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Australia’s Epuron acquires Uterne solar project in the Northern Territory

Australian renewable energy company Epuron has acquired SunPower’s solar power plant in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

Uterne is said to be Australia’s largest tracking solar power plant. It is also the holder of the first utility-backed solar power purchase agreement in Australia, under the terms of which Power and Water Corporation will buy Uterne’s output at a guaranteed rate over a 20-year term.

"The project is a great addition to our 1-megawatt remote TKLN Solar project, making Epuron one of the largest solar project owners and asset managers in Australia,” said Epuron executive director Andrew Durran.

The 1-megawatt Uterne project was completed by SunPower Corp in July 2011 and uses the company’s solar photovoltaic panels and single-axis T20 tracker systems which allow them to follow the sun during the day.

SunPower will continue to provide operations and maintenance services to Uterne in conjunction with Ogden Power, a SunPower-accredited company based in Alice Springs.

Uterne was assisted by funding from the Australian Government’s 94 million Australian dollar ($96 million) Solar Cities program which designated seven cities as “Solar Cities.” These cities will trial new sustainable models for electricity supply and use, including energy efficiency technologies and programs and renewable energy projects. The seven cities are Adelaide, Alice Springs, Blacktown, Central Victoria, Moreland, Perth and Townsville.

The Australian government contributed 3.3 million Australian dollars to Uterne which was estimated to have cost a total of 6.6 million.

Alice Springs is considered a promising site for solar power projects as it averages 9.6 hours of sunshine per day. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Alice Springs has averaged only 63 cloudy days per year in the last 56 years.

Other solar power projects installed in Alice Springs as part of the Solar City program include a 305-kilowatt PV installation on the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs; a 235-kW concentrating PV project at Alice Springs Airport; a 162-kW installation at the Araluen Cultural Precinct; and a solar water heating project at the Alice Springs Aquatic and Leisure Centre. – K.R. Jalbuena

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