NBN Co’s ‘Ready by 2022’ Solar Farm is Not Ready

NBN Co’s ‘Ready by 2022’ Solar Farm is Not Ready

Back in July, the company responsible for rolling out the NBN announced the construction of a new solar farm that would help it achieve its goal of 100 per cent renewable electricity use by December 2025.

In making the announcement, NBN Co said construction of a new solar farm was kicking off in West Wyalong, New South Wales. The pitch was that when operational, the 260-hectare site will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 27,000 Australian homes.

At the time, NBN Co said the solar farm would be operational by the end of 2022.

In delivering its half-year financial results today, NBN Co updated the status of its solar farm.

“Due to weather-related impacts and delays, the solar farm is currently expected to begin operations in the second half of FY23,” NBN Co said.

Once complete, NBN Co said the 260-hectare solar farm will deliver 80 gigawatt hours to the company each year, which is approximately 19 per cent of the company’s overall energy consumption nationally.

Although this one is not yet complete, NBN Co noted it “plans to support additional renewable electricity purchases through further power purchase agreements”.

The solar farm forms part of NBN Co’s three-year roadmap to “support Australia’s move to net zero emissions”. As part of this, the company is working towards reducing annual energy use by 25 gigawatt hours by December 2025; a target of purchasing of 100 per cent renewable electricity from December 2025 and using electric or hybrid vehicles “where suitably available” by 2030.

For the first six months of the financial year, NBN Co reported an after-tax loss of $444 million, on revenue of $2.6 billion. This was up from the $857 million loss it reported a year prior.

In the six months to December 31, 2022, NBN Co said it had 12.2 million premises ready to connect and 8.5 million homes and businesses connected. It said 98 per cent of installations were met within agreed timeframes during this six-month period and that 21 per cent of customers are on a wholesale 100 Mbps download plan or higher.

Although mentioning during Senate Estimates earlier this week that Sky Muster satellite users had “declined by about 10,000 in the last year or so”, NBN Co’s financial results didn’t discuss the service’s customer base.

It did say, however, that:

NBN Co operates in a competitive market, so the company must think about how it can best enable customers to make the most of the NBN network, and appreciate the difference in service provision between the NBN network and other options for connectivity such as mobile, low Earth orbit satellites, and private fibre and fixed wireless networks.

Earlier this week, NBN updated its list of areas where customers can get an NBN upgrade.