Australia embarks on its greatest solar journey ever

2nd Aug 2013

Imagine a solar panel array four times as big as Sydney's CBD that could produce up to 155 megawatts of solar power.

The entire system would be 15 times bigger than any solar power generation plant anywhere in Australia, and would have the potential to supply 50,000 homes with a clean, renewable source of electricity.

It sounds like the stuff of dreams, but fortunately for Aussies, this massive solar power system is the real deal, and recently received approval to move one step closer toward construction.

Mark Butler, Australia's federal minister for climate change, announced on July 31 that construction of the solar array would commence in January. Mr Butler added that now that AGL Energy Limited and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have worked out the financial details, the project will become a reality.

When completed, it will be the largest solar generation facility south of the equator, and will span across two plots of land in western New South Wales.

"Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world and we should take advantage of that natural asset," Mr Butler said.

"The Rudd government is committed to transitioning Australia to a clean energy future and this combined 155 megawatt solar project helps make renewable energy cost competitive for more Australians."

It's no surprise the Australian Greens were out in the streets celebrating the announcement. The group touted the project's expected 450 construction jobs, and stated that it is a clear example of how Australia could move toward a 100 per cent renewable energy society.

'Price on pollution'

The Greens say that the solar project is certainly a win, but there are still many battles ahead.

"The price on pollution and the complementary measures it supports has delivered the largest solar plant in Australia," the group cheered.

Still, the organisation is lambasting Rudd's administration, saying the prime minister's decision to slash funding to ARENA is his "latest ill considered proposal to make it cheaper for polluters to pollute".

Hopefully, the Greens will still set aside plenty of time to celebrate, though. After all, the solar project is expected to significantly help Australia reach it's goal of 20 per cent renewables penetration by 2020, and carbon pollution from the National Electricity Market has dropped seven per cent in the past 12 months.

Now, we can only hope this keeps up.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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