ACEN Australia acknowledges the resilience and knowledge of the Traditional Custodians of this nation. We pay our respects to elders past and present, the many Aboriginal people that did not make their elder status and to those that continue to care for country.
The Birriwa Solar and Battery Project is a 600-megawatt renewable energy project proposed across an area of approximately 1,200 hectares of mostly cleared grazing land, about 20km southeast of Dunedoo, in the NSW Central-West Orana region. It will generate enough energy to power approximately 262,000 average Australian homes.
The solar component of the project will have a capacity of around 600 megawatts (MW) and include a centralised Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) of up to 600 MW for 2 hours. The BESS will enable energy from solar to be stored and then released during times of demand. The project is proposed to connect to the Merotherie Energy Hub and the transmission line proposed by EnergyCo NSW.
The site has been selected due to its ideal features – mostly flat or gently undulating land relatively free of vegetation due to historical clearing for agriculture. It is also ideally situated away from towns but is still readily accessible by road. The project site is located in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), which is being developed by EnergyCo NSW on behalf of the NSW Government.
The project is being assessed as a State Significant Development of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) is the responsible state planning authority for the project. A range of assessments and site surveys have been undertaken as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which was submitted in 2021. The project is currently under assessment by the NSW Government.
At a glance
jobs at peak construction
average Australian homes each year
Employ and buy
Contribute to NSW target of
renewable energy by 2030
Central West Orana Region
ACEN Australia is committed to the Central-West Orana region for decades to come. Learn more about the NSW Government's Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone.
Built on a foundation of trust and shared value, we seek to develop relationships with communities that create enduring and positive impact. Here are some of the things we are doing and have proposed to implement for Birriwa Solar following project approval.
ACEN Australia Social Investment Program (SIP) available to the Gulgong and surrounding community. This is ACEN Australia’s voluntary contribution available now and into construction of the project.
Planning Agreement with Mid-Western Regional Council, commencing at construction of the project through the end of the project life. Likely to consist of a payment to an equivalent value of 1.5% of the project’s capital expenditure to Council for the purpose of delivering and facilitating community projects and infrastructure
Through the payment of Access Fees to the NSW Government for access rights to planned and new network infrastructure within the Central-West Orana REZ, ACEN will make significant financial contributions to the NSW Government for investment into communities within the CWOREZ
Neighbour agreements so that eligible properties receive a direct benefit
Commitment to responsibly decommission project infrastructure at the end of project life
Solar panel rows and heights allows for grazing to co-exist
Commitment to prioritise the participation of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to deliver goods and services
Commitment to product stewardship through environmental and social procurement that encourage circular economy outcomes
Addressing housing affordability and availability through a proposed temporary workers accommodation facility
Commitment to First Nations participation through areas such as contracting, employment, training and business innovation
Commitment to Learning Worker participation through areas such as traineeships and apprenticeships
Commitment to using local content for construction materials from Australia or New Zealand
Social Investment Program
ACEN Australia’s Social Investment Program (SIP) is our voluntary contribution available now and into construction of the project. Funding is available to not-for profit organisations and activities that directly benefit and enhance the liveability and vibrancy of Gulgong and surrounding communities.
The expected peak construction workforce for Birriwa Solar is 500. To limit the use of short-stay and/tourist accommodation in the region, ACEN Australia is planning to a build temporary workers accommodation facility to service Birriwa Solar, and potentially other ACEN Australia projects in the CWOREZ. The facility is proposed on the south-eastern side of Barneys Reef. It would be located approximately 1km south of EnergyCo’s Merotherie hub.
This option will:
Limit the impact on regional housing availability and affordability
Enable the region’s thriving tourism industry to flourish
Offer contracting and employment opportunities for local providers for the construction and servicing of a facility
Maintain the current social fabric of communities, including security and traffic by limiting the majority workforce to one location
Offer a positive health and well-being experience for workers through appropriate accommodation design
Potentially provide local government or other entities with accommodation facilities that can be re-used to meet community needs in the future
Jobs and business
We have a commitment to employ and buy locally where we can so we can keep the benefits local. With such a significant construction investment, it is anticipated that there will be many opportunities for regional businesses to be involved. Goods and services likely to be procured locally include:
First Nations participation
As a company seeking to harness wind, solar and water resources for energy today, we reflect on the contributions made by First Nations over thousands of years. We recognise the value of a better understanding of Aboriginal history and culture, and commit to meaningful participation with First Nations groups to support the protection of country, culture, and the development of their aspirations.
Central -West Orana community impacts and benefits
We are planning several projects in the NSW Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (CWOREZ) in the coming years and we are working with stakeholders and communities to balance the impacts and opportunities that a growing renewable energy industry can bring. We want to maximise local employment and business opportunities and deliver the most appropriate accommodation solutions for our workforces. Our preference and priority is to employ locally first, however current skills and labour shortages are a considerable barrier in achieving this.
DRIVING POSITIVE CHANGE FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET
We know the importance of early engagement with communities and stakeholders and are guided by industry and global standards.