Victoria may become home to the nation’s largest solar energy plant, with the state government pledging $100 million for the proposed development.

But the Mallee Solar Park near Mildura in the state’s northwest will become a reality only if TRUenergy wins federal funding under the Solar Flagships program.

“The eventuality of the Mallee Solar Park project is only feasible with the support of both the state and federal governments,” TRUenergy managing director Richard McIndoe said in a statement on Tuesday.

Premier John Brumby said the project would create 200 new jobs during construction and there would be 20 ongoing positions.

The plant would generate 345 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power 60,000 homes.

“The TRUenergy proposal will utilise world’s best practice to create jobs in regional Victoria, cement the northern part of our state as a key solar energy region in Australia and will make a valuable and lasting contribution to our clean, green energy supply,” Mr Brumby said.

A separate two-megawatt solar energy pilot plant, operated by Solar Systems, is slated to be built near Mildura in 2012.

The building of a $420 million, 145-megawatt solar energy plant, for which the state government has committed $50 million, is contingent upon the success of the pilot project.

Solar Systems was placed in voluntary administration in September 2009 but was bought out by Silex this year.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the coalition had always supported a solar energy plant in Mildura.

He said the Labor government had promised a solar plant in Ballarat before the 2002 election and a plant in Mildura prior to the 2006 poll.

“Now we have another promise, which even on the announcement today is unlikely to proceed until after the next election,” Mr Baillieu told reporters.

“I’d just like to see a solar plant proceed with a degree of certainty – that’s not what we are getting.”

Mr Brumby said the government aimed to support the development of 5 – 10 large scale solar plants in regional Victoria by 2020, he said.

Under the TRUenergy plan, a solar plant would be built by Bovis Lend Lease in four stages from 2012 to 2015 on a 600-hectare site about 10km south of Mildura.

The proposal is among several projects short-listed to receive funding under round one of the Solar Flagships program. The successful projects are expected to be announced in the first half of next year.

Source: AuSES.

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