Whyalla Solar Farm opened

Wednesday, 31 January, 2018

Whyalla Solar Farm opened

The SSE Australia Whyalla Solar Farm was officially opened by SA Premier Jay Weatherill last week. It is the first utility-scale solar project to be completed in South Australia.

The project, located on 10 ha of land in the Whyalla Industrial Estate, uses 17,280 solar panels and 180 SSE solar inverters converting power ready for export direct to the SA electricity network.

It is stage 1 of a 3-stage project within the Whyalla industrial zone totalling 18 MW.  The project commenced construction in January 2017.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer said, “With the help of companies like SSE Australia and the state government, Whyalla and our sister cities of Port Augusta and Port Pirie are leading the renewable energy revolution while, at the same time, providing jobs and employment security for our people.”

SSE Australia Major Projects Director Colin Gillam said, “While South Australia has led the country in policy and support for renewable energy, this is the first utility-scale solar project to commence construction and be commissioned. It is anticipated it will generate 10 GWh, enough to power 1400 homes and reduce carbon emissions by 7500 tonnes per annum.  Space on-site has been allocated for a battery expansion in the future.”

The project has employed around 20 people for the past 12 months, with most of these coming from Whyalla itself, bringing investment and employment to the region.

“It is part of our company’s priority to employ and train as many local workers and contractors as possible,” Gillam said.

“Having skilled up a great local team, we are now able to immediately engage them on stages 2 and 3 in Whyalla.”

Gillam said the key commercial project partners included panel supplier Jinergy, the project’s future owners BECE, retailer NBE which is buying the power, mounting supplier Mibet, Whyalla Earthworks, CTI Solar, Ewings Contractors and former South Australian Gary Seaton and his company Sunmania.

Gillam said that while the project had a number of delays due to more rock and heavy rain than anticipated, the project partners remained positive and supportive and ultimately succeeded in delivering a high-quality project.

“We now look forward to continuing construction of the next projects in Whyalla and SA,” Gillam said.

“By the end of 2018 we plan to complete another four similar projects in the region.”

China-based Jinneng Clean Energy Technology supplied 6 MW PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) monocrystalline solar panels, which could generate more power than regular solar panels with solar cell efficiency over 21.6%. The project is estimated to generate 10 GWh electricity each year after grid connection and will be on service for at least 25 years.

Image caption: An aerial view of the SSE Australia solar farm in Whyalla.

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