By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Energy Weekly News -- Epuron and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) have partnered to quadruple the size of the Uterne solar power plant, bringing clean energy to approximately 1,000 Alice Springs homes each year when the plant is expected to be completed in 2015. Financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will fund the expansion, increasing the size of Uterne from 1 megawatt to 4.1 megawatts.
"Uterne has proven to be a valuable part of our solar energy portfolio which will increase in size to over 5 megawatts of operational capacity," said Epuron Executive Director Andrew Durran. "Adding capacity with industry-leading SunPower technology ensures that the plant will continue to deliver predictable, emissions-free electricity over the long term."
SunPower has been contracted to design and build the 3.1-megawatt expansion of Uterne with high-efficiency SunPower solar panels mounted on SunPower® T0 Trackers, which position panels to follow the sun throughout the day, increasing energy production while minimizing land use. The additional 3.1 megawatts of T0 Trackers will be installed on 3 hectares, adjacent to the 1-megawatt solar power plant, which features SunPower® T20 Trackers currently installed and operating on 3 hectares.
"Epuron's decision to expand Uterne in the Northern Territory proves that solar is a reliable and cost-competitive substitute for conventional energy sources such as diesel and gas," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. "By providing long-term operations and management services, SunPower will help ensure Uterne continues to meet or exceed production expectations over the project's lifetime, leveraging our global experience deploying and operating more than 1,000 megawatts of utility-scale solar power systems."
CEFC is providing a $13 million loan to Epuron for Uterne's expansion, which uses a financing structure that is rare for deals of this size. It is expected to drive down transaction costs and help make projects like this more attractive to commercial financing institutions.
"This project is a good example of bringing together an Australian company with leading global expertise to make the most of our abundant solar resources," said Oliver Yates, CEFC CEO. "The CEFC has identified huge, untapped potential for utility-scale solar power in this country and the CEFC financing for Uterne demonstrates the potential for these projects."
Standing behind Uterne since the 1-megawatt solar power plant was commissioned by SunPower in June 2011 as part of the Alice Solar City program, is a long-term power purchase agreement offered by the Northern Territory's Power and Water Corporation (PWC). PWC will also purchase the clean electricity produced by the 3.1-megawatt expansion.
"PWC is pleased to work with Epuron and SunPower to develop and expand the Uterne solar project to the point where it is a significant contributor to the energy mix in Alice Springs," said Trevor Horman, Manager Sustainable Energy, Power and Water Corporation, Northern Territory. "Once the expanded portion of Uterne is commissioned, the overall level of solar generation on an annual basis is expected to meet more than six percent of the city's electricity needs."
Epuron acquired the initial 1-megawatt Uterne in October 2012 from SunPower after SunPower developed and constructed the solar power plant. SunPower has had a footprint in Australia since 2008, designing and installing systems for utility and commercial customers like Horizon Power, Watershed Premium Wines and Perth Zoo, as well as residential customers across the country. The company has an office in Melbourne and a presence in every mainland state.
Each partner's obligations under the partnership, as well as project financing and project completion, are subject to terms of the related agreements, including customary closing conditions.
The capacity of the Uterne power plant projects discussed in this release are described in approximate megawatts on a direct current (dc) basis.
Keywords for this news article include: Energy, Power Plant, SunPower Corp.
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