Merredin Solar Farm scores repeat in PV performance rankings


The 100 MW Merredin Solar Farm in Western Australia’s central Wheatbelt region has again been crowned the country’s best performing utility scale PV facility with Rystad Energy senior analyst David Dixon noting it delivered an average capacity factor (AC CF) of 30.0% for the 2022 calendar year.

The Merredin Solar Farm, acquired by Singapore-headquartered Surya Utama Nuansa (SUN) Energy from original developer Risen Energy in October 2021, was also ranked the nation’s top performing large-scale PV asset in 2021.

The facility has the capacity to generate 274 GWh of clean energy per annum and has been exporting at full capacity to the South West Interconnected System since August 2020.

While the Merredin Solar Farm topped the rankings, Adani Australia’s 65 MW Rugby Run Solar Farm  was second for the second year in a row. Dixon said the facility, near Moranbah in central Queensland, returned an AC CF of 28.5% for the calendar year.

Bright Energy Investments’ 40 MW Greenough River Solar Farm near Geraldton in WA’s Midwest placed third in the large-scale solar stakes with an AC CF of 28.0% while Genex’s 50 KW Kidston Solar Farm in north Queensland was fourth. Melbourne-based renewables developer Pacific Hydro Australia’s 100 MW Haughton stage 1 Solar Farm in north Queensland rounded out the top five.

The performances of the solar farms were part of a record-breaking year for utility PV and wind generation in Australia.

Dixon said large-scale solar PV and wind generation totalled 41,254 GWh in 2022 with utility PV contributing 11,774 GWh and wind 29,480 GWh. That equated to a 16% rise on the previous year (35,564 GWh).

At a state level, Victoria was the largest generator of utility PV and wind generation in 2022 (11,248 GWh), followed by New South Wales (11,112 GWh) and South Australia in third (7,260 GWh).

Dixon said Queensland was a notable absentee from the top three, given the state target of 80% renewables generation by 2035, up from less than 23% in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has published its latest connections data, showing 23 projects totalling 2.9 GW of new capacity were connected in the National Electricity Market (NEM) in 2022. This was up 137 MW from the 30 projects connected in 2021.

Victoria connected the most new capacity in 2022 with 991 MW comprised entirely of wind farms with no new solar. Queensland followed with 866 MW, made up mostly of large-scale solar, including Neoen’s 400 MW Western Downs Solar Farm.

Solar also dominated the 619 MW of new capacity connected in New South Wales while in Tasmania there were no new connections in 2022.

South Australia welcomed 447 MW of new capacity, including the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park, which comprised 201 MW of wind and 99 MW of solar connected to the grid.

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