The state of Western Australia takes up a third of the Australian continent and is the second largest subnational entity in the world (it’s three times the size of Texas in area). WA gets a lot of sun, well over 3,000 hours annually. It doesn’t get a lot of rainfall. But it’s about to get Australia’s first utility-scale solar power project, the Greenough River Solar Farm in Geraldton. The Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, one of several in the region that helps address persistent water shortages, will purchase 100% of Greenough’s power output to partially offset its own energy requirements.
Yesterday, GE Energy Financial Services (GE EFS), along with Western Australian state-owned power utility Verve Energy and solar company First Solar, announced that the building of the 10-megawatt AC facility is underway and will be fully operational by the middle of next year. Once complete, Greenough will be ten times larger than any other operating solar project in Australia.
First Solar’s 30MW solar plant in New Mexico that will power 9,000 homes and displace more than 45,000 tons of CO2 per year.
Greenough’s clean and affordable solar energy output will displace 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, near the town of Binningup, the equivalent of taking 5,000 cars off the road. Southern Seawater produces about 50 gigaliters of potable water annually. Its operator, the Water Corporation, will purchase the Greenough power.
GE EFS has built a global portfolio of more than $400 million of solar power equity and debt investments in 42 projects, but Greenough is its first renewable energy investment in Australia. In addition to bringing its expertise to a new and growing market and expanding on its portfolio of projects with First Solar, “This project also will support GE’s ecomagination program, in our aim to help customers meet their environmental challenges,” said Jason Willoughby, the Australia business leader for GE EFS.