Sanjeev Gupta announces Whyalla solar farm the size of 550 Adelaide Ovals

British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has announced plans for a solar farm covering an area the size of 550 Adelaide Ovals as part of his $US1 billion renewable energy plan for the Upper Spencer Gulf.

SIMEC ZEN Energy – part of Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance – announced the plans for one of Australia’s largest solar farms alongside South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and local Mayor Lyn Breuer in Whyalla on August 15.

The Cultana Solar Farm is the first project to be unveiled as part of Mr Gupta’s landmark $US1 billion, one gigabit dispatchable renewable energy program.

The Cultana solar project will feature 780,000 solar panels generating 600GWh of energy per year, enough to power 96,000 homes, and according to Mr Gupta will help bring down energy prices.

“Today’s event is symbolic of our desire to develop and invest in new-generation energy assets that will bring down Australia’s electricity prices to competitive levels again, as well as our commitment to local and regional Australia,” he says.

“In particular, this signals the beginning of our journey with a number of stakeholders to not only transform GFG’s operations in Whyalla, but also further enhance the appeal of this great city.”

In 2017, Mr Gupta’s company GFG Alliance bought the Whyalla steelworks and iron ore mines, saving thousands of local steel industry jobs.

The Cultana Solar Farm will generate 350 jobs during construction and 10 ongoing operation and maintenance positions.

Development approval is expected later this year before works begin in the first quarter of 2019.

Mr Gupta says Cultana, along with SIMEC ZEN’s second solar project to be built nearby, will become one of the largest solar farms in the country.

He says the renewable energy projects will not only improve reliability and drop energy costs for his own operations, but will provide competitive sources of power for other commercial and industrial users.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer says the city’s council is keen to partner with GFG Alliance in coming decades, including leasing a portion of land for the Cultana project.

She says the solar project signalled to the nation that Whyalla is open for business.

SIMEC ZEN Energy is pursuing a number of other renewable energy projects in the region, including cogeneration at GFG’s Whyalla Primary Steel plant using waste gas, the world’s largest lithium-ion battery and pumped hydro projects at GFG’s Middleback Ranges mining operations.

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