Western Australian solar farm leads way in performance stakes


Indonesian solar PV developer SUN Energy’s recent acquisition of the 100 MW Merredin Solar Farm in Western Australia’s central Wheatbelt has been rewarded with Rystad Energy senior analyst David Dixon revealing the facility was the nation’s top performing solar PV asset for 2021.

Dixon highlighted the achievement in a linkedin post, noting that the facility, originally developed by Risen Energy, had topped the list of Australia’s best performing utility scale (>15 MW) solar farms for the year.

Adani Australia’s 65 MW Rugby Run Solar Farm near Moranbah in central Queensland was second with an average capacity factor (AC CF) of 28.3% followed by Neoen’s 36 MW Griffith Solar Farm (27.1% AC CF) in New South Wales (NSW). Genex’s 50 KW Kidston Solar Farm in north Queensland and the 132 MWp Nevertire Solar Farm in north-west NSW round out the top five.

Utility scale solar PV and wind generation in Australia rose by 22% in 2021.

Image: Rystad Energy

Singapore-headquartered SUN Energy purchased the Merredin Solar Farm, located adjacent to Western Power’s Merredin Terminal Substation about 260 kilometres east of Perth, from Risen in October.

The solar farm comprises approximately 360,000 Risen 370 W high performance monocrystalline PERC module panels mounted on a single axis tracking system.

SUN Energy chief executive officer Philip Lee said at the time of the acquisition the solar farm is an integral part of the company’s expansion strategy and provides the group with a strong foothold to grow its renewable energy presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The Australian market is key for us, given the long-term potential for renewable energy and its geographical proximity,” he said.

“The acquisition supports our strategy to become one of the leading renewable energy companies in the region, through a combination of new project development and selective acquisitions.”

SUN Energy’s acquisition came just months after mining giant BHP signed an offtake agreement for the Merredin Solar Farm to supply up to 50% of the miner’s electricity needs for its Nickel West Kwinana refinery over the coming 10 years.

The project, which is adjacent to Western Power’s Merredin Terminal Substation, has also secured development approval to deploy up to 20 MW/40 MWh of battery energy storage onsite.

Merredin’s performance was part of a record-breaking year for utility PV and wind generation in Australia.

Dixon said large-scale solar PV and wind generation totalled 35,564 GWh in 2021, with utility PV contributing 9,184 GWh and wind 26,380 GWh. That equated to a 22% rise on the previous year (29,052 GWh).

At a state level, Victoria was the largest generator of utility PV and wind generation in 2021 with 9,767 GWh, followed by NSW (8,819 GWh) and South Australia (6,396 GWh) respectively.

APA Group’s 130 MW Badgingarra Wind Farm in WA was the top performing wind farm for 2021 with an average capacity factor of 46.7% CF, followed by the 31 MW Kiata Wind Farm (43.0% CF) in Victoria ahead of the 112 MW Granville Harbor Wind Farm (41.6% AC CF) in Tasmania.

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