November 04, 2007

A NORTH-WEST Queensland town is set to become the first in the state to completely rely on solar power within two years.

Premier Anna Bligh today said Cloncurry had been chosen as the site for a "ground-breaking" $7 million solar thermal power station.

"We're going to build a 10-megawatt solar thermal power station," Ms Bligh said in a statement.

"It's a real breakthrough for electricity generation."

Ms Bligh, who is in Cloncurry for her first community cabinet meeting as Premier, said the power station would keep generating electricity even when the sun was not shining - a vague prospect in the sun-drenched northern town.

"The town of Cloncurry has long claimed the title of having recorded Australia's hottest day - 53 degrees in the shade in 1889, so I reckon we're on a winner," Ms Bligh said.

Eight thousand mirrors will reflect sunlight onto graphite blocks.

Water will be pumped through the blocks to generate steam that will operate a conventional steam turbine electricity generator.

The heat stays in the graphite, allowing the steam to power on through the night and on overcast days.

Energy Minister Geoff Wilson said the station would deliver about 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to meet the needs of the entire community.

Ergon Energy would develop the project, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2009/2010.,25197,22700605-2702,00.html