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NSW gets $66.5m grant to build largest solar power plant

The Federal Government has pledged a A$66.5m grant to fund research to build one of the world’s largest solar power plants in Moree, northwest New South Wales.

The $66.5m is part of the Government’s Education Investment Fund (EIF) grant.

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the EIF grant will underpin the Moree Solar farm project – a A$925 million consortium project led by BP Solar, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and Pacific Hydro to develop Australia’s first utility-scale solar PV project.

It will see the building of one of the world’s largest solar PV generation facilities, which will power around 45,000 homes.

The grant will also be used to perform cutting-edge research to accelerate the development of the solar industry in Australia.

The research will enhance the performance, resilience, profitability and social benefits of large-scale solar photovoltaic power, said Senator Carr

The ambitious project shows Australia is capable of leading the world when it comes to clean energy, he said.

CSIRO will lead a consortium of researchers from the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle and Hunter TAFE to conduct research at the proposed Moree Solar farm.

The Moree Solar Farm proposal is for a 150 megawatt photovoltaic power plant for outer Moree, reportedly twice the size of any photovoltaic power plant operating in the world today.

The Government estimates that the project will create around 300 to 400 jobs during the construction phase.

Moree Solar Farm spokesman Tony Stocken said the research and development grant would ensure the community shares in the benefits flowing from the Solar Flagships program.

“The EIF funding enables BP Solar, FRV and Pacific Hydro to work side-by-side with some of the foremost solar experts in Australia,” Stocken said.

“As a result, what is learned from this project will provide a solid foundation for the development of a long-term solar industry in Australia,” Stocken said.

Preliminary research will begin this year, with completion and commissioning of the plant expected by the end of 2015.

Moree Solar Farm project

On 18 June this year, The Federal Government announced that BP Solar with consortium partners Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and Pacific Hydro had been chosen to develop Australia’s first utility scale solar PV project under its A$1.5bn Solar Flagships Program.

Full funding approval for the project is expected by the end of 2011 and construction is scheduled to begin in mid 2012.

Once completed, the Moree Solar Farm will comprise around 650,000 PV panels and will reportedly produce enough power for around 45,000 households, which will roughly be the size of Darwin, project partners’ claim. An annual displacement of around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 through generation of renewable electricity is estimated.

The Moree Solar Farm project is expected to provide a blueprint business model for the roll-out of utility scale solar across Australia.

To read more about the Moree Solar Farm project, click here.

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