WATTLE CREEK ENERGY HUB

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The Wattle Creek Energy Hub is a proposed project to be located on land owned by the University of Sydney, east of Big Hill in the NSW Southern Tablelands of NSW.

If approved, the Wattle Creek Energy Hub could generate up to 265 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the sun, providing enough clean, reliable energy to power around 55,000 households per year while offsetting the emissions of around 290,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The proposal also includes the installation of a large-scale battery with a capacity of up to 400MW/1,600MWh of electricity, which would be dispatched on command to provide a range of network support services.

The proposed site is situated east of Big Hill, 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.

The Wattle Creek Energy Hub initially included a wind component. Spark Renewables is not proceeding with the wind farm and is instead focused on developing the solar and BESS components only.

Status:
EIS and SIA preparation

Location:
Big Hill, NSW Southern Tablelands on
the traditional lands of several groups, including the Gundungarra, Wadi Wadi, Wiradjuri and Dharawal people

 

Generation capacity:
up to 265 MW

Battery storage:
400MW/1,600MWh

 

Developer

The proposed project is being developed by Spark Renewables, one of Australia’s leading developers and long-term owner and operators of renewable energy generation assets. Read more about us and our team.

PARTNERSHIP WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Involvement of the University of Sydney

University of Sydney

The University of Sydney selected Spark Renewables to investigate and develop a hybrid renewable energy facility on the University’s Arthursleigh property, located in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands.

The University of Sydney is a New South Wales State Government-owned tertiary education institution, engaged in the provision of tertiary education and research. As Australia’s first university – founded in 1850 – the University of Sydney has a proud history of global leadership in education and research and inspiring people from all backgrounds to contribute to positive real-world change.

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.”

Research opportunities

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 park, 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.

LOCATION

The proposed Wattle Creek Energy Hub site is situated on the University of Sydney’s Arthursleigh property, located in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands.

The project design will ensure that the University’s existing commercial research and teaching activities can continue on the Arthursleigh farm, with the the solar farm designed to allow sheep to graze underneath the solar panels.

The Arthursleigh farm was bequeathed to the University of Sydney in 1979 and is operated commercially producing Merino wool, Angus cattle and cereals while supporting a range of teaching and research.

The farm is not only a commercial grazing property used to assist animal, medical and scientific research but it is also playing a major role in restoring native flora and fauna in the area. The farm has been recognised as one of the first farms to be involved with the Greening Australia-led seeding trial using pelletised eucalypt seeds and was an early adopted of the Whole of Paddock Rehabilitation program.

Project Map

The farm management team supports the University of Sydney’s Engineering and Veterinary faculties in research and teaching. The team has developed extensive partnerships with numerous governments, non-government, and commercial agencies to improve land management, biodiversity and increase the tree coverage on the property through a diverse range of projects and initiatives, having initiated the following projects to support the restoration of native flora and fauna in the area:

  • The creation of wildlife corridors which will help save plant, animal, and bird species from extinction.
  • Numerous geotechnical works partnering with Local Land Services to prevent gully erosion throughout the property.
  • Establishment of over 140,000 native trees and shrubs and set aside over 1,200 hectares for conservation.
  • Fenced and revegetated the entire 13 kilometres of the Wollondilly River that passes through the property.
  • Excluded livestock from every creek and gully feeding into the river, allowing the fragile soils to recover.
  • Specifically planted eucalypt trees to support our endangered black cockatoo colonies for the future.
  • The introduction of alternative methods to minimise the growth of the highly invasive weed Tussock grass by planting crops to prevent germination.

PLANNING & CONSULTATION

Project status

The proposed solar farm and battery energy storage projects comprising the Wattle Creek Energy Hub are considered State Significant Development under NSW planning legislation.

The first step in the planning process is initiating community consultation and preparing a request for the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) will assess the development application documents and the consent authority will be the Minister for Planning or the Independent Planning Commission.

A Scoping Report, which is a formal request to the DPE to issue its requirements known as Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs), was prepared for the project and submitted to the NSW DPE in 2023.

