Australia Opens 10 MW Solar Farm in Bid to Increase Energy Mix
Australia’s largest solar farm went online earlier this month in a small step on the way to achieving the country’s ambitious renewable energy target. The 10-MW Greenough River Solar Farm is co-owned by local utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services, and has over 150,000 thin film PV modules supplied by Arizona-based First Solar.
The partners are already looking at the possibility of expanding the plant to 40 MW to satisfy growing demand for renewable energy in a country that aims to generate 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
First Solar estimates as much as 3 GW to 5 GW of solar PV plants may be built in Australia by 2020. It is confident of capturing at least 30% of that, chief executive officer Jim Hughes told analysts on a conference call in July.The significance of the Greenough River project is not so much the size, but the fact that it is the first in Australia.
“It gave us the opportunity to start building our local capability to build large-scale solar projects,” First Solar’s local senior manager Rob Bartrop told Renewable Energy World. “We do definitely think Australia has all the right ingredients to be a successful to be a very successful long-term solar market.”
Australia’s Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) provided project financing, making it the country’s first major bank-supported large-scale solar project. While commonplace in Europe and the US, Australian banks have had little opportunity to invest in such solar projects.