The Premier, John Brumby, today officially opened a $10 million state-of-the art solar plant at Bridgewater, further boosting Victoria’s status as a global leader in clean energy technology.

At Bridgewater, Mr Brumby said Victoria-based Solar Systems’ new solar pilot plant demonstrated the Victorian Government’s commitment to attracting new investment in clean energy to Victoria.

“Climate change is one of our biggest challenges for the future and that’s why our Government is taking action to stimulate new investment in solar power in Victoria,” Mr Brumby said.

“Solar power is a potentially limitless resource, crucial to tackling climate change and to meeting our energy needs into the future and the new Bridgewater research plant will play an important role in creating an environmentally sustainable solar energy industry in Victoria.

“The site at Bridgewater will be used to test and optimise technology and is a key milestone in the $420 million large-scale solar power station planned for the Mildura region.

“Experience gained at this facility will pave the way for Victoria to build the largest and most efficient PV solar power station of its kind in the world which will provide electricity for an estimated 45,000 homes, translating to about 400,000 tonnes per annum in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The photovoltaic technology at the Bridgewater Research and Development Facility is able to produce 1500 times more power at much lower costs than residential solar panels because it uses relatively inexpensive glass and steel to concentrate sun light onto fewer of the relatively more expensive photovoltaic cells.

“It will build on the successes Solar Systems is having in high-concentration solar photovoltaic applications, strengthening Victoria’s status as a global leader in clean energy.”

Energy and Resources Minister, Peter Batchelor said that the innovative approach converted sunlight directly into electricity that could then be exported to the national electricity grid.

“The Brumby Government is taking action to promote and attract new investment in solar technology. The Brumby Government’s Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) scheme played a crucial role in attracting the Solar Systems project to this state,” Mr Batchelor said.

“Solar Systems has also received a grant of up to $50 million from our Energy Technology Innovation Strategy (ETIS) for their 154 megawatt solar power project.

“ETIS has also facilitated the expansion of Solar Systems’ photovoltaic technology on the international market. Photovoltaic cells are among the world’s fastest growing energy technologies and since 2002 their production has increased on average 48 per cent nationally. I am pleased with the support regional councils have shown the project.”

The Brumby Government has contributed $50 million to help deliver the 154MW solar power station, with construction to begin next year once a site in the Mildura region has been finalised.