Mildura Solar Power Station Construction Commences

Solar Systems, a subsidiary of Silex Systems Ltd, announced late last month it had started construction of the initial stage of what will be Australia’s largest solar farm.
  
The Mildura facility will utilise Solar Systems’ “Dense Array” concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology.  Using triple-junction solar cells with a 40% sunlight conversion efficiency originally developed to power satellites, a reflective dish system concentrates the sun by 500 times onto the cells for increased power output.
   
The first stage involves the construction of a demonstration facility of up to 2MW capacity and is scheduled to be completed late this year. A 2MW installation would involve 60 solar dish systems along with required electrical interconnect and distribution network equipment.
   
The initial stage could produce enough clean electricity to power 700 homes and avoid 5,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, based on a CO2 emissions factor of 1.31kg/kWh for the electricity supply mix in Victoria. Much of Victoria’s electricity supply comes from the burning of brown coal, an emissions-intensive form of the fossil fuel.
   
Assuming satisfactory performance and other factors, the Mildura facility will then be expanded to 100MW capacity – enough to provide electricity to 40,000 homes – in 2013 through to 2016.
  
“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.” said Dr Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO.
 
“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.”
  
The Mildura solar power station project has received financial support of up to $120 million from the Victorian State and Australian Federal Government, subject to milestones being achieved.
  
The facility is located at Carwarp, a town approximately 15km southwest of Red Cliffs and approximately 40km south of Mildura in Victoria.
  
Solar Systems is a separate subsidiary to Silex Solar, the arm of Silex Systems Ltd that deals with solar panel manufacturing for the home and commercial market. Silex Solar, which was Australia’s only active manufacturer of solar panels at the time,  suspended manufacturing operations at its Homebush Bay facility last year.