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18 July 2013

Solar Systems officially opens Australia’s largest CPV solar plant

Utility-scale solar power technology firm Solar Systems Pty Ltd of Melbourne, Australia, a subsidiary of Sydney-based Silex Systems Ltd, has officially opened its 1.5MW Mildura Solar Demonstration Facility, Australia’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plant.

The opening was attended by guests including The Hon. Nicholas Kotsiras MP, Victoria Energy and Resources Minister, who also toured the new facility. The 1.5MW Mildura plant has received AUS$15m in funding from the Victorian State Government.

Solar SystemsPicture: Solar Systems’ 1.5MW dense array CPV dishes.

The CPV plant – consisting of 40 individual dishes, each fitted with 100 mirrors - is now connected to the national grid and providing enough electricity – under a power purchase agreement signed with Diamond Energy in 2012 – to power up to 500 average-sized homes while removing 4200 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

“It is expected to demonstrate the economic feasibility of the company’s ‘Dense Array’ CPV dish technology for utility-scale solar power generation at a time when governments around the world are considering solutions for a zero-emissions energy future,” says Silex’s managing director & CEO Dr Michael Goldsworthy.

Goldsworthy says investment in utility-scale solar power stations is growing rapidly as the technology improves. Global installations of utility-scale (10MW and over) solar facilities has now exceeded 14GW (14,000MW), with over 4GW of capacity installed in 2012 alone – up from less than 1GW in 2009.  This currently represents an annual market of about $15bn, with strong growth set to continue for the next two decades. “We anticipate investment in CPV solar will continue to rise as its feasibility as a cost-effective clean energy solution becomes entrenched,” he adds.

“We are extremely grateful for the support that the Victorian and Federal Governments have given our solar projects to date,” Goldsworthy stated.

The Mildura facility is a demonstration plant designed to establish, over extended operational periods,  that Solar Systems’ ‘Dense Array’ CPV dish technology can reliably and cost-effectively produce electricity – essential for validating the technology’s bankability before proceeding with larger-scale plants, says the firm.

“Our long-term vision is to deploy our technology commercially within the burgeoning global utility-scale solar power station market, which is forecast to continue to grow rapidly over the next two decades,” Goldsworthy says. “As a country highly dependent on coal to supply our energy needs, solar can provide clean energy security for Australia into the future, provide secure, long-term green jobs and reduce our carbon emissions”. 

Plans to expand the Mildura facility to 100MW (featuring around 2000 dishes and providing peak power output sufficient for up to 40,000 homes) are well underway. Construction is expected to begin in late 2014, subject to successful operation of the 1.5MW facility and the finalization of financial prerequisites. The firm has been pledged AUS$35m by the Victorian Stage Government’s under its Energy Technology Innovation Strategy Fund (ETIS) and AUS$65m by the Australian Federal Government under the Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund (now under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – ARENA) towards the 100MW upgrade. Once built, the 100MW Mildura Solar Facility is expected to be the largest solar plant in Australia.

The firm says that it continues to investigate other major project opportunities in the 10-50MW range in Australia and key offshore markets, including the Middle East and the USA. Also, construction of a 1MW demonstration facility in Nofa, Saudi Arabia, is well advanced and expected to be completed later in 2013.

See related items:

Australia’s Solar Systems starts operations of 1.5MW demo CPV facility

Tags: Silex CPV



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