The Australian Capital Territory government has geared up to build an “innovation precinct” to prepare the nation’s capital for research and development into solar energy technology.
The creation of this innovation precinct will mean that the ACT government will have capacity to research areas such as photovoltaics and wind resource assessment.
The government hopes to use the precinct to attract external sources of research and development funding and to “build strong partnerships” with local research institutions and businesses.
The plan was announced by ACT Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell in a bid to commence an expression of interest (EOI) process to identify potential sites and “scope next generation energy systems” to form the basis of a 50 megawatt solar technology innovation precinct.
This EOI process is expected to commence by mid-2014, with results intended to inform the design of “future capacity release” under the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act 2011.
A prime motivator for the ACT government in establishing this new innovation precinct is the push for the abolition of its older and environmentally-unfriendly energy generating infrastructure.
Mr Corbell said the next generation renewable energy systems that incorporate energy storage will address renewable energy intermittency issues and allow for the “retirement” of its ageing greenhouse gas intensive coal and gas power stations.
“This government is committed to supporting the achievement of 90 per cent of the ACT’s electricity being sourced from renewables and a 40 per cent reduction in Canberra’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.”
If the ACT government is successful in its bid to get the best value out of solar energy and potentially build its own solar plant, it will join the ranks of other states which have opened their own large solar plant facilities.
These have included Victoria, which opened its own large solar plant in Mildura July 2013, as well as Western Australia which opened Australia’s largest solar plant in Geraldton in October 2012.