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Australia's largest CPV solar power plant up and running

27th Jun 2013

The country's largest concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power station has now been finished, according to the company tasked with developing the plant.

Solar Systems, a subsidiary of Silex, revealed that the 1.5-megawatt CPV facility in Mildura, north-west Victoria, is a game changer.

For anyone not exactly sure what CPV is, this particular form of solar generation involves using a variety of lenses or curved mirrors to redirect the sun into a small area of solar PV cells.

The benefits include needing to invest in fewer solar cells (which often results in paying for higher-quality cells), although some of this is offset by the cost of lenses and mirrors.

Silex chief executive officer Dr Michael Goldsworthy said the new station is a "major step forward" for commercial solar and the company's technology.

"All 40 dish systems have been successfully commissioned and are operational, with clean energy now feeding into the national electricity grid," he explained.

"If successfully commercialised, the deployment of utility-scale solar power stations around the world has the ability to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues within a few years."

The plant is now grid-connected and providing enough electricity to power around 500 average-sized homes.

While not a huge number of households, the Mildura plant is just a demonstration facility and will be monitored for reliability, performance and energy yields over the next year.

The plan is to then develop a 100 MW plant, provided Silex meets due diligence requirements in order to receive government funding.

This will include $75 million from the federal government and $35 million from the Victorian government, with the 1.5 MW test site having already received $10 million from state sources and additional funding from the Commonwealth.

The larger project is slated for construction in late 2014 - financial obligations notwithstanding.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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