The Bungala Aboriginal Corporation in South Australia is set to reap up to $1.8 million in economic benefits from a landmark solar energy deal that will see the nation’s biggest solar power station developed on its land.
The 300 megawatt solar energy generation plant at Port Augusta is being developed by Enel Green Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of multinational power company Enel, international fund manager Dutch Infrastructure Fund and Reach Solar Energy.
Bungala Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Rob Laundy said the new project would turn an under-utilised site into an income stream and potentially employment-generating source for the community.
“The site had been an ostrich farm many years ago and had then been virtually untouched for years, falling into substantial disrepair,” Mr Laundy said.
“We’d been contemplating re-fencing it and perhaps running stock, but when we saw this opportunity, the potential benefits to our community were simply too impressive to ignore.”
The project, which received development approval in December, was being delivered in partnership with Enel, DIF and Reach and would be developed over a number of stages with a 30-year life span.
The first project would aim to create 220 megawatts in two stages, which on completion would be able to produce enough energy to power about 82,000 homes in SA.
There was a further 80MW of potential generation that would give the site the capacity to power up to about 130,000 homes.
Reach business development director David Webster said the construction phase of the project would generate a significant number of jobs at its peak and the construction contractor would be looking to recruit locally where it could.
“This a hugely significant project for South Australia given both its scale and generation capacity,” he said.
“We hope it will certainly go some way to giving the South Australian public more confidence about the potential surety of supply of their vital energy needs.”
Work at the site was expected to begin within the next two months, with the 220MWac targeted for completion in the third quarter of 2018.
Mr Laundy said the lease payments for the site, along with the potential for construction jobs and post-construction jobs, would make it a winner for the community.
“We recognise the need for the Bungala Aboriginal Corporation to be as self-sufficient as it can be by identifying culturally appropriate commercial opportunities that deliver real value to our community,” he said.
“The Bungala Solar Project is a classic example of what we hope can be achieved through strategic partnerships and we look forward to seeing the program being successfully rolled out.”