$40m solar farm powers in to regional town
AS THE mercury rises in outback Australia, one small community is harnessing the power of the sun for the benefit of the country.
The Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm is expected to reach full generation by the end of the year, with the potential to produce enough renewable energy to power around 9,800 households.
Elecnor Australia developed the farm, with $22.8 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $20 million debt finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Barcaldine will not only contribute to the creation of renewable energy for the country, but will provide economic benefits to regional communities.
"Barcaldine was one of the first ARENA-funded solar plants and has helped pave the way for the next generation of 12 large-scale solar farms to be built across the country by the end of next year,” Mr Frischknecht said.
"Supported by ARENA, six big solar plants in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one in Western Australia are expected to triple Australia's large-scale solar capacity providing enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes.
"ARENA's unprecedented investment in large-scale solar is expected to unlock almost $1 billion in commercial investment and boost regional economies.
"As well as generating clean energy, the project is demonstrating how project developers can monetise network benefits and ultimately how solar farms can improve network efficiency and reliability at the edge of the grid.”
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler said residents were excited about the potential the solar farm carries for the region.
"The people in our district are enthusiastic supporters of solar energy and the great benefits it can bring to outback communities like ours,” Cr Chandler said.
"If it's one thing we have a lot of it is the sun, so it's great to see it being harnessed to power the electricity grid.”