Ground has broken on a project that will be the first solar farm to be constructed in Australia by a European energy giant which has massive plans for renewable development in the country.

In its latest announcement, Denmark based European Energy said it has begun construction the 56MW Mokoan solar farm near Benalla in north-east Victoria.

This comes as the company reached financial close for the project on account of a loan facility from the Singapore branch of German bank Nord/LB.

Set to be connected to the grid in 2025, the solar farm will provide renewable electricity to more than 15,000 households and will reduce carbon emissions by up to 85,000 tonnes.

Tt will be built on a 94-hectare site on grazing land near Winton close to Benalla in the Hume Region in north-east Victoria.

The site is currently used for grazing. The company says that sheep will still be able to graze the land after the installation is in place.

It will feature bifacial solar panels, which are able to produce solar power from both sides of the panel.

The project received development approval from the Benalla Rural City Council in December 2018.

An expansion was approved by the Victorian Government in June 2020.

(site on which the Mokoan Solar Farm is being built)

Whilst the Mokoan farm is the European Energy’s first project in Australia, it represents only a tiny fraction of the company’s ambitions in the country.

All up the company has 5GW worth of projects under active development in the country along with a further 3GW which is in screening.

Key among these are the planned 1.3 GW Upper Calliope Solar Farm and the 1GW Sawpit Solar Farm – both of which are under development in Central Queensland.

Set to begin construction in 2025 or 2026 for target grid connection in 2026/27, the Upper Calliope farm will supply solar energy to Rio Tinto under a power purchase agreement.

It will be constructed on 2,700 hectares of land that is located approximately 50 kilometres south-west of Gladstone.

Meanwhile, the Sawpit Solar Farm will be built over a 12–24-month construction period for a 2026 target grid connection.

It will be located on 2,300 hectares of land that is located around 30 km south-west of Biloela.

Both of the proposed Upper Calliope and Sawpit farms remain subject to development approvals.

Both will allow sheep grazing, with one-third of each site being occupied by solar panels and sheep being able to graze on the remaining two-thirds of the area.

(Artist impression of Upper Calliope Solar Farm which is currently under development and subject to approval)

The latest development comes as the Australian Government is pursing a massive transformation of the nation’s energy network as part of its planned transition to a net zero economy by 2050.

As part of this, the nation plans to generate 82 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

In a statement, Catriona McLeod, Country Manager for European Energy in Australia, welcomed the latest development.

“We are thrilled to have started construction on our first solar project in Australia,” said Catriona McLeod, Country Manager for European Energy in Australia.

“We see this as the start of many projects by European Energy in the country. We are eager to leverage our capability in renewable energy development, EPC, financing and operating to contribute to meeting Australia’s renewable energy targets.”


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