While not impressive in size, the Robinvale Solar Farm provides a litany of firsts for the Australian renewable energy sector. The 9.4 MW project commissioned last week marks the arrival of a new project developer and new technology, which holds the promise of opening the door for small businesses to access renewable-energy power purchase agreements (PPAs).
Located approximately 90 km southwest of Mildura in Victoria, the solar farm was developed by Suntech Power Development Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Suntech Power Japan Corp. The project features 24,920 of Suntech’s monocrystalline PV panels mounted on single-axis trackers. It is one of the first solar farms in Australia to utilize string inverters at the utility scale, following in the footsteps of FRV’s Winton Solar Farm, which featured string inverters from Huawei.
The Robinvale Solar Farm boasts 147 string inverters and three transformers connected to Powercor’s 22 kV network, just 700 meters away from the Robinvale substation. It is expected to generate approximately 18,000 MWh annually – enough to power around 2,300 homes.
“The Robinvale Solar Farm is our first 100%-owned project in the Australian pipeline to come to realization, and we look to further expand our solar footprint in Australia,” said Zeight Gao, CEO of Suntech Power Japan Corp.
Despite multiple disruptions, due to bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Robinvale Solar Farm completed construction on schedule. The project was delivered in just six months without delays, the developer said, thanks to comprehensive and proactive planning by Suntech’s team.
“Given this experience, we are now confident to deliver Riverina Solar Farm which is currently under development,” said Lorita Chen, the country representative of the IPP business of Suntech Group. The 40 MW development is one of the slew of large-scale solar farms announced for the region.
New type of PPA
The electricity from the Robinvale Solar Farm is contracted under a long-term PPA with innovative electricity retailer Mojo Power. What makes this 10-year, $10 million PPA different from others is its underlying technology developed by Lithuania-based blockchain startup WePower.
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