Big Solar for Oz

10MW Solar Tower - wiki media commonsThe 2009 Australian budget delivers 1.4 billion dollars – over 6 years – for solar power. So how much solar electricity will Australia get?

The government subsidy is for new solar plants that together produce a coal plant’s worth of power – up to 1000MW. Abengoa Solar, a leading solar power company currently constructing solar plants worldwide, put the cost of a 300MW plant at 1.2 billion euros in 2007. In 2009, the Arizona state government announced a 200MW plant for 1 billion US dollars.

The actual cost and reliability of the power generated is as important as the government subsidy for construction costs. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates, for solar plants generating power 24 hours a day by storing the sun’s heat, electricity will soon cost about US 13 cents a unit.

On this scale, sun power is starting to become competitive with expected future power prices.