Lightsource bp on track to develop 600 MW solar hub in Australia

photo: Lightsource bp
photo: Lightsource bp

Lightsource bp, a global leader in the development and management of solar energy projects, and 50:50 JV with bp, has‎ ‎secured planning approval for upscaling plans for the Wellington North solar project, which was ‎acquired from AGL last year. The 400 MWdc site is adjacent to Lightsource bp’s near-complete ‎‎200 MWdc Wellington solar farm. Once operational, the 600 MWdc hub could become the state’s ‎largest renewable energy power hub.

Adam Pegg, country manager, Lightsource bp Australia, says, “We are very excited about the planning approval of our Wellington North solar farm; this is an ‎important step forward in our ambition to help Australia transition to a lower carbon future. In a few ‎years our 600 MWdc Wellington solar hub will be producing 1,173,000 MWh of renewable electricity ‎‎– the equivalent to powering 170,000 Australian homes – saving 938,000 carbon emissions annually.”‎

Lightsource bp’s Wellington North solar farm will use 1.2 million ‎bifacial solar panels – contributing to NSW’s ambition to increase its share of renewable energy to ‎more than 60% by 2030 while also playing a critical role in helping bp meet its net-zero ‎ambitions.‎

Frédéric Baudry, president, bp Australia, and SVP, fuels & low carbon solutions, Asia Pacific, says, “This ‎exciting development is further affirmation of bp’s strategy of growing our low carbon businesses ‎and transitioning from an international oil company to an integrated energy company. We are ‎proud to be progressing strong positions in renewables and contributing to Australia’s, and bp’s, net ‎zero by 2050 ambitions.”‎

Despite the global challenges of COVID-19, solar power continues to demonstrate its resilience and ‎reliability. The solar farm will provide direct economic stimulus in Wellington by creating 400 local ‎employment opportunities during construction.‎

Alongside providing locally generated renewable energy and creating new jobs, the Wellington North ‎solar farm has been designed to benefit the local environment and community. During the planning ‎process, an information event was held to allow members of the local community to view and ‎discuss the planned proposal, which was positively received. Throughout the planning process, ‎Lightsource bp also engaged with specialists to provide impact assessment and expertise in key ‎areas, including biodiversity and Aboriginal heritage.

Lightsource bp has designed the project to protect and enhance 163 ha of native vegetation and ‎fauna habitat on the project site, including 232 hollow-bearing trees. Lightsource bp, in consultation ‎with Aboriginal stakeholders, has also designed the project to preserve Aboriginal heritage items, ‎including two scarred trees, which provide Aboriginal people with an important link to their culture ‎and their past. The items located within the development site will be salvaged and collected prior to ‎construction commencing and relocated to a suitable location on the project site.‎

Lightsource bp will also further its partnership with the Clontarf Foundation, through increasing its ‎contribution to their local academy in Wellington, which aims to improve the education and ‎employment prospects of young Aboriginal men through its activities.

Wellington North is the latest to join Lightsource bp’s portfolio of solar projects in Australia designed ‎to help the country meet its renewable energy goals while also lowering power prices and benefiting ‎local communities.‎

Since partnering with bp in 2017 and entering the market in 2018, Lightsource bp has developed a ‎significant pipeline of large-scale solar projects across Australia. Together, Wellington North, ‎Wellington, West Wyalong and Woolooga solar farms exceed over 900 MWdc and once operational, ‎will make Lightsource bp one of the largest solar developers to own and operate in Australia.‎