Australian Government spends AU$770 million on Solar Flagships programme

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Two of the world’s largest solar power plants are to be built in Australia after its Government agreed to spend AU$770 million (US$819 million) on its Solar Flagships programme.

The larger of the two developments, a 250MW hybrid solar thermal and gas plant near Chinchilla, Queensland, will be built by Solar Dawn, a consortium led by Areva Solar, at a cost of AU$1.2 billion. Around AU$464 million of this sum will be paid for through first round Solar Flagship funding. The Areva-led bid beat rival applications from, among others, a consortium led by Australia’s Transfield.

The second recipient of financial backing was the 150MW Moree Solar Farm in northern New South Wales. The consortium behind the AU$923-million project included Spain’s Fotowatio and domestic renewable energy developer Pacific Hydro, although the bid was led by BP Solar. Moree fended off competition from AGL Energy, Infigen-Suntech and TRUenergy to secure Government funds totalling AU$306.5.

Whilst announcing the winners at Queensland’s Australian Labor Party conference, Prime Minister Julia Gillard claimed the solar projects prove that Australia “can move to a clean energy future. When we look at these clean energy projects using our abundant natural resources, wonderful and bountiful sunshine, we can see our clean energy future.”

“The Solar Flagships Program demonstrates the Australian and Queensland Governments' support for renewable energy,” Areva CEO Anil Srivastava added. “This announcement represents another significant milestone in the creation of a world-class clean energy industry in Australia.

“Solar Dawn will be an international showcase for the nation, using Australia's abundant solar resource and Areva Solar's Australian-pioneered Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology… Once completed, the proposed project will be the largest of its kind and one of the most environmentally responsible power production plants in the world. Its innovative, yet simple hybrid design will deliver energy as needed, even when the sun isn't shining.”

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