SIMEC Zen Energy has revealed its plans of a US$1 billion renewable energy program near Whyalla in South Australia. The initiative will include the 280MW Cultana Solar Farm which is expected to begin construction in early 2019.
The billion dollar program was launched with an official ceremony attended by the South Australian Premier - Steven Marshall - as well as Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer and SIMEC Zen Energy Chairman Sanjeev Gupta.
During the ceremony, Mr Gupta expressed that his goal is to expand the country’s manufacturing and heavy industry powered by a supply of reliable and affordable renewable energy.
“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,” Mr Gupta said.
Aside from the Cultana Solar Farm, the US$1 billion program will also include a lithium-ion battery storage; expansion of the solar farm; a co-generation scheme utilising waste gas that will power Mr Gupta’s Whyalla steelworks; as well as pumped hydro projects for the Middleback Ranges.
According to Mr Gupta, coal and other fossil fuels play a vital part in Australia’s energy transition but renewables offer the best future for industries that are energy intensive.
“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 plating a key role in the market’s transition towards renewables.
“Looking forward, we will, therefore, continue to invest in renewables, help drive their market penetration and continual increase in affordability and reliability.
“At the same time, we will make use of traditional power sources supporting an orderly transition,” Mr Gupta said.
Mayor Breuer said that the council is keen to be partnering with GFG Alliance - the Gupta Group’s commodity company - in rejuvenating Whyalla over the coming years.
“We’ve already seen Sanjeev invest tens of million improving efficiencies and reducing input costs for his Whyalla operations, this now marks the beginning of his long-term investment program.
“Most importantly for Whyalla, this project signals to the nation that Whyalla is open for development, helping attract industries to our great city and further diversify and strengthen our economy,” Mayor Breuer said.
The Cultana Solar Farm is going to be located on a 1,100-hectare site and is going to comprise of up to 780,000 solar panels that can produce 600GW of renewable energy annually - enough to power 96,000 homes.
Construction of the solar farm is expected to create up to 350 jobs with a further 10 operational and maintenance positions once Cultana is completed.
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