New Portal highlights Australia's prime solar locations


 Image of solar infrastructure (Image copyright ARENA 2013).

Image of solar infrastructure
(Image copyright ARENA 2013).

Companies looking to invest in large-scale solar power plants can now locate Australia's prime solar resource development areas via a new online Portal announced by the Minister for Resources and Energy Gary Gray.

The generation of solar energy critically depends on the commercialisation of large-scale solar energy technologies. Reducing uncertainties around the placement of infrastructure will go a long way towards minimising commercial risk for development.

Minister Gray said that greater access to solar resource data, combined with information on regional topography, distance to closest electricity transmission lines, location of water sources and existing power stations will help developers assess the commercial viability of potential projects, and develop projects that stack up financially for investors.

"Perhaps just as important as knowing the solar potential of an area is the ability to estimate the logistics of feeding the derived energy back into the electricity grid - this is the type of value-add the Portal provides,"Minister Gray added.

The new Portal uses more than 25 years of solar mapping data collected by the Bureau of Meteorology displaying the average monthly solar exposure anywhere in Australia and the amount of sun an area receives on average, per hour, across an average day for each month of the year.

"Our aim was to improve regional scale solar resource and infrastructure data and to deliver it in a way which is free and easy to access to industry as well as the general user," said Graham Hammond, Geoscience Australia's Solar Resource Mapping Project Leader.

"The overall Solar Resource Mapping Project has brought about significant improvements in how solar data is collected, validated and modelled within Australia, enabling users to view a consistent national or regional perspective of solar potential.

Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology undertook significant collaboration to improve the available data for Australia by taking the Bureau's original raw data and reprocessed them with newer and improved modelling techniques. From this we are able to deliver the crucial long term consistent record of evidence that large solar power station investigations need to establish resource evidence levels and to reduce investment risk", said Mr Hammond.

The Australian Solar Energy Information System, or 'ASEISonline', has been developed as a collaborative project between Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Link to Minister's Media Release