No doubt many lovers take up the “west wind” and venture across the Western Australian Wheatbelt to the tune of Sting’s “Fields of Gold”. So it is heart-warming to know that Sting’s colourful crop metaphor will continue to hold its power on the 440 hectares of Wheatbelt country devoted to the harnessing of golden sunlight now that the Merredin Solar Farm is nearing completion.
Indeed, the 132 MW Merredin Solar Farm in West Australia’s Wheatbelt region is not just nearing completion, but progressing rapidly toward it. The utility-scale project is Chinese PV module maker Risen Energy’s second large-scale solar farm in Australia, along with the 121 MW Yarranlea Solar Farm in Queensland. Risen has set itself an ambitious goal of 2 GW of renewable investment in Australia.
Risen Energy claims the speed of the Merredin Solar Farm’s civil and mechanical progress is down to its singularly good management of finances, great teamwork, and strong cooperation between itself and its partners. Strong praise.
These traits encouraged innovative methods of organisation to bring the civil and mechanical aspects of the project to completion within 3.5 months. Evidently, a great deal was learned from the experience with the Yarranlea Solar Farm, which is now in its compliance testing phase.
Western Australian company Pilecom installed the last of the steel post foundations last November and principal construction contractor, Monford Group oversaw the installation of 354,452 solar PV panels. By February, the electrics, substation and O&M installation, testing, and connection to the network will take place.
The project itself is located on 460 hectares of former grazing country, abutting the Western Power Merredin Terminal to which the Solar Farm will connect.
Like its Yarranlea project, Risen has sought to utilise as many local contractors and resources for the construction of the Merredin Solar Farm. On-site labour peaked at 425 staff, and now approximately 150 staff remain on-site for the remaining electrical work, and that figure will drop down to 50 for the lattermost stages and testing.
Merredin Solar Farm is expected to produce approximately 281 GWh of electricity annually, enough clean solar energy to power 42,000 Western Australian homes.