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Published: 3rd January 2019
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Solar Farm Jobs in Australia
Australia's self-proclaimed status as 'the sunburnt country' is well earned - statistically it gets more sun than any continent on earth.
While solar radiation may not be great for the skin, it is fantastic for power generation, a realisation that Australia is slowly waking up to. Solar farms are springing up everywhere, and with battery storage proving itself as a way to stockpile and utilise this resource even when the sun isn’t shining, the number of solar farms is only set to increase.
And that’s great news for backpackers on a 417 or 462 visa.
Where are most solar farm jobs located?
Solar farms can potentially be placed anywhere on the Australian mainland, from Far North Queensland to the south of Victoria. The only state that doesn’t deal seriously in solar is Tasmania, although a few small farms can be found even there.
Australian Solar farms tend to be in rural areas, some of which can be quite remote. They're usually not quite as remote as Australia’s mines though, as the generated energy needs to be fed back into the power grid.
Solar Farms in Australia
Solar Farms in NSW
- Broken Hill Solar Plant
- Moree Solar Farm
- Parkes Solar Farm
- Beryl Solar Farm
- Nyngan Solar Plant
- Coleambally Solar Farm
- Goonumbla Solar Farm (under construction)
- Beryl Solar Farm (under construction)
- Hillston Solar Farm (under construction)
- Metz Solar Farm (under construction)
- Springdale Solar Farm (under construction)
- Bomen Solar Farm (under construction)
- Nevertire Solar Farm (under construction)
- Maryvale Solar Farm (under construction)
- Gunnedah Solar Farm (under construction)
- Sapphire Renewable Energy Hub (under construction)
- Finley Solar Farm (under construction)
- Sunraysia Solar Storage Facility (under construction)
- Darlington Point Solar Farm (under construction)
- Limondale Solar Farm (under construction)
Solar Farms in Victoria
- Gannawarra Solar Farm
- Wemen Solar Farm
- Bannerton Solar Park
- Karadoc Solar Fam
- Numurkah Solar Fam
- Winton Solar Farm (under construction)
- Yatpool Solar Park (under construction)
- Carwarp Solar Farm (under construction)
- Kiamal Solar Farm (under construction)
Solar Farms in Queensland
- Hayman Solar Farm
- Ethridge Solar Farm
- Childers Solar Farm
- Whitsunday Solar Farm
- Hamilton Solar Farm
- Emerald Solar Park
- Susan River Solar Farm
- Lilyvale Solar Farm
- Clare Solar Farm
- Darling Downs Solar Farm
- Ross River Solar Farm
- Sun Metals Solar Farm
- Daydream Solar Farm
- Hayman Solar Farm (under construction)
- Warwick Solar Farm (under construction)
- Rugby Run Solar Farm (under construction)
- Oakey Solar Farm (under construction)
- Clermont Solar Farm (under construction)
- Yarranlea Solar Farm (under construction)
- Aramara Solar Farm (under construction)
- Rodds Bay Solar Farm (under construction)
- Clarke Creek Solar Farm (under construction)
- Haughton Solar Farm (under construction)
- Harlin Solar Farm (under construction)
Solar Farms in South Australia
- Tailem Bend Solar Power Project
- Bungala Solar Power Project
- Kingfisher Solar Storage (under construction)
- Whyalla Solar Farm (under construction)
- Solar River Project (under construction)
- Lake Bonney Battery Energy Storage System (under construction)
- Cultana Solar Farm (under construction)
- Riverland Solar Farm and Storage (under construction)
- Solar Farms in Western Australia
- Merredin Solar Farm (under construction)
- Badgingarra Renewable Facility (under construction)
What are FIFO jobs?
More often associated with mining work, but a common option in solar farm work too, you’ve probably heard the term FIFO, which stands for ‘fly in, fly out’. Because many Australian solar farm jobs are in remote areas, it makes sense for construction companies to fly their workers in and have them work non-stop for weeks at a time, before flying them out again for an extended break.
A FIFO worker’s schedule will depend on the company and the job. Some FIFO workers will work two weeks on before getting two weeks off, others will have three on and one off, and others with shorter contracts may complete their work in one hit.
What solar farm jobs are available to working holidaymakers?
While many of the jobs offered by solar farms are skilled positions, there are generally plenty of entry-level openings too:
- Labourer: Such large scale construction projects need plenty of hired hands for simple labouring tasks.
- Driver: Goods need to be delivered and transported around the site, so a number of driving positions will usually be on offer (you may need a specialised licence.)
- Cleaner: Things can get dirty and dusty on a construction site, and someone’s got to clean up!
- Maintenance assistant: The work doesn’t stop when the solar farm is constructed.
- Maintenance technicians are tasked with keeping a constructed farm operational.
- Admin/ in-office jobs: If you’re not a fan of dirt under the nails, there are always a wealth of in-office roles available, including administration, payroll, procurement, reception and scheduling.
What qualifications are needed?
The 'tickets' - the qualifications and licences - that you’ll need will depend on the job that you’re going for. As a minimum you’ll have to show a white card, the same card necessary to step foot on any construction site in Australia, and a police security clearance. From there the necessary tickets become job-specific, like a heavy vehicle (sometimes called a 'heavy rigid' or HR) licence for drivers. The necessary tickets should be stated on the job description.
If you get through the first few stages of the interview process, you’ll most likely be asked to undergo a pre-employment medical to ensure that you are fit to work in what can often be challenging conditions.
What is the pay like?
Usually quite generous! Work in the solar industry can be challenging - it’s often remote, and workers - particularly FIFO - can go weeks without a day off. For these reasons solar farm companies tend to reimburse their workers well.
Entry-level workers like cleaners and labourers can earn as much as $40 an hour - double Australia’s world-leading minimum wage. On top of that, many solar farm jobs, in particular FIFO, will see living expenses like accommodation and food paid for.
Pros and cons of solar farm jobs
So, is a solar farm job the right choice for you, the working holidaymaker? Let’s sum up the pros and cons.
- Good pay
- Almost always counts as specified work for your second and third year visas
- Living costs may be taken care of, and there’s minimal temptation to spend
- Work hard, play hard: extended breaks for FIFO workers
- Can be away from civilisation (perhaps a pro to some!)
- There may be limited ways to unwind and relax outside of work hours
- FIFO workers may be asked to work for weeks at a time (before getting an extended break)
- Work and live with a small group of people
- So while Australian solar jobs are terrific for your bank balance and your visa extension, the more human sides of the job can be a challenge.
The pay and limited amount of jobs can mean it’s a competitive space to get work in. But if you can, it’s a great way for a working holidaymaker to make money.