Australia's first utility scale solar farm is now four times bigger

Australia’s first utility scale solar farm is now four times bigger

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Australia’s first utility-scale solar farm is now four times bigger after the addition of a second stage using bigger solar panels and tracking technologies.

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Australia’s first utility scale solar farm, the 10MW Greenough River solar project near Geraldton in Western Australia, is now operating at four times its original capacity as the finishing touches are put on a long-awaited expansion.

Bright Energy, an investment vehicle owned by state utility Synergy, along with Dutch Infrastructure Partners and industry super fund CBus, announced this week – along with the official opening of its 180MW Warradarge wind farm – that the Greenough River solar expansion is largely complete.

Greenough River was the first utility scale solar farm to be built in Australia, and opened in 2012, supplying power to the local desalination plant.

The second stage – also using First Solar thin film panels (Series 4 on this occasion), but single axis tracking (Nextracker) rather than the fixed tilt arrangement  of the first stage – has been built by Juwi (which took over from the collapsed RCR) and takes total capacity to 40MW, with expected annual production of around 105 gigawatt hours a year.

“Greenough River has been producing at up to 40MW since the end of July,” Bright Energy general manager Tom Frood told RenewEconomy’s Energy Insiders podcast this week. The final details of the commissioning are being completed now.

Greenough River is now the state’s second biggest solar farm, after the recently completed 100MW Merredin solar farm, as the expansion means it overtakes the solar farms built at Emu Downs and Badgingarra, which both operate as part of wind-solar hybrid facilities.

Frood said it was not clear what the future held for solar farms in the state, given the high and growing levels of rooftop solar, and the lack of new development opportunities identified in the recent AEMO assessment.

Bright Energy, however, is interested in the proposed new big battery in W.A., a 100MW. 200MWh facility promoted by the state government, which will also unveil its Whole of System Plan, the W.A. version of the Integrated System Plan, early next week.

Listen to the latest episode of the Energy Insiders podcast here.





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