CSIRO solar researchers to play a part in world’s largest photovoltaic system

Artists Impression of the 150 megawatt Moree Solar Farm

An Artists Impression of the 150 megawatt Moree Solar Farm

Did you know that at present Australia’s largest system of solar photovoltaic panels (at the University of Queensland) is rated at 1.2 megawatts? Sound like a lot? Well, compare that with the world’s largest system (in Sarnia, Ontario), rated at 80 megawatts.

Now, finally, Australia is playing with the big boys. As a result of the Federal Government ‘Solar Flagships’ program, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr has announced funding for a system rated at a whopping 150 megawatts!

With a group of other top researchers, CSIRO will lead R&D worth A$66.5 million at a proposed Solar Farm in Moree, a regional farming community in northwest New South Wales.

It’s all part of an Australian Government initiative to support the construction of large-scale, grid-connected solar power stations in Australia, using solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies: the A$1.5 billion Solar Flagships program. The Moree Solar Farm is a $925 million project involving BP Solar, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and Pacific Hydro and a consortium of researchers from CSIRO, The University of New South Wales, The University of Newcastle and Hunter TAFE.

I can hear people already saying ‘how big is that?’ Well, when fully operational the Solar Farm will comprise around 650 000 photovoltaic panels and produce enough power for around 45 000 households (a city roughly the size of Darwin!), leading to an annual displacement of around 400 000 tonnes of CO2 through generation of renewable electricity.

See more: Innovation Minister Kim Carr announces A$66.5 million R&D into Solar Farm

For more on the project go to: http://www.csiro.au/science/Moree-solar-farm.html

3 Comments on “CSIRO solar researchers to play a part in world’s largest photovoltaic system”

  1. MattyB says:

    But it still won’t provide baseload or peaking energy when required. Bravo.

    • Tania says:

      It’s true that intermittency is an important consideration with renewables like solar and wind – but it’s not a problem that can’t be overcome. No details have been released yet about whether or not there will be energy storage in this particular solar field, but storage is one way to overcome intermittency and provide dispatchable energy from PV. An example of CSIRO technology that’s been developed for this purpose is the UltraBattery. CSIRO is also developing ways that energy systems (even ones without storage) can combine to form a smart, stable grid supply.

      Ultimately, it should also be kept in mind that ‘base load supply’ isn’t as rigid a requirement as it might seem. There is simply a demand curve that needs to be met by the generation technology, and a well-designed grid will allow a distribution of intermittent sources to meet that demand. In our future energy mix, we’re not expecting any single technology to solve the entire challenge in one go – but projects like this let us make a huge step forward.

  2. reganbaha says:

    When compare with levelised costs of power generation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source or from any electricity conference, why would any sane government invest in an expensive, non-baseload power supply?

    Eco-decoration can only go so far, but when regions wither through lack of reliable energy for industrial capacity, the unions will again be on the band wagon.


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