Australia's 400MW of Solar Plants to Nearly Double Generating Capacity

solar dawn australia large-scale solar photo

Image credit: Solar Dawn
Grayhound Australia may be a fan of solar power, but for a country so blessed with abundant sunshine, Australia has not been a front runner when it comes to harnessing solar energy. All that may be set to change, as the country just announced two major projects that could nearly double the country's current solar capacity once up and operational.Warren reported before on plans to build large-scale solar thermal plants in Australia, but ESI-Africa reports that the push for centralized, large-scale solar power may finally be really taking off down under. As part of a major push to produce 1000MW of power from solar, the Government announced that it had selected two of the four projects expected to reach this goal. Given that Australia had an estimated total of 500MW of solar generating capacity at the end of 2010, these projects look set to almost double the country's production by themselves.

Like the world's first 24/7 solar plant in Spain, the 250MW Solar Dawn project to be built in South West Queensland is designed to supply on demand power if and when needed, though in this case through a hybrid combination of concentrated solar and natural gas backup. More from the Solar Dawn website:

While designed as a standalone solar thermal power plant, Solar Dawn will have the added benefit of a gas boiler back-up system so electricity can be provided at any time. This will offer the ability to align daily electricity generation with demand, maximising the value of electricity generated - with zero emissions from the solar field and low emissions from the gas boilers.

The 150MW Moree Solar Farm in the New South Wales Tablelands near the town of Moree, by contrast, is a more traditional photovoltaic installation. Scheduled for construction in 2012, once completed the site will boast 650,000 PV panels. I guess how big is too big for solar power is not something Australians are concerned about just yet...

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