Genex has finalised a long-term power purchase agreement with Fortescue that will provide the foundation for a minimum 450 MW solar farm that will serve as the first stage of the planned Bulli Creek Clean Energy Project being developed in Queensland’s Western Downs region.
The deal provides for the offtake of up to 337.5 MW of solar energy and renewable generation certificates at an undisclosed fixed price over the 25-year term of the agreement. Genex said the PPA enables it and development partner J-Power to confirm solar as first stage of the Bulli Creek project.
Genex Chief Executive Officer Craig Francis said the Sydney-headquartered developer had acquired the Bulli Creek project in 2022, initially envisioning a stand-alone battery energy storage system as the first stage.
“However, securing this long-term 25-year offtake agreement with Fortescue for 337.5 MW of solar capacity at Bulli Creek has reshaped the first stage of the project into a large-scale solar farm,” he said.
Francis said he expects the agreement with Fortescue, which provides a 75% contracted revenue stream, will underpin a solar farm capacity of 450 MW, with the long-term nature of the agreement “highly attractive for prospective project financiers.”
“Discussions are continuing with external parties for further offtake to support a solar farm capacity of up to 775 MW for this first stage of the project,” he said, noting that this would position the Bulli Creek solar farm as the largest solar farm connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM).
Genex is developing the Bulli Creek solar and battery project in partnership with Japanese electric utility J-Power on a 5,000-heactare site about 150 kilometres southwest of Toowoomba in Queensland’s Western Downs region.
Genex said the initial solar farm stage will be followed by a battery energy storage system of up to 400 MW/1,600 MWh capacity, with the potential for further solar and/or energy storage stages to follow up to the full 2 GW capacity at the project site.
The first stage of the project is targeted to reach a final investment decision in late 2024, with first energy production targeted in 2026.
Fortescue Energy CEO Mark Hutchinson said the solar energy procured under the Bulli Creek PPA would meet a portion of the renewable energy requirements for a proposed 70,000-tonne green hydrogen production facility at Gibson Island near Brisbane.
The Gibson Island proposal includes the construction of a 550 MW electrolysis plant capable of producing up to 70,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually, which would then be converted into green ammonia for Australian and export markets. It is expected the project will need about 1 GW of renewable energy contracts.
“It is the first PPA for the project and finalising it is an important milestone in our pursuit of a targeted final investment decision this calendar year,” Hutchinson said.
“We’re also helping Genex and J-Power to deliver their project and bring new renewable energy capacity online in Queensland – close to 115 MW from this first stage is surplus to our contracted share and will therefore flow back into the electricity grid.”
Fortescue said the PPA is conditional on it reaching a final investment decision on Gibson Island by December 31 this year, and Genex achieving financial close on the first stage of its Bulli Creek Solar Project by 31 December 2024.