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New deal boosts Tailem Bend solar project


Utility ZEN Energy has signed an agreement with the owners of a Tailem Bend solar farm to supply a group of South Australian retail, mining and agriculture businesses with renewable energy.

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Led by renowned climate expert Ross Garnaut, Adelaide-based Zen has brokered an offtake agreement with Vena Energy to purchase renewable energy from the 87 MW Tailem Bend 2 Solar Project in partnership with the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME).

SACOME’s Joint Electricity Purchasing Group comprises of the majority of Foodland & IGA supermarkets in South Australia, Viterra, Central Irrigation Trust, Adchem and Hillgrove Resources.

The Tailem Bend 2 Solar Project is being constructed next to the 95MW Tailem Bend 1 Solar Project, which began operating in May 2019.

The new solar farm, about 90km south-east of Adelaide, is expected to achieve commercial operation in the first half of 2023.

”ZEN Energy’s agreement with Vena Energy to purchase renewable energy from the Tailem Bend 2 Solar Project fulfils the intent of SACOME’s Joint Electricity Purchasing Group to underpin new electricity generation in South Australia,” said SACOME CEO Rebecca Knol.

“This once again highlights the benefits of collaboration across sectors, providing affordable power to some of South Australia’s largest energy users while supporting the development of new renewable power generation for the collective benefit of the state.”

In the five years since being granted an electricity retail license, ZEN has worked with key customers including the South Australian Government, CSIRO and the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) which comprises twenty-five local councils in New South Wales.

ZEN has also contracted renewable energy and environmental certificates from 16 solar and wind farms and installed 35,000 commercial and residential renewable energy systems across Australia.

“We are constantly looking to innovate how we engage with our partners,” said ZEN Energy CEO Anthony Garnaut.

“Tailem Bend 2 is underpinned by an innovative power purchase agreement which ultimately brings benefits to all involved.”

ZEN Energy formed in 2004. Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance acquired a 51 per cent controlling interest in the company in September 2017, renaming the company SIMEC Zen Energy.

But GFG, the owners of the Whyalla Steelworks, sold its stakes back to ZEN’s founding shareholders in August 2020 amid stalling global steel sales.

Vena Energy owns a renewable energy portfolio totalling 18 GW of solar, wind, battery storage, green hydrogen, and hybrid renewable energy projects and offices in Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.

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