Tuesday, 28 September 2010

State backs Mildura solar project

Herald Sun
Wednesday 22/9/2010 Page: 23

Mildura could house the nation's biggest solar power plant after the State Government threw $100 million behind the development. Premier John Brumby said the project would create 200 new jobs during construction and there would be 20 full time jobs. But TRUEnergy's plan to develop the Mallee Solar Park, south of Mildura, is dependent on cash from the Federal Government's Solar Flagships program. The Mildura proposal is expected to face tough competition for grants. A decision isn't due until the middle of next year.

TRUEnergy managing director Richard McIndoe admitted the project was dependent on winning the battle for Commonwealth money. The eventuality of the Mallee Solar Park project is only feasible with the support of both the state and federal governments", he said. The plant would be able to generate 345GW hours of electricity each year, enough to power 60,000 homes. A similar solar plant promised in 2006 collapsed last year after not being able to attract financing. Mr Brumby is confident about the prospects of the new project. We are rising to the challenge of climate change by driving new initiatives to cut emissions and create a cleaner, greener future", he said.

In its climate change action plan published in July, the State Government has committed to having 5% of the state's energy generated by solar by 2020. And to meet this Mr Brumby hopes to develop five to 10 largescale solar plants in regional Victoria. "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 power region in Australia and will make a valuable and lasting contribution to our clean, green energy supply, he said. Under the TRUEnergy plan, a solar plant would be built on a 600ha site about 10km south of Mildura, with construction by Bovis Lend Lease to happen in four stages between 2012-15.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu backs a solar plant at Mildura, but he warned Victorians not to hold their breath as a solar plant was unlikely for years. We would like to see the technology developed but we have to wait and see", he said. "It all depends on federal money and there are indeed competing plants for that money".