage plant in Victoria saying the state-owned company knew what it was buying.

In response to the $967 million claim brought against them by the state-owned QIC, lawyers for EnergyAustralia said QIC’s Lochard Energy wrote a letter to the Australian Energy Regulator that the Iona facility could meet the 390 terajoules a day and could be increased to 570 terajoules a day.

The defence claim also referred to a presentation by Lochard Energy chief executive Anthony Fowler to the Australian Domestic Gas Outlook conference in March 2017 in which Mr Fowler said the Iona Facility had a withdrawal capacity of 390 terajoules a day with a capacity of 67 days.

In documents lodged in the Supreme Court of Victoria in March, QIC’s Lochard Energy said EA “deliberately or recklessly” failed to inform bidders during the sale of the plant in 2015 about significant capacity constraints that would have a major impact on offer prices.

Several senior EA executives were aware of the capacity issues, including chief executive Catherina Tanna, according to QIC’s claim. The $967 million claim is based on the true difference between the price QIC paid and the plant’s “true value”. QIC is claiming damages for breach of the sale agreement and of Australian consumer law.

But EA, which is owned by the Hong Kong-listed CLP Group said it would vigorously defend the claim.

“We’ve seen no reason to change the position we took when the statement of claim was lodged in May,” an EA spokesman said on Friday.

“We have absolute confidence in our position in this matter and – once again – make clear that the phrase ‘vigorously defend’ is not a cliche. As the matter is now before the courts it’s not appropriate for EnergyAustralia to make further statements at this time.”

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