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Construction begins on Mildura solar power station

11th Jan 2012

On-site construction work for the first stage of Australia's largest solar power station has commenced in Mildura, Victoria.

Installed by Solar Systems - a wholly owned subsidiary of Silex Systems - the project is set to feature the company's exclusive "Dense Array" concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology in its first large-scale deployment.

The unique solar structures use a number of low cost mirrors mounted in a parabolic dish frame, concentrating the sunlight and directing it to a converter.

The sun is tracked by the dual-axis unit - to maximise solar energy captured throughout the day - with inverters exporting the electricity to the power grid.

"We are pleased to have started construction works and look forward to collaborating with the local community in Mildura to make this world-class solar power facility become a reality," Silex CEO Dr Michael Goldsworthy said (December 22).

"We are very excited about the commercial potential of this technology, which is expected to provide very low cost electricity from large utility-scale solar power station projects around the world," he added.

The project is set to receive up to $120 million in funding from the state government, while federal parliament has confirmed a $75 million contribution.

This initial stage of the project will see a two megawatt demonstration facility constructed - with a completion date scheduled for the end of the year - and could produce enough energy to power 700 homes.

Expansion plans for the facility include increasing capacity to 100 megawatts - enough electricity for 40,000 homes - over three years, beginning in 2013.

According to the company, there has been strong interest shown by overseas markets including the USA and the Middle East and several more large scale power station projects could be expected over the next few years.

"The technology is being prepared for commercial deployment in the burgeoning global utility-scale solar power station market which is forecast to grow rapidly over the next decade," the company stated.

The commencement of the Mildura power plant comes just two months after Silex closed the doors on its solar panel production plant in Sydney.

As Australia's only solar panel manufacturer at the time, the company failed to bounce back after a restructuring effort in August and ceased production on November 15.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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