70MW Of Solar PV For Telstra

Tesla solar electricity purchase

Telstra Seeking Power Price Protection – Panel background : Lujkin8, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

It’s been reported Australian telecommunications company Telstra will purchase all the electricity generated by a 70MW solar farm to be built near Emerald in Queensland.

The Courier Mail states the deal was inked with RES Group, which will own and operate the facility. Work will start on the $100 million solar farm in the second half of this year, with electricity generation expected to commence next year. Approximately 200 jobs will be created during the construction period.

The Financial Review says the telco giant is embarking on the project as part of a strategy to protect itself from soaring electricity prices. The company will also investigate extracting value from its standby energy capacity in the wholesale market.

In comments made to The Australian, Telstra’s executive director of energy, Ben Burge, said companies should be taking a more active role in managing energy security risks.

“There is an opportunity here available to corporates, for them to take control rather than simply calling on others to fix the problem,” said Mr. Burge.

RES Group has been developing renewable energy projects in Australia since 2004, but its activities in the country to this point have been related to wind farms. The company says it has 350 MW of renewable energy installed or currently under construction across New South Wales and Victoria.

Telstra An Australian Solar Power Pioneer

Telstra’s association with solar energy goes back to the days when the company was known as Telecom Australia. In 1974, Telecom Australia began using solar panels to power remote area telecommunications. The first installation was for a VHF subscriber radio terminal. As the cost of solar modules reduced, the company started using solar to power remote area phone boxes.

Solar panels - Telecom Australia

IMAGE Early Telecom solar installation at Mundy Mundy Plains, New South Wales | Image via University of Melbourne.

Telstra’s installations to date have primarily been small off grid systems in rural areas. It was just last year the company switched on its largest AC grid connect solar power systems it had ever deployed – 30kW installations at its Deer Park and Lyndhurst exchange buildings in Melbourne.

Telstra has also been investigating other ways of using solar in its network. In 2015, it implemented a solar fuel cell system to provide back-up power to a small exchange bordering on Yarra Ranges National Park in Victoria.

In addition to using solar and the potential for wholesale market opportunities, last year the company signaled that it was considering offering home energy services including solar and battery systems as part of its bundled services.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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