As one of the sunniest countries on the planet, Australia is ideally placed to include large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power as a major part of its energy mix.

Large-scale solar PV uses the same technology as rooftop solar panels – specially fabricated semiconductor crystals that convert light from the sun into electricity.

Four new large-scale solar projects became operational in 2017 and a further 21 projects were under construction at the end of the year.

Another type of large-scale solar technology is concentrated solar PV (CPV). CPV uses lenses or curved mirrors to concentrate a large amount of sunlight onto a relatively small solar PV array.

This means that less money needs to be spent on PV panels; however, the additional costs of lenses, mirrors and other infrastructure may cancel out these savings. Ongoing research into more efficient CPV technologies aims to bring the cost down further.

Large-scale solar PV in Australia: 2017 in focus

Greenough River Solar Farm (First Solar)

Greenough River Solar Farm (First Solar)

The 50 MW Kidston Solar Farm in Queensland developed by Genex Power was the largest solar project commissioned in 2017. Other large-scale solar projects commissioned in 2017 included the Sunshine Coast Regional Council's 15 MW Sunshine Coast Solar Farm and Conergy's 13 MW Lakeland Solar and Storage project, both in Queensland.

At the end of 2017, Australia's total large-scale solar capacity was 450 MW, which is a remarkable result considering that just 34 MW was installed at the end of 2014. 

Twenty-one large-scale solar projects were under construction at the end of 2017. The largest of these is the 220 MW Bungala Solar Farm, which is located near Port Augusta in South Australia. Once completed, it will be Australia's largest solar farm, generating enough electricity to power 82,000 Australian households.

Large-scale solar plants commissioned in 2017

Technology Project Owner State Capacity (MW)
Solar PV Kidston Genex QLD 50
Solar PV Sunshine Coast Solar Farm Sunshine Coast Regional Council QLD 15
Solar PV Lakeland Solar and Storage Conergy QLD 13
Solar PV Gullen Range Solar Farm Goldwind Australia/BJC NSW 10

 

Sources:

  • SunWiz Consulting, 2013
  • Realising the Potential of Concentrating Solar Power in Australia, Australian Solar Institute, 2012
  • Clean Energy Australia Report 2018