Bungama Solar have proposed a solar and battery facility near Port Pirie, South Australia

PLANT: The proposed solar and battery storage plant map.

PLANT: The proposed solar and battery storage plant map.

A large scale solar and battery storage facility has been proposed near Port Pirie, with it expected to be fully functional by 2020. 

Bungama Solar, under EPS Energy have proposed a 280 MW utility scale, photovoltaic and battery storage plant over 500 hectares of existing cleared land in Bungama, Napperby and Warnertown to integrate into the National Electricity Market through a 275kV connection to ElectraNet’s Bungama Substation. 

The project will cost the company $350-400 million and is set to create 150-200 local construction jobs throughout the six to nine month construction project, in addition to provide several benefits to the local community.

Stephen McCall, director of EPS Energy says that there will be an annual community fund available to the local community in addition to many economic multipliers. 

“During the construction phase there are a lot of economic multipliers including investment in local resources and local companies, the supply of local materials as well as things like accommodation and meals. That tends to assist in driving the local economy for the period of construction.”

“It will be an annual fund where the community will have a committee of sorts and various representatives, and then it will be open to what the community want to dedicate that money to. Like a grant system and the committee will make the decision where that money is spent.”

The project looks to develop renewable energy projects to assist power shortage and power infrastructure and stability in South Australia. They hope to be able to reduce wholesale energy prices, which will hopefully have an influence on retail energy prices. 

The company is still in the early stages of receiving approvals and are currently in the midst of the grid connection process with ElectraNet, but have already found the ideal piece of the land for the investment. 

“Ideally we want land that is relatively flat and clear of any other environmental constraints. Ecological, archaeological, aboriginal culture heritage and geotechnical constraints, there are a whole range of constraints that can influence projects”, Mr McCall said. 

“The land that we looked at there helped us to minimise those constraints and happened to be close to the substation so it worked well.” 

The plant will be on private land, on lease from local landowners, which over the 30 year duration of the project will see very minimal environmental impact. 

Landowners will be provided with a regular income across the span of the project, which may according to Mr McCall supplement other farming activities elsewhere. 

Construction is not expected to start until the second or mid quarter of 2019, with the aim of the plant being fully operational by the beginning of 2020 and the finer details of the design are still be decided, but they are looking at being able to provide 580 GWh hours of electricity. 

The company will be hosting three community information sessions on May 31 from 11am-1pm, and 5pm-7pm and again on June 1 from 10.30am-12.30pm at the Napperby Tennis and Community club to provide the community the opportunity to ask questions and provide suggestions. 

“It is our first opportunity to introduce the project to the local community and key stakeholders and talk to them about what our aims are and to seek feedback from the community about what they’d like to see.”

“We have been working on this for 18 months now and we are quite excited that it has gone public and we get to communicate with the community and council to talk about it, gain feedback and move forward with it.”