Australia to join IRENA as it announces 1GW solar program

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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will gain a new member in the form of Australia, increasing the body’s influence as the Rudd Government plans to invest approximately AS$4.5 billion on renewable and clean energy initiatives. A key boost to solar has also been planned, which will see AS$1.6 billion spent on projects to generate 1GW and above of energy starting in 2010.

The Rudd Government said it was committed to ensuring that 20% of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.

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The government will initially invest AS$1.365 billion in its new Solar Flagships program, which will see 1GW installed nationwide, but within close proximity to the existing electricity grid. The solar program would be underpinned by supporting specialised research, development, and demonstration programs.

Competitive bids will be requested as well as for a major project, said to be three times larger than large-scale projects in California. After bids are accepted, the projects are expected to start sometime in 2010.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that he wanted to coinvest with industry to create the economies of scale required to enable the country to benefit from its largest natural resource, the sun.

“What is the government’s mission? Rather than to be solar followers worldwide we intend to be solar leaders worldwide,” noted Rudd.

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