Solar firm backs out of Fremantle project

CONCERNS over the capacity of the proposed South Fremantle site has led international company First Solar to withdraw from the City of Fremantle’s solar farm project.

In their bid to put a solar farm on the former South Fremantle landfill site, the City chose First Solar as their preferred partner after 10 companies nominated in the expression of interest process.

In February, First Solar was given 12 months to perform due diligence, but they came back to the City last month to withdraw from the project.

A First Solar spokeswoman said because of the site’s geotechnical and topographic conditions, the capacity of the proposed project was “significantly smaller” than initial expectations.

“This impacted the economic feasibility of the project, resulting in First Solar’s decision not to continue with the project,” she said.

According to the City, First Solar had intended to develop a 10MW solar plant, but their investigations had shown most of the site was unusable, reducing the size to a less viable 2MW.

The city offered the contract to the EOI’s second choice Epuron, who agreed to a 12-month working agreement.

Epuron executive director Martin Poole said they believed the South Fremantle site looked like a good place for a solar project.

“We believe site capacity will be fine,” he said.

“Solar energy is reliable, predictable and affordable and it will continue to play a growing role in the energy mix; it is highly suitable for a site like South Fremantle.”

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the City was disappointed by the withdrawal but were encouraged by Epuron’s experience and enthusiasm.

“Epuron believe that these issues are not insurmountable and the City will work with them to see what extra land might be accessed to improve the viability of the site,” he said.

“Given the site has almost no other possible uses in the short to medium term, it would still be worth progressing.”