CONSTRUCTION of Australia's largest photovoltaic solar farm officially commenced last week when Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell turned the first sod at the site of the Royalla Solar Farm in the Tuggeranong district, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014.
The Royalla Solar Farm is owned by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and is expected to provide 20 megawatts of renewable energy when operating at full capacity, or enough to meet the demands of 5,000 households. The solar farm is also expected to eliminate 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions during its first 20 years of operation.
Fotowatio Renewable Ventures was the first successful bidder in the ACT's solar auction process and it is hoped the project will play a key role in helping the ACT Government achieve its target of sourcing 90 per cent of Canberra's power from renewable energy by 2020.
"The cost to the average household for this project is expected to peak at 24 cents per week in 2016, reducing to 15 cents per week in 2021, which is a small price to pay for reducing our carbon footprint and the negative impacts of climate change," Mr Corbell said.
"ACT residents have demonstrated their support for solar power through the uptake of more than 14,000 household solar installations to date, which have a combined capacity of another 39.5MW already feeding into the grid."
Mr Corbell said the project would help Canberra to become the "solar capital of Australia". The Minister was joined by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures' Country Manager, Mr Andrea Fontana, and staff from construction company, Acciona Energy to mark the project's milestone.
"FRV is very pleased to achieve this important milestone of commencement of construction of Royalla Solar Farm by our contractor Acciona Energy. The ACT Solar Auction has been a tremendous success demonstrating that deployment of large scale solar can substantially reduce the cost of renewable energy," Mr Fontana said.
"We look forward to ongoing investment within the ACT in renewable energy initiatives and helping the ACT Government deliver on their emission reduction policies," Mr Fontana said.