Australia's largest crystalline solar farm commences generation

While new large PV power plant projects struggle to sign PPAs in Australia, the last of the market’s legacy projects are being completed. The Moree Solar Farm is the latest to go online, with the project representing the largest solar project deploying crystalline silicon PV modules.

“First generation at the plant is a great achievement and represents more than six years of continued work from our Australian office through the development; financing and construction activities,” FRV CEO Rafael Benjumea said, in a release marking the milestone. “FRV believes there is strong market support for large-scale solar in Australia and is looking forward to celebrating first generation from some of our other developed sites in the coming years.”

The majority of Australia’s utility scale PV projects deploy thin film technology, with First Solar having supplied and constructed the majority of large solar farms including the Nyngan (102 MW) and Broken Hill (53 MW) projects. FRV has developed one other major Australian project, the 24 MW Royalla Solar Farm in the Australian Capital Territory.

The Moree Solar Farm was supported by a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which is seeking to bring down the cost of PV power plants in the country by fostering a robust project pipeline.

“In the last six months we’ve seen more than 210 MW from ARENA-supported solar farms start feeding into the grid and powering Australian homes and businesses with renewable energy,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. “The Nyngan, Broken Hill and Moree solar farms, along with approximately 200 MW set to be built through ARENA’s $100 million (US$71.5 million) large-scale solar round, will help push costs down by developing local supply chains, increasing financier confidence and advancing innovative renewable technologies.”

ARENA is currently processing a shortlist of 22 PV projects, worth 766 MW in generating capacity, under its large scale renewables program. Successful projects can also apply for debt finance under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s complimentary large scale PV program, worth AU$250 million (US$178.85 million).

“The Moree Solar Farm also demonstrated how innovative merchant energy based financing can be used to finance large-scale renewable energy projects in Australia,” CEFC CEO Oliver Yates said. “The CEFC is pleased to see that each project built is more efficient and cost effective than the last and that this trend is continuing in Australia and around the world. As prices continue to fall, Australia will be able to tap this sustainable competitive resource to power the economy.”

ARENA provided AU$101.7 million (US$72.75 million) to support the development of the Moree Solar Farm, with CEFC providing debt finance of AU$46 million (US$32.9 million).