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Solar big in Canberra and selected Australian postcodes

21st Nov 2011

Australia’s peak solar industry body has welcomed the move by the Australian Capital Territory government to introduce a feed-in tariff for commercial scale renewable energy generation.

Legislation was presented to the ACT parliament to establish the framework for a 'reverse auction' to generate at least two large scale solar power plants in the territory.

The bill - entitled the Electricity Feed In (Large Scale Renewable Energy Generation) Bill 2011 - is the first time a feed in tariff for commercial scale solar power has been proposed by an Australian government.

Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell said that the scheme would assist renewable energy projects - including solar power - capable of producing up to 210 megawatts, and powering 7,000 Canberra homes.

"This reverse auction process will require companies to provide a detailed proposal to the ACT government about how they can provide the greatest amount of renewable energy at the lowest cost to Canberrans," the minister said.

Mr Corbell also acknowledged that the cost of solar generation technologies had fallen significantly due to "high demand and new economies of scale being achieved in production".

"This, combined with a strong Australian dollar, provides an opportunity to bring forward strong competition to determine solar energy's current market price through this innovative auction process."

The first auction process is expected to commence before the end of the year and the scheme is due to be complemented by upcoming federal government support for low income earners under the recent carbon tax legislation.

Chief executive of the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) John Grimes stated that the legislation would offer a "giant boost" to the country's Big Solar industry.

"The ACT's reverse auction is an innovative way of driving investment in Big Solar. It will require solar companies to demonstrate how they can deliver zero pollution, large-scale solar at least cost to ACT taxpayers," Mr Grimes said.

Households outside of the nation's capital have also indicated a shift towards renewable energy, with small scale solar power statistics being released by the Office of the Renewable Energy
Regulator last week.

The data determined the number of Small Generation Units (SGU) and kilowatt capacity installed in each Australian postcode from 2001 to 2010.

The survey found that six Queensland postcodes ranked in the top 10 around the country, while Western Australia's Mandurah region - postcode 6210 - ranked the highest, with 3,643 systems generating approximately 6,270 kilowatts of power. 

Posted by Bob Dawson - news editor

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