Australia plans world’s largest solar power plant

SYDNEY – Australia is planning to build the world’s largest solar power station, with three times the generating capacity of the California plant that has been the biggest to date.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the photovoltaic plant would cost A$1.4 billion (US$1 billion) and will have an output of 1,000MW – equivalent to that of one coal-fired power station. He said he wanted Australia to be a ‘solar leader’ rather than a ‘solar follower’.

The solar farm will consist of up to four individual plants – two based on solar thermal technology, and two on photovoltaic cells. Eventually, said Rudd, it could lead to a network of solar power stations across the country.

Tender specifications are expected to be drawn up within the next six months, and successful bidders chosen in the first half of next year. The plan is to have the installation finished by 2015.

Rudd also announced that Australia had joined 80 other countries in the the International Renewable Energy Agency. Established in January, this aims to speed up the global renewable industry.

But it’s a tricky line for the government to tread, as the country currently uses coal for over 80 per cent of its domestic energy generation, and is the world’s largest coal exporter.