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Australia's Biggest Coal and Solar Power Project

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One by one, states across the globe become conscious of their solar energy potential and act accordingly – those that can, of course. Australia is one of them. With a growing demand for electricity and the challenge of polluting less, they try to move the weight from a coal-based industry to one that uses mostly solar power.

Moving along this idea, Prime Minister Julia Gillard approved last week the investment of $104.7 million. The money is needed to make the Kogan Creek Solar Boost project part of the Kogan Creek Power Station. The first is solar, the second is coal-based. The solar technology, provided by French company Areva, consists of transforming the sun’s energy into super-heated steam. This one combines with the steam of the burning coal to set the plan’s turbines in motion.

What is remarkable is the fact that Queensland’s plant will be generating more electricity without having to use more coal, meaning that it will go from a 750 MW facility to a 794 MW one. The difference is not eye-popping, but starting 2013, 5,000 Australian homes will sense the difference, while the atmosphere will be cleaner each year by eliminating the equivalent emission of 11,000 cars.

The project of a solar/coal hybrid facility is not something the world hasn’t seen before: the Cameo Station in Colorado, U.S. has already shown the path. It was low cost in comparison to the Australian one ($4.5 million) and it was based on another technology: solar troughs.

Saving the planet is a good-enough reason to start using green technologies, but there is another one concerning the Australian coal industry: the government will put a tax on carbon emissions starting July 2012.

Although the exact price is not yet settled, the coal companies are probably preparing for it. This makes you wonder why they chose the solar power project in the first place, but the important thing is they did!

[via Eco-Business]

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