First Solar has reached a financial close to construct the 48.5MW Manildra solar farm in New South Wales, Australia.

The project is being supported by grant of A$9.8m ($7.48m) from Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

For the project, First Solar will supply about 466,000 thin-film photovoltaic panels and single axis tracking technology.

The solar farm is expected to produce about 120GWh of electricity in its first year of operation. With this project, First Solar will have an installed capacity of 400MW in Australia.

First Solar has entered into a 13 year power purchase agreement with EnergyAustralia to supply the electricity generated and large-scale generation certificates.

The solar farm will be located 1km from Manildra in New South Wales. Once complete, the project can offset about 91,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year.

First Solar’s Asia Pacific regional manager Jack Curtis said: “Today’s milestone is a testament to the ability and experience of First Solar’s development and delivery team, and we congratulate ARENA and EnergyAustralia on their commitment to commercially viable projects.”

Curtis said: “We have witnessed unprecedented cost reductions in large-scale solar in recent years. As the appetite for this asset class continues to grow, timely and reliable project delivery will be the strongest driver of future cost reductions, cementing solar as a competitive energy source in Australia.”

EnergyAustralia managing director Catherine Tanna said: “Customers rightly expect access to reliable, affordable and cleaner supplies of energy, which means the industry needs to evolve.

“The Manildra Solar Farm is a great example of the projects that will underpin the future of energy in Australia, and we’re proud to be partnering with First Solar to bring it to market.”

RCR Tomilson has secured the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2017 and it is expected to be completed in 2018.