As the world transitions to a renewable energy future, Australia is rolling out large-scale solar farms.
It makes sense. As one of the most sun-drenched countries on the planet, Australia finds itself in a rare position to invest heavily in a rising industry.
Hop on the tractor and take a tour with us to find out what all the hype is about.
What’s a solar farm?
There’s harvesting, but no machinery. Feeding, but no animals.
Solar farms are just like real farms, but for energy. They require large areas of land where massive grids of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are installed on a large scale to harvest the sun’s energy.
You can tell a solar farm apart from a standard commercial solar installation in a few important ways:
Solar farms are huge. The energy they produce is usually measured in megawatts (rather than kilowatts). To put that in perspective, 1 megawatt can power about 200 households.
Residential and commercial solar solutions are generally roof mounted. Solar farms are ground-mounted and located in regional areas on huge swathes of land.
While residential solar systems are designed to supply energy to a local end-user, solar farms operate as decentralised power plants. That means they are primarily built to sell energy, either back to the national grid or to a nominated purchaser (in WA, that’s usually a mining company).
What is the world doing?
The biggest solar farm in the world is Bhadla Solar Park in India, with a total capacity of 2.25 GW across 14,000 acres.
Over in the Qinghai Province of China, the Huanghe Hydropower Hainan Solar Park generates 2.2 GW and 202.8 MW/MWh of storage capacity, with plans to produce a jaw-dropping 16 GW.
So, what about Australia?
We’ve come a long way since our first commercial-scale solar farm – the comparatively modest 1MW Uterne Solar Power Station in Alice Springs that produced just 1% of the area’s electricity needs. Today, Australia is a world leader in solar power generation, with several large-scale solar generation projects green-lighted in recent years.
Oh, did we mention we’re building the world’s biggest solar farm? Well, we are – Sun Cable’s $20 billion Australia to Singapore Power Link in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory. As one of Australia’s largest ever construction projects destined to supply one-fifth of Singapore’s electricity needs, the solar farm is kind of a big deal.
- 15,000 hectares (bigger than 20,000 soccer fields)
- 10-gigawatt capacity
- 22 gigawatt-hours in battery storage for round-the-clock power supply
- 4,500km high-voltage direct-current transmission network, including a 3,800km submarine cable running through Indonesian waters
- Supplies electricity to the NT grid
Queensland is hot on its heels, with a 1.5GW Harlin Solar Farm in the pipeline. Then there’s daylight to New South Wales, with the upcoming 400 MW New England Solar Farm, and South Australia’s 330MW Riverland Solar Storage.
How about WA?
You might be surprised that WA is a small player in the solar farm stakes. Our state’s biggest operating PV project is Risen Energy’s 132 MW, 355,000-panel Merredin Solar Farm in the Wheatbelt region. Built on 460 hectares of former farming and grazing country, the farm is expected to generate enough electricity to power 42,000 Western Australian homes. We also have an array of small solar farms including Greenough River, Emu Downs and Badgingarra solar farms, which are part of APA Group’s renewables precinct.
With all this investment into solar, it’s clear that Decentralised energy generation is the future. And the best is yet to come – watch this space.
Take energy into your own hands, with your own solar panel and battery system. To learn more, contact Solar My Home WA for an obligation free quote – (08) 6209 7709 or email email@example.com
Image source: https://www.apa.com.au/our-services/other-energy-services/wind–solar-farms/emu-downs-solar-farm/