Australia: 320 MW of solar farms commence construction in Victoria

While lagging behind leaders Queensland and New South Wales, the state of Victoria is joining Australia’s fast-growing PV power plant market, with three 100 MW plants beginning construction today. The projects will be located near Mildura, in the northwest of the state, with the developers noting the region boasts the best solar resource in the state and available flat land for development.

The projects will be in a race with the 60 MW Gannawarra project, being developed by Solar Choice and Edify Energy, to become the first PV power plants developed in the state.

“These projects are important to lead the deployment of large-scale solar in Victoria and to continue to move the energy market to clean technologies,” said Overland’s Managing Director Brett Thomas. “Because of our confidence in solar, we have already invested millions of dollars in equipment to build these projects.”

“As the input prices fall and future energy and LGC [large-scale renewable certificates] prices continue to remain high, the conditions are in place for investment,” added Island Green Power’s Ian Lawrie.

Beon Energy Solutions has been contracted to carry out the “non-regulated electrical connections.”

That the projects are going ahead without an offtake agreement with a utility having been signed is an indication of the attractive economics underpinning large scale solar in Australia at present. LGCs, which are generated by utility scale wind or solar projects, are currently trading at record highs, with many liable entities under Australia’s federal Renewable Energy Target (RET) having purchased too few or developed an insufficient number of projects in recent years.

A number of merchant PV power plant projects, being developed on the basis of LGC revenue and wholesale electricity prices, are currently in various stages in Australia, including the Sunbrilliance 100 MW plant in Western Australia.

“That’s the important message,” Overland’s Thomas told Australian renewables site RenewEconomy in a phone interview on Monday. “The market is strong enough to develop the projects without (an off-take) partner.”

Overland Sun Farming says that it is currently developed PV power plant projects in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.

This article was amended to reflect that Gannawarra project has not received ARENA funding.