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Australia’s first large-scale solar farm to quadruple in size

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The Greenough River solar farm in Western Australia, the first large-scale solar farm in the country, plans to quadruple in size from 10MW to 40MW.

The plans by co-owners Synergy, the government-owned generator and retailer, and US energy giant General Electric, were unveiled in a submission to WA’s Economic Regulation Authority, and reveal that two new 15MW arrays will be built either side of the existing facility, around 50km south-east of Geraldton.

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 9.14.01 AM copy

The new arrays, will use First Solar modules, as did the first, but unlike the first installation these will deploy single axis tracking technology to improve the yield. More than 90 per cent of solar farms in Australia are now using tracking technology. SMA is providing the inverters.

Synergy and GE say that the solar farm will seek a power purchase agreement, but presumably that will come from Synergy itself, as it is it the biggest utility in the state and has yet to meet all its renewable energy target commitments.

Greenough River was built in 2012 and remains the only solar farm connected to the main grid in Western Australia, although several other projects have begun, or are about to begin, construction. These include the 30MW Byford solar farm south-east of Perth and a 10MWW solar farm planned near Northam by Carnegie Clean Energy.

Across Australia, however, the large-scale solar boom is accelerating. Eight grid-connected large-scale solar farms have now been completed and another 30 are under construction, or have reached financial closure and are about to begin.

The joint owners of Greenough River says the solar plant, located on a wheat farm, “has been extremely warmly welcomed by what is a very small remote community. No public complaints or opposition have been received.”  

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  • Andrew Roydhouse

    Is it my imagination or does the photo make it look as if there is a reasonable amount of dust/soil on the panels?

    There is the clear light colour of the lines between the rows but if you follow along a row (from top to bottom) there is a difference.

    Optical illusion or dust?

    • Darren

      Cloud reflections maybe?

    • john

      Yes there is a shining aspect of the photo and darker areas.
      However that does not detract from the basic aspect of this development that it is going to produce power that no other power generation source can do so cheaply.

    • Brian Tehan

      A local employment opportunity, perhaps?

    • Ren Stimpy

      Good placement for a Windex franchise.

    • Mike Shackleton

      Looks like the darker patches are just grassy areas under the panels. There is enough light and space for grass to grow under and between the panels in these setups.

  • MG

    You’d have to be a real stick in the mud to file a public complaint about a 10 MW solar farm in the desert!

    • Coley

      True, and I remember driving through there a couple of years ago, lots of desert and dead kangaroos, but the article says it’s going to be sited on a wheat farm?

  • john

    Single axis array.
    I will make a guess without checking the figures but it may produce upward of 15% more power and for that amount of gain a sensible investment.
    To check the gain go the NREL and use the PvWatts program.
    Yes it will work for any area in the world.
    Takes 30 years of BOM information from the nearest BOM site and computes the average output for Au.
    You put in your orientations and aspect just click the help buttons to explain it to you.

  • Deevo