Melbourne’s Tram Network Will Run On Solar As Victoria Launches 75 Megawatt Solar Tender

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.
By Jonathan Gifford

Victoria has announced a tender for 75 megawatts of large scale solar to be constructed in the northwest of the state, with 35 megawatts (MW) of these arrays will “linked to” Melbourne’s tram network.

Melbourne is the location for the largest electric tram system in the world, in terms of distance covered. It is now set to see its 410 trams be powered by solar PV, with the state government looking to build 75 MW of solar farms, part of which will tapped to power the network.

The PV array or multiple arrays will be the first utility scale solar to be developed in Victoria.

The move has been mooted for some time, with the Australian Solar Group having proposed developing two 20MW solar arrays to both the Coalition Baillieu/Napthine governments and then again to the current Andrews Labor Government for the same purpose.

The status of this existing proposal in light of the tender unannounced today is unclear. The initial proposal was for the two solar farms, in Swan Hill and Mildura, which were to deploy tracking, to generate 80GWh of electricity annually, sufficient to meet the Yarra Trams’ electricity needs.

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will run the tender and will release a Request for Tender in the first half of 2017. The 75 MW of capacity is expected to be installed in 2018.

“We will use our purchasing power as a large energy consumer to boost investment in renewables and create new jobs for Victorians,” said Victorian Energy and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, in a statement. “We’re positioning Victoria as a leader in climate change, by reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts.”

Similarly to the ACT Government with its solar tenders, the Victorian Government plans to voluntarily surrender the large scale renewable certificates generated by the PV arrays. This means that the projects won’t count towards Australia’s national Renewable Energy Target. D’Ambrosio did not comment on the cost of this to Victorian taxpayers.

The Victorian Government expects to attract $150 million in investment for the projects and to create 300 new jobs.

The government has already signed contracts for two wind arrays. A 30 MW project located 50 km northwest of Horsham will be developed by Windlab and a 66 MW wind farm Winchelsea is being developed by Acciona Energy.

Reprinted with permission.

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