SunPower opens Australia’s largest producing solar energy plant

California-based solar panel manufacturer SunPower has completed construction of Australia’s largest tracking solar power plant – a 1-megawatt Uterne facility in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

The plant features more than 3,000 SunPower Corp solar photovoltaic panels, which reportedly generates up to 50 per cent more electricity than conventional solar panels.

The panels are positioned to follow the sun during the day, according to an update by the Australian Trade Commission.

The Uterne project is part of the Alice Solar City program.

Alice Springs is one of seven cities participating in the Australian Government’s A$94m Solar Cities program – a project which sees solar technologies and systems trialled on urban sites.

The Australian Government contributed A$3.3m to the A$6.6m Uterne project.

Electricity generated at the plant will be sold to the Northern Territory’s Power and Water Corporation at a guaranteed price for the next 20 years. The terms were struck under the first utility-backed solar power purchase agreement in Australia.

"SunPower is delighted to have constructed Australia’s largest producer of solar energy," SunPower managing director, Bob Blakiston said in the update.

"Uterne demonstrates that – just like any other fuel production plant – solar generation can be supported by a long-term power purchase agreement, setting a positive precedent for the development of similar projects in this country.”

In other news, SunPower recently announced plans to commence construction of a new solar manufacturing facility in Mexicali, Mexico.

The company which designs and manufactures high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, roof tiles and solar panels based on a silicon all-back-contact solar cell invented at Stanford University, has offices in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain and United States

The Mexico plant will reportedly cater to increasing demand for their solar panels in the North American Market. The plan is part of the solar manufacturers’ business strategy to expand its upstream vertical integration to cater for growing demand in this market, reported.

According to the report, the company is looking to lease a building with capacity of approximately 320,000 sq ft to set up its manufacturing unit.

The new manufacturing facility will be dedicated to bringing out the highly efficient E18, E19 and the E20 series of solar panels which will be used in the commercial, residential and power plant projects. The Mexico plant will also manufacturer the SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile System.

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