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UQ to play part in $450m solar power project

13th Aug 2012

While not everyone agrees that bigger is better, in the case of a new $450 million solar power project it might just be true.

The University of Queensland (UQ) has announced it has been chosen to be the lead research organisation on two large photovoltaic schemes that are going to be built in western New South Wales over the next three years.

UQ won't be hogging all the limelight, however, as it will be partnering with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in a $40.7 million Education Investment Fund Research Infrastructure Program.

The initiative is designed to support the development of the two large-scale solar farms, which will receive $129.7 million from the federal government and $64.9 million from the state authorities.

First Solar will be designing and constructing the plants, which consist of a 106MW facility at Nyngan and a 53MW one at Broken Hill.

So what exactly is the universities' role in this? Well, apparently they will be building a huge PV pilot building that will examine several energy sector components including storage, plant optimisation and power systems.

Understandably, UQ professor Paul Meredith described it as a big deal, adding that it will be a "truly world-class facility for solar PV research".

"UQ is making a strategic push into energy research - across the board - and renewables are a significant component of that work," he added.

He wasn't the only one to be singing its praises. Professor Vassilios Agelidis, director of the Australian Energy Research Institute at UNSW, was equally impressed.

"This grant is the most significant and historically largest single investment to build a piece of power system interface research infrastructure in Australia," he explained.

Earlier this month, the City of Sydney announced it was embarking on a solar power drive - spending $6 million on panels for public buildings.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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