Australia Making Waves in Solar

The Australian government has selected two of the four large-scale projects that are the cornerstone of an aggressive effort to build 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity.

Solar Dawn and Moree Solar Farm are part of the Solar Flagships program’s $1.5 billion infusion to create grid-connected solar power stations in Australia using CSP and PV technologies. Once complete, the two projects they selected will be among the world’s largest for their respective technologies.

The combined capacity of the two projects, in the neighborhood of 400 MW, would represent a large percentage of the nation’s current solar capacity. According to a recent EPIA global report, Australia ended 2010 with 504 MW of installed PV capacity.

Solar Dawn

A consortium of AREVA Solar, CS Energy and Wind Prospect CWP has been selected to develop a CSP project in Round 1 of the Solar Flagships Program.

Solar Dawn is a proposed 250-MW CSP/natural gas hybrid power plant and will be the largest plant of its kind in the world when complete, according to the company. The project is also expected to receive more than $500 million in government contributions.

Solar Dawn will be built in South West Queensland, near CS Energy’s recently announced 44-MW Kogan Creek Solar Boost Project. Like Solar Dawn, Kogan Creek Solar Boost will also use AREVA Solar’s Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar thermal technology.

As a CSP/hybrid power plant, Solar Dawn will combine AREVA Solar’s CLFR solar steam generators with a gas boiler back-up system, giving it the ability to deliver around-the-clock power.

The Solar Dawn consortium will look to finalize approvals and financing arrangements, as well as engineering, construction, operations and maintenance contracts by the end of this year.

Moree Solar Farm

A consortium of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), BP Solar and Pacific Hydro won the government tender to build and operate Australia’s first large-scale PV solar power station. The 150-MW PV facility will be located in the New South Wales Tablelands near the town of Moree.

FRV is an independent power company based in Madrid that specializes in solar power generation and has projects under development across the United States and Europe.

“Australia has enormous and largely untapped potential as a major solar power producer so we see our investment in Australia as a long-term commitment,” said CEO Rafael Benjumea about FRV, the consortium’s majority equity stakeholder.

The project, the first large-scale solar power station to be built in Australia, will also be one of the largest solar facilities in the world, the company said. Construction is due to begin in 2012 with electricity produced to be sold into Australia’s National Electricity Market.

Once complete, the Moree Solar farm will comprise around 650,000 PV panels. The farm is expected to deliver significant benefits to the local economy, including job creation during the four-year construction phase.

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