Why Australia Missed Out On A Solar Tower Of Power

Renewable energy media has been abuzz in recent days regarding a massive solar tower to be constructed in Arizona. The company behind has its roots in Australia – so why is this 750 million dollar project being constructed on foreign shores?
       
Australian company Enviromission is preparing to construct a 200MW solar energy plant that could generate enough electricity to service the power requirements of around 150,000 households; representing an annual saving of more than 900,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
     
The concept doesn’t use solar panels, parabolic troughs or concentrators. Instead, it consists of a huge tower surrounded by a massive canopy. When sun beats down upon the canopy, the heat created below it rushes up the tower with enough force to drive 32 x 6.25MW pressure staged turbines that generate electricity.
     
The Arizona installation will incorporate a tower standing over 790 metres high – twice as tall as the Empire State building. The tower will be the second tallest building in the world.
    
EnviroMission first started work on developing its technology back in 2001 and its first solar tower was originally to be constructed at Buronga in the southwest corner of New South Wales.
    
However, in a recent interview on ABC Radio, Enviromission CEO Roger Davey said the incentives offered by the Australian Government at the time were "never quite right". While the company applied to build a smaller version at Buronga under a Federal Government program, it lost out to a competitor who consequently went into administration. That project has only been recently revived after the winning company was purchased by another.  Mr. Davey said while all this was happening, he looked elsewhere and found Arizona to be a much more accommodating place to do business.
    
While the Australian Government has improved support for large scale solar projects since that time Mr. Davey says with the Opposition committed to scrapping the carbon tax, he thinks investors in large-scale solar will continue to be wary of Australian projects.