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Solar farms, also known as solar parks, solar power stations or large-scale solar panel installations, can generate a lot more solar power than the average rooftop solar PV system installed on homes and businesses. In fact, some utility-scale solar farms can generate up to thousands of megawatts of solar power.

Here’s our guide to how a solar farm works and the role these play in the renewable energy industry and our electricity grid, the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).


What is a solar farm and how do they work?

A solar farm generates renewable energy in the same way as a typical rooftop solar PV system. Solar panels capture energy from the sun and send this in the form of a direct current (DC) to a solar inverter. Here it is turned into alternating current (AC) electricity which is a usable form of electricity for homes and businesses.

Homes and businesses with a solar PV system might have around 10 to 30 solar panels or even more in their solar array. These homes and businesses can use that renewable energy generated by their solar PV system during the day when the sun is shining. Any solar power they don’t use can be stored in a solar battery or exported to the electricity grid.

A solar farm operates on a much bigger scale than a residential or business solar PV system. Some large-scale solar panel installations can include hundreds or even thousands of solar panels in their solar array which are usually mounted on the ground. With this many solar panels at work, a solar farm can harness much more energy from the sun to generate electricity.

Solar farms can feed this renewable electricity back into the electricity grid as part of the electricity generation mix


Solar projects around Australia

At the end of 2020, there were 52 large-scale solar panel installations under construction across Australia. This number is set to grow as we transition into a renewable energy future.

Some of the largest (utility-scale) solar farms in Australia include:

  • The 400 megawatt New England Solar Farm in New South Wales which opened in March 2023.
  • The 400 megawatt Western Downs Green Power Hub in Queensland which opened in April 2023.

These large-scale solar panel installations both include battery storage systems to support the local electricity grids by storing excess solar power. The electricity storage capacity of the battery at the New England Solar Farm is estimated to be enough to power 175,000 average homes with renewable energy as needed.

In the future, there are plans for a project that would make Australia home to the world’s largest solar farm and battery system. This is known as the Sun Cable project in the Northern Territory. Estimated to be completed in 2026, this large-scale solar farm will include the capacity to generate 10 gigawatts of solar power and a large scale battery system. The project includes the Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink), which will help to provide renewable energy to both Darwin and Singapore, thanks to a 5,000km transmission system.


Large-scale solar in WA

Solar power makes sense as a renewable energy source with the amount of sunshine we receive in Western Australia. WA is already home to a number of solar farms, with more in development. 

Here’s an overview of some of the large-scale solar panel installations in WA which feed into our electricity grid, the SWIS, or are in development here.

Greenough River Solar Farm (10 megawatts)

This was the first utility scale solar panel installation to be commissioned in Australia when it was opened in 2012. Located around 50km from Geraldton, this solar farm includes around 150,000 solar panels.

The first stage of this project was to use the solar power it generated to help the Water Corporation offset the electricity it needed from the grid to operate the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant.

In stage two of this solar project, an extra 300,000 solar panels were installed next to the existing fixed panels. This new solar array has been mounted using rotating axis technology, so the solar panels can move throughout the day to capture even more energy from the sun. It is estimated that the amount of electricity these solar panels can generate and feed into the SWIS is equivalent to the average electricity use of more than 18,600 households.

Synergy Renewable Energy Developments Pty Ltd (known as SynergyRED) manages the assets at this facility, on behalf of Bright Energy Investments.

Merredin Solar Farm (132 megawatts)

This solar farm in the Wheatbelt region is one of WA’s biggest large-scale solar panel installations. The solar array includes more than 350,000 solar panels with an output of around 274 gigawatts of electricity each year.

Benger Solar Farm (100 megawatts)

This solar project is currently in the development and construction phase, and is being constructed around 15km south of Harvey. Once complete, it’s estimated this solar farm will have a capacity to generate around 100 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to enough renewable energy to power around 35,000 average homes. 

Australian Renewable Energy Hub

This is a proposed combined solar farm and wind power generation site with up to an estimated 26 GW of combined solar and wind power generating capacity, and is anticipated to be one of the biggest in the world once it’s complete. This project is located in the Pilbara and it’s estimated that it could be capable of generating more than 90 terawatt hours of renewable electricity each year. To give you an idea of how much electricity this is, it’s around one third of the total electricity generated across Australia in 2020.

Bristol Springs Solar Project (114 megawatts)

Plans for this solar project include a solar farm and a hydrogen production plant. In terms of solar, it’s estimated that the first stage of this solar project could generate around 237,000 megawatt hours of electricity. This is intended to be used to supply power to a renewables-based hydrogen production plant, allowing renewable energy to help generate more renewable energy.


Here in WA, across Australia and around the world, the number of solar farms is growing as we move away from traditional electricity sources with even more renewable energy generation. If you’d like to learn more about renewable energy generation and solar farms around the world, you might like to explore our fun facts about solar farms.


Image note: Greenough River Solar Farm is a Bright Energy Investment (BEI) asset which is joint venture between Synergy, CBUS and DIF