Australia to build world’s biggest solar stations

By AAP and AG staff 20 June 2011
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Two of the world’s largest solar power stations will be built in Queensland and New South Wales.

TWO OF THE LARGEST solar power stations in the world will be built in NSW and Queensland, the federal government says.

More than three quarters of a billion dollars in federal funding will go towards the building of the stations, which will be at Moree in northwest NSW and Chinchilla in Queensland.

Making the announcement in Sydney on Saturday, federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the projects were expected to generate enough power to support the electricity needs of more than 115,000 Australian homes every year.

NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker welcomed the announcement, which she says will put NSW on the map as a global leader in solar technology.

“This is a huge win for NSW and it shows we are in a strong position to harness the sun for large scale solar projects,” she said.

Solar flagship

The Moree Solar Farm and Solar Dawn at Chinchilla were selected to build the power plants under round one of the Australian government’s $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program. The federal government will contribute $306.5 million towards Moree – worth an estimated $923 million.

The 150 megawatt photovoltaic power plant will be nearly twice the size of any similar plant operating in the world today.

Solar Dawn will be one of the largest power plants of its kind in the world as well as the most environmentally responsible, with at least 85 per cent of its power generation to be emissions-free. A total of $464 million in federal funding will go towards that project, worth an estimated $1.2 billion.

Work will start next year and the plants are expected to be completed and commissioned by the end of 2015.

Solar research

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the energy minister officially opened Australia’s largest solar power research facility at Newcastle on Saturday. The 30-metre high CSIRO solar tower will be an international hub for solar tower research, development and commercialisation.

It is the largest in the country, and includes 450 mirrors which have been designed to capture the sun’s power and generate electricity.

“Unlike most solar thermal power stations which require water, this facility will initially be used to develop and test a solar air turbine, which will generate electricity from air and sunshine only,” the energy minister said.