ACT scores 13MW solar farm

Canberra will soon be home to Australia’s largest agriculturally-integrated solar photovoltaic (PV) system, following the ACT Government’s selection of Zhenfa Australia to develop a solar farm. The site is expected to supply the ACT with more than 24,000MWh of electricity annually.

The 13MW facility will be one of Australia’s largest solar parks and Zhenfa’s first solar project outside of China. In China, Zhenfa manages solar facilities supplying a combined 1000MW of electricity.

Zhenfa was awarded the contract after jointly winning a large-scale solar reverse auction held by the ACT Government.

The specialised solar systems integrator will now build the Mugga Lane Solar Park in Tuggeranong, which will have 53,000 solar PV modules comprising both ground-mounted fixed tilt and solar tracking systems.

Zhenfa Australia general manager energy projects Qiao Nan Han said from next year, Canberra residents will have access to cutting-edge solar technology that will produce enough electricity per annum to power 3000 households or 100 small-scale industrial facilities.

“The renewable electricity produced by the facility will provide the Canberra community with a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly source of power,” Mr Han said.

“With a feed-in tariff rate of $178/MWh, the power generated by the Zhenfa plant represents the most competitive levelised cost of energy available for any large-scale solar PV plant in the country.”

The Mugga Lane Solar Park will also reduce the ACT’s carbon emissions by about 480,000 tonnes – the equivalent of taking 4000 cars off the road.

“The 500kW solar tracking system we will be utilising at the Solar Park is cutting edge and will allow us to harvest more energy from the sun at times when the cost of energy is higher, such as peak demand periods,” Mr Han said.

“These tracking systems have been proven to increase power output by
15-35 per cent and reduce costs by 10-25 per cent compared to a ground mounted tilt structure.”

Another notable aspect of the system is that it enables the land the facility is built on to continue to be used for other purposes, such as agriculture or public recreational space.

“This solar park will be a showcase of the benefits solar power facilities can provide to communities. We believe similar outcomes in terms of generation of large volumes of electricity at exceptionally low cost can be achieved in other parts of Australia and hope the results we attain in the ACT will encourage other states to consider solar power as a viable alternative,” Mr Han said.

“Zhenfa is looking forward to working with other jurisdictions to roll-out this system around the country and provide more Australians with access to affordable, renewable electricity. We will be actively seeking further opportunities to invest in the development of solar facilities.”