Melbourne has the largest urban tram network in the world. With 250 kilometers of track and 1,763 tramstops it provided over 203 million passenger trips in 2018.

Switching to solar to power this impressive public transport network is no mean feat.

The network operates on 600VDC through a set of 50 substations which rectify the voltage to DC. These substations were previously powered by the grid with electricity from fossil fuels, now they will receive renewable electricity from the Numurkah solar power plant.

The Victorian Government has a stated goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

The 128MWp Numurkah solar farm, currently the biggest in Victoria, is an important step in that renewable energy target. Land that once grazed cattle now holds 373,839 solar panels which generate nearly 255,000 MWh of renewable energy a year. This represents a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to taking 75,000 cars off the roads or planting 390,000 trees. This solar farm will be also be able to power 42,000 homes and will also be used to power the Laverton steelworks. Electricity costs can represent up to 40% of the budget for steel manufacturing so this solar energy is directly and significantly reducing the cost of steel-making.

The Numurkah solar farm was developed as a collaboration between the Victorian State Government and Neoen, the French renewable energy producer. The cost of the project was close to $198 million and was supported by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which provided over 56 million AUD in loans to develop the projecr. Also, the project signed a 15-year PPA contract with Simec Zen, the Australian energy arm of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance.

The construction of the project started early in 2018 and it has been active and operating since July 2019. The solar power plant will be set at 66kV and will be connected directly to the national electricity grid.


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