Moree solar farm puts solar in big sky country


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $101.7 million of support for Moree Solar Farm, which upon completion, will be one of the largest solar plants in Australia.

Moree will use mechanical devices (trackers) to continually orient its solar panels with the sun to increase power output each day. Once completed, the 56MWac (70MWp) farm will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 15,000 New South Wales homes and abate nearly 95,000 tonnes of carbon pollution each year.

With its wide open plains that stretch beneath blue skies, the Moree Plains Shire is part of a region fittingly known as Big Sky Country, an excellent location for a large scale solar facility.

ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht congratulated renewable energy company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) who is set to begin construction on the project shortly.

“Moree Solar Farm will be the first large-scale solar plant in Australia to use a single-axis horizontal tracking system, where panels follow the sun across the sky to capture sunlight and maximise power output,” Mr Frischknecht said.

It’s estimated the $164 million farm will deliver around 130 local jobs during the construction phase across 2014–2016.

“More than 50 locations around Australia were investigated before the developers selected the site 10km out of Moree in NSW’s northern wheat belt, an area known as ‘big sky country’,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The location benefits from high levels of solar radiation and also allows the solar farm to connect to the national electricity grid.”

The project, which is also being supported by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, aims to demonstrate that large-scale solar power plants can be constructed and operated within Australia’s major electricity grids.

“ARENA will work with FRV to share the valuable knowledge gained in delivering the Moree Solar Farm with the rest of the industry,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“We recognise reducing early mover disadvantage and supporting the transfer of information will help advance development of more utility scale solar plants in Australia.”

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