The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Australia Flips the Switch on Its Largest Solar Farm

Australia's largest solar farm went online earlier this month in a small step on the way to achieving the country's ambitious renewable energy target.

Located in Western Australia’s Midwest at one of the world’s best solar sites, the 10-MW Greenough River Solar Farm — co-owned by local utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services — has over 150,000 thin film PV modules supplied by Arizona-based First Solar.

The partners are already looking at the possibility of expanding the plant to 40 MW to satisfy growing demand for renewable energy in a country that aims to generate 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

“As the largest photovoltaic solar plant in operation in Australia, the Greenough River Solar Farm demonstrates that renewable technologies can contribute to meeting Australia's future energy needs on a sustainable, cost-competitive basis,” Verve Energy chief executive Jason Waters said in a statement.

First Solar estimates as much as 3 GW to 5 GW of solar PV plants may be built in Australia by

2020. It is confident of capturing at least 30 percent of that, chief executive officer Jim Hughes told analysts on a conference call in July.

The significance of the Greenough River project is not so much the size, but the fact that it is the first in Australia.

“It gave us the opportunity to start building our local capability to build large-scale solar projects,” First Solar’s local senior manager Rob Bartrop told Renewable Energy World. “We do definitely think Australia has all the right ingredients to be a successful to be a very successful long-term solar market.”

Greenough’s opening came after Australian developer Epuron acquired the 1-MW Uterne solar power plant in Alice Springs – in Australia’s Northern Territory – from San Jose-based SunPower. The Uterne project deploys high-efficiency SunPower solar panels installed on trackers, which positions panels to follow the sun during the day, increasing daily energy production by up to 30 percent. 

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) provided project financing, making it the country's first major bank-supported large-scale solar project. While commonplace in Europe and the US, Australian banks have had little opportunity to invest in such solar projects. 

In a statement, GE Energy Financial Services managing director Matt O'Connor pointed to “incredible investment opportunities” in Australia after completing the Greenough River project – the financier’s first foray into renewable energy investment in Australia.

The 10-MW Greenough River project was built without bank debt, with co-owners Verve Energy and GE financing it out of their own pockets.

First Solar’s Bartrop sees a very healthy future for renewable energy project financing in Australia. “Over time we’ll see the big four local banks boost lending to solar projects…our feedback from the local banks have been very positive,” said Bartrop. “Banks are very interested [in providing finance] – they want to get involved in solar projects now they have learnt how solar resources and systems work.”

First Solar has already been successful in one of the Australia’s major competitive tenders. With Australian utility AGL Energy, First Solar won a federal government grant to build 159 MW of solar PV in New South Wales (NSW) through the Solar Flagships program.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now



Evaluating the Case for Module-Level Shutdown

Hannes Knopf With 2014 NEC adoption in full swing, many are anticipating what the next version of the code will hold for the PV in...

A Case Study in Energy-Transition Momentum

Tim King South Australia is clearly at the forefront of the global energy transition as it establishes a fast-moving model oth...

Listen Up: Can I Get Solar if my Roof is Shaded?

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World Rooftop solar panels only work when they are in direct sunlight. So if you have a partially shaded roof, the output o...

US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...


IREC Announces Changes in Regulatory Team

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), a not-for-profit organization which for...

Fronius Shifting the Limits in Solar-Plus: It’s not just about products, it’s about solutions.

Fronius USA, who just recently launched the all-new Fronius SnapINverter line this past...

Power Engineering and Renewable Energy World Magazines Name Projects of the Year Awards Finalists

Tulsa, Okla. and Nashua, N.H., Oct. 5, 2015 -- The editors of Power Engineering and Ren...

Solar Frontier's CIS Modules Selected For 14 MW Module Supply Agreement In The Midwestern US

Solar Frontier's advanced technology, CIS modules are selected for a 14 megawatt module...


ENER-G CHP technology selected for major London housing scheme

ENER-G has been selected to supply combined heat and power (CHP) technology for phase two of the Leopold Estate housi...


Necessity is the mother of innovation. Our planet is going through major changes in climate. This of course will affe...

New Study: Flexible Gensets Can Boost Solar- and Win-diesel Hybrid Solutions

The genset industry reacts to growing hybrid markets with a new approach that overcomes limitations of traditional ge...

New Hampshire Promotes Better Wood Heating

New Hampshire’s location in northern New England means that the winters are long and cold. Heating costs are hi...


Independent journalist with a background in sustainable business and ethical finance, the renewable and low-emission energy sectors, climate-change science and policy and the not-for-profit sector.


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Solar Power Asset Management and Performance

SEIA and SEPA collaborated with industry leaders to present the first ev...

Solar Power Northeast

  From the team that produced Solar Power Southeast and the sol...


Fast facts: 4 things you need to know about the state of solar fina...

Fast facts: 4 things you need to know about the state of solar financing...

10 Questions You Should Be Asking

Tony Robbins is fond of saying that the quality of your life is directly...

Join us at the New Solar Power Northeast

From the team that produced Solar Power Southeast and the sold out P...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now