The Western Australian Water Minister Bill Marmion and Energy Minister Peter Collier have finalised an agreement which will see the Water Corporation purchase the entire output from Australia’s first utility-scale solar farm to be built near Geraldton.


Additionally, the corporation will purchase 100 per cent of the output from the Mumbida wind farm, also to be established in the Geraldton area.


Mr Marmion said the output from these two renewable energy farms would offset the energy requirements from the new Southern Seawater Desalination Plant (SSDP).


“The commitment to purchase 100 per cent of the output from these two new renewable energy sources is the last major agreement to be put in place for the SSDP which will be fully commissioned later this year,” Mr Marmion said.


“These exciting renewable energy projects will not only enable the Water Corporation to achieve its environmental objectives associated with the SSDP, but also provide a major boost for WA’s renewable energy sector.”


Both ventures involve Verve Energy working with private industry partners.


Mr Collier said the two projects, developed at a cost of about $200 million, would provide a significant stimulus to the Mid-West and add to the increasingly diverse mix of renewable energy generation in Western Australia.


Greenough River Solar Farm will be built on 80 hectares and produce 10 megawatts of renewable energy when complete. It is being built at a cost of $50 million, with a $20 million State Government contribution, including $10 million from the Royalties for Regions fund.


The Mumbida wind farm will comprise 22 turbines and generate 55 megawatts of renewable energy.


The developments will be commissioned in mid-2012 and late 2012 respectively.


“The State Government’s commitment to renewable energy presents exciting opportunities in WA and continues our drive towards ensuring a cleaner energy future,” Mr Collier said.


“The Greenough River Solar Farm will be one of the biggest in Australia when completed, while the Mumbida facility is expected to be the fourth-largest wind farm established in WA.”


Mr Marmion said while the new renewable sources would not be ready in time for the plant opening, agreements were in place to purchase additional renewable energy produced by these sources into the future, along with the associated credits to offset the period where traditional energy would be utilised.


He said the SSDP would use the most up-to-date, proven energy efficiency technologies. In particular, the plant would use energy recovery devices with an efficiency of greater than 96 per cent, reducing the overall energy required in membrane desalination by up to 60 per cent.


The two joint ventures involved in the Mid-West projects are Mumbida Wind JV and Greenough River Solar Farm. Greenough River Solar Farm is a partnership between Verve Energy and a private sector partner, while Mumbida Wind JV is a joint partnership between Verve Energy and Macquarie Capital.