Solar power for trams on track
Construction is about to start on Victoria’s largest solar farm, with predicted capacity to supply around 30,000 households – and Melbourne’s iconic tram network.
The 88 MW (AC) 110MW (DC) Bannerton Solar Park, at Almas Almonds near Robinvale in far north-west Victoria is being backed by the Clean Energy Finance Corp.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the CEFC had invested $98 million to accelerate the 320,000-panel project, which is being developed without any grant support.
“Previously it wasn’t viable to construct solar of this scale in Victoria, which has good insolation rates, but not as high as the northern states. We have witnessed rapidly improving economic conditions that now make this project commercially viable without the need for grant funding,” Mr Learmonth said.
Bannerton Solar Park successfully tendered to provide clean power to the Melbourne Tram network, significantly reducing the city’s public transport emissions, when its power comes on line next July.
The project is being developed by a joint venture between independent global infrastructure and private equity investment manager Foresight Group and Victoria developer Syncline Energy.
Syncline Energy spokesperson Phil Galloway said the project was being built on almond orchard land that isn’t suitable for planting. The almond farm benefits from leasing the land around its orchards, generating an additional revenue stream for its business.
Bannerton is the CEFC’s second investment in a solar farm in Victoria. In March this year, the CEFC announced its first solar farm in Victoria, committing finance to Edify Energy’s 50MW (AC) Gannawarra Solar Farm, west of Kerang. Earlier, the CEFC also committed $67 million in senior debt financing to the Ararat Wind Farm, as well as $73 million to finance the final stage of the Portland Wind Farm in south west Victoria.
Picture: DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0