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Australia to Build World’s Largest Solar Power Station

powerstationAustralia plans to build the world’s largest solar power station with an output of 1000 megawatts, said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, at a press conference at the Liddell Power Station, reports Reuters. The A$1.4 billion ($1.05 billion) investment in solar energy is part of Australia’s wider A$4.65 billion clean energy initiative by the government.

Rudd said the solar generation station will have three times the capacity of the current largest solar power plant, which is in California. The government is making the investment to support a clean energy future, boost economic activity and provide jobs.

Tender specifications will be defined in the next six months, followed by the nomination of successful bidders in the first six months of 2010. Australia’s goal is to have a network of stations across the country, co-located as close as possible with the existing electricity grid and to make the best use of Australia’s biggest natural resource — the sun.

Rudd also announced that Australia will become a full member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, which will have its first global meeting in June.

Click here for the complete transcript of Rudd’s press conference at the Liddell Power Station.

Yet, Australia is still lagging behind in making the necessary reductions in carbon emissions. The European Union recently asked Australia to commit to deeper reductions of it greenhouse gas emissions, saying the success of climate change talks this year depend on tougher action from rich nations, reports the Guardian.

So far, Australia has committed to a 5 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020, from 2000 levels, with a goal of cutting 25 percent if other developed nations agree to similar reductions at the talks in Copenhagen in December, according to the Guardian. This is in comparison to EU states that have pledged to cut emissions of carbon dioxide to a fifth below 1990 levels by 2020.

An A$80 ($60) cost of carbon within the next decade will be needed to drive clean-energy investments, said Synergy, an Australian gas and energy retailer, underscoring potentially high costs for consumers, reports Reuters.

The power retailer also details the challenge power companies face in trying to cut their own emissions as carbon liabilities steadily increase under the government’s planned emissions trading scheme, according to Reuters.

Simon Middleton, Synergy’s wholesale business development manager, told Reuters that it faced a carbon cost of about A$100 million from July 1, 2011, if the emissions trading scheme was passed by parliament this year.

The EU also wants to boost its liquefied natural gas (LNG) reliance from only 4 percent of gas consumption to as much as 15-20 percent to safeguard its energy security and diversity away from Russian gas supplies, reports the Guardian.

LNG suppliers are likely to come from the Gulf and Australia. Qatar says it is on track to produce 77 million tons of the LNG a year next year while Australia plans to triple its LNG exports to 60 million tons a year by 2020, according to the Guardian.

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