Construction began on Australia’s first and largest solar farm in Western Australia on 4 November. The Greenough River Solar Farm is a utility-scale generation plant, meaning that it produces enough electricity to feed into the electricity grid and contribute to base-load power. Unlike the more numerous medium- to large-scale rooftop solar PV installations already in place in the state (such as this 80kW solar PV installation in Derby, or this 20kw solar system in Broome), the Greenough River project will be a ground-mounted solar PV array, making it a bona fide, utility-scale solar farm. It will also be 10 times larger than any solar project currently in operation in Australia.
Once completed, power from the 10 megawatt (MW) plant will be purchased by the WA Water Corporation and used to power the Southern Seawater Desalinisation plant, which is also still currently under construction. The plant will also be WA’s first foray into non-wind renewable energy. The state is currently highly reliant on coal-fired generation.
First Solar is to supply the 150,000 thin-film photovoltaic panels which are to compose the array, as well as procurement, engineering, and construction services. The plant is being built by Verve Energy in partnership with GE Energy Financial Services.
Rob Bartrop, First Solar’s Australian business development and sales manager, commented, “”The great positive with solar is that it correlates well with peak load and that the sun is shining and solar farms are working at the same time that people are switching on their airconditioners and going to work, so it’s got a lot of value to the grid because of the time of day that it generates.”
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
Sources and links:
Verve Energy, Greenough River Solar Farm
Although not associated with the project described above, Solar Choice Commercial does manage the tender process for a wide diversity of large-scale solar power projects throughout Australia, including for mining companies, restaurant groups, shopping centres, and rural solar farms. For professional management, consultancy, and financing opportunities on your solar energy project, contact our Commercial Tenders Management team on 1300 78 72 73 for more information.
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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