Part of the Federal Government’s expanded $5.1 billion Clean Energy Initiative is meant to help Australia reach its Renewable Energy Target. This will by supporting the research, development and demonstration of low-emission energy technologies, including industrial scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) and solar energy. The CEI has four components that make up the strategy, CCS Flagships Program, Solar Flagships Program, Australian Centre for Renewable Energy, and the Renewable Energy Future Fund.
Under the Solar Flagships Program the Victorian Premier announced that Victoria will house the largest solar power station in Australia. The announcement was made on September 20th, 2010.
This represents a $100 million investment into the project backed by the energy company TRUenergy in order to develop a new large-scale solar plant just south of Mildura. The news was met with applause by those gathered to hear then Premier, John Burmby. The completed facility will be called Mallee Solar Park.
The project is planned to begin in 2012, and will not only provide Australians a new source of clean energy, but also offer new employment opportunities. “Our Government’s disciplined economic management means Victoria is in a position to tackle climate change by backing new investments in renewable energy to lock-in a sustainable future,” said Mr Brumby at the time. “The TRUenergy proposal will utilise world’s best-practice to create jobs in regional Victoria, cement the northern part of our State as a key solar energy region in Australia and will make a valuable and lasting contribution to our clean, green energy supply.”
The site, located about 10 kilometres from Mildura will encompass about 600 hectares of land.
“This investment is about capitalising on Victoria’s potential to generate renewable energy and forms a key part of our commitment to increase Victoria’s electricity supply from large-scale solar power to five per cent by 2020,” said Mr Brumby.
TRUenergy represents about $5 billion in generation and retail assets, and is is the third largest private energy business in Australia. TRUenergy will develop this 180-MW capacity solar plant and it is predicted that this will also create 200 new jobs, at the same time delivering 345 GWh of green power. This is the equivalent of the energy required to power 60,000 homes a year. With this as an alternative source of energy Victoria will be avoiding more than 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over the operational lifespan of the plant.
The Photovoltaic (PV) cells will be manufactured by First Solar, the world’s largest thin film PV manufacturer, and the construction managed by Bovis Lend Lease.