An Italian company has bought the proposed Katherine solar farm.
Eni Australia Limited, an offshoot of a global power company with origins in Italy, says it plans to start building the solar farm, located just north of town, in a few weeks.
The 34 megawatt PV farm had long been proposed by Katherine Solar Pty Ltd, a joint venture between Australia’s Epuron and the UK-based Island Green Power.
Although the sale price was not disclosed the project has previously been costed at $40 million.
While the NT Government has been keen to talk up the potential of the Katherine solar farm there have been questions over the financing of the operation.
Eni Australia is the owner of the Blacktip Gas Project in the Timor Sea which supplies has to power the NT.
“The town of Katherine is an excellent location to site a solar farm,” Katherine Solar Pty Ltd has said.
“The area’s solar resource is superior and avoids the cyclone-prone coast to the north. Katherine is located at the southern end of the Darwin-Katherine Interconnected System, the electricity network serving the majority of the NT population.”
The solar farm secured a development permit in 2017 and entered into a power purchase agreement with Jacana Energy last year.
Once completed, the project would be the largest PV farm in the NT with about 75 hectares of solar panels located just five kilometres from the town.
Eni Australia says the farm will consist of the installation of ground-mounted PV panels, as well as a battery storage system with a capacity of 5.7 MVA/2.9MWh (Mega Volt Ampere and Mega Watt hour).
“To ensure optimum operational performance, an innovative cloud coverage predicting technology will also be installed,” the company said.
“Thanks to these technologies, the plant will be able to forecast and compensate for possible variations in solar irradiation by taking energy from a storage system so as to minimise the impact to the grid.”
Epuron will have an active role in managing the PV farm once it is operational.
“Construction is expected to start in the next few weeks, with an expected commercial operation date in the fourth quarter of 2019,” Eni Australia said.
It is Eni’s first entry in the Australian renewables market and compliments the company’s existing assets in the region’s oil and gas sector.
Eni has been present in Australia through its subsidiary Eni Australia Ltd since 2000.
It is the operator and owner of the Blacktip Gas Project and has a non-operated interest in the Bayu-Undan gas and condensate field and in the associated Darwin LNG plant.
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