Thiess-Silex Solar Consortium a major bidder to build large-scale solar PV power station

Wednesday, 12 May, 2010

The consortium between Thiess, a market leader in critical infrastructure construction and utility services, and Silex Systems, a company with expertise and capability in solar technology, has publicly confirmed its interest in constructing Australia’s first solar photovoltaic (PV) power station as part of the Commonwealth’s Solar Flagships program.

The announcement coincides with recent news that the NSW government will contribute $120m in funding to the project.

Chris Wilks, Executive Director of Silex subsidiary and consortium partner SilexSolar, said Australia has the home-grown capacity to build the new power station which will ultimately be one of the biggest in the world. “The Thiess-SilexSolar consortium offers a unique all-Australian bid for Solar Flagships, which will see industry research, world-class development and manufacturing capability, and the consequent IP that is developed during the project, stay here in Australia for the lasting benefit of all Australians,” he said.

Wilks said the Thiess-SilexSolar proposal includes the use of solar PV technology, the fastest growing energy technology in the world, and will have an expected average output of approximately 400 GWh/year. The consortium contains Australia’s only significant manufacturer of PV cells and panels, which would be wholly made at the SilexSolar plant at Homebush.

More than 1300 Australian-based jobs would be created. Thiess Chief Executive, Australian Operations, Nev Power said that, if successful in its bid, the partnership will ensure the Solar Flagships project will directly benefit the Australian solar and construction industry, rather than seeing investment and expertise going offshore through projects put forward by offshore companies.

“The Solar Flagships project is not only vital to developing large-scale utility level solar power, but also to kick starting the local manufacturing industry, so Australia can get its share of the $40 billion worldwide solar PV industry,” Power said.

Thiess has already delivered large energy and renewable projects such as the Darajat Unit III 110 MW geothermal power station project and the Swanbank Waste Management Facility in Queensland, the second of its kind in the world to capture gas for electricity generation.

The Thiess-SilexSolar consortium plans to construct a regional manufacturing facility for the assembly of panels close to the project site, maximising local content and employment. This would create an assembly and distribution hub for SilexSolar’s solar products to be delivered to the central and eastern states.

Wilks said, “We are investing heavily in the ingenuity of the Australian people and are well placed to commercialise Australian intellectual property rather than letting it go overseas. To aid in this we have our own research and development facility, and a strong partnership with the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence at the University of NSW, the key centre of Australian solar energy research.

“Our already established Homebush manufacturing plant and R&D facility, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, provides the perfect base to facilitate and house the growth in manufacturing and solar expertise this project will generate.” Wilks said.

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