The Victorian Labor government has launched its first tender for a series of large-scale solar farms, a plan it hopes will attract $150 million of new investment, create 300 jobs and, ultimately, power Melbourne’s trams.
The Solar Certificate Tender, mooted for some time now but formally announced in January, calls for up to 75MW of solar farms to be built in the state’s north-west, 35MW of which is expected to account for the entire Melbourne tram network.
To work this, the Andrews government will voluntarily surrender renewable energy certificates matching the amount of electricity used by the city’s trams, making the scheme additional to the national Renewable Energy Target. It will also acquire renewable energy certificates from the successful tenderers.
“We’re using our purchasing power to support new regional solar projects,” said state energy and climate minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Friday. “We anticipate that Victoria’s first large-scale solar farms will be finalised by the end of 2018, which is great news for jobs and investment in regional Victoria.”
The solar auction follows up on the government’s success, last year, in driving the development of two new wind farms in the state – the 30MW Kiata project by Australian company Windlab, near Horsham in western Victoria; and the 66MW Mt Gellibrand wind project, 65km west of Geelong, by Spanish group Acciona Energy.
It also follows the lead of the ACT government, whose highly successful series of reverse auctions – the legacy of former ACT climate and energy minister Simon Corbell, who is now advising the Andrews government – have done much of the heavy lifting in Australia’s large-scale solar market, driving down development costs and maintaining investor interest despite the federal policy fog.
Victoria is still yet to build a large-scale solar farm, although there are now several contenders vying for the honour of being the first.
Overland Sun Farming is set to begin construction of three roughly 100MW grid-connected solar farms near Mildura in the state’s west – each of which stands to be Victoria’s largest solar farm, as well as its first, if completed before the 60MW Gannawarra solar farm – already contracted to sell its output to EnergyAustralia – that’s being built by Solar Choice and Edify Energy between Swan Hill and Kerang.
Meanwhile, in January, the Greater Shepparton City Council announced it was calling for expressions of interest from parties wishing to lease Goulburn Vally Link land in the rural town of Mooroopna to host a major solar farm.
For more information and updates on the Renewable Certificate Purchasing Initiative and associated tenders visit: www.delwp.vic.gov.au/renewableenergypurchasing