Large-scale solarProject Gullen Solar Farm
This report summarises the project, key findings, knowledge sharing and lessons learnt during the construction of the Gullen Solar Farm project.
Gullen Solar Farm (GSF) is a 10MW AC (13.154 MW DC) solar farm, co-located with the Gullen Range Wind Farm (GRWF) in the Southern Highlands of NSW. GRWF was constructed from 2013 to 2014. GSF connects to the electricity grid through the GRWF 33/330kV substation. Both GSF and GRWF are owned by Beijing Jingneng Clean Energy (Australia) Pty Ltd (BJCE Australia). BJCE Australia purchased GSF from Goldwind Capital (Australia) Pty Ltd in 2016. The project was developed to the point in time where Development Approval was obtained by Goldwind Australia, after which development was managed by BJCE Australia.
GSF was identified for a $9.9 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in 2014. The grant was provided to assist in demonstrating the benefits of co-locating large scale solar generation with existing wind farms, particularly utilising existing wind farm infrastructure, connection to the electricity network and stakeholder relationships to reduce construction and operational costs. ARENA Financial Close was achieved in July 2016.
The GSF has been operational since September 2018. Operation was initially at a reduced capacity of 9.17MW, due to AEMO concerns with National Electricity Rules (NER) compliance of the project’s solar inverters. Operation at 10MW was achieved in August 2018.
A Development Application (DA) for the GSF was submitted on 17th December 2015 to the Upper Lachlan Shire Council (ULSC) under Part 4 of the Environment Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act 1979 (ref 7/2016). The development application was determined by the Joint Regional Planning Panel – Southern Region (JRPP). A lesson was learnt that the JRPP requires more detailed project design information in comparison to a State Significant Development determined by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). This requirement has consequences including a reduced ability to find efficiencies in design and difficulties with design and construct contracting.
The project was constructed under an EPC design and construct contract by Decmil Balance Joint Venture. First generation was within the schedule required by ARENA, but two weeks later than specified in the EPC contract, due to delays with AEMO registration. First generation was achieved on 1st September 2017.