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Completion of Australia’s largest solar plant at risk

Published time: August 19, 2014 15:02
Mildura Solar Power Station (Image from solarsystems.com.au)

Mildura Solar Power Station (Image from solarsystems.com.au)

Silex Systems, the company constructing Australia’s biggest solar plant, has suspended its funding following reports the national Renewable Energy Target (RET) could be scaled back or done away with altogether.

The 100-megawatt Mildura Solar Concentrator Power Station, a $70 million project in Victoria, was supposed to provide electricity to 40,000 homes. Now Silex Systems has said it is shelving the project.

"There are a number of factors, including low wholesale electricity prices and the uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Energy Target. They're the two main factors," ABC Radio quotes Michael Goldsworthy, the CEO of Silex Systems.

On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for a government review of the RET which could go as far as removing the target completely. Initially the scheme was aimed at reaching 20 percent of all electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020.

The government is expected to cut back the RET scheme with Tony Abbott blaming it for pushing up power prices.

However research released on Monday by renewable energy advocates showed that power prices would rise if the RET was dismantled.

Moreover the report says that coal and gas generators will gain $10 billion in extra profits over the next 15 years, with carbon emissions rising significantly as a result.

The uncertainty over the RET is harming renewables said the Silex chief executive, but added that “concentrated photovoltaic technology has a strong future in delivering clean, low cost energy to supplement base load power in many suitable regions around the world.

READ MORE: Australia becomes first developed country to abolish carbon tax