100MW Aussie CPV plan scrapped

Solar innovator Silex Systems is scrapping plans for a 100MW concentrating PV (CPV) facility near Mildura, Victoria, citing policy uncertainties and market conditions in the country.

Silex will also return A$75m ($69.8m) of co-funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena).

"The decision was based on a number of factors, including low wholesale electricity prices and the uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Energy Target (RET)," said Silex.

Conditional funding of $35m from the Victorian government will also be terminated, added the company.

Silex said it is currently exploring alternatives to develop the Mildura site on a smaller scale, and will continue discussions with Arena and the state authorities regarding potential funding support for its CPV technology.

"Since we launched the 1.5MW Mildura Demonstration Facility in June last year, we have captured a great deal of useful data and are now investigating alternative opportunities to build on the work already achieved at the site," said Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO.

Australia's renewables sector is waiting for the outcome of the Renewable Energy Target review, which is due any time.

There is growing speculation in the country’s media that the government is poised to scale back or scrap it altogether.

The Midura suspension is also a blow for progress of the CPV sector. Along with Soitec of France, Silex is one of the pioneers of the technology, which concentrates sunlight on multi-junction cells to enable high conversion efficiencies.