Utility-Scale Solar Power Meets Agriculture

Leeton, Australia

Two merchant power plants generating clean energy in the historic Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.


August 2021

Key Numbers


PV Power Plants

14.6 MWp

Combined Capacity

Up to 27.8 GWh

Combined Annual Production

Up to 23.658 t

Combined CO2 Savings Annually

The Challenge

The Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area was established in 1912 to control and divert the flow of local river and creek systems for the purpose of food production. It is one of the most diverse and productive regions in Australia, famous for the production of citrus fruits, rice, cotton and wine, contributing over AUD 5 billion annually to the Australian economy. The system is still regarded as a major engineering achievement comprising an elaborate series of weirs, canals and holding ponds.

It is also an area of significant energy use. Traditionally, energy was transmitted from large coal power plants located hundreds of kilometers away.

As part of our long-term commitment to increase the share of renewables in the Australian energy mix, Photon Energy committed to the development, design and installation of two solar farms in Leeton, one of the towns purpose-built for the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

The electricity generated by these installations would be sold on the National Electricity Market on a merchant basis.

The Solution

Our in-house team of experts developped, designed, and installed two solar power plants. With a system incorporating bi-facial PV modules mounted on single-axis trackers, the plants have a combined capacity of 14.6 MWp, corresponding to the production of an expected 27.8 GWh of clean energy per year.

With this project, we demonstrated not only our ability develop two utility-scale projects efficiently, on schedule and within budget, but also the safe intergation of solar power generation with agriculture. The fact that sheep graze freely beneath the tracker modules reflects our effort to optimise the site’s value – sheep farming is more profitable in Australia than anywhere else in the world – while also creating a safe, sustainable and efficient means of vegetation management.

The installations were connected to the grid owned and operated by New South Wales government-owned network operator, Essential Energy. The process of intergrating with Essential Energy’s 33kV network included upgrades of the transmission network and compliance with AEMO requirements.

This sale of electricity in the southern hemisphere will help to alleviate the seasonality of our global energy generation revenue. And with these installations representing the first Australian utility-scale power plants in our IPP portfoio, the succesful completion of this project marked another important milestone for Photon Energy.

Contact us to learn more about our work.

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