Spark Renewables announces proposed Wattle Creek Energy Hub in partnership with the University of Sydney
24 February 2023
Following an extensive market selection process, renewable energy developer and long-term owner and operator, Spark Renewables, has been selected by the University of Sydney to investigate and develop a hybrid renewable energy facility on the University’s Arthursleigh property, located in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands.
The proposed site is situated approximately 12 kilometres north-east of Marulan, and approximately two hours’ drive from Sydney. The proposal is strategically positioned to make use of an existing high voltage substation, located adjacent to the property, to deliver clean, renewable energy from the energy hub to the University, local electricity users and the rest of NSW.
If approved, the Wattle Creek Energy Hub could generate up to 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the sun and wind, providing enough clean, reliable energy to power around 170,000 households per year while offsetting the emission of around 950,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The proposal also includes the installation of a large-scale battery with a capacity of up to 500 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, which would be dispatched on command to provide a range of network support services.
A key element of the proposed energy hub is a two acre “test-bed facility”, which would enable the University of Sydney to undertake research on new and emerging technologies, including further testing of innovative battery systems developed by Gelion, a company spun out from the University in 2015.
Spark Renewables and the University have also agreed to an ongoing research agreement throughout the life of the energy hub, collaborating on initiatives related to clean energy in the fields of science, engineering, business and economics. The proposed partnership will also include a work experience and placement program for undergraduate and PhD students.
The project design will ensure that the University’s existing commercial research and teaching activities can continue on the Arthursleigh farm, with the wind turbines occupying a small proportion of the 6,200 hectare property and the solar farm designed to allow sheep to graze underneath the solar panels.
Anthony Marriner, Head of Spark Renewables, said: “We are honoured to have been selected by the University of Sydney to investigate and develop the proposed Wattle Creek Energy Hub. We look forward to collaborating with the University.”
Spark Renewables will shortly commence consultation with local community members, Traditional Owners and other interested stakeholders.
“If approved, Wattle Creek Energy Hub will bring significant benefits for both the local community and broader region in the form of job creation, investment in the local infrastructure, and through the provision of long-term funding for local social and environmental initiatives. Our commitment includes the establishment of a substantial community benefit fund and also a separate neighbour benefit scheme, which could be used to lower household electricity costs,” Mr Marriner said.
University of Sydney Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research – Enterprise and Engagement) Professor Julie Cairney said: “This long-term partnership with Spark Renewables will support a research program and infrastructure for the translation of research into innovative renewable energy technologies. New clean energy products and knowledge will benefit Australia’s environment and the economy. We look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
The first community drop-in session for the proposed Wattle Creek Energy Hub project will be held from 2-7pm on Thursday, 9 March 2023 at the Marulan War Memorial Hall (80 George Street, Marulan, 2579). Community members will be able to talk to the Spark Renewables’ team to learn more about the project and provide initial feedback.
Spark Renewables is a developer and long-term owner and operator of renewable energy generation assets. Our operational portfolio comprises of the 100 MW Bomen Solar Farm near Wagga Wagga which commenced operations in 2020. Our large development portfolio includes a number of wind, solar and storage projects in the National Electricity Market.
Spark Renewables is owned by the Spark Infrastructure Group – an owner of leading essential energy infrastructure, including generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure across Australia.
Spark Renewables is a member of the Clean Energy Council (CEC) and a signatory to the CEC’s Best Practice Charter for Renewable Energy Developments.
About Arthursleigh Farm
The farm was bequeathed to the University in 1979 and is operated commercially producing Merino wool, Angus cattle and cereals while supporting a range of teaching and research.
The Wattle Creek Energy Hub is a hybrid renewable energy facility proposed on the ‘Arthursleigh’ property owned by University of Sydney, located approximately 12km north-east of Marulan in the NSW Southern Tablelands region, situated in the Upper Lachlan Shire.
The Energy Hub is proposed to include a wind farm, solar farm and a Battery Energy Storage Facility (BESS).
The project is being developed by Spark Renewables, a leading developer and long-term owner and operator of renewable energy assets. If it proceeds, the project could also support university research and education through a new, onsite, test-bed facility, a research fund and other initiatives.
