The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP, says applications for the Australian Government's $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program reflect the strong commitment to solar innovation within Australian industry.
Fifty-two applications have been received for grants to construct large-scale solar power stations in Australia.
Proposals for Round One, which closed on 15 February, aim to demonstrate the operation of large scale solar power plants within a competitive electricity market. Round One of the program aims to deliver 400 megawatts of combined solar generation capacity across two solar projects - one using solar thermal technology and one using photovoltaic technology.
Minister Ferguson said: "The number and size of projects seeking support shows the solar energy sector is confident of the role it can play in Australia's electricity supply".
A wide range of solar technologies are covered by applicants including thin film and concentrating photovoltaic and solar thermal troughs, towers and dishes.
The project selection for Round One will be over two stages with a short-list of the most competitive proposals to be invited to undertake detailed feasibility and design studies. Final proposals will be considered and it is intended that two projects - one solar thermal and one photovoltaic - will be announced towards the end of 2010.
Minister Ferguson also announced the seven-member Solar Flagships Council which will assess the proposals. Distinguished Tasmanian, Dr Mike Vertigan AC, will chair the Council.
Council members include Antony Cohen and John Tamblyn, who bring a depth of knowledge about energy markets, regulation and reform, and Gaye McMath, Jenny Purdie, and Kathy Hirschfeld, who bring expertise from the private and academic sector in financial management, project management and technical leadership. Mark Twidell, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Institute, has also been appointed to the Council to ensure a smooth flow of information between the program and the Institute (Biographies follow).
Dr Mike Vertigan AC (Chair)
Dr Vertigan is currently an Advisory Board member to the Education Investment Fund. A former Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, he was previously Secretary of several Victorian and Tasmanian government departments. Dr Vertigan was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for service as a community leader in public administration.
Mr Antony Cohen
Mr Cohen brings more than 20 years' experience and leadership in the corporate finance sector. He is the Chief Financial Officer of Better Place Australia and was previously a Partner, Board Member and Head of Energy and Natural Resources at KPMG. Mr Cohen is a recognised leader in electricity markets and electricity market reform.
Ms Kathy Hirschfeld
Ms Hirschfeld is currently the Managing Director and Refinery Manager at BP's Bulwer Island Refinery. Before this appointment, she held the position of Refinery Asset Manager, covering both Operations & Maintenance. Ms Hirschfeld began her career with BP at Perth's Kwinana Refinery in 1990 and has worked in various BP refineries in Turkey, United Kingdom and Australia.
Ms Gaye McMath
Gaye McMath is Executive Director, Finance and Resources at The University of Western Australia. Previously, she was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Resource Management) and Chief Financial Officer at Murdoch University. Ms McMath was employed with BHP Billiton for 23 years in a wide range of senior financial, strategic planning and commercial management positions.
Dr Jenny Purdie
Dr Purdie joined Rio Tinto Alcan in 2008 as the General Manager of its Business Improvement and Technology for the Pacific Primary Metals Business. She is also the Smelter Operations Manager of Alcoa. She began her career in the petrochemicals industry in 1987, before joining Comalco Aluminium in 1990, working first in industrial research and later in site-based technical and leadership roles.
Dr John Tamblyn
Dr Tamblyn is currently the Chair of the Australian Energy Market Commission. His background in the regulation of public utility services includes the positions of Chairman of the Essential Services Commission (Vic) and Regulator-General (Vic). Prior to his appointment as Regulator-General, Dr Tamblyn held senior positions in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Mr Mark Twidell
Mr Twidell is the Executive Director of the Australian Solar Institute (ASI). Mr Twidell has more than 20 years' experience in the solar industry. He was formerly the Solar Performance Unit Leader for BP Solar's commercial activity outside of the USA and Europe. He represented Australian Industry on the boards of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership.