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Government investment in energy projects falls

18th Nov 2011

Completion of new power stations in the last year has dropped according to a new report - providing Australian residents with the opportunity to consider producing their own power.

The annual publication from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) has revealed that two projects - neither of which was solar based - were completed in the 12 months to October.

The two projects cost a total of $488 million - compared to the 11 projects completed in the previous year worth $3.13 billion.

Resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson warned that the fall in the number of completed electricity projects highlights the need for investment certainty in the electricity generation sector.

"While these figures are encouraging, we still haven't seen the actual investment on the ground in terms of the construction and operation of new plants in recent years that is going to be needed to meet demand,'' Mr Ferguson said.

BREE's report - titled Major electricity generation projects November 2011 - indicates that there were also ten renewable energy projects currently listed in as "committed" or "under construction" stage, including one solar thermal project - Queenland's Kogan Creek Solar Boost.

The expansion - scheduled for completion in 2013 - is a $105 million hybrid generation project looking to add 44 megawatts to existing coal-fired capacity.

A total of 12 less advanced solar power projects were also recorded, with the potential of generating 1,270 megawatts.

According to the report, five solar projects have been added to the major electricity generation projects list since October 2010 - two in New South Wales and one in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia respectively.

The Queensland based $1.2 billion Solar Dawn project is the largest solar project in terms of capital expenditure and planned capacity - potentially generating up to 250 megawatts.

Data from the bureau also reported that solar power - combined with oil and bioenergy - made up the smallest percentage of Australia's electricity generation in 2009-10 with just three per cent.

However, these numbers are expected to receive a boost in the next 12 months, with the federal government passing legislation to introduce a carbon tax as part of its push for investment in renewable energy.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance predictions, the Clean Energy Future package could deliver 5 gigawatts of large-scale solar photovoltaics and 2 gigawatts of large-scale solar thermal by 2020, along with significant residential and commercial solar power.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar Correspondent

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