One of the smartest solar projects in the country has been officially switched on Friday with Northern Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall opening the Kanowna Solar Farm.
The nine-megawatt solar farm at Bullarah, based 95 kilometres west of Moree, was constructed by Uralla-based company Meralli Solar and marked a positive step towards strengthening the region's renewables power supply.
Mr Marshall told the crowd of 50 investors, guests and suppliers the project was cutting edge and represented "what the future could possibly be like right across rural and remote NSW."
"This solar farm is renewable energy at its absolute cutting edge and represents what the future could possibly be like right across rural and remote NSW," Mr Marshall said.
"Due to the farms isolated location engineers have pushed the boundaries when it comes to creating new ways to store solar power and connect to the grid.
"Meralli Solar has pioneered a design and build more efficient than other manufacturers and has used innovative DC technology to maximise output and battery storage, so they are able to send power to the local grid at times of peak demand.
"It's been an absolute privilege to attend today's opening and experience first-hand what the future of solar energy in our region looks like."
Almost invisible from the road, the Kanowna project uses the low environmental impact PEG frame system to pack in in almost 28,000 solar panels, all sitting less that a metre high, over the relatively small area of just under seven hectares.
Far more efficient than competing systems, Meralli's innovations use DC technology and battery storage to maximise the delivery and consistency of power to the grid.
Further innovations enable the Meralli team unmatched installation times, with actual construction time on the project being just 10 weeks.
One of Meralli's principals David Mailler described other solar farms as Ferraris while likening their design to the four-wheel drive workhorses that regional Australia depends on.
"Whilst other solar farms are often costly and complex, ours are ingeniously simple," he said.
Noting the difficulty with which Australian enterprises have competing for subsidies with overseas companies, Mr Mailler said that "Meralli was born out of sheer bloody mindedness, but with all our projects being entirely privately funded, we've proved the economics work."
"We're all about the triple bottom line: economics, social and environment," he said.
Mr Marshall said it was fantastic to see local companies like Meralli Solar pushing the boundaries and looking for new ways to keep our lights on.
"Every region should play to its strengths, and while some parts of the State help provide traditional base load power, ours is leading the way with more and more renewables projects from east to west," he said.
"As a region, we can very soon enjoy the reputation as being a net-exporter of energy and turning around decades of history when we relied on other parts of the State for our power.
"I congratulate Morelli Solar on its drive to try and address some of the fundamental issues facing renewable energy companies in rural areas and it's great to see these innovations taking place in in our region."