A German-based family investment company, Wirtgen Invest, has made its first foray into the Australia solar market, buying the “shovel-ready” Glenrowan West solar project in Victoria that it plans to bring on line in 2021.
The purchase of the 149MW (peak) Glenrowan West project from Overland Sun Farming, expands the focus of Wirtgen which had previously focused on the European market, with solar projects in Portugal and ,wind farms in Poland and Sweden.
The Glenrowan West solar farm will be Wirtgen’s first entry into the Australian market, with the project currently being developed by Wirsol. Another German company, WiNRG, advised in the acquisition and EPC process.
“Wirtgen Invest is proud of its first investment in Australia. We are looking forward to good cooperation with the local community and to making Glenrowan West Sun Farm shine,” Wirtgen Invest directors Jürgen and Stefan Wirtgen said in a statement.
The Glenrowan West Solar Farm will be located at a site south-west of the town of Glenrowan, between Benalla and Wangaratta, and is set to commence construction in February, with completion scheduled for 2021.
Once completed, the project will supply around 41,000 Victorian homes with renewable electricity, and reduce emissions by an estimated 310,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Signal Energy Australia has been engaged as the engineering, procurement and construction provider, while Wirsol and WiNRG will remain engaged with the project as the construction and commissioning manager and will ultimately act as the solar farm operator on Wirtgen’s behalf.
“We are delighted to be leading the delivery of Wirtgen’s first venture into the Australian market and look forward to continuing our presence within the local community,” director of Wirsol Energy Andy Scullion said.
“This is a significant milestone for us at Wirsol Energy, at almost 150MW this will be our largest Solar Farm to date, taking our portfolio under management to over 500MW and another great step forward for the decarbonisation of Australia.”
The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but the cost to complete the project is likely to exceed $200 million, comparing the 149MW Glenrowan West project to the 120MW Bomen solar farm, also developed by Wirsol at a cost of $188 million and acquired last year by Spark Infrastructure.
The Glenrowan West farm is located beyond the so-called “rhombus of regret”, the part of the Western Victoria grid that has experienced problems with “system strength” and other issues, and which has resulted in severe curtailment to existing solar farms and grid connection delays for a host of other wind and solar farms.
Five solar farms located across Victoria and New South Wales – including two managed by Wirsol, Wemen and Gannawarra – have had their output curtailed by the Australian Energy Market Operator due to newly emerged “system strength issues”.
The unresolved issues have also created a back-log of ‘ready-to-go’ projects waiting to be connected to the grid, with AEMO writing to project developers to warn that they will face delays in final commissioning.