Using solar energy to power Australia's economy

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There is no technical reason why Australia could not use solar energy to power its economy, Chief Executive Officer of Solar Energy Society John Grimes told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced funding to build a solar energy system on the site of an existing coal fired power station at Kogan Creek in Queensland. The project will see 104.7 million U.S. dollars spent on the world's largest integrated solar-coal fired power plant.

Grimes welcomed the move, saying that the Kogan Creek Solar Project is expected to save 35,000 tons of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere every year.

He believes solar can overtake Australia's reliance on traditional fossil fuels, pointing out that the solar thermal technology is now widely used throughout Europe, Spain in particular and the United States, while places like India and China are also looking at the potential for solar.

"There's no technical reason why we couldn't use solar to power the entire Australian economy," he said in the interview.

"Today the challenge for us is the economics, bringing the technology down in price so that we can have abundant electricity at a reasonable price."

At present, Grimes said, Australia's solar electricity is less than one percent. However, he said, the nation is making process.

"For example in solar panels on people's roofs we installed almost 400 megawatts last year and we're set to do about 440 megawatts this year. That's a 350 percent increase in the market last year alone, so massive growth in the use of solar panel," he said. "So therefore we are seeing a rise in the amount of energy generated by solar in Australia."

He said he expected by 2015 there will be a large amount of solar projects come virtual as a result of the Gillard government' s solar flagships program.

The Australian Solar Energy Society is a national organization that promotes the use of solar energy in Australia. It is one of the oldest solar energy societies in the world, tracing back to about 1954.

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