The Federal Government, through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and in a joint venture with Octopus Australia, is set to fund a new $8.5 million renewable energy park in Gippsland.
The park will help accelerate the region’s uptake of clean energy and bolster power supply to the National Electricity Market.
“Gippsland has the potential to become the newest renewable energy hub in Victoria, with utility-scale solar, wind, battery storage and potentially clean hydrogen,” Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Tim Wilson, said.
In a major boost for energy supply in the region, the Gippsland Renewable Energy Park (GREP) will deliver clean energy to the National Electricity Market, to help replace the fossil fuel supply that will be lost when the Yallourn coal fired power station closes.
The GREP development will be a multi-staged project and will investigate the deployment of various technologies at utility scale, including solar, wind, battery storage and the potential of green hydrogen.
CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth said, “Gippsland has been a powerhouse for the National Electricity Market for many years. This development will contribute to the region’s transition to a clean energy future, while continuing to supply the power that helps keep Australia’s lights on.”
The 3000-hectare GREP site is in the heart of the proposed Gippsland Renewable Energy Zone (GREZ).
“The Gippsland Renewable Energy Park will set the benchmark for future clean energy infrastructure projects,” Mr Wilson said.
“The Park will be home to large-scale clean energy projects with the construction and development of the 3,000-hectare site creating up to 400 jobs in the region.”
Octopus Australia estimates that construction and development of the GREP will generate several hundred jobs in a region that has been hit by bushfires and the decline of local industries including timber and coal-based generation.
Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, said supporting local jobs was an important focus.
“We have many skilled workers in our energy sector and it is important we ensure their skills can be utilised in new areas,” Mr Chester said.
“This is also an important step in keeping the energy sector in our region where the knowledge and experience is and ensuring that the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland are not forgotten about.”
The CEFC and Octopus Australia joint venture portfolio includes the recent acquisition of the 44MW Perry Bridge and 80MW Fulham solar farm development projects in the Gippsland region.
The project has also attracted superannuation fund Hostplus.
Alongside the CEFC financing up to $8.5 million on behalf of the Australian Government, Hostplus will invest via an Octopus Australia-managed platform to help develop the GREP – a pioneering investment by a super fund in an early-stage renewable energy project.
Octopus Group, of which Octopus Australia is a subsidiary, is one of the world’s largest investors in clean energy with more than $6 billion deployed across more than 300 projects across the UK, Europe and in Australia.
Octopus Australia Managing Director, Sam Reynolds, said, “We are very excited to be able to work with such well respected partners in bringing the GREP project to life.
“It is a great opportunity to combine the resources and capital of each group into a collaboration that can build GREP in a way that benefits not only Australia’s clean energy future but equally as importantly, the local Gippsland community.”