U.S.-based vertically integrated solar company First Solar Inc. is adding to its portfolio in Australia, having reached financial close for the Manildra Solar Farm in New South Wales (NSW).
The company says the 48.5 MW AC project will feature approximately 466,000 First Solar thin-film PV modules and single-axis tracking technology, and it is expected to produce more than 120,000 MWh 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 once completed in 2018.
The Manildra Solar Farm is supported by AUD$9.8 million of grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and 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,” says Jack Curtis, First Solar’s regional manager of the 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.”
Located 1 km east of Manildra in regional NSW, the project will provide economic benefits to the region through the creation of direct and indirect jobs, supporting small business and developing regional skills in a growing industry. Once complete, the project is expected to produce enough solar energy to serve the needs of approximately 14,000 average NSW homes and displace more than 91,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year – the equivalent of taking about 24,000 cars off the road, according to First Solar.
First Solar has appointed 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 this year.