We are keen to hear from community members and interested stakeholders and will be holding an initial community drop-in session from 2pm to 7pm on Thursday, 9th March 2023 at the Marulan War Memorial Hall, 80 George Street, Marulan. Community members will be able to talk to the Spark Renewables team, learn more about the proposal, and provide initial feedback. Please see the last page of this newsletter for further information.
Why this site?
The proposed site is strategically located to take advantage of local wind conditions, the local solar resource and its location relative to the existing electricity transmission network with a proposed connection to the Marulan Substation.
About the site
The farm is owned by the University of Sydney after being bequeathed in 1979. The farm is operated commercially and is used for a range of research initiatives including agricultural science, pasture agronomy and unmanned aerial vehicle applications. Agricultural land use will continue with the operation of the project, with sheep grazing within the wind and solar farm areas.
What are the community benefits?
The local community will be able to benefit from a range of opportunities connected with the proposal if progressed, including a community fund and a neighbour benefit fund. Spark Renewables is looking to work with local stakeholders to co-design a program that meets the unique needs of the wider community, and delivers long-lasting social, economic and environmental benefits for decades to come. We are keen to hear any ideas from community members as the benefit scheme is developed. If you wish to have a chat or organise a time to meet, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 271 419.
Committed to reconciliation
Spark Renewables is putting in place a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan and is committed to creating lasting, positive change for Aboriginal communities. We acknowledge that setting a benchmark as part of First Nations participation plans for each of our projects will be an important step to achieve economic empowerment of First Nations people.
What approvals are required?
The proposal would be considered a State Significant Development and would require development consent under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act). Three Development Applications (DAs) are proposed to be submitted, one for each component of the proposed project (wind, solar and BESS), which would be accompanied by detailed Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). These would include comprehensive assessments identifying the potential impacts of the Project and how to best manage these impacts. A detailed Social Impact Assessment (SIA) would also be prepared for each component of the project as part of the EISs.
The SIAs would include a comprehensive community engagement program and would be prepared following the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s (DPE) Social Impact Assessment Guideline for State Significant Projects (2021). The Project may also require approval under the federal Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
What is proposed
Up to 34 wind turbine generators typically spaced 500-1000 meters apart and connected via underground cables.
Modern wind turbines have a tower (hub) height up to 180 metres and blade length up to 100 metres.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on single axis trackers that slowly rotate and follow the sun from east to west each day.
A containerised BESS built within the wind and solar farm enabling electricity to be stored and then exported as needed.
Noise and vibration
Social impact assessment
Traffic and access
Flooding and hydrology
What is a Scoping Report?
A Scoping Report is the first step in the development application process. A Scoping Report provides an outline of the proposed project and identifies important issues that will require further technical studies, assessment and consultation, and is a formal request to the DPE to issue Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs). Separate Scoping Reports will be developed for each of the three technology components of the Project.
Who is developing the EISs and SIAs?
Spark Renewables has commissioned Umwelt Environmental and Social Consultants to undertake a series of preliminary environmental and technical assessments and to prepare the three Scoping Reports. Umwelt will be consulting with the community alongside Spark Renewables and Spectrum Communications to inform the preparation of the EISs and SIAs.
The NSW Government has a legislated planning process in eight stages to ensure that a project is suitable for the community, economy, and environment, and therefore whether it should be granted a development approval.
The proposed Wattle Creek Energy Hub project is in the early stages of development and will undergo rigorous planning and assessment. As part of this, we will undertake extensive community consultation and encourage all stakeholders and community members to get involved in this process. This will occur prior to formal development applications being submitted to planning authorities.
You are welcome to drop in to our first information session at any time to meet the Spark Renewables team, ask questions and learn about the proposed Wattle Creek Energy Hub. We are hosting a face-to-face session at:
Marulan War Memorial Hall 80 George Street, Marulan, NSW, 2579
Thursday, 9th March 2023 between 2pm-7pm
Call us at 1300 271 419
Visit Facebook at facebook.com/wattlecreekenergyhub