By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Energy
First Solar, General Electric and Verve Energy will build Australia's first utility-scale solar farm to power a nearby desalination plant.
Solar module manufacturer First Solar, state-owned utility company Verve Energy and conglomerate General Electric announced on Wednesday that they have begun construction on Australia's first utility-scale solar power plant.
The project will be 10 times larger than any other operating solar plant in the country.
The 10-megawatt AC project, located about 31 miles from the country's western shore, aims to offset the energy requirements of the nearby Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, which will produce 50 gigaliters (more than 264 million gallons) of potable water each year.
Western Australia requires new desalination plants to use power generated from renewable sources. As such, the WA Water Corporation has signed a 15-year contract to purchase 100 percent of the solar farm's output.
The project is expected to displace 27,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year -- roughly equivalent of removing 5,000 cars from the road.
First Solar's role is to supply more than 150,000 of its thin film photovoltaic modules, as well as the necessary engineering, procurement and construction. It will also provide support once the facility is operational.
The project is also GE Energy Financial Services' first renewable energy investment in Australia.
Ownership of the project -- officially the "Greenough River Solar Farm" -- will be split 50-50 between Verve Energy and GE's Energy Financial Services unit. The local government will provide $20 million in Australian dollars (about $21.4 million USD) and no debt will be incurred to fund the project.
The companies plan for the farm to be fully operational by the middle of next year.
Illustration: Verve Energy
Aug 31, 2011
I don't really get the math here. 264 million gallons of desalinated water = 810 acre feet. If the average suburban household = .3 acre feet per year that equates to 2,700 households of fresh water. Just based on the cost of the building the project from the "local government" mentioned in the article, the 15 year cost to the ratepayer would be $528.00 per year just for that share. It sounds like somebody else may be funding additional construction costs, but even if not, nothing is accounted for the cost of operation of the plant or solar farm and when those costs are factored in, i suspect the ratepayers would be paying well over $200.00/month just in base operating costs. That doesn't include any profit for the utilities or taxes for the agencies. I think overall this is a good idea, I don't see the math here yet, but tests like these probably have to happen to get things going in the right direction.
Yes. Australia has vast land and ideal to tap solar as well as wind energy. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India Renewable Energy Expert E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where are you getting your figures from? First off the salination plant already exists and currently uses that amount of power. Tax payers are currently paying for all of the power to the plant. Second, where I live a MWh costs $116CAD (about on par with AUD) and the solar plant puts out 10MW per hour. This Means that it generates $1160 per hour without fuel costs or dangerous conditions and maintainance of a combustion driven plant. That's almost pure profit. $20 million wont take long to pay of at those rates and you must remember that Verve is a State owned company so every dollar saved or made is a taxdollar to the people. Anouther thing I would like to point out is that $40million is a fraction of the cost building any fossil/hydro/nuclear powered plant that size. Those plants run in the Billions up front.
The deslaination plant is being built new. It is not an existing structure. The plant will buy the power, so they are replacing the cost of a conventional power plant with the solar plant. No one will disclose the rates being paid so the residents have to hope it is a break even venture. In most cases solar cost more so I doubt there will be any "profit" for the municipality. http://www.verveenergy.com.au/mainContent/sustainableEnergy/Projects%20in%20progress/Greenough_River_Solar_Farm.html