As temperatures soar in outback Australia, Queensland’s biggest solar farm built with the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has begun generating and feeding electricity into the grid.
With the potential to produce enough renewable energy to power around 9,800 households, the Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm is expected to reach full generation by the end of the year.
It was developed by Elecnor Australia, with funding from ARENA and debt finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Barcaldine had reached the milestone two months ahead of schedule, demonstrating the industry was getting faster and more proficient at developing big solar projects.
“Barcaldine was one of the first ARENA-funded solar plants and has helped pave the way for the next generation of 12 large-scale solar farms to be built across the country by the end of next year.
“Supported by ARENA, six big solar plants in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one in Western Australia are expected to triple Australia’s large-scale solar capacity providing enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes.”
“ARENA’s unprecedented investment in large-scale solar is expected to unlock almost $1 billion in commercial investment and boost regional economies,” he said.
In Barcaldine, more than 78,000 single axis tracking solar photovoltaic (PV) panels have been installed at the plant, which will have a capacity of 20 MW AC (25 MW DC) when fully operational.
“As well as generating clean energy, the project is demonstrating how project developers can monetise network benefits and ultimately how solar farms can improve network efficiency and reliability at the edge of the grid,” Mr Frischknecht said.
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler said after supporting the project from development to construction, the local community was celebrating this latest milestone.
“The people in our district are enthusiastic supporters of solar energy and the great benefits it can bring to outback communities like ours. If it’s one thing we have a lot of its sun so it’s great to see it being harnessed to power the electricity grid.”
ARENA has committed $22.8 million in funding, while the CEFC has committed $20 million in debt finance towards the project, which was developed by Elecnor Australia.
Elecnor Business Developer Manager Manuel Lopez-Velez said the Barcaldine Solar Farm was expected to be operating at full generation in the next couple of weeks.
“Barcaldine Solar Farm when fully operational will generate around 57,000 MWh of clean energy per year, an energy consumption equivalent to approximately 9,800 households,” Mr Lopez-Velez said.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation invests, applying commercial rigor, to increase the flow of finance into the clean energy sector. Our mission is to accelerate Australia’s transformation towards a more competitive economy in a carbon constrained world, by acting as a catalyst to increase investment in emissions reduction. We do this through an investment strategy focused on cleaner power solutions, including large and small-scale solar, wind and bioenergy; and a better built environment, with investments to drive more energy efficient property, vehicles, infrastructure and industry. The CEFC also invests with co-financiers to develop new sources of capital for the clean energy sector, including climate bonds, equity funds, aggregation facilities and other financial solutions. The CEFC operates under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012. More information is available on the CEFC website.
Elecnor is one of the leading global players in engineering and the construction and development of infrastructure projects. It is also a leading developer of and investor in the fields of renewable energies, energy infrastructure and aerospace. With nearly 60 years of continuous growth and a presence in more than 50 countries, Elecnor has become one of the most outstanding Spanish business groups and a benchmark in the infrastructure, renewable energy and technology sectors. Business diversification has been one of its strategic aims throughout its history, enabling its involvement in a number of industries which range from electricity, gas, industrial plants, railways, telecommunications, water, control systems, construction, the environment and installation maintenance to aerospace engineering. Elecnor has chosen Australia as a base for expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. The Melbourne-based subsidiary is called Elecnor Australia Pty Ltd.
For more information, visit Elecnor