Good, Bad and Biggest Solar Plant in Australia

There’s lots of good news and not so good news happening in the renewable energy space.

Good News
Peter Hannam in this article reveals the approval of the AGL project to develop the biggest solar plants in remote NSW outback. When we talk about BIG, having 2 million panels makes this a considerable investment. Considering a house with Solar Photovoltaic would house about 8 to 15 panels. Here’s more…

Power company AGL on Wednesday committed to proceed with the $450 million investment in the plants which will supply 50,000 homes with electricity and potentially pave the way for more such ventures.
Nyngan, north-west of Dubbo, will host the larger of the two plants, with a 102-megawatt capacity, while a 53-megawatt plant will be built near Broken Hill. Both should be supplying power to the eastern Australian grid by the end of 2015.

All up, the two sites will cover 375 hectares or about 185 times the playing surface of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

“The scale of it is truly awesome,” said Mark Butler, federal minister for climate change. “This project is 15 times larger than any other solar power station in Australia.”
The project will source more than half its funds from government assistance. The federal-funded Australian Renewable Energy Agency will provide a $166.7 million grant, while the Education Investment Fund will contribute $40.7 million to assist the University of Queensland and University of NSW develop the technology for deployment elsewhere.

Check out the full article on Sydney Morning Herald here

Bad News

The recent news from showed Alinta Energy, the company that owns the Port Augusta coal-fire power stations, had their funding application for a feasibility study for solar thermal in Port Augusta rejected by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

This announcement is a big disappointment for the Port Augusta community for whom the study was the first step towards getting a solar thermal plant built.

There has been quite a bit of speculation as to why the proposal was rejected – with some questions being asked about whether Alinta’s application was only half hearted in the first place. While we are still waiting for clarity on exactly why Alinta’s application was rejected we need to make sure that Alinta don’t use this setback as a reason to turn their back on a solar thermal future for Port Augusta.

That is why yesterday locals in Port Augusta launched an open letter to Alinta’s CEO Jeff Dimery urging him not to abandon their town and to commit to funding their own feasibility study.The Rudd government is committed to retaining the Renewable Energy Target now set at 41,000 gigawatt-hours per year by 2020. Senator Simon Birmingham last week appeared to end speculation over the issue by telling the Clean Energy Week in Brisbane that the Coalition would also back that goal.

Mr Fraser, though, said the Coalition’s plans to review the target in 2014 still leaves a cloud over the industry. AGL has already put on hold plans for $500 million wind farm near Silverton in the NSW’s west.

“We’d want to see the outcome of that before we made any further commitments,” he said.
Longer term, the governments and businesses involved say Australia has scope to capitalise on its abundant solar resources in overseas markets.

If you would like to bring the change, write a letter to the CEO Jeff Dimery here

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