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Large-scale solar moves one step forward

12th Oct 2012

It would appear that large-scale solar innovation in Australia has moved one step forward, following news that the country's first big photovoltaic plant has opened.

The ten-megawatt Greenough River Solar Farm near Geraldton, Western Australia (WA), has kicked off after over a year of designing, building work and testing.

Peter Collier, the state's energy minister, described it as "only the beginning" for WA's sustainable power goals.

"The Western Australian community has developed a genuine appetite for renewable energy, and today we are ten megawatts closer to a cleaner energy future," he said.

A joint venture between GE Energy Financial Services and Verve Energy, the plant uses technology supplied by First Solar.

The organisation provided more than 150,000 advanced thin-film PV modules, as well as offering operations and maintenance services for the next 15 years.

Mark Widmar, chief financial officer at the company, said the completion of the project marks a defining point in the future of large-scale solar initiatives.

"This landmark project provides a strong foundation for the long-term adoption of large-scale solar projects in the Australian power market," he explained.

The plant is expected to power around 3,000 homes in the region, as well as displacing 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.

Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services both own 50 per cent of the structure, which was funded in part by the WA government.

The authority gave the go ahead on $20 million for the scheme, with $10 million coming from the state's Royalties for Regions program.

Chief executive officer of Verve Energy Jason Waters stated that renewable power is so popular it is now looking to expand the plant to a 40-megawatt facility.

The battle to provide large-scale solar energy seems to be heating up, with the structure flicking the switch not long after ACT's government confirmed it had a developer for its proposed 20-megawatt plant in Royalla.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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