Australian PV plant completed ahead of schedule

A 25 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in the Australian outback has come online two months ahead of schedule.

Developer Elecnor Australia began construction in July on the Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm, the largest solar power plant in Queensland state.

The 90-ha plant features 78,000 PV panels with single-axis trackers and is expected to generate 57 GWh per year, or around 10 per cent of Australia’s large-scale solar power.  

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said the project aims to demonstrate that PV technology with single-axis tracking can produce high yield solar energy generation over an extended hourly duration and at high levels of operational availability to benefit fringe-of-grid network systems.

The agency added that the project will also offer a first-time opportunity to demonstrate the integration of solar PV into the distribution network with an existing gas-fired plant, the nearby 55 MW Barcaldine combined-cycle plant.  

Part of the $70m project cost was funded through a $22.8m grant from ARENA as well as $20m in debt funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht was quoted as saying that the project’s completion ahead of schedule showed that the solar industry was getting better and faster at developing large-scale projects. 

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