A major new solar farm will soon help replace New South Wales coal. 

A New England NSW solar farm, set to become Australia's largest, has officially opened its first stage, which will operate at full capacity within months.

The project is being developed in two stages by ACEN Australia on the lands of the Anaiwan and Gumbaynggirr people, and will eventually have a neighbouring big battery with up to 400MWh of storage. 

The second stage of the solar farm is expected to be completed later this year. ACEN Australia CEO Anton Rohner says the project is being built on a fully merchant basis to help replace closing coal-fired power stations in NSW and decarbonise Australia.

ACEN's Australian pipeline of solar, wind, battery and pumped hydro will be boosted by a debt raise of up to $600 million, into which the federal government's green bank has tipped $75 million. 

The New England solar farm has been cleared to send power to the grid by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and has been generating renewable energy since December. 

ACEN has more than 8GW of renewable energy generation and storage capacity in the development pipeline in Australia, around 1GW of which is under construction. 

ACEN CEO Eric Francia said the launch of the New England project establishes Australia as a “stronghold” for the company's renewables expansion in the region.

The company also has several wind projects in the works, including the up to 1.26GW North East wind project in Tasmania, declared a Major Project by the state government in August, and the Jim's Plain and Robbins Island wind farms in the north-west of the island state, which could have a combined capacity of up to 1GW if they proceed. 

The Robbins Island project is currently the subject of a number of appeals, including one from ACEN challenging the Environment Protection Authority ruling that its turbines must shut down for a total of five months each year.