ACT News

ACT shines brightly in solar power rankings

Canberra has reinforced its claim to be Australia's solar capital after it was announced that two solar farms will be built on more than 80 hectares after successful bids by a Chinese and an Australian company in the ACT's latest solar auction.

Chinese solar company Zhenfa Solar will build a 13-megawatt facility at Mugga Lane, while OneSun will build a 10-megawatt solar farm at Coree, of which 7MW falls under the government scheme.

Solar panels on farmland, Royalla.            Solar 3MB image.jpg
Solar panels on farmland, Royalla. Solar 3MB image.jpg Photo: Supplied

The facilities will produce renewable energy equivalent to the power usage of about 5600 households, and combined with the 20MW Royalla solar project account for a capital investment of more than $100 million in the territory.

Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell said the project winners were selected from 15 bids in the latest round, and both projects would go through the development application process.

"The reason these projects win is on overall value for money.

''Not only do they bring a very competitive price, which means we deliver the largest amount of solar energy at the cheapest price for consumers, but they also bring the necessary financial and technical expertise and backing that's needed," he said.

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"Both of these projects will need development approval, will need to go through a formal consultation and public notification process.

"The delivery of this nation-leading project is a big step for the ACT towards our greenhouse gas reduction targets of 40 per cent by 2020, and becoming a carbon neutral city by 2060."

''The maximum cost to households is expected to be 45¢ per week when all three farms are operating in 2016. This is forecast to drop to 27¢ per household per week by 2021,'' the minister said.

After having used his call-in powers to approve stage one of the Royalla project last month, Mr Corbell said it was too early to speculate on the likelihood of a similar move for the new projects.

The Mugga Lane solar farm - on  the corner of Mugga Lane and the Monaro Highway - is expected to be completed by September 2014 and will be built on 44 hectares.

The Coree solar plant is due to be completed by mid-2015 and will be built on about 40 hectares of grazing land, with sheep to be returned after construction is completed.

Zhenfa Solar was established in 2004 and controls many solar parks in China with a combined capacity of more than 1 gigawatt.

Mugga Lane, which is bigger than any other solar farm in Australia so far, is the company's first in this country.

Zhenfa Group's chairman and chief executive flew in from China to be at the official announcement at the Canberra Business Event Centre.

OneSun is owned by Elementus Energy, with the farm near Uriarra village to be the company's biggest in Australia.

Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes said Canberra was a clear national leader in solar.

''Absolutely no question. The [ACT] government has set a target of 240 megawatts in total, which amounts to over 25 per cent of total energy use in the territory. It's a really big target and no other government in the country is coming close,'' he said.

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