When I moved to Australia in 2016 to set up the Nextracker Australia office, I couldn’t have dreamed of the journey we would take alongside the country in just seven years.
Reflecting back from May 2016 when Nextracker Australia moved into the Manly office in NSW, we have now supplied solar tracker and control software solutions to 110 large scale solar farms across the country. By working closely with developers, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies, and alongside the burgeoning renewable energy industry, we have brought new technologies to market to enact real change.
By far, Nextracker’s proudest achievement is overcoming challenges together with our customers and partners to solve industry and environmental challenges and bring new clean technologies to market. As a testament to these strong relationships, Nextracker has now achieved 6GW of installed solar across Australia. Currently, Australia has 13.1 GWdc of utility scale solar photovoltaic (PV) assets (Rystad, 2023), with 92 percent (12.1 GWd) using single axis trackers. This means we now represent approximately 50 per cent of the tracker market across the country).
Nextracker Australia project portfolio infographic.
Most recently, Nextracker’s newest project, Stubbo Solar Project in NSW, uses NX Horizon XTR technology to mitigate the site’s uneven, rocky land, while significantly reducing cut and fill earthworks, reducing pier lengths, and accelerating the project construction schedule. Land with sloping and undulating terrain has historically introduced more risk and cost to projects, however, NX Horizon-XTR’s terrain-following capabilities are reducing grading, minimising steel costs, and decreasing project risks.
Project EPC company, PCL Construction and developer ACEN Australia, selected Nextracker for the Stubbo Solar Project based on the strength of our local market expertise and portfolio. With construction commencing in July, Stubbo Solar is expected to produce about one million megawatt hours of electricity each year, equivalent to powering approximately 185,000 average Australian homes. The project will also help Australia deliver low-cost renewable energy and jobs for the Central-West Orana region of New South Wales.
Nextracker has now built some of the highest performing solar plants in the country, providing clean energy for multiple uses from water treatment plants to outback communities.
As Australia continues to aim for a 43 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 and net-zero by 2050, there’s no doubt we have more work ahead as an industry to transition the country to clean energy.
We are currently at an inflection point of Australia’s clean energy efforts. According to the Clean Energy Council, the Australian renewable energy industry accounted for 35.9 per cent of Australia’s total electricity generation in 2022, up from 32.5 per cent in 2021. While this may not show the shift we would expect yet, there’s no doubt that new state and federal policies are already bringing advanced direction and opportunities across the industry.
On the horizon is the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Integrated System Plan prediction of a near three-fold increase in large-scale solar by 2030, and nine-fold by 2050. The removal of technical barriers around land suitability will be critical to meeting this demand. New technology solutions, such as NX Horizon-XTR, are already expanding the addressable market for utility-scale solar developers by unlocking land parcels previously unsuitable or less feasible for solar deployment.
Currently powering Australian projects with Nextracker’s technology solutions are the country’s largest three solar projects, New England Solar Farm (521 MWd), Stubbo Solar Farm (520 MWd) and Western Downs (460 MWd). In addition, 5 of the top 10 performing solar farms in Australia in 2022 (RenewEconomy) are powered by Nextracker technology.
We are excited to continue working with our partners and customers to overcome challenges for large-scale solar adoption across Australia. The strength of our partnerships across the industry means we can problem solve together to bring the best-in-market tracking solar solutions that deliver optimal and increased energy production while reducing costs for significant plant ROI.
Thank you to all our partners, customers and hard-working teams who continue to bring innovative ideas and solutions to the table to assist Australia with a clean energy transition. We look forward to seeing where the next seven years take us!
Peter “Pete” Wheale is the vice president of sales for Nextracker’s Australia and Asia Pacific regional markets. As a first-mover in the market introducing single-axis tracking technology to the solar industry, Pete has built a strong local team and is commercially responsible for establishing Nextracker as the market leader in the country, with over six gigawatts of tracker systems installed on utility-scale and commercial & industrial solar power plants throughout the country.