Royalla solar farm shows states, territories need to step up on renewables

solar panel in a field

A field near Canberra, yesterday.

We had a mini solar energy revolution in Australia this week: the opening of Australia’s largest solar farm at Royalla, near Canberra.

Funded by Spanish renewable energy giant Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, the 20 megawatt solar farm is monstrous by Australian standards. Comprised of 83,000 solar panels — which will be enough to power 4,500 homes — the farm is a major step forward in the ACT government’s plan to source 90 percent (yes you read right) of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

A justly proud ACT Minister for the Environment Simon Corbell said the solar farm has “…twice the capacity of the Greenough River project in Western Australia and is the largest PV farm operating in Australia.”

He added that Royalla is “…the first large-scale solar facility connected to the national electricity market,” and will generate an average 37,000 MWh of renewable energy each year for the next 20 years.

The benefits of such a focus on renewable energy are extensive for those that reside in the ACT. Not only will they get access to clean, safe energy but the price is certainly right. The Minister said the cost of ACT renewable energy will peak at around $4 per week for households before reducing. Even this amount will be offset by increased energy efficiency programs to be implemented by the ACT government.

The irony of a mega solar facility opening within cooee of the Australian parliament is (of course) delicious. For Mr Corbell’s progressive administration operates within the same boundaries as the Abbott government, who are currently working furiously to undo renewable energy gains.

However this conflict in outlook only emphasised Mr Corbell’s opening ceremony remarks: that there was an opportunity — even need — for states and territories to step up should federal support for renewable energy be lacking.

So if we are to realise our potential as a major supplier of solar energy, does this mean we need to rely on the progressive approach of state and territory administrations? It would seem so. The prediction of Australia becoming a solar energy superpower was made, not by Corbell, but by Spanish foreign minister Mr Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who also attended the opening.

However it would appear that for Australia to reach clean energy superpower status, initiatives need to come from states and territories rather than the federal level. If this is the case, the opening of Australia’s largest solar farm is a great example for state and territory governments to follow.


  1. Kurt van Wijck says

    Good on you Corbell!!
    How ever much T Abbott is trying to undermine the renewable energy sector. I have a feeling there is not that much more he can do. Even if the RET were to fall away. Solar is still atractive for households. Less so, yes, but still worht it. Panels will continue to drop and any new surge in installation will continue and there will be nothing he can do about it. Concentrated solar with salt storage will start to grow and coal will continue its structual decline. I think the future is looking better by the day.
    see you all on September 21 in a location near you! People’s Climate Mobilisation.

    When: 11am, Sunday 21st September 2014

    Where: Meet at State Library, march to Treasury Gardens




    When: 12pm , Sunday 21st September 2014

    Where: Bicentennial Park, Glebe




    When: 11am, Saturday 20th September 2014

    Where: Rundle Park (Corner of East and North Terraces)




    When: 1pm, Sunday September 21

    Where: Russell Square




    When: 10.30am, Sunday September 21

    Where: ANU University, Chifley Meadows (outside the library, near Union Court)




    When: 1pm, Sunday September 21

    Where: Queen’s Park



    On September 21, tens of thousands of Australians will hit the streets of Melbourne, together with thousands more in cities and towns across Australia, as part of the world’s largest People’s Climate March. Our message is simple – Action, Not Words – it’s time for Australia to get out of the way of real climate action, to say no to new fossil fuel expansion and to protect and grow our renewable energy sector.

    But it doesn’t end here. When you join us on September 21, we’ll also ask you to pledge to help Action win over Words by committing to exercise your political, consumer and grassroots power in a number of exciting ways. Stay tuned for more updates but in the meantime RSVP for an event near you or register your own event.

  2. What happens when the sun goes down???

  3. 20 megawatts!
    ???? How big is the battery?

  4. Albert bones says

    Was there any consideration given to the issues of isolation or Arc detection. It appears a lot of these solar farms are being installed without having the facilities to provide safe isolation for maintenance or emergency. Internationally we have seen major problems including the US Dietz and Watson fire.There should be an investigation into why we can have solar installed with no means of turning it off.

    • Try hanging a towel over it Albert. …. works for the parrot.
      I think we tend to worry too much. Like the bloke who stayed in bed to avoid being run over on the road.
      …and the roof fell in on him.

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone. There’s been some feedback on our Facebook Page about why the ACT chose a foreign company and did not go with an Australian consortium to build Royalla. Any thoughts readers?

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