THE first stage of a major solar energy project near Kerang will be built at a cost of over $80 million.
Diversified engineering and infrastructure company, RCR Tomlinson Ltd has announced that it has been awarded a contract with Edify Energy and Wirsol Energy for the engineering, procurement and construction and operation and maintenance for the first phase of the Gannawarra Solar Farm.
Stage one of the Gannawarra Solar Farm development, adjacent to the Kerang-Lalbert Road, about 13 kilometres west of Kerang, will be for 60 megawatt peak DC of capacity.
Subsequent planned stages are expected to boost the solar farm's generating capacity to a peak around 300 megawatts, making it the largest individual solar development in Victoria.
Edify Energy chief executive, John Cole said that the first stage involves placement of 175,000 solar panels over 132 hectares of Mallee farm land, with commissioning in the first quarter next year.
The initial capacity will be able to power around 25,000 average sized three-bedroom homes.
RCR's scope of work includes engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of the solar farm, including associated substations and grid connection works.
RCR managing director, Paul Dalgleish said that the project will start immediately, with construction scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2017.
Once commissioned, RCR will undertake operation and maintenance services for an initial period of two years, with a three-year extension option.
Dr Dalgleish said that his firm had firmly positioned itself as one of Australia's leading providers in the delivery of large-scale solar infrastructure.
"We continue to see significant future opportunities for new large-scale solar projects coming to the market," he said.
Mr Cole said that the first stage involves constructing 90-metre long rows of 2-metre x 1-metre solar panels on a north-south axis which would track the sun from east to west.
Subsequent stages involve further development over a total area of about 610 hectares with up to 300 megawatt peak generating capacity.
Mr Cole said that his firm was negotiating with the Victorian Government for the possible future use of battery storage technology.
The Gannawarra Solar Farm is the largest of at least five solar energy projects earmarked for the Kerang and Cohuna areas.