WA council to build utility-scale solar farm to meet growing electricity demand

Another local government council is taking the big solar challenge into its own hands, this time the Western Australian City of Wanneroo, in the northern suburbs of Perth.
The Wanneroo Council on the weekend issued a call for expressions of interest to develop and operate a grid-connected solar farm on local government-owned land – around 24 hectares – in the suburb of Neerabup.
The solar plant would be part of the Neerabup Energy Precinct, which was established by the Council to meet growing electricity demand in Perth’s expanding northern suburbs, as well as to supply peak power to Western Power’s South-West Interconnected System.
It follows similar decisions by the Sunshine Coast council in Queensland to build a 15MW solar plant, and a similar decision by the City of Fremantle to push for a 10MW solar plant on a former rubbish dump.
The shire of Esperance is also looking at “big solar” as an answer to its energy issues, while numerous councils in Victoria and New South Wales will install solar as part of their respective pushes for 100 per cent renewable energy targets, or to become zero net energy towns.
According to the Wanneroo EOI, the number of people (currently numbering more than 185,000) and dwellings in the City of Wanneroo, which comprises 36 suburbs, are projected to double over the next 20 years.
“With this growth rate it is crucial to carefully plan for the implementation and delivery of future infrastructure, new facilities and services and employment for the needs of a growing population,” the document says.
The decision to go with a utility-scale solar power plant – over and above gas or coal – was made by the council in March, following an assessment of the results of a 2014 tender, which called for both renewable and non-renewable development options.

Neerabup Power Station

Wanneroo already has a couple of gas-fired power stations, the newest being the NewGen Power-owned 330MW Neerabup Power Station, commissioned in October 2009. State government-owned utility, Synergy, also has its 584MW Pinjar Gas Turbine Power Station located 15km north of Wanneroo, the first units of which were installed in 1989.
The council says the development of a local big solar project would not only generate clean and sustainable energy, but would promote green innovation and achieve environmental, social and financial benefits for the City’s wider community.
The EOI specifies that it is seeking tenders for a utility-scale installation of interconnected solar collection modules to generate and supply renewable energy to the electrical grid. Submissions will be accepted up until 3pm Tuesday June 23, 2013.
This article was first published at RenewEconomy.


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