Suntech's 9.4MW Robinvale solar farm completed in Victoria | RenewEconomy

Suntech’s 9.4MW Robinvale solar farm completed in Victoria

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Suntech’s 9.47MW Robinvale solar farm – one of a growing number of ‘small but smart’ projects pitched at under 10MW – has been completed in Victoria’s north west.

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Aerial view of Robinvale solar farm. Image: Suntech
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The 9.47MW(AC) Robinvale solar farm in Victoria – one of a growing number of ‘small but smart’ PV projects pitched at under 10MW to get around grid congestion and connection issues – has been completed.

The solar farm was built by Suntech Power Development Australia around 90km south-west of Mildura and 470km north-west of Melbourne, using 24,920 of the Japanese parent company’s own mono-crystalline photovoltaic panels.

Suntech Power Japan Corporation CEO Zeight Gao said on Friday that the completion of Robinvale marked the company’s first 100% owned project in the Australian pipeline to come to realisation. “And we look to further expand our solar footprint in Australia,” he said.

The electricity from the solar farm is contracted to Mojo Power – a deal struck in October of last year, to add to Mojo’s expanding portfolio of wholesale renewable power.

At the time, Mojo CEO Warren Murphy noted that the Robinvale contract was the first such deal it had made directly with a wind or solar farm, but was not expected to be the last.

In a further deal, the unassuming solar farm’s output will be on-sold to “virtual PPA” company WePower, as part of its own plans to offer a range of targeted renewable electricity packages to cater to different businesses’ needs.

As RenewEconomy reported here in February, WePower cofounder and CEO Nick Martynuik believes both developers and offtakes have been looking to smaller projects as a possible way around problems of curtailment.

“Australia is one of the best countries for PPAs [thanks to] amazing resources, a lot of sun a lot of wind, and the market itself, the structure of the market, allows corporate PPAs to be done very easily,” Martynuik added.

“Some large companies already [secured] their PPAs. We’re opening up the market for smaller companies to buy directly from the supplier they want to,” he said.

For Suntech, which will continue to 100% own and operate Robinvale, the project’s successful completion, on schedule, and despite a summer of intense bushfires and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, augurs well for the company’s other projects.

“Given this experience, we are now confident to deliver Riverina Solar Farm which is currently under development.” said Lorita Chen, the country representative of IPP business of Suntech Group.

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