It will be Australia's largest solar project once constructed, and utilize more than 1,167,000 First Solar advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules to produce approximately 270,000 megawatt-hours of energy in its first year of operation. Situated 15 kilometers south of Townsville, the project will supply electricity to the Sun Metals zinc refinery, which is a member of the Korea Zinc Group and a world leader in metal processing technology.
"Large-scale solar is fast becoming one of the most cost-effective sources of energy generation in Australia. This project represents the viability of the commercial and industrial solar market in Australia, and the growing trend of major energy consumers owning and operating renewable energy assets," said Jack Curtis, First Solar's Regional Manager for Asia Pacific. "The performance and reliability advantages inherent to First Solar's technology in Australia are well known, and we're pleased to support this historic project," said Curtis.
First Solar believes the technology has a higher energy yield than crystalline silicon technology in Australia due to its lower temperature coefficient, linear shading response and spectral response. This advantage is of particular importance in hot and humid and over the course of a project's operational life, according to the company, will translate to more energy output for Sun Metals.
RCR Tomlinson Limited will manage the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the project. Construction is scheduled to commence in April 2017.
On completion, the project is expected to generate enough solar energy to displace approximately 248,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking nearly 66,000 cars off the road.