“The acquisition of the project is an important step for the entire Enel Group. With Bungala Solar, we’ve entered a country that combines the best characteristics of developed countries and developing countries at the same time: a low risk country profile associated with interesting prospects of demographic and economic growth.”
The green future of Australia
The abundance of renewable sources and the increasing demand for green energy make Australia a country of great interest for Enel. “It had been on our radar for several years, but in the past, the country was characterised by a particularly unstable regulatory framework for renewables. The situation then changed rapidly and we did well to take advantage of this opportunity, which allowed us to win the largest solar project”.
The Renewable Energy Target Bill introduced in 2009 by the Australian Federal Government set the quota of energy produced from renewable sources to be reached by 2020 at 23.5%, but it wasn’t until the end of 2015 that changes were introduced that created a real turning point for the market. They were followed by various State initiatives to increase the production of renewable energy through public auctions. Furthermore, in March 2016 the current premier Malcolm Turnbull announced the establishment of a fund of one billion Australian dollars (about 760 million US dollars) dedicated to investments in cutting-edge clean energy technologies.
“There’s no shortage of sun and wind in South Australia. The desert area extends towards the south-western part of the country, to the Nullarbor Plain located between the Great Victoria Desert and the Indian Ocean.”
Building from the other side of the world
The works at Bungala Solar One will begin by mid-2017. The second phase of the project, Bungala Solar Two, will follow, and the entire 275-MW plant will be fully operational by the third quarter of 2018.
“A big hand goes to all the Development team, who encountered plenty of difficulties over the course of this long journey”, added Argentieri. One of the biggest critical issues was the question of geography: “We had to carry out all the negotiations in a time zone about ten hours different from our headquarters in Italy and without any logistical support in the country”. The entire operation required very long-distance transfers where the members of the EGP team and their extensive experience made all the difference.
“In our first negotiations in the country, we were considered a completely unknown company in the Australian market and we expected the total absence of specific competences on the country, bringing home a few failures. Once the initial gap was overcome and the synergy between local competences and the Group’s decades of global experience was synchronized, we were successful.”
The start of this new chapter “down under” is a big accomplishment for EGP. “After expanding eastward with our arrival in India, Indonesia and Australia, now it’s time to look North, to some very interesting countries, such as Vietnam and Thailand”, Argentieri concludes. “But I think it’s crucial to continue and consolidate our presence in the parts of the world where we already work, like India, Australia and Indonesia, now ready to accept new projects and different technologies”.