December 01, 2007 12:30am

CONSTRUCTION of the world's first base-load power station will start next October, Whyalla Council says.

Deputy mayor and deputy chairman of the Whyalla Economic Development Board, Eddie Hughes, said site work for the Big Dish project would start after 10 years' hard work by the council and board. That follows 30 years of research and development by the Australian National University.

The $16 million solar demonstration project is a major step forward for the community, which hopes to create a Regional Sustainability Centre through its work with UniSA's Institute for Sustainable Systems and Technologies.

Mr Hughes said the project was underpinned by a strong partnership among the private sector proponent, Wizard Power, the Whyalla community and the Federal Government through the Australian Greenhouse Office. The Big Dish will be linked to ammonia-based storage technology which will be able to produce on-demand peak-load or base-load power.

The Big Dish is the world's largest high performance parabolic dish and solar thermal concentrator.

It can concentrate the sun's rays 1500 times to produce ultra high temperatures of more than 1200C.

"This project will be an international showcase for base-load and on-demand solar power," Mr Hughes said.

Contracts with the Australian Greenhouse Office have been signed by partners. The Federal Government has contributed $7.4 million towards the Big Dish. It is hoped the State Government will join the partnership by committing financial support.

Co-location of the technology with desalination is an option being considered.,22606,22848498-2682,00.html