First Solar, Verve Energy Begin Construction On Australian Project

First Solar Inc., Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services have begun work on the Greenough River Solar Farm, which the companies say is Australia's first utility-scale solar power project.

The 10 MW project will be located on 80 hectares of cleared land 50 km southeast of Geraldton. It is expected to help offset the energy requirements of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant.

Western Australian state-owned power utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services will each own 50% of the project. The Western Australia government is providing A$20 million, including A$10 million from the WA Royalties for Regions program. No debt will be raised to fund the project.

WA Water Corp., which is building the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, has committed to purchase 100% of the solar farm's output. First Solar will supply the project with over 150,000 of its thin film PV modules and provide engineering, procurement and construction services, in addition to operations and maintenance support once the solar farm is operational.

The solar farm is expected to be fully operational by mid-2012.

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