30MW solar farm approved for Kerang, central Victoria

A 30 megawatt (MW) solar farm has been granted planning permission in the town of Kerang, along the NSW-Victoria border.

At 30MW, the proposed solar farm would be the largest of its kind in Australia–3 times as large as Western Australia’s 10MW Greenough River Solar Farm, which will soon be operational–and one of the first utility-scale solar PV plants in the country. It would also be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant connected to the national electricity grid, which services Australia’s more populous eastern seaboard.

Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services speculates that the location was selected for its high solar irradiation levels (being one of the sunniest, driest parts of Australia), combined with the area’s relatively well-developed electricity transmission infrastructure. These two factors will mean that the plant will be able to deliver predictable and reliable power generation with minimal transmission loss issues.

Although planning permission has been granted, a number of hurdles still lie in the way before the project can progress to the construction stage, which could be up to 3 years in the future. One of the biggest hurdles may be obtaining a power purchase agreement (PPA). A PPA would guarantee that the plant would be paid for each unit of power that the it delivers to the grid.

Mayor Gannawarra Shire Max Fehring expressed hope for the project to take off, according to ABC news. “We just hope that they can get a satisfactory supply contract at a reasonable price, so that it gets up and going and then allow the industry to mature and develop from there.”

The project will have be a capital investment of $50 million, according to the Northern Times, translating into about $1.60 per watt. Currently the price of a fully installed residential solar PV system sits at around $2 per watt. Commercial solar PV installations are about the same.

Top image via Wikipedia

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James Martin II