Australia’s largest solar programs

The journey to transition Australia’s energy production to renewable sources, it’s impressive just how much work is being done, specifically in the solar farm space. There are some massive...

The journey to transition Australia’s energy production to renewable sources, it’s impressive just how much work is being done, specifically in the solar farm space.

There are some massive investments being made in capturing the energy from the sun to power our homes and businesses and the location, size, technology used and largely unknown companies are interesting to analyse.

Such is the trend of solar investment that 7 out of the largest 8 solar projects in the country were commissioned last year. While 2019 is shaping up to be a good year for solar, there’s not yet a larger project in place than what we seen in 2018.

Large solar farms are defined as projects over 50MW of capacity, to date, with a majority positioned along the east coast of Australia. There are 4 in NSW, 10 in Queensland (the sunshine state), 1 in SA and 4 in VIC for a total of 19 solar farms. It is interesting to see the states that don’t have large-scale solar, WA, NT and the capital, ACT, the first 2 could be explained by the high cost of transmission between the point of collection and point of use.

The goal of solar farms is really to capture as much energy for the lowest cost. In that respect we can see a number of companies have very different approaches to the best technology to achieve this.

Photovoltaic, single axis tracking is by far the most popular. While static mounts are cheaper, mounting the solar panels on stands that rotate to track the sun’s position as it moves, increases the amount of solar collected. That value of that extra power captured more than counteracts the additional cost.

Now let’s take a look Australia’s biggest solar farms.

Image credit: ABC News: Carl Saville

1. Bungala Solar Power Project

Size: 220MW
Location: Port Augusta
Company: Reach Energy
Type: Polycrystalline photovoltaic, single axis tracking
State: South Australia
Commision date: May

Image credit: Edify Energy

2. Daydream Solar Farm

Size: 168MW
Location: Whitsundays
Company: Edify Energy
Type: Photovoltaic. 168 MWac, 180 MWdc
State: Queensland
Commision date: August
Households powered: 55,000

Image credit: Renew Economy

3. Coleambally Solar Farm

Size: 150MW
Location: Murrumbidgee
Company: Neoen
Type: Photovoltaic, fixed tilt
State: New South Wales
Commision date: September

Image credit: rcrtom.com.au

4. Sun Metals Solar Farm

Size: 124MW
Location: Townsville
Company: Sun Metals
Type: Thin-film, single-axis tracking
State: Queensland
Commision date: May

Image credit: Rossriversolarfarm.com.au

5. Ross River Solar Farm

Size: 116MW
Location: Townsville
Company: ESCO Pacific, Pallsade
Type: Photovoltaic, single-axis tracking
State: Queensland
Commision date: September

Image credit: Apa.com.au

6. Darling Downs Solar Farm

Size: 110MW
Location: Western Downs
Company: APA Group
Type: Photovoltaic, single-axis tracking
State: Queensland
Commision date: May-September

Image source: Agl.com.au

7. Nyngan Solar Farm

Size: 102MW
Location: Bogan Shire
Company: AGL Energy
Type: CdTe thin-film technology
State: New South Wales
Commision date: June

Image source: Solar quotes

8. Clare Solar Farm

Size: 100MW
Location: Burdekin Shire
Company: Fotowatio Renewable Ventures
Type: Photovoltaic, single axis tracking
State: Queensland
Commision date: May

So how does Australia’s solar efforts compare with the largest solar farms in the world? While we’re a massive sunbaked continent, there’s other parts of the world that have achieve the economic conditions to invest in solar at a much larger level.

While Australia tops out at 220MW, Tengger Desert Solar Park in China takes the top spot with a staggering 1,547MW. At more than 7 times Australia’s largest, it really puts our efforts into proportion.

The reality is that Australia doesn’t feature anywhere on the list of the world’s 50 largest solar farms.

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Creator of LSpotify, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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