7 November 2011

First Solar starts construction on Australia’s first utility-scale solar farm

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which manufactures thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe), says that construction has started on the 10MW AC Greenough River Solar Farm, located 50km south of Geraldton, Western Australia. Once completed, it will be the first utility-scale PV project in Australia and will bring significant investment to the local community through a partnership with local contractor WBHO Civil (which has been awarded the Phase 1 construction contract for the project).

Construction is scheduled to last about nine months. Following civil engineering work, the project will progress to on-site construction of structural supports and the completion of above-ground electrical works. Installation of First Solar PV modules should start in March, with the solar farm expected to be fully operational by mid-2012.

Western Australian state-owned power utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services each own 50% of the Greenough River Solar Farm, with the WA Government providing A$20m (including A$10m from the WA Royalties for Regions program).

First Solar will supply the project with more than 150,000 modules and provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services. Through the partnership with WBHO Civil, and in the sourcing of local products, the project is expected to generate millions of dollars for the City of Greater Geraldton's economy. Up to 150 people will be on site at any one time throughout the construction phase, with jobs lasting for up to nine months.

“First Solar aims to maximize local hiring and enable the project to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to regional communities,” says Jack Curtis, VP, business development & sales for First Solar. "We are also building our in-country supply chain network by procuring as many materials as possible from local suppliers at all stages of the construction process,” he adds.

“Increased localization is critical to the development of a sustainable large-scale solar industry in Australia,” Curtis continues. “Developing a local capability to install utility-scale solar projects, together with stable government policy, will greatly improve the industry's long-term outlook.”

WBHO Civil will play a pivotal role in providing site preparation services, underground electrical services and civil works. The firm’s local expertise and network across Western Australian will ensure that the Greenough River Solar Farm is built to the highest possible standards, says First Solar.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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