Mildura Solar Power Station, Australia

Mildura Solar Power Station is a proposed 100MW concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) project to be built in Carwrap, south of Mildura in the state of Victoria, Australia.

The project will use high performance solar cells used to power satellites. The plant will reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions by 396,000t.

Mildura power project is the flagship project of Solar Systems. It was announced in October 2006. After the acquisition of the company by Silex Systems in 2010, the project became a part of the latter’s portfolio.

The project is undergoing preliminary construction activities and is expected to come online in 2015. Once fully operational, the plant will be one of the largest CPV solar power stations in the world.

Mildura Solar Power Station project development

“Mildura Solar Power Station is a proposed 100MW concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) project to be built in Carwrap.”The Mildura CPV plant will be developed in two stages. Stage one will see the development of a 2MW pilot plant with the deployment of 60 solar dishes. A workshop, control room and substation for the pilot plant will also be constructed.

The demonstration facility will generate enough power to light 700 homes. Construction on stage one is scheduled to commence in December 2011 and the plant is expected to be commissioned in late 2012 or early 2013.

The project will move on to stage two based on the success of the pilot plant. Stage 2 involves construction of a 102MW solar power station on the same site. Construction will commence in the third quarter of 2013 and the plant will be commissioned in the last quarter of 2015. Stage two can provide electricity to 40,000 homes.

There is a 52MW stage three for the project. But this will be planned if the first two stages prove to be successful. If implemented, stage three will take up the plant’s total capacity to 154MW.

Precursors to the concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) plant

Construction of the Mildura Power Station will depend on the on-time execution of two parallel activities – the Technology Optimisation project and the Bridgewater Pilot Demonstration Facility.

Technology Optimisation involves the development of CS500 Mk5 dish system, which is based on Solar System’s patented Dense Array CPV technology. It is currently in the advanced stages of development and is expected to be commercially launched in the first quarter of 2012, once it receives the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) certification.

Solar Systems are developing a 0.5MW test plant at the Bridgewater Pilot Demonstration Facility in central Victoria. The facility will be installed with 16 units of CS500 Mk5 dish systems. The test results will lead to full-scale deployment of the technology.

Solar Systems has contracted Abigroup to construct the last two solar dishes at the Bridgewater facility. It will be in-charge of the 2MW pilot plant as well.

Dense Array CPV technology

Dense Array is Solar Systems’ proprietary CPV technology. The technology uses reflective mirrors which convert sunlight into 500 times more intense energy. This energy is concentrated on to photovoltaic cells which directly convert it into electricity.”Mildura power project is the flagship project of Solar Systems.”The module can be configured in a dish form as well as a heliostat application.

The technology uses triple-junction solar cells which claim to have 40% conversion efficiency. Each module produces 650W of power and has an integrated 36cm2 active cooling system.

Solar Systems sees a huge potential global market for Dense Array technology. Success of Mildura’s stage one will be a deciding factor in the future of the technology. It is expected to provide low-cost electricity from large scale solar power plants.

Mildura Power Station Project has received a financial commitment of $125m from the federal and state of Victorian governments. The financial support is subject to the project milestones achieved.

As of June 2011, the Victorian Government has confirmed financing of $50m and the federal Australian Government committed itself to $75m under its Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund (LETDF).