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Alice Springs solar power plant to quadruple in size

04 August, 2014

Uterne solar power plant in Alice Springs will quadruple in size with funding from Epuron and SunPower Corp. The investment will bring clean energy to around 1,000 Alice Springs homes each year with the project expected to be completed in 2015.

Financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will fund the expansion, expanding the size of Uterne from 1 megawatt to 4.1 megawatts. 

Epuron Executive Director Andrew Durran commented on the value of the project.

"Uterne has proven to be a valuable part of our solar energy portfolio which will increase in size to over 5 megawatts of operational capacity," said Durran. 

"Adding capacity with industry-leading SunPower technology ensures that the plant will continue to deliver predictable, emissions-free electricity over the long term."
SunPower has been contracted to design and build the 3.1-megawatt expansion of Uterne with high-efficiency SunPower solar panels mounted on SunPower(R) T0 Trackers, which position panels to follow the sun throughout the day, increasing energy production and minimising land use. 
SunPower president Howard Wenger states that the project highlights the validity of investment in clean energy. 
"Epuron's decision to expand Uterne in the Northern Territory proves that solar is a reliable and cost-competitive substitute for conventional energy sources such as diesel and gas." 
 "By providing long-term operations and management services, SunPower will help ensure Uterne continues to meet or exceed production expectations over the project's lifetime, leveraging our global experience deploying and operating more than 1,000 megawatts of utility-scale solar power systems," said Wenger
CEFC is offering a $13 million loan to Epuron for Uterne's expansion, which uses a financing structure that is rare for deals of this size. It is expected to decrease transaction costs and help make projects like this more appealing to commercial financing institutions. 
Oliver Yates CEFC CEO commented on the potential this project have to properly utilise solar power.
"This project is a good example of bringing together an Australian company with leading global expertise to make the most of our abundant solar resources." 
"The CEFC has identified huge, untapped potential for utility-scale solar power in this country and the CEFC financing for Uterne demonstrates the potential for these projects," said Yates. 
Standing behind Uterne since the 1-megawatt solar power plant was commissioned by SunPower in June 2011 as part of the Alice Solar City program, is a long-term power purchase agreement provided by the Northern Territory's Power and Water Corporation (PWC). PWC will also purchase the clean electricity produced by the 3.1-megawatt expansion. 
"PWC is pleased to work with Epuron and SunPower to develop and expand the Uterne solar project to the point where it is a significant contributor to the energy mix in Alice Springs," said Trevor Horman, Manager Sustainable Energy, Power and Water Corporation, Northern Territory. 
"Once the expanded portion of Uterne is commissioned, the overall level of solar generation on an annual basis is expected to meet more than six per cent of the city's electricity needs."

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