A NEW solar power station believed to be the biggest in Australia will be built at Alice Springs. The $6.6 million, one megawatt solar power station will be built on the outskirts of Alice Springs, and should be completed by May 2011.
The Federal Government will chip in $3.3m of the funding for the $6.6 million solar power station, to be built by Alice Solar City and SunPower Corporation. The government funding has been provided under the $94 million Solar Cities program.
The 1MW system will power the equivalent of 288 average homes for a year, or supply 10 per cent green power to 2750 Alice Springs homes, and will sit on three hectares of land.
The facility will cover over four hectares at Ilparpa on the outskirts of Alice Springs and consist of 3,048 SunPower solar panels. Each 318 watt solar module will be mounted on a tracker that will follow the sun throughout the day. Solar tracking systems can improve the output of a solar panel array dramatically.
The electricity utility company; Power and Water, has a contract to buy electricity from the station for 20 years and the station will mean Alice Springs will have the highest percentage of people using solar power in the nation.
Power and Water sustainable energy manager Trevor Horman said the company had been been using smaller solar systems in six remote communities for 20 years, with other systems built or in the works.
"We think this is probably the biggest in Australia," he said, adding it decided to support the project because it gave the high percentage of renters in Alice Springs a chance to use renewable energy. "The reason why it is happening now is the price of these solar panels is coming within cooee of the cost of gas-fired production," he said. "Alice Springs is very environmentally conscious. If we want to test anything in the environmental area this is where we will test it out."
Trevor Horman said there would be more solar power projects in Alice Springs and Katherine in the future.
Power and Water charges an extra $1 per week to have 10 per cent of your home powered with solar power, $5 per week for 50 per cent of your power and $10 a week for 100 per cent of your power to be solar power. This type of electricity is sold at a higher price because of the cost of investment in a solar power station.