The DPE issued the SEARs on 22 December 2023. These documents can be viewed on the DPE Major Projects website by searching for "Wattle Creek Solar Farm".

Next, the SEARs will be addressed in a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will be prepared over this year.

Formal NSW planning process

We are here

Proposal announced

To industry, government and community

Scoping report

Community consultation and preliminary technical studies 

SEARs issued

Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements

EIS and SIA preparation

Community engagement and technical studies to inform the EIS and SIA

EIS submission and exhibition

Public exhibition for agency and community comment

Response to submissions

Addressing comments and issues raised about the EIS in a "Response to Submissions" report

Assessing the proposal

Assessment by the Department of Planning & Environment

Determination

The Minister for Planning or the Independent Planning Commission decides the proposal

Community consultation

As part of the planning and development process, we are undertaking extensive consultation with the community, stakeholders and Traditional Custodians of the land. The consultation will take place via community drop-in sessions, community briefings, surveys, one-on-one meetings, newsletters, our project website, and social media. We encourage all stakeholders and community members to get involved.

Find out more and have your say:

  • Sign up to newsletters.
  • Request a one-on-one meeting or call.
  • Provide feedback via surveys.
  • Visit the project Facebook page.

If you have questions, feedback or would just like to register for future updates, please email info@wattlecreekenergyhub.com. You can also contact the team via 1300 271 419.

Enquiries and complaints

Enquiries and complaints to Spark Renewables in relation to the Wattle Creek Energy Hub project may be received via email, phone, post or in person. See here for contact details. An enquiry is defined as a question or request for information, and a complaint is defined as a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable. Spark Renewables will acknowledge enquiries and complaints within a reasonable timeframe:

  1. No later than within three business days for enquiries.
  2. No later than the end of the following business day for complaints.

The project team will provide a response to the enquiry or complaint, depending on the input required, within five business days for emails and phone calls, or 10 business days for letters.

OUR APPROACH

Member of the CEC

Spark Renewables is a member of the Clean Energy Council (CEC) and a signatory to the Clean Energy Council’s Community Engagement Best Practice Charter. Our team members participate in the Council's various working groups, including community engagement and social licence, and risks of modern slavery, as well as industry directorates on wind, solar PV, large-scale storage and renewable hydrogen.

Read More

First Nations Participation Plan

We are committed to working with the Traditional Custodians of the land to ensure the project minimises heritage impacts whilst maximising opportunities for education, training and employment. We will set goals as part of our Industry and First Nations Participation Plan.

Read More

Community benefit-sharing

We believe in sharing the benefits of our projects with the communities we operate in. We will establish a community benefit sharing program for the life of the project to provide social and environmental support to the local community, with the location-based delivery at the heart of the approach.

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 Jobs & training

We prioritise the local procurement of goods and services and engagement and training of local workers wherever possible. We expect the project would bring significant benefits in the form of job creation, investment in the local infrastructure, and long-term funding for local social and environmental initiatives.

Read More

TIMELINE

2022

Step 1 - complete

Initial identification completed, consultation ongoing ✔

2022

2023

Step 2

Community Consultation and Preliminary Studies

2023

2023/2024

Step 3

In progress: Submission of Development Application and Environmental Impact Statement

2023/2024

2024/2025

Step 4

Development consent

2024/2025

2025

Step 5

Financial investment decision

2025

2025/2026

Step 6

Construction

2025/2026

2027 onwards

Step 7

Operations

2027 onwards

PROJECT DOCUMENTS

Documents and materials will be listed here when they become available.

  • Community Newsletter #1

  • Community Newsletter #2

  • Community Newsletter #3

  • Posters - Marulan, 9 Mar 2023

  • BESS Site Map

  • BESS Scoping Report

  • Solar Farm Site Map

  • Solar Farm Scoping Report

  • State Significant Project (DPE website)

  • Issued SEARs

  • May_June 2024 Community Drop-In Session Info