Solar Power Gets Jolt Of Energy As Western Australia Officially Flips Switch On Country’s First Large-Scale Solar Project

Solar power received a jolt of energy this morning as Australia’s first large-scale photovoltaic solar project was officially switched on. Verve Energy, GE (NYSE: GE) unit GE Energy Financial Services and First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today opened the 10-megawatt Greenough River Solar Farm near Geraldton, Western Australia. Joined by WA Energy Minister Peter Collier, landholders, community members and contractors, the successful kick-off follows more than one year of planning, design, construction and testing.

“Today, the community is celebrating Australia’s renewable energy future, and this is only the beginning. The Western Australia community has developed a genuine appetite for renewable energy, and today we are 10 megawatts closer to a cleaner energy future,” said WA Minister of Energy Peter Collier.

“As the largest photovoltaic solar plant in operation in Australia, the Greenough River Solar Farm demonstrates that renewable technologies can contribute to meeting Australia’s future energy needs on a sustainable, cost-competitive basis. This is a positive first step in validating the bright future that large-scale solar represents in Australia,” said Jason Waters, CEO, Verve Energy.

“With this landmark project now complete, partners Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services are now evaluating the possibility of expanding the plant to up to 40 megawatts to satisfy growing demand for renewable energy,” said Waters.

The 10-megawatt project is expected to generate enough solar energy to power 3,000 homes and displace 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. The plant's output will be purchased by the WA Water Corporation to help offset the energy requirements of its Southern Seawater Desalination Plant.

This project marks GE Energy Financial Services’ first renewable energy investment in Australia, adding to the company’s global portfolio of more than US$8 billion committed worldwide for projects generating power from wind, solar, hydro, biomass, geothermal and other renewable sources.

“GE is one of the world’s largest renewable energy investors and the Greenough River Solar Farm is just one example of the significant projects we can help turn into reality,” said Matt O’Connor, Managing Director at GE Energy Financial Services. “We see incredible investment opportunities in Australia and look forward to expanding on this successful project and applying our expertise to help the country’s renewable energy market grow.”

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