Australia’s largest solar project begins

Australia’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power project has reached a major construction milestone with the commencement of panel installation at the Greenough River Solar Farm.

Western Australia Energy Minister Peter Collier, landholders, members of the Geraldton community and local contractors were present to help celebrate this achievement on April 12.

“The demonstration of this proven technology in Western Australia on a commercial scale should encourage the development of larger projects and reduce renewable energy costs in the medium to long-term,” Minister Collier said.

Construction of the 10MW solar farm 50km south of Geraldton began in January this year. With aboveground electrical work completed and structural supports now installed, the next phase of construction will see local workers install approximately 150,000 First Solar PV modules. Scheduled for completion in mid-2012, the project is expected to create almost 100 jobs.

“The successful delivery of the Greenough River Solar Farm will help kick-off a long-term, sustainable market for utility-scale solar in Australia,” said Jack Curtis, Vice President – Business Development & Sales, First Solar. First Solar is the contractor and technology provider at the plant.

“When in operation, First Solar’s panels produce electricity with no water use, no waste production and no CO2 emissions,” he said.

Western Australian state-owned power utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services each own 50 per cent of the Greenough River Solar Farm, with the Western Australian Government having provided $20 million in funding for the project. No debt has been raised to fund the project.

First Solar is supplying its advanced thin film PV modules and engineering, procurement and construction services, in addition to operations and maintenance support once the solar farm is operational.