Australia's flagship Solar Dawn CSP project, using AREVA Solar's CLFR technology, suffers funding setback after Queensland Government withdraws A$75 million in support

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Australia's 250MW Solar Dawn CSP project suffers A$75 million funding setback

One of Australia’s largest solar power projects – Solar Dawn - has taken a heavy blow, after the Queensland state government formally withdrew its support from the project.

The state’s withdrawal from the 250MW concentrated solar power (CSP) Solar Dawn project is a result of the consortium behind it failing to meet a financial close milestone and now leaves the project with a A$75 million funding shortfall. The consortium, which includes AREVA Solar and Wind Prospect CWP, issued a statement today insisting the project “remains Australia’s best prospect for a large-scale solar thermal project”.

Project Director Anthony Wiseman said while the project delay is “a set-back”, the consortium will pursue discussions with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Queensland Government to move Solar Dawn forward based on “the project’s advanced status and the strong economic and environmental benefits it offers” to the state and the country. “There are various options to move Solar Dawn forward, and we are committed to making the project successful,” he said.

The CSP plant, due to be built near Chinchilla in South West Queensland, is the star of the federal government’s Solar Flagships Programme, which aims to pave the way for large-scale, grid-connected solar power and accelerate the commercialisation of solar power in Australia. Solar Dawn is using AREVA Solar’s Australian-pioneered Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology, which the company says is “the most cost-effective and land-efficient CSP technology available”. It is capable of generating 1.5-2.6 times more peak power per acre of land than competing solar technologies, according to Areva.

The Solar Dawn project consists of approximately 450 hectares of infrastructure including a ‘solar field’ containing the mirrors and steam boiler tubes, and a ‘power block’ with the steam turbine generators and ancilliary equipment.

“Solar Dawn is well-positioned to bring large-scale solar power to the forefront of energy production in Australia,” Wiseman said. “It represents a $1.5 billion economic investment in Queensland, delivering 300 construction jobs, local manufacturing and a $68 million solar research program for The University of Queensland.”

The project, due to commence operation in early 2015 following a three-year construction timeframe, has gained development approvals from the Western Downs Regional Council for the power plant site and assembly facility. In addition, the contract has been finalised with The University of Queensland for the research and development programme, the consortium noted.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity