One of the largest solar farms in Australia’s pipeline has reached financial close and will begin construction immediately, according to a press release from its developer, FRV. Moree Solar Farm will have a total capacity of 56MW, making it more than 5x larger than the largest solar plant currently in operation in Australia–WA’s 10MW Greenough River Solar Farm. The plant will also be the first large-scale solar plant in Australia to use solar-tracking technology.
The announcement comes as a jolt of good news for Australia’s beleaguered utility-scale solar sector, about which investor confidence has been hammered by uncertainty about the future of the Renewable Energy Target and other federal support schemes for clean energy.
Crucially, Moree will benefit from the aid of two federal government bodies tasked with facilitating uptake of renewable energy: the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Both of these agencies have continued to fulfill their duties since the last election despite the Coalition government’s stated (but as of yet unaccomplished) goal of dismantling them.
NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes recently made reference to the Moree plant on the ABC’s 7.30 Report, confirming that it had indeed reached financial close. He also noted that the plant would supply the National Energy Market (NEM)–something crucial for its ongoing financial viability.
“This new Moree project is 56 megawatts by itself,” Mr Stokes said. “When you couple that with the projects currently under development in Nyngan and Broken Hill, that means New South Wales will be providing more than 200 megawatts of solar [power] directly into the electricity grid.”
The NSW government has recently come out in support of the RET, with Mr Stokes declaring that the state would plan policies that would make NSW Australia’s answer to solar powerhouse California. The Moree Solar Farm is just one of 6 large-scale plants to be built within 18 months in the state.
Plans for the Moree Solar Farm have gone through several iterations as the project has evolved. Initially intended to be a 150MW project funded in part through the Rudd-era Solar Flagships program, it was later reduced in size after failing to meet a fundraising deadline and therefore losing its eligibility as a candidate.
Top image: Moree Solar Farm mockup, via MoreeSolarFarm.com.au
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