August 3, 2014 - Epuron and SunPower Corp. 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 1MW to 4.1MW.
"Uterne has proven to be a valuable part of our solar energy portfolio which will increase in size to over 5MW 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 3.1MW expansion of Uterne with SunPower solar panels mounted on SunPower® T0 Trackers. The additional 3.1MW of T0 Trackers will be installed on 3 hectares, adjacent to the 1MW solar power plant.
"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 1,000MW 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."
"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."
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.