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Published on 27 June 2017
Regional Victoria will become an international leader in intensive, protected crop farming relying mainly on renewable energy production following the signing of a three-way Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between a sustainable energy producer, an agribusiness and the State Government. In a global-first, Neoen Australia, Nectar Farms and the Victorian Government today signed an agreement that will result in the construction of the Bulgana Green Power Hub (BGPH) and a 30-hectare expansion of Nectar Farms’ greenhouse facility at Stawell. The two projects represent a $565 million investment which will result in the creation of 600 jobs. More than 930 indirect jobs will also be created. Premier Daniel Andrews joined Neoen Australia’s Managing Director Franck Woitiez and Nectar Farms’ CEO Stephen Sasse at the BGPH site to sign the MoU which guarantees Nectar Farms 10 per cent of BGPH’s energy with the remaining 90 per cent being fed directly to the grid. Welcoming the agreement, Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Tony Driscoll said securing Nectar Farms at Stawell was a major boost for the area and would create significant jobs for the region. “If we had not been able to negotiate this agreement between Neoen and the State Government, future expansion of Nectar Farms and subsequent jobs would have been lost to Stawell and Victoria,” he said. “By ensuring the greenhouses have a reliable, competitive power supply, the company can grow its business here.” Nectar Farms began construction of 10 hectares of greenhouses after securing a parcel of land from Stawell Gold Mines earlier this year. However, expensive and insecure energy supply halted plans for expansion. “What Nectar Farms needed was surety of supply at a competitive price,” Cr Driscoll said. “This agreement gives them that.” Under the MoU, the State Government, Neoen Australia and Nectar Farms have agreed to work together in good faith to develop terms for the Government to provide support for the BGPH. This will allow Neoen to supply Nectar Farms with power at a competitive price. Neoen will build a 63 turbine wind farm 20kms east of Stawell. All required planning approvals and landowner agreements are in place. Neoen plans to include lithium-ion battery storage of 20 megawatts, or 34 megawatt hours, capacity in order to provide sustainable, baseload equivalent power to Nectar Farms. Mr Woitiez said this project was the first of its type globally and demonstrated Australia’s capacity and capability to develop cutting edge renewable energy technology on an industrial scale. “By working with the Victorian Government we are able to significantly contribute to the food and fibre sector by providing stable renewable power and energy to an intensive agriculture business,” Mr Woitiez said. “We applaud the Victorian Government for taking on this initiative, thinking innovatively and working with industry to make it work.”
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