The 20 MW AC Barcaldine Solar Farm in central Queensland will receive funding from both the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The $69 million farm, to be constructed by global renewable energy company Elecnor, is due for completion in April 2017 and is expected to provide up to 175 jobs at peak construction. ARENA is providing $22.8 million toward the single axis tracking solar plant, while CEFC is committing up to $20 million of debt finance.

ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht said the project would serve as a test case, showing how the network benefits from distributed renewable energy can improve network efficiency and enable solar plants to access an extra revenue stream through network support payments.

“This is a clear value proposition for large-scale solar in the Barcaldine area, which has an excellent solar resource and experiences voltage and frequency control issues as well as load management challenges.

“A new solar farm will help alleviate peak demand pressures and provide voltage control, resulting in more reliable power supply to customers in the region.”

Mr Frischknecht said the potential for battery storage will also be explored, which could allow for the solar plant to work in tandem with the existing gas plant during a line outage – operating as an “˜island’ network independent to the main grid.

The Barcaldine Solar Farm will adopt the tracking technology currently being installed at the ARENA-supported Moree Solar Farm, providing a further benchmark and additional information on its installation and operation.

Elecnor spokesman Francisco Garcia Valverde said the support from CEFC and ARENA has been essential, and that the project will help support the future energy supply of the Barcaldine, Blackall and Longreach communities.