Does Mildura CPV solar farm offer a glimpse of the future?


cpv dishes

Pretty dishy solar farm technology! Pic: Solar Systems P/L

Always great to bring our readers news of an Aussie breakthrough. However this week’s opening of Silex Systems’ massive CPV solar farm in Mildura, Victoria may prove to be more than just a cheery news item. Indeed it may offer a look at solar power’s future in the country.

CPV is of course Concentrating Photovoltaics. which in Mildura is getting solar cell efficiencies over 40%. No that was not a misprint. Forty Percent. Four Zero. Wowzers! Read that Wikipedia link to find out how they do it…

Here at SQHQ we’ve issued a number of rants (er discussion documents that is) on CPV and Mildura. These can be downloaded from the dank and dusty SQHQ archives shed here (second left past the outside dunny):

Silex steals the solar show
Construction on Mildura solar system but what can taxpayers expect?

As mentioned in these articles, concentrating photovoltaics is a revolutionary (and very expensive) technology which focuses huge levels of sunlight onto photovoltaic cells to generate electricity. The huge (technical term) 1.5Mw CPV solar farm facility at Mildura was opened during the week by the Victorian Minister for Energy the Hon. Nicholas Kotsiras MP and received quite extensive media coverage in Victoria’s mainstream press (here’s the Hun’s take on proceedings for example).

In the official press release, Silex Managing Director and CEO Michael Goldsworthy came charging out of the sheds with more enthusiasm than the streaker at the State of Origin. Reading between the lines, Mr Goldsworthy offered CPV, not just as a nice little earner, but as the future of solar farms in Australia and indeed the world.

“The official opening of the Mildura Solar Demonstration Facility is a seminal milestone for Australian clean energy and an outstanding showcase of Australian innovation,” he said. “It is expected to demonstrate the economic feasibility of the company’s ‘Dense Array’ CPV dish technology for utility-scale solar power generation at a time when governments around the world are considering solutions for a zero-emissions energy future.”

Is the grand technology of CPV the future for solar farms? It’s important to realise that Mr Goldsworthy is acting as chief salesman, not only for Silex Systems, but also for CPV technology as the way forward in Australia and as a major export earner. Indeed the Mildura site is expected to expand to around 2000 dishes which will provide power to around 30,000 homes.

“We’re about taking this unique Australian technology to very large scale global electricity markets,” he told ABC Rural. “That market is only just emerging. I mean, rooftop solar has been around for two or three decades now and has become quite mature and cost effective. But your rooftop panels will never reach the low cost electricity production that this technology can achieve.”

So why shouldn’t Concentrating Photovoltaic play a major role in the future energy needs of the country and the world? One of the many areas that Australia leads the world is in the production of natural (and clean) sunlight. That and top order batting collapses.

We here at SQHQ dream of CPV solar farms existing side-by-side with standard solar farms and domestic solar in Australia with us leading the world in this technology.

A solar farm vision splendid readers? CPV, solar panels and domestic solar charging up the Oz energy sector? A solid top Australian batting order performance? It’s not too much to ask surely? Have your say below or over at our Facebook Page.


  1. Reckon there are 5 of these dishes at Windorah, QLD.

    • 9 years later: they stopped working years ago, returning the town to relying on diesel generators. They are now finally to be replaced by standard PV panels by Ergon.

  2. dennis newland says

    The trouble is every time the major power generating and distributing companies wake up they get another shock to their income and immediately push the government for more price hikes. Here we have two major industries competing against each other whilst we are sand-witched in between them during this transitional era. In addition to this and as we progress towards more efficient electric cars the oil companies will join the fray and they have been in it for years and now it is coming right to the front door and their main income outlets. Next as the efficiency moves towards higher percentage figures we could see cargo ships. How about a percentage of top layer solar paneled containers that could simple be plugged into the ships grid. Its not that hard even for unloading in to-days modern ports?????????

  3. Greg Bailey says

    Maybe the oil companies could get off their collective derrieres and get into the solar CPV business to! Surely they have the cash… All they need is some insight (Re-education?). How about it, Shell, BP etc.?

  4. Good on Mildura for paving the way here. Mildura has the perfect sunshine for it. Never rains, and sunny every day! And good idea for the petrol companies… Let’s see if any Aussie companies have the backbone and insight wisdom to invest in this.

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