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Investec planning 50 MW solar PV plant in WA

18th Feb 2013

Last week the WA Greens unveiled an ambitious proposal to flick the WA electricity switch to 100 per cent renewable generation by 2029.

They provided two scenarios for how that could happen, both of which would require some big investment in solar power generation as well as other renewable energy sources like wind power and biomass.

At about the same time the Greens were introducing their Energy 2029 plan, news broke of a major solar photovoltaic plant proposed for the state.

Renew Economy reported on February 13 that Investec is working on a project that would see a 50 MW large scale solar plant built on a site near Kalgoorlie.

The specialist banking and asset management firm has in fact been developing the project - which will see a PV plant built in Mungari - over the last 18 months, while at the same time also engaged in studies for another solar PV project near Geraldton.

Investec project manager Lynne Lagan told Renew Economy that with only a single 220 KW line feeding Kalgoorlie, it made sense to add some generation to the network.

"This sort of project makes sense regardless of whether it [is] considered as a 'renewables' project," said Ms Lagan.

She said that many mining operators were faced with having to transport in gas and diesel at "horrendous costs" and that building the plant in Mungari could open up many opportunities.

Not surprisingly, Investec is exploring the possibility of signing power purchase agreements with mining operations and Ms Lagan said the plant would suit mining loads of around 30 MW.

City of Kalgoorlie Boulder chief executive officer Don Burnett told ABC Radio that the region was a secure site for a large scale solar plant because of the reliability of its solar resource.

"It's a great location for a solar proposal and the benefits to the city and the region would be immense, but also it's a great opportunity for the state and federal governments to be involved in innovation in sustainable energy," said Mr Burnett, according to

If commissioned and built, the 50 MW Mungari photovoltaic plant would be the largest of its kind in Australia.

The current biggest large-scale PV plant is the 10 MW Greenough River Solar Farm, located in Walkaway, 50 kilometres southeast of Geraldton.

That site, which consists of over 150,000 thin film PV modules and covers over 80 hectares, was opened in October 2012.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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