SYDNEY Australia plans to build the world's largest solar power station with an output of 1000 megawatts in a A$1.4 billion (US$1.05 billion) investment, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Sunday.
The plant would have three times the generating capacity of the current biggest solar-powered electricity plant, which is in California, Rudd said during a tour of a power station.
Tender details will be announced later in the year, and successful bidders will be named in the first half of 2010. Rudd said the project was aimed at exploiting the country's ample sunshine, which he called "Australia's biggest natural resource."
It was also aimed at helping the country become a leader in renewable, clean energy, he said.
"The government plans to invest with industry in the biggest solar generation plant in the world, three times the size of the world's current biggest, which is in California," Rudd said.
"Why are we doing this? We are doing it in order to support a clean energy future for Australia, we're doing it to boost economic activity now and we're doing it also to provide jobs and much needed opportunities for business as well."
The project should eventually lead to a network of solar-powered stations across the country, Rudd said, with locations chosen to fit in with the existing electricity grid and ensure good access to sunshine.
"We don't want to be clean energy followers worldwide, we want to be clean energy leaders worldwide." Rudd said.
The A$1.4 billion dedicated to this project was part of a wider A$4.65 clean energy initiative by the government, he said.
Rudd also said Australia would become a full member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, which will have its first global meeting in June.
(Editing by David Fox)