Australia’s largest concentrated solar power plant officially launched  

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RenewEconomy has an article on Silex's CPV (Concentrated Solar Photovoltaic) power plant at Mildura - Australia’s largest concentrated solar power plant officially launched.

Australia’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plant was officially opened today, with the Victorian energy minister joining executives from the plant’s developer, Solar Systems, to cut the ribbon on the 1.5MW demonstration facility in Mildura.

The demonstration of the “dense array” solar technology of parent company Silex Systems is a fore-runner for what is expected to be a 100MW power plant, with construction slated to begin in 2014. Another 1MW demonstration plant is being built in Saudi Arabia, with hopes of further development as that country pushes into the start of a $100 billion solar spending program

The array – whose 40 CPV dishes have been feeding power into the national grid for almost a month, after their successful commissioning began in April – collects sunlight in more than 100 curved mirrors and focuses it onto ultra-high efficiency “mulit-junction” PV cells; technology originally developed by Boeing to power satellites.

Silex CEO Michael Goldsworthy says the cells currently boast efficiency rates of around 43 per cent – about double that of today’s best silicon-based cells and up to four times the efficiency of thin film solar cells – but he hopes this can be lifted to more than 50 per cent, or even 60 per cent, with further research.

The technology also uses ‘active cooling’ technology to maximise power output while minimising water consumption and prolonging the technology’s lifespan.

Last June Silex predicted that the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for its technology could fall below 10c/kWh ($100/MWh) within a few years – making it cost competitive with a range of technologies such as wind and large-scale solar PV, and below the cost of new gas- and coal-fired generation.

While PV solar in it's various forms has dominated the solar power market in recent years, it seems solar thermal power is still attracting some interest, with a Vast Solar pursuing a plant in western NSW - Plans for Forbes solar thermal project

A solar thermal project near Forbes will demonstrate how cost effective renewable energy can be once its development application is approved. Three-and-a-half thousand moving mirrors, each bigger than a plasma television, will follow the sun like a field of sunflowers. The mirrors will reflect light onto five thermal receivers sitting on towers that will heat a central steam turbine, capable of producing 1.1 megawatts of electricity.

The company behind the project, Vast Solar, already has 700 mirrors and one tower at Jemalong Station. ... The company’s plan is to use a method called air condenser cooling.

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