CWP’s Grand Solar plan

CWP Renewables is best known for its portfolio of wind farms but is fast muscling its way into big solar, developing plants that are among the nation’s largest and most ambitious. New to the ever-expanding drawing board is a 600 MW* solar farm with minimum storage of 50 MW/100 MWh at the Sundown project in northern NSW, not far from the landmark Sapphire Energy Hob. The Sundown development is subject to state government planning approval that is anticipated in mid 2018, and certainty of off-take agreements.

All being well the Sundown start date would likely coincide with the near-completion of the nearby 270 MW Sapphire farm and start of the adjacent 170 MW solar farm along with 50 MW/100 MWh of battery storage. Importantly, the Sapphire Energy Hub has already secured long-term output contracts.

We recently learnt about CWP’s grand plan for a 250 MW concentrated solar thermal project near Townsville that potentially provides up to 12 hours storage, and comes at a capital cost of approximately $1.3 billion. Labeled ‘Freedom Energy One’ project development is subject to authority approvals with construction earmarked to commence in the first half of 2019.

Managing director of CWP Renewables Alex Hewitt was among a number of large scale renewables investors and developers who recently commended the Queensland Government’s Powering Queensland’s Future Plan which paves the way for CST while shoring up local manufacturing and jobs.

CWP has established quite a portfolio – and it does not end there.

The nation’s largest renewables developer is understood to have a stake in the proposed Asian Renewable Energy Hub that will generate and export 6,000 MW of renewable energy from Western Australia to South East Asia. The energy will be transmitted through undersea High Voltage DC cables. Spread over 14,000-square kilometres the project involves 4,000 MW of wind turbines coupled with 2,000 MW of solar PV. The word ‘groundbreaking’ is often used to describe projects but this proposal that is on a scale and direction never seen before sets Australia on a new trajectory.

A large-scale renewables export vision along these lines has long been held by Mark Diesendorf and Andrew Blakers who will doubtless be closely watching developments and celebrating the materialisation of the concept.

*At the time of writing we were unable to confirm details with Ed Mounsey who heads up development of CWP Renewables on the scale of the proposed development but this is the figure being bandied around.