The sun is finally shining on Australia’s nascent renewables sector with the switching on of its first large-scale photovoltaic solar development.
The 10 MW Greenough River Solar Farm near Geraldton, Western Australia has been developed by state-owned utility Verve Energy, GE’s Energy Financial Services division and US photovoltaics provider First Solar.
The 50-acre solar farm, which is the largest in operation in Australia, houses some 150,000 thin-film photovoltaic modules and produce enough to power to support around 3000 homes for a year.
The Western Australia Minister of Energy Peter Collier says the plant is the first step towards large-scale solar power in the country.
“This is only the beginning,” he said at the opening of the solar farm. “The Western Australia community has developed a genuine appetite for renewable energy.”
The facility will provide power for the Western Australia Water Corporation’s Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, avoiding some 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.
“With this landmark project now complete, Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services are now evaluating the possibility of expanding the plant to up to 40 MW to satisfy growing demand for renewable energy,” says Jason Waters, CEO of Verve Energy.
The project also marks GE Energy Financial Services first foray into renewable energy investment in Australia, which has the highest average solar radiation per square meter of any continent in the world – making it ideal for solar exploitation.
Australia has made a commitment to generate 20% of its power from renewables by 2020, but is still heavily dependent on coal and gas.
For further information:
World’s largest solar project in Arizona achieves 250 MW (11-Sept)
New York governor earmarks $107 million for solar power projects (17-Aug)
AREVA Solar moves ahead with Southern Hemisphere’s largest solar project (9-May 2011)
11 October 2012