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Australia’s biggest merchant solar farm inks deal with Western Power

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Large wind and solar farms can be planned and built in 2-3 years (compared with 10-15 years for nuclear) and are ready now to replace fossil and nuclear electricity. Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

A 128MW solar farm set for construction in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region has confirmed it will sell its PV generated electricity into the local grid on a merchant basis, after signing an agreement with WA network operator Western Power.

Sun Brilliance Power – the company behind the solar farm, which will be the state’s biggest once completed – said on Friday that it had signed two contracts with Western Power, one allowing it to connect to the grid, and one allowing it send solar power into the network.

The Cunderdin Solar Farm, which is sited on the outskirts of a WA town of the same name, will be built in two phases: the first a single-axis tracking array with a capacity of 85MW; the second, a further 43MW to make 128MW in total.

The contracts with Western Power come almost one full year after the project was approved for development by the Mid-West Wheatbelt Joint Development Assessment Panel, and ahead of the plant’s construction, which is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2018.

This puts the $150 million project on track to be one of Australia’s biggest “merchant” utility-scale solar farms to be completed, and selling power to the grid.

Sun Brilliance has also floated plans to evolve the massive solar power station into a “beautiful complex” that will attract visits from tourists, schools, educators and businesses.

The planned visitor precinct, which the company has said is accounted for in the project’s budget, was to feature landscaped grounds, a function area, a retail outlet, an educational “discovery facility”, cleantech demonstrations, and a café/tea house.

In a statement on Friday, Sun Brilliance said it wanted to acknowledge “the hard work and support of Western Power” in getting the project to this important point – “a milestone for Sun Brilliance on its ambitious journey to become one of Australia’s leading energy developers.”

The company’s Director, and long time renewable energy and sustainability advocate, Professor Ray Wills, is also on the board of Horizon Power, WA’s government-owned regional energy network.  

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  • Ken

    Interesting…
    No one ‘contracts’ to sell power to Western Power.
    Western Power is the network owner,, they don’t buy or sell power ( they are not allowed to do so).
    They collect a fee from generators and retailers who use the network to transfer energy from a generation source to a customer account.
    AEMO is the network operator in WA.

    What Western Power would have provided is a connection approval.

    All that ‘hard work’ and ‘support’ from Western Power, is them just doing their job working through the approval process towards that connection approval.

    Same applies to any project that applies for a connection approval.

    • rob

      me thinks you just pissed off someone!

  • The story doesn’t say we are selling power to the network owner – but you must contract to access the gird, which is exactly what paragraph two of the story says: Sun Brilliance Power has signed two contracts with Western Power: an interconnecting works (IWC) contract which allows the solar farm to connect to the Western Power grid, and an electricity transfer access contract (ETAC) – that allows the solar farm to send solar-sourced electricity into the electricity network.

    You can’t have a power plan without both of these. Developers, investors and banks are kinda keen on that part.

    And if you can’t compliment hard work, then it’s a pretty miserable world. Most people working hard are just doing their jobs, and if your not prepared to offer praise for a job well done, you should also not offer criticism to those that are not.