Largest Solar Power Tracking System in Australia completed in Western Australia

6 August 2010

Ray Wills, CEO
Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA)

The WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) welcomes the announcement by one of its members, SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, that it has completed a 505-kilowatt solar power installation for another WA SEA member Horizon Power, a utility providing power to remote and regional communities and resource operations in Western Australia.

The ground-mounted SunPower T20 Tracker installation is located on two sites, Marble Bar and Nullagine in the east Pilbara region of Western Australia, and was commissioned earlier this year. It is the largest solar tracking system in Australia, and powers the world’s first high penetration, hybrid solar-diesel power stations using the most efficient solar panels on the market today. The power stations will generate approximately 1,048 megawatt hours of solar energy per year and will produce 60 percent to 90 percent of daily electricity needs.

The plant employs flywheel technology from a third WA SEA member business, PowerCorp Pty Ltd. The flywheel is used to smooth the energy from the solar panels and stabilise power quality between the diesel power station and the solar farm as well as to maximise the utilisation of the solar energy.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program and implemented by the Office of Energy in Western Australia.

In the SunPower announcement, Bob Blakiston, managing director of SunPower Australia commented: “We also congratulate Horizon Power for being honoured by the Western Australia Sustainable Energy Association with the Outstanding Achievement in Excellence and Innovation Award for its insight in bringing solar power to regional and remote areas of the country.”

‘We must fundamentally change the way we think about energy and how we do business. And we must act, and this is a commercial project that delivers action’ says WA SEA Chief Executive Prof Wills.

The State is already missing opportunities to create investment and new projects to build reliable and affordable renewable energy generation. The Federal Government recently ran a process to build large scale (150 MW) solar power stations in Australia. WA SEA’s understanding is the direct subsidy to commercialise these projects is far less than the cost that will be caused by the likely future liabilities of carbon.

The Barnett Government must in particular take account of the State Government’s own work on the Strategic Energy Initiative – Energy 2030 (SEI). The SEI must provide a framework that starts WA building all new electricity generation from a combination of renewable sources and highly efficient cogeneration technologies, and ramp up the work to take Western Australia to improved energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of industry.

‘Our state must ramp up use of Western Australia’s massive renewable energy resource for the benefit of the economy and all Western Australians.’

‘WA SEA has been calling on the State Government to move more rapidly on bolstering distributed generation through the south-west, and the output from the SEI must offer a way forward to create underwrite significant change from the business as usual model of the economy. We need action, to tap the energy source that will be dominant in the 21st Century – renewable energy that will deliver on both energy security and on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions’ says Prof Wills.

Editors notes:
1. Sunpower media release
2. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of enterprises that has a growing membership of over 350 industry members from a diversity of businesses. WA SEA is the largest energy industry body in Australia.
3. WA SEA bringing you the Energising SE Asia Conference 23-26 March 2011, Perth.

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