Canberra Goes Solar In A Big Way

Spanish company FRV has been awarded a project to develop a 20MW solar panel based electricity generation facility in the Australian Capital Territory.
The FRV Royalla Solar Farm will be constructed 23 kilometres south of Canberra’s CBD and will consist of approximately 83,000 solar panels – the largest facility of its kind to date in Australia.
Royalla Solar Farm will generate enough electricity to supply the power needs of around 4,500 homes and avoid over half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions during its serviceable life.
Country Manager of FRV Australia said the project represents an important step in the company’s long term commitment in Australia.
The Australian Solar Council welcomed the announcement by the A.C.T. Government.
“This is a landmark day for Big Solar in Australia”, said John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council.
“Australia’s clean energy future has arrived in Canberra…Solar is increasingly taking on coal-fired power on price.”
“Big solar plants will increasingly meet Australia’s peak power energy needs, and today’s announcement by the A.C.T. Government is a window into Australia’s solar future.”
Mr. Grimes also congratulated the ACT Government for “delivering Big Solar at low cost and at breakneck speed.”
ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell said the project would make Canberra the solar capital of Australia – and at a low cost.
“The Government’s reverse auction process is about getting the cheapest price for the best amount of renewable energy generation, and today we’ve delivered on that,” he said.
Construction is due to begin in 2013 and is expected to be finished in 2014, subject to relevant approvals.
FRV states it has fully developed more than 360 MW of renewables capacity globally and has participated in the development of over 2,750 MW at different stages.
Bidding for the ACT project occurred under a reverse auction model. According to RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson, reverse auctions are already being deployed successfully in some of the world’s biggest energy markets, including India.
In addition to support for Big Solar, the ACT also encourages home solar power through a feed in tariff incentive. Surplus electricity generated by home systems is purchased by ActewAGL Retail at the customer’s electricity tariff rate. 
According to national solar solutions provider Energy Matters, a 3kW solar panel system installed in Canberra can generate a financial benefit of nearly $800 a year.