While better known for British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s plans to power the OneSteel steelworks with a combination of 200 MW PV, coupled to utility scale battery and pumped hydro storage, South Australian industrial town Whyalla is also the first utility scale solar farm to be completed in the state.
The 6 MW Whyalla Solar Power Plant was initiated in 2015. It was developed by China’s SSE. It is the first PV power plant to have been developed in South Australia and is the first of the three-stage PV project at the Whyalla industrial site that will total 18 MW of capacity once completed.
China’s Jinergy supplied 17,280 mono-PERC modules to the project. The manufacturer claims that its PERC cells can reach a conversion efficiency of 21.6%.
Passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) technology was pioneered by UNSW’s Martin Green. It is now relatively commonly deployed by PV cell producers in China and elsewhere.
Alongside its PERC production, Jinergy is one of the few Chinese manufacturers pursuing heterojunction (HJT) cell technology. In April 2017, Jinergy announced that it had begun mass production of HJT cells, achieving conversion efficiencies over 23%. HJT cells have an additional advantage of demonstrating a better temperature coefficient, when compared to conventional crystalline silicon PV.
Speaking at the commissioning of the 6 MW Whyalla project, Major Projects Director of SSE Australia, Colin Gillam by the end of this year the company plans to have completed four PV power plant projects in the region.