With help from First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) and General Electric (NYSE: GE), unit GE Energy Financial Services Australia's state-run Verve Energy is installing the country’s first utility-scale photovoltaic array. The 10-megawatt (AC) Greenough River Solar Farm, under construction southeast of Geraldton in Western Australia, is being equally financed by GE Energy Financial Services and Verve and will use First Solar modules.
The solar power plant will help offset the energy requirements of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, now being built.
“Western Australia requires new desalination plants to use power generated from renewable sources,” said a joint press release issued by First Solar and GE Financial Services. “The WA Water Corporation, which is building the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, has committed to purchase 100 percent of the solar farm’s output,”
Under the agreement, Verve and GE Energy Financial Services will each own 50 percent of the Greenough River Solar Farm. The Western Australia government will provide 20 million Aus (about $18.6 million US).
“GE Energy Financial Services invests across the energy sector worldwide. In renewable energy, we have invested $6 billion, and continue to look for investment opportunities in projects with good local partners, proven technology and sound fundamentals,” said GE Energy Financial Services spokesperson Christa Bowers. “The Greenough River project met all these criteria, and is located in Australia, a growth area for GE.”
GE is interested in Australia’s solar market potential, according to Bowers.
“Australia has a world-class solar resource, ideal for solar generation. It has tremendous land availability and an expansive electricity network, which provides opportunities for sites to be developed in suitable locations nationwide,” she said. “GE is actively pursuing solar power opportunities for investment and technology in Australia.”
While GE makes its own modules and is planning to announce a new 400-megawatt annual capacity, thin-film photovoltaic manufacturing facility in the U.S., it chose to work with First Solar on this project, according to Bowers.
“GE Energy Financial Services continually seeks investment opportunities in projects that have solid fundamentals, many of which use GE technology, but some of which do not. The decision on which technology to use often occurs before we consider investing in a project,” she said.
The project also builds on the GE unit’s portfolio of projects with First Solar.
“This investment enables us to apply our renewable energy investment expertise to a new market, expand our $400 million solar project portfolio, and add to our projects with First Solar—three solar PV projects in Ontario announced in January this year—and GE’s broader work with Verve Energy. This project also will support GE’s ecomagination program, in our aim to help customers meet their environmental challenges.”
Image courtesy of First Solar.