THE $400 million solar plant on Bungala Aboriginal Corporation land, 10 kilometres north-east of Port Augusta, has been given final approval.
Italian manufacturer of electricity and gas Enel, together with the Dutch Infrastructure Fund, received the green light for the 275 megawatt Bungala Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project.
Construction of the solar plant is already underway, with plans to have the facility operating by early 2019.
Enel Green Power CEO Antonio Cammisecra said the company aims to become a key player in Australia’s green energy sector.
“We are proud to lend our experience to the development of renewables in Australia through Bungala Solar, the country’s largest solar plant currently under construction,” he said.
“This project marks the first step of our growth strategy in a country which boasts such an abundant resource base and whose renewable capacity is expected to surge in the next years.”
The solar facility is predicted to have the capacity to power 82,000 Australian households, while avoiding the emission of over 520,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said the project was estimated to create a minimum of 400 jobs, with a potential peak of up to 500 to 600 construction jobs.
“The most pleasing thing is that there has been a lot of talk and speculation for the best part of two years, but now we're actually seeing these major projects come to life,” he said.
“We know construction is where the jobs are for that two, two-and-a-half year period, then it obviously drops off, but I’d rather take 400 jobs for two years than none at all because that’s a huge boost to our economy and local businesses like motels, pubs and cafes.”
Mayor Johnson said Port Augusta is driving the nation in renewable energy production.
“I very much believe now that Port Augusta is the renewable capital of Australia, which means we’re part of a new industry,” he said.
“We're the ones leading the nation, we’re the ones employing people, we’re the ones getting foreign investment.”
Mayor Johnson said the civil works are well underway, with site preparation and fencing work “pretty much completed.”
With projects in every other continent, Bungala Solar is Enel’s first in Australia.