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26 June 2013

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

Solar Systems Pty Ltd of Melbourne, Australia, has achieved ‘practical completion’ of Australia’s largest concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plant. Forty CPV ‘Dense Array’ dish systems are now fully commissioned and feeding clean renewable energy into the national electricity grid.

The 1.5MW plant, in Mildura, north-west Victoria, is said to be capable of generating enough electricity for about 500 average-sized homes. The company, which is a subsidiary of Sydney-based Silex Systems Ltd, also announced that its construction of another demonstration facility in Nofa, Saudi Arabia is on track for completion by end of 2013.


Picture: The Mildura CPV demonstration facility Dense Array dish systems.

Solar Systems said that complete operation of the Mildura and Nofa demonstration facilities will be a key step towards “establishing bankability” for wider commercial deployment of Solar Systems’ technology.

“Completion of the Mildura facility is a major step forward in the commercialization of Solar Systems’ unique Dense Array CPV technology,” commented Silex CEO Dr Michael Goldsworthy. “All 40 dish systems have been successfully commissioned and are operational, with clean energy now feeding into the national electricity grid,” he added.

“If successfully commercialized, we believe that the deployment of utility-scale solar power stations around the world has the ability to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues within a few years,” said Goldsworthy.

The 1.5MW demonstration facility is now fully grid-connected and providing enough electricity – under a power purchase agreement signed with Diamond Energy in 2012 - to power up to 500 average-sized homes. The facility will enable demonstration of commercial operation and reliability of Solar Systems’ proprietary Dense Array CPV solar conversion system.

The commercialization strategy for Solar Systems’ Dense Array CPV technology includes the following steps over the next two years, all of which have already commenced: operation of the Mildura and Nofa demonstration facilities to validate performance efficiency, energy yields and reliability; cost-reduction activities to drive the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) down to the key target of AUS10c (US9c)/kWh (or lower); commencement of the Mildura Stage 2 100MW solar power station project (subject to AUS$110m in government funding contributions); securing other opportunities (up to 10-50MW range) in Australia (with pre-feasibility of prospective sites in Queensland already underway); and securing other solar power station projects in key off-shore markets such as Saudi Arabia and the USA.

The 1.5MW Mildura plant received AUS$10m from the Victorian State Government plus additional funding from the Federal Government. Planning for the utility-scale, 100MW Mildura Facility is now underway, with construction expected to begin in late 2014, subject to securing a power purchase agreement and the finalization of funding arrangements.

These include the following commitments, which are conditional upon successful due diligence outcomes: AUS$75m (US$70m) from the Australian Federal Government under the Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund (now under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – ARENA); and AUS$35m (US$33m) from the Victorian State Government’s Energy Technology Innovation Strategy Fund.

* A grand opening event at the Mildura facility on 17 July will be attended by Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Nicholas Kotsiras MP and other distinguished guests.

See related items:

Silex selects IQE as epi partner in $2m Australian Solar Institute CPV program

Tags: Silex CPV



Author: Matthew Peach, Contributing Editor

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