(Lead image: Construction of a solar farm. Credit: First Solar.)
First Solar this week announced that financial close has been reached for the Manildra Solar Farm in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. First Solar will leverage its expertise in utility-scale solar development to deliver the 48.5-MW (AC) project, which will utilize approximately 466,000 First Solar thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules and single-axis tracking technology expected to produce more than 120,000 megawatt-hours of electricity in its first year of operation. The Manildra Solar Farm will take First Solar’s installed capacity in Australia to more than 400-MW (AC) when it is complete in 2018.
The Manildra Solar Farm is supported by AUD $9.8 million of grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). First Solar has entered into a 13-year power purchase agreement with EnergyAustralia for the generated electricity and large-scale generation certificates.
“Today’s milestone is a testament to the ability and experience of First Solar’s development and delivery team, and we congratulate ARENA and EnergyAustralia on their commitment to commercially viable projects,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Regional Manager of Asia Pacific.
“We have witnessed unprecedented cost reductions in large-scale solar in recent years. As the appetite for this asset class continues to grow, timely and reliable project delivery will be the strongest driver of future cost reductions, cementing solar as a competitive energy source in Australia,” Curtis said.
Located one kilometer east of Manildra in regional NSW, the Manildra Solar Farm will benefit directly from existing solar supply chains, and operations and maintenance hubs. It will also provide significant economic benefits to the region, through the creation of direct and indirect jobs, supporting small business and developing regional skills in a growing industry.
First Solar hired RCR O’Donnell Griffin Pty Ltd for the engineering, procurement and construction of the project. Construction is scheduled to commence in the first half of 2017.