Among the upcoming wave of utility-scale solar farms, Silex Systems plans projects in Victoria, Queensland and beyond

Australia’s Silex Systems, known in solar PV circles mainly for its solar panel manufacturing wing Silex Solar, has in recent years been focusing its efforts on the development of solar farms and its concentrating solar photovoltaic (CPV) technology. In addition to the 1.5 megawatt (MW) demo plant that went online in Victoria earlier this year (to be expanded to 100MW), the company is also planning a much larger project (in the range of 10MW – 50MW) in Queensland, for which, according to Project Finance International, it is currently looking to ‘Chinese state-backed generators’ for financing and to purchase its technology. Outside of Australia, Silex is also planning a number of smaller projects, including a 1MW plant in California and another in Saudi Arabia. 

Concentrating solar photovoltaic technology like that developed by Silex Systems has not witnessed the huge uptick in deployment that its cousin the solar module has seen in recent years. In fact, the vast majority of the solar PV capacity that has been installed in the past few years has the ‘conventional’ type (i.e. flat solar panels), thanks to generous government subsidies and falling solar PV system installation prices. Nevertheless, CPV–while not necessarily a cost- or space-effective solution for small-scale applications–holds immense potential for the utility-scale solar power sector, with sunlight-to-energy conversion rates significantly higher than those of flat panels.

Silex is not alone in developing solar plants of this size in Australia. Other projects under development include the 2x 150MW+ Solar Flagships projects backed by the federal government, several other large-scale plants by other developers, and Solar Choice’s proposed 350MW Gannawarra Solar Farm, which recently received planning approval from the local shire council.

James Martin II