Sanjeev Gupta’s SIMEC Zen Energy is set to begin construction of the Cutlana solar energy project as part of a broader US$1 billion renewable energy investment in the Upper Spencer Gulf.
SIMEC, the Australian energy arm of Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance, said the 280-megawatt Cultana Solar Project will be made up of 780,000 solar panels across an area 550 times larger than Adelaide Oval.
Once completed, it will generate 600GWh per year – enough to power nearly 100,000 homes.
The project forms part of the company’s 1GW dispatchable renewable energy program for the region which also include a separate co-generation plant at GFG’s Whyalla Primary Steel plant; the world’s largest lithium?ion battery; and trailblazing pumped hydro projects at GFG’s Middleback Ranges mining operations.
Mr Gupta said these initiatives would help the country transition to more competitive energy and boost Australia’s energy?intensive industries.
“Today’s event is symbolic of our desire to develop and invest in new?generation energy assets that will bring down Australia’s electricity prices to competitive levels again, as well as our commitment to local and regional Australia,” he said.
“In particular, this signals the beginning of our journey with a number of stakeholders to not only transform GFG’s operations in Whyalla, but also further enhance the appeal of this great city.”
He said the Cultana Solar Project – along with SIMEC ZEN’s second solar project to be built nearby – will create one of Australia’s largest solar farms, with even larger projects to follow in other states.
“All of these projects will not only improve reliability and greatly reduce the cost of electricity in our own operations, they will also provide competitive sources of power for other industrial and commercial users, while at the same time playing a key role in the market’s transition towards renewables,” Mr Gupta continued.
“We have a strong conviction that traditional carbon?intensive generation sources do not have a long?term future as the predominant source of power in Australia and globally. We believe the world is undergoing a momentous transition to renewable power as the cost of renewables drops dramatically and quickly.”
“It is, however, important that we acknowledge and also support the critical role that coal and other traditional fossil?fuel?based power must play in this transition.”
Construction of the Cultana Solar Project is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2019.