A MAJOR national energy retailer will underpin the development of Victoria's first commercial solar farm near Kerang.
EnergyAustralia has announced it has signed a long-term agreement to buy all the electricity generated by the Gannawarra Solar Farm.
The Gannawarra Solar Farm is planned for farm land near the Kerang-Lalbert Road, 12.5 kilometres west of Kerang.
It is being developed by renewable energy business Edify Energy.
Upon completion, the Gannawarra Solar Farm will have nameplate generation capacity of around 60 megawatts and will produce enough emissions-free, renewable energy to meet the electricity needs of over 25,000 Victorian homes, almost enough to provide electricity to Ballarat.
EnergyAustralia's 13-year power purchase agreement will underpin development of the project, with construction to start this year and completion slated for early 2018.
EnergyAustralia managing director, Catherine Tanna said that as an owner of big power plants EnergyAustralia felt a responsibility to promote and lead the development of cleaner forms of energy.
"The Gannawarra Solar Farm is the first project in Victoria and third overall we've announced in EnergyAustralia's $1.5-billion program to buy around 500 MW of power from new wind and solar energy projects across eastern Australia," she said.
"When complete, Gannawarra will be Victoria's first large-scale solar farm and another critical link in Australia's transition to a cleaner energy future.
"In time, projects like this will come to underpin energy supply in Australia as coal-fired power plants are retired."
EnergyAustralia's program will contribute toward the Australian Government's Renewable Energy Target to have 23.5 per cent of total energy in the national electricity market provided by renewable sources by 2020.
Edify Energy chief executive officer, John Cole said that large-scale solar projects had the potential to both meet Australia's energy needs and provide new opportunities to regional parts of the country.
"Edify Energy is excited to be working with EnergyAustralia and the people of Victoria to deliver a new source of clean green electricity and employment to the region. We have brought our international experience to bear on the Australian market and are confident in the future of large-scale solar to make a significant contribution to Victoria and Australia's energy needs."
EnergyAustralia already has the rights to more than 450 megawatts of electricity from wind farms in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, which produce enough power to meet the annual electricity needs of 300,000 average homes each year.
The Gannawarra commitment follows EnergyAustralia's recently announced binding agreements to buy all the output from the 48.5 MW Manildra solar farm, west of Orange in New South Wales and to buy 80 per cent of the output from the 142 MW Ross River solar farm, south of Townsville in Queensland.