First Solar to supply 48.5 MW solar farm in Australia

U.S. vertically integrated solar power company First Solar has announced that financial close has been reached for the 48.5 MW Manildra Solar Farm in New South Wales, Australia.

The deployment of 466,000 thin-film modules supplied by First Solar is scheduled to commence in the first half of 2017. The Manildra project will deploy single-axis tracking.

The farm is expected to produce more than 120,000 MWh of electricity in its first year of operation.

Once completed in 2018, the Manildra Solar Farm will take First Solar’s installed capacity in Australia to more than 400 MW. Australian engineering and infrastructure company RCR Tomlinson will act as EPC on the project, inking a contract valued at approximately $85 million with Manildra Prop Pty Ltd on Monday.

The solar farm is located one kilometer from Manildra, and is RCR’s second solar energy farm contract this month, having previously won an AU$80 million deal for the first phase of construction of the Gannawarra Solar Farm, a 60 MW project in the vicinity of the Victorian town of Kerang

The Manildra project, meanwhile, is underpinned by an AU$9.8 million of grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). It is one of the 12 projects that ARENA chose to support with an intention to triple the amount of energy produced by big solar.

Back in September 2016, ARENA announced AU$1 billion in funding for 482 MW of large scale PV projects in order to break the stagnation of the utility scale segment, which is lagging behind the country’s strong rooftop market.

First Solar has entered into a 13-year power purchase agreement with gas and electricity retailing company EnergyAustralia for the generated electricity and large-scale generation certificates (LGCs). LGCs are currently trading at historically high prices, making it a particularly attractive revenue stream for solar projects at present.