Canberra, Australia [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Australia’s got the technology, now the country’s government wants a real world test of how solar heat and power applications can benefit its cities. The Solar Cities program trial will provide AUD 75 million (USD 58 million) in government funding for trials of a sustainable energy future for urban Australia.These trials should provide a living model of how solar energy, energy efficiency, and responsive market signals can deliver economic and environmental benefits in an integrated package. Over the next nine years Solar Cities will bring together governments, industry and communities in partnerships to test new sustainable models of electricity supply and use. “Throughout Australia, there is a rising demand for electricity, particularly at peak times where it is being driven largely be demand for air-conditioning. Solar Cities is a long-term strategy to find optimal ways for businesses and communities to work together to give consumers more informed choices about the energy they use, and where all Australians have opportunities to implement change in the way they use energy.” Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said. The Solar Cities Statement of Challenges and Opportunities sets out the scope of the program and contains draft guidelines for comment by government, industry and community. A trial will be established in Adelaide and at least three other grid-connected urban sites around Australia, which will be selected through a competitive process. Objectives for Solar Cities are to demonstrate the economic and environmental impacts of integrating cost-reflective pricing with the concentrated uptake of solar, energy efficiency and smart metering technologies; and to identify and implement options for addressing barriers to distributed solar generation, energy efficiency and demand side management for grid connected urban areas. Nine years, from 2004 2013, have been set aside for the trials. The Australian Government is keen for technologies and supporting infrastructure to be installed quickly, following consultation and selection of the trial sites in the first year. It is expected that by 2008-09 the trials will be fully implemented, with monitoring and reporting occurring through to 2012-13. “The vision of Solar Cities has sparked the imagination of many people and already there are ideas being discussed that move beyond standard energy supply and demand solutions, and instead look at innovative packaging or streamlining of energy services and products, making it easier for consumers. So, I am keen for interested parties to help the program into its next phase,” Campbell said. Comments are invited on the draft guidelines by 14 January 2005.