Penny Wong
Penny Wong

A project to build the what is claimed will be world’s largest solar power generating plant has been launched by the Australian Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong.

The plant, expected to cost $420 million, will be built in the Swan Hill and Mildura region of northern Victoria. When complete, it will generate 154 megawatts – enough electricity to power about 45,000 homes, using heliostat-concentrated photovoltaic generators.

The project was originally promised by the former Howard government but it could not proceed without commitment of funding from private enterprise. The Victorian energy retailer, TRUenergy, has now committed $290 million to the project and the Victorian Government has added $50 million to the Commonwealth contribution of $80 million. TRUenergy is a subsidiary of CLP Holdings, a Hong Kong power utility. The project is being led by Melbourne-based Solar Systems in which TRUenergy has a 20% stake.

Construction will begin in 2009 with the plant beginning to generate power in 2010 and being fully operational in 2013. It will create 950 construction jobs and 44 long-term jobs.

Update (April 14, 2008):

The Boeing Company today announced a third multimillion-dollar contract with Solar Systems for concentrator photovoltaic cell assemblies. Under the terms of the new contract, Spectrolab Inc, a wholly owned Boeing subsidiary, will provide solar cell assemblies capable of generating more than 350 megawatts of electricity. The cells will be used in the new 154-megawatt solar power station to be built in Victoria and in other power stations located throughout Australia and the United States.