Risen Energy’s construction of the Merredin Solar Farm set to peak from October
Construction works at the 132 MWdc Merredin Solar Farm site will hit their peak between October and December.
“We expect up to 300 construction workers on site over the coming months with about 100 of them locals from the Merredin area. Originally, we thought 200 workers would be needed, however delays due to the harder than expected ground conditions mean that more construction workers will be required to meet our timeline,” said Risen Energy (Australia)’s, Merredin Solar Farm Project Manager Patrick O’Neill.
“We have been getting three to four phone calls each day from interested workers as well as plenty of CVs. All of these are being passed onto our Perth-based primary contractors Monford Group,” said O’Neill.
Monford Group will be installing the panels, torque tubes, trackers inverters and building the new substation. High voltage conductors to connect the substation to Western Power’s Merredin Terminus have been strung and will be energised once the substation and solar farm are substantially complete.
There were project design changes when early civil works undertaken by Perth-based drilling and piling company, Pilecom, encountered more granite than forecasted by the original surveys. Pilecom adopted different methods to drill post holes into the areas of granite, with steel posts sunk to depths between 1.5m to 3.2m. These posts are for the installation of the tracker system which is required to mount the solar panels and allow them to follow the sun.
Over the past few months, the 360,000 panels and trackers have been delivered to the site in 550 containers.
The 132 MWdc Merredin Solar Farm will use Risen Energy’s 375W Mono solar panels. These panels will cover approximately 260ha of the 460 hectare farm leased by Risen Energy.
The major construction and movement of heavy vehicles is limited to daylight hours for safety reasons. “We’ve looked into the process of installing panels during the evening. It worked well on our other projects, especially in north eastern Queensland, where we worked a night shift. There was no noise – we were installing panels in well-lit areas with safety supervision on site, and people actually enjoyed working at night rather than in the heat of the day,” said O’Neill.
“We have approached the Shire of Merredin Council about our proposal to work night shift and they saw no issues with that. Noise will be kept to a minimum as there will be no heavy vehicle and equipment movement during the night – only personnel installing PV panels onto the tracker system by manual labour. The lighting towers will be restricted to direct overhead lighting and focus on the work area below. This will minimise any chance of the lighting being a nuisance to residents and motorists in the area. If any issues did arise, we will tend to the matter with absolute urgency,” explained O’Neill.
The site will be busy until March when Risen Energy aims to start commissioning its new substation. The Merredin Solar Farm staff have been working closely with the Shire of Merredin to deliver the approvals for the Merredin Solar Farm project and will continue to liaise with the council and government agencies to ensure any requirements are satisfied.
Merredin Solar Farm
Risen Energy (Australia) is developing the Merredin Solar Farm, the largest solar farm committed to construction in Western Australia. Once completed the solar farm will have an expected output of 281GWh of electricity annually, generating enough green energy to power approximately 42,000 Western Australian homes.
The Merredin Solar Farm is located on 460ha of former farming and grazing country adjacent to the Western Power Merredin Terminal and will connect to this facility at 220kV.
A diesel power station is also located adjacent to the Terminal on Robartson Road. Full construction of the solar installation will continue through to early 2020. Merredin Solar Farm will commission and commence power sales in Q2 2020.
“As owners of the Merredin Solar Farm project, Risen Energy (Australia) will progress the project from detailed engineering design, through construction, commissioning and ultimately the operation of the solar farm. We are using our latest PV panel technology to allow it to supply power to the grid. Ultimately, integrated battery storage will be incorporated in the solar farm to provide continuous power during periods of peak demand” said Eric Lee, General Manager Risen Energy (Australia).
The Merredin Solar Farm will endeavour to use as many local resources as possible including labour, equipment, contractors and accommodation. At the height of construction, it is estimated that 300 personnel will be working on the solar farm site.
Local businesses are benefitting from this work in the area including Topline Earthmoving, Merredin Freightlines, Holcim, Wheat Belt Uniforms, Signs and Safety, Landmark Agriculture, Two Dogs Hardware, Merredin Crane Hire, Ron Bateman & Co, Wheatbelt Liquid Waste and Merredin Skip Bins. Perth-based Monford Group and Pilecom are also contracted for the construction of the Merredin Solar Farm. Monford Group have hired a local company to clean and maintain the construction site facility on a weekly basis.
Monford and Risen Energy will continue to seek local services as the project progresses and further services are required. 22 houses are currently being rented to accommodate the solar farm personnel.
Once operational, the solar farm will require 3-5 full time workers to maintain the installation.