From: Editor, Green Economy
Published September 1, 2011 09:02 AM

Australia Deslanates with Utility Scale Solar from US

Australia's First Utility-Scale Solar PV Project is under way–and it will help meet Western Australia's water security issues by fueling a much needed desalination plant.


A joint effort funded by Australia's Verve Energy, GE Energy Financial Services and Western Australia Government, the 10-megawatt project will use First Solar PV modules. Output from the 10-megawatt AC project on 80 hectares (about .3 square miles) of cleared land will contribute to offsetting the energy requirements of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant (SSDP).

According the SSDP website, Western Australia can no longer rely on rainfall to dams. Last year only 13 billion litres flowed into the dams, which is a fraction of the volume of water needed to meet supply. This year has seen around 13 billion litres of inflow with the winter months two thirds over. Normally they would expect around 36 billion litres by this time of year.

"When the expanded plant is complete, at least half of the water needed for the Perth metropolitan area will be supplied from climate independent desalination and this will provide security to our water supplies even in the driest of years – in both the short term and long term."

In order to meet the energy demands of desalination, Western Australian state-owned power utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services will each own 50 percent of the Greenough River Solar Farm. The Western Australian Government is providing A$20 million (about 21.3 Million US as of 8/31/11), including A$10 million from the WA Royalties for Regions program. The Western Australia Water Corporation, which is building the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, has committed to purchase 100 percent of the solar farm's output. The result is that no debt will be raised to fund the project.

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