The state government has announced $1 million to expand a solar power plant in Newbridge it says will create up to 70 jobs.
Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced the government’s backing for the construction of the 0.5 megawatt commercial power plant by solar technology company RayGen Resources on Tuesday.
She said the project would create 22 jobs during the design, construction and commissioning phase, and a further three ongoing positions once the plant was fully operational.
The plant already powered mushroom compost farm ScatoPlus after a world-first pilot project completed in 2015.
That project saw glass mirrors reflect sunlight up into a module atop a tower in a paddock next to the composting farm.
RayGen business strategy manager Will Mosley said the new project would effectively triple the facility’s size into paddocks near existing facilities.
“It is quite difficult (to make something like this),” he said.
RayGen’s PV Ultra was considered one of the highest efficiency solar technologies commercially available, utilising technology typically used in space applications, according to the government.
The PV Ultra Module was over 1000 times more powerful and twice as efficient as conventional photovoltaic panels.
The proprietary technology was developed largely in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
“The reason it can be manufactured here … is because the modules at the top of the tower are very high quality and require a well-trained manufacturing force,” Mr Mosley said.
The state government’s cash injection came as the company eyed Chinese energy markets.
Mr Mosley said there were plans for an 11 megawatt plant in China underway through a partnership with ZhauZhou Intense Solar.
Just as in Newbridge, a Chinese pilot project was being used to perfect technology ahead of what backers hoped would be a wider roll out.
“That will be (dependent) on the successful demonstration and validation of this technology,” Mr Mosley said.
“So (Newbridge) is quite an important step for us in terms of developing out export business as well as supplying a customer with a quality electricity product.”
The government’s funding for the Newbridge project came from the New Energy Jobs Fund, which offered grants of up to $1 million for new energy technology projects that supported the uptake of renewable energy, reduce emissions, and assist community groups to develop their own projects.
Over 50 applications were received in round two of the New Energy Jobs Fund, with 21 successful projects receiving close to $7 million.