Saturday, October 13, 2012

Solar farm opens in WA - Solar house take-up continues

Australia's first large-scale solar farm is open for business in Western Ausralia's mid-west.

The 10-megawatt project in Walkaway, south of Geraldton, will produce enough electricity to power about 3,000 homes.

The Water Corporation will buy all of the plant's power to offset operating costs at the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant near Binningup.

The solar farm has a field of 150,000 solar panels that are expected to displace about 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

One of the site's developers, Verve Energy, say the 10-megawatt project will supply clean energy for 25 years.


Meanwhile solar take up hits the roof

Australian roofs now have a solar power generating capacity equivalent to half the Snowy Hydro scheme as consumers react to soaring power prices and sinking prices for photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Some 858,000 homes have solar PV panels with an installed capacity of just under 2 gigawatts, according to the latest data from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator (ACER). 

At the current rate of take-up, the millionth home will tap into solar power before the end of June next year, said Professor Ray Wills, chief adviser to the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA), an industry lobby group.

Significantly, the growth in demand for solar has largely weathered the slashing of generous feed-in tariff in 2011 — and subsequent dive in orders after the loss of the subsidy — to recover much of its expansion pace.

Intense international competition among suppliers, particularly from China, now means households can expect payback periods of as short as four years, with a typical 1500-kilowatt unit selling for $1500-$2000, Professor Wills said.

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