‘Australia’s largest’ solar farm opens at Royalla south of Canberra

The first utility-scale solar farm to be built in Australia’s National Electricity Market – and the largest so far in the country – has officially opened.

The 20MW Royalla Solar Farm, located about 17km south of Canberra, is the first project to be completed under the innovative reverse auction program launched by the ACT to meet its 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.

Made up of 83,000 solar panels, it has the capacity to power more than 4500 ACT homes.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell said it was an important step towards achieving the ACT Government’s target of 90 per cent renewable energy for the territory by 2020.

“Over its lifetime the farm will save over half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said, as reported by the ABC.

“This is a nation-leading project. This is the largest operation solar farm in Australia to date.

The farm is expected to generate an average 37,000MW hours of renewable energy each year for the next 20 years.

The project is owned by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and the opening was attended by the Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

“If we want to have sustainable development, we must take care of the environment,” he said, as reported by the ABC.

Andrea Fontana from FRV said large-scale solar farms relied heavily on government support.

“It’s absolutely important to have support and long-term stability to make investment decisions. It’s impossible to attract capital and investors’ confidence without long-term policies.”

The ACT Government said the cost of reaching its renewable energy target of 90 per cent by 2020 was expected to peak at about $4 per household per week in 2020 before declining. It said that cost would be offset by weekly savings of about $4 per household through energy efficiency programs.