A long-term purchase agreement has been approved for all electricity produced from the Gannawarra Solar Farm near Kerang in northern Victorian, which will be the state’s first large-scale solar project.

The project, developed by renewable energy business Edify Energy, now has a 13-year power purchase agreement with EnergyAustralia.

Once completed, the solar farm will have nameplate generation capacity of around 60MW, and will produce enough emissions-free, renewable energy to meet the electricity needs of over 25,000 Victorian homes.

EnergyAustralia’s power purchase agreement will underpin development of the project, with construction to start in 2017 and completion slated for early 2018.

EnergyAustralia Managing Director, Catherine Tanna, said 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 500MW of power from new wind and solar energy projects across eastern Australia,” Ms Tanna 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.

John Cole, CEO of Edify Energy, said he saw the potential for large-scale solar 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’s existing renewable energy program includes the rights to more than 450MW 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 binding agreements, announced on 7 December 2016, to buy all the output from the 48.5MW Manildra solar farm in New South Wales and on 7 February, to buy 80 per cent of the output from the 142MW Ross River solar farm in Queensland.

Ms Tanna said negotiations between EnergyAustralia and proponents of other solar and wind projects across eastern Australia to meet the 500MW of new renewable projects were well advanced.

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