Juwi to complete expansion of Australia’s first grid-scale solar farm, replaces RCR

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Juwi chosen to complete 30MW expansion of Australia’s first grid-scale solar farm, replacing failed RCR Tomlinson after nine month hiatus.

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Construction of a 30MW addition to Western Australia’s 10MW Greenough River solar farm – the first grid-scale solar farm to be built in Australia – is back on track after the appointment of juwi Renewable Energy to complete the suspended Stage 2 Project.

Project developer Bright Energy Investments said it had appointed juwi for the job, following the late 2018 termination of a previous $60 million contract with RCR O’Donnell Griffin, in the wake of the spectacular failure of parent company RCR Tomlinson.

The Greenough River expansion project, which has been on hold for nine months, is now due to be complete early next year.

The collapse of engineering giant RCR Tomlinson – which went into voluntary administration in November 2018 – sent shock-waves through Australia’s large-scale solar development pipeline, as contracts were terminated and workers pulled from jobs.

As Giles Parkinson reported here, workers were pulled off the sites of at least five major solar projects in Queensland, alone, bringing work on those major PV farms to an effective halt.

RCR has since pointed the finger at “unprofitable solar contracts” in the Australian market as central to the cash-flow issues that have brought the multi-billion dollar company undone.

Since terminating the contract with RCR, BEI has been under pressure to find a replacement to get the Greenough River solar expansion finished in time for W.A. utility Synergy to meet its obligations under the federal government’s renewable energy target.

State-owned Synergy – which owns a nearly 20 per cent stake in BEI – must source at least an additional 300MW of green power by 2020 as part of the LRET.

In a statement on Tuesday, BEI general manager Tom Frood said the new contract would get the project back in progress immediately, with a revised scheduled for completion in early 2020.

“The expansion of the Greenough River Solar Farm will be an important contributor to Western Australia’s energy supplies and there has been a lot of hard work to gather the project back together and renegotiate a way forward,” Frood said.

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