Solar Choice has today executed transaction documents with experienced energy storage and solar farm developer Genex Power Limited (ASX: GNX) to progress the multi-staged 2,000MW Bulli Creek Solar Farm & Energy Storage Project west of Toowoomba in Queensland.
Genex’s plans for the initial stages of the project are a 400MW/1600MWh battery, with the first solar farm stages being either 475MW or 675MW.
Solar Choice has been the originating developer of the project since 2013, and in 2021 purchased an additional 75% stake in the project entity holding the long term project rights from then partner First Solar, and has since conducted a tender process to onboard a new major investor. That process has now concluded with today’s deal with Genex.
Commenting on the announcement, Genex CEO, James Harding stated:
“Genex is pleased to have today executed the transaction documents with Solar Choice for the acquisition of a 100% interest in the development rights for the Bulli Creek Battery and Solar Project. The project is anticipated to be developed in stages, with the first stage being the proposed 400MW/1,600MWh large-scale Bulli Creek Battery Project. The Bulli Creek Battery Project is a continuation of our battery strategy and will be one of the largest battery energy storage systems in the National Electricity Market. This represents an exciting opportunity for Genex to apply the extensive market knowledge and learnings gained from the development of the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project as well as the Bouldercombe Battery Project.
“We have commenced discussions with potential joint development partners and Genex looks forward to keeping the market updated as it works through the development milestones of this exciting project, which represents the next phase of growth for the Company’s portfolio.”
Solar Choice’s Founder and Managing Director, Angus Gemmell stated:
“This is a watershed moment for Solar Choice and the Bulli Creek project in which we have invested an exceptionally large amount of work and initiative over the last nine years. We are thrilled to be working alongside Genex’s expertise on their delivery of the Bulli Creek Battery and subsequent solar farm stages towards fulfillment of the project’s immense grid and land capacity.”
The transaction documents also provide for certain development services to be provided by Solar Choice. Solar Choice shall receive a development fee at financial close for each stage of the Project (with each stage to be 100% owned by Genex and its partner(s)), including in exchange for developing the Project since 2013. The transaction is subject to typical terms for a transaction of this nature.
Genex is presently in advanced discussions with potential joint development partners to support the development of the Project, including providing a significant contribution to the external development costs and the equity funding of final capital expenditures.
Through the development of Genex’s two large scale storage projects, being the 250MW/2,000MWh Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project and the 50MW/100MWh Bouldercombe Battery Project (BBP), Genex has gained a robust understanding of the business case for storage in Queensland. The events in the National Electricity Market (NEM) in recent months have only highlighted the urgent need for dispatchable energy storage capacity to manage the transition to a net-zero economy.
Genex reached financial close of its first battery project, the BBP, in March 2022. Concurrently, Genex has been working to identify another suitable site to continue the expansion of its battery strategy in the NEM. This was premised upon being located within close proximity to existing transmission infrastructure with good network strength and projected marginal loss factors (MLFs). Following an extensive search and selection process, the Bulli Creek site was identified as an ideal location for Genex’s next large scale battery energy storage system (BESS) development.
Overview of the Project
The Bulli Creek project covers an area of over 5,000ha and is located approximately 4km from the Powerlink Queensland (Powerlink) Bulli Creek 330kV substation, which is the connection point in Queensland for the Queensland-NSW Interconnector. The project benefits from a prime position on the Queensland network due to its proximity to the load centre of Brisbane and the Regional Reference Node, resulting in strong projected MLFs; and a low connection cost due the close proximity of the Powerlink substation.
The project is highly progressed in terms of its land and planning workstreams, with Solar Choice having secured development planning approval, Environmental Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Approval and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage clearances over the entirety of the Project site.
The BCBP will be one of the largest BESS facilities in the NEM and will connect into the Powerlink 330kV substation which, importantly for a BESS, represents the same location as the connection point for the Queensland-NSW Interconnector. Genex is fast tracking the development of the BCBP, for which it is presently targeting a final investment decision in 2H CY2024.
Subsequent to the BCBP, or in conjunction with it pending the timing on securing of Power Purchase Agreements, the second proposed stage is a 475MW to 675MW solar PV project that will benefit from shared grid connection infrastructure with the BCBP, with subsequent solar stages proposed to build out the full land capacity of the project in due course.