Can Brisbane become Australia's next solar hub?

MAY 2010

Brisbane is in a prime position to become Australia’s solar power hub with the cost of manufacturing panels set to drop significantly in the next four years, a University of Queensland (UQ) expert says.

UQ professor and XeroCoat co-founder Dr Paul Meredith says within three to four years the cost of photovoltaics is expected to be on par with the price of coal.

“My vision for Brisbane in 2015 is to come into the airport, where you see lots of industrial space and warehouses, and see photovoltaics on the rooves,” he says.

While enthusiastic for the future of the city’s solar industry, the pragmatist sees room for all forms of power generation to benefit from the state’s resources and increasing regional demand.

“All parts of the jigsaw puzzle are there to be put together, if we want to put it together,” says Meredith.

His comments were echoed by Queensland Resource Council chief executive Michael Roche.

“It’s not a case of either or – the world wants all of our coal, our gas and our renewables and Brisbane is well-placed for that,” he says.

“Brisbane needs to be proud to speak the name of mining, energy and clean technology and not sort of go mum on the first two.”

Toowong councillor Peter Matic says while he acknowledges the importance of mining to Queensland, the council will be looking at the opportunities in solar power.

Spanish multinationals Abengoa Solar and Acciona Energia are both looking to set up their Australian bases in Brisbane.

“With Brisbane Marketing we’ve been meeting with some Spanish gentlemen and they want to make Brisbane their head office for operations in Australia,” says Matic.

“We think clean energy is the way to go.”

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