Australia; home to one of the largest solar generators in the world

11 Jun, 2012

With so much activity in the large scale end of the PV world, its hard to determine what is real and what is simply a promise that might not turn into reality.

Yesterday’s announcement of  (a new, different) winner for the Australian Solar Flagship program is welcome news and for the moment, its pretty safe to assume that it will proceed, despite the collapse of the former winners after their announcement.

Based on current lists of projects on the ground around the world, it would make this 159MW flat plate PV project (across 2 sites) something like the 3rd or 4th largest in the world. In annual deployed MW and now in large projects, Australia can now claim top 10 positions in two key measures of the success of a PV market which is a remarkable  and exciting comeback.

First Solar’s track record in such projects is well established and assuming their global financial woe’s and competitive issues don’t unravel, they are a logical choice. The fact that they have recently started deploying 10MW at Greenough River Solar Farm in Western Australia is testament to their local capability too.

AGL’s participation is also an interesting play by one of Australia’s largest energy Utilities.  Although details are not in the press releases, one assumes that AGL could effectively write them self a PPA, overcoming the very reason for the collapse of the previous winners bid.

If nothing else, the willingness of of AGL to have “one hell of of a play” in the large scale PV generation space is yet another proof point that PV is coming of age in Australia; at all levels.

The $450M project price tag (with $129.7M of funding) is around half the previous bid and is also proof that the times are changing rapidly in the energy space and one would assume that Minister Ferguson might finally be raising an eyebrow at what can be achieved.

On the issue of price, it will be intriguing to understand the nitti gritti behind the project as time passes, given what I discovered and posted on around the previous project.

On the surface, it looks like $2.83/W installed compared to $6W in the previous bid, although it is not clear if the 159MW is AC or DC,  Watt’s peak pre or post degradation, and what is included or excluded in terms of ongoing operational costs. Understanding this minutia will help the PV and generation industries get a handle on the current, real generation cost of PV at such scale; how about it First Solar?

Assuming the rating is DC Watts (pre degradation)2.385 million modules will be required for this project; now that is a nice order.

Congratulations to AGL Energy for leading, to First Solar for doing it again and Minister Ferguson for helping Demonstrate large scale PV can work in Australia.



About the author

Nigel Morris
Nigel Morris

Nigel is the Director of SolarBusinessServices. After almost 20 years working for other companies SbS Director Nigel Morris, established the company in 2009 with a view to providing other organisations with the benefits of his wide experience in the renewable energy industry.

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1 Comment

  1. June 15, 2012

    Great idea of solar generators!

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