Million-dollar government funding boost to solar farm with cutting edge storage solution

10 March, 2020

10 March, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE:

The NSW Government has thrown its support behind a community-jointly owned solar farm in the North West of the state with the announcement of $3.5 million in funding for the project.

This morning NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean announced the successful recipients from the NSW Government Regional Community Energy Fund.

The Manilla Solar Farm at Manilla, near Tamworth is Australia’s first community jointly-owned solar farm, offering co-investment opportunities and developed by Providence Asset Group, a leading Australian investor in renewable and clean energy projects.   

Providence Asset Group Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sun, said the Manilla Solar Farm was the first of Providence’s community solar initiatives to be rolled out across regional Australia, with multiple benefits for rural and regional communities.

“This State Government grant is very welcome and a great endorsement for this project, and we thank them for seeing the enormous potential for regional economies, and the state’s energy requirements and demands into the future,” Henry said.

“The funding will greatly expand the potential of this project, assisting with the provision of cutting-edge ‘hydrogen’ technology to support the solar farm and its storage capacity.”

Mr Kean said the grant would help the Manilla community take control of their energy bills and benefit from the economic opportunities presented by changes in the energy system.

“These innovative renewable energy projects will help to make electricity more reliable and affordable for our regional communities,” he said.

The solar farm will be connected to the grid to allow access to the local community, as well as the wider energy market. A hydrogen battery storage system – Providence is at the forefront of the ongoing development of this technology – enhances the storage capabilities for the energy produced, increasing the retail opportunities.

Since the project was announced by Providence in December, the company has been completing technical due-diligence tasks as part of the early stages of the development, with construction expected to start later this year.

Providence Asset Group has partnered with Manilla Community Renewable Energy Inc (MCRE) to form Manilla Solar, the company that will drive the development of the 4.5MW solar farm on a 15ha block on the Manilla Rd, within 3km of the electricity sub-station. The design ensures minimal disturbance to the existing landscape and includes natural screening to minimise its visual impact.

MCRE President Emma Stilts welcomed the funding from the State Government and said it was a further boost for the project that promised so much for the Manilla district.

“The Manilla Solar project, and now this funding for the storage component of the farm, is amazing news for our community which has suffered in recent times with the drought. This has given us something positive to get behind, that will reduce our energy costs, and provide local investment in energy infrastructure, new industries and jobs – the potential is huge,” Emma said.

Henry said with the price of electricity from traditional energy sources proving challenging for many household budgets, solar farms like the ones Providence is establishing at Manilla were going to become increasingly important, and represented a ‘win-win’ for both the host community in the form of cheaper power and money back into the area, and investors who were guaranteed an attractive financial return.

“Community members and business now have the chance to invest in this exciting project, with the knowledge the electricity produced will be sold to locals at a cheaper rate than retail electricity, and that a portion of all profits will come back to the Manilla community,” Henry said.

“With today’s announcement by Minister Kean, it’s gratifying to know others share our belief in the potential of renewable energy to improve the well-being of communities and the environment, and for the Manilla community to see that investment flowing for the benefit of their region.”

For those wanting additional information on the project and investor opportunities, Emma said Manilla Solar would have a stall at the Manilla Show on March 14.

For interview requests please contact Kylie Galbraith, Seftons, on 0411 480 208 or
02 6766 5222.