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Moree solar farm starts feeding energy into grid

2016-03-01 11:17:03

Moree solar farm starts feeding energy into grid

The largest single-axis tracking solar farm in the country is now feeding energy back into the grid from Moree in New South Wales.

The solar farm is led by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and has been funded with assistance of a $102 million grant from Australian Renewable Energy Agency and $47 million in debt financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

At full capacity the project is expected to generate 140,000 megawatt hours per annum, or the equivalent energy to supply the needs of 15,000 homes.

The company's country manager Cameron Gamsworthy said feeding energy back into the grid was a significant step in the project's development.

"It's absolutely a major milestone. We're now generating clean, renewable energy for the country," he said.

"[We are] looking forward to getting the project fully commissioned over the course of the next month."

The farm's 222,000 panels are expected to have a life of 30 years, and the company hopes the project will be at full capacity in a month's time.

Mr Gamsworthy said FRV was considering other projects in the region.

Farm solar is the future

While the Moree project is unique, a University of New England academic said there was a growing demand for solar energy, particularly among rural communities.

"Farmers are getting more and more hungry for mobile technology that can be distributed around the farm," said Professor David Lamb, from the university's Smart Farm.

"It could be a little water bore pump or some sort of gate alarm system or a trough monitor," he said.

"All of these technologies are going to need solar themselves because we obviously don't want powerlines running around farms.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are literally thousands of little solar panels balancing on the back seat of old tractors that are used to keep the battery alive while it is left out in the weather for the next start.

"At the end of the day the solar panel is becoming the set of pliers on a farm — you see them everywhere you look."

Professor Lamb said the university was putting up 'smart trees' around the Smart Farm.

"We literally have little sensors in the trees showing the amount of water these guys suck out of the ground, and each and every one of these trees has their own solar panel," he said.

"[It] is quite ironic when you consider that trees are one of the most efficient harvesters of solar energy that we know."

Original Article:

by Kelly Fuller

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