The Federal Government has announced a $66.5 million grant under the Education Investment Fund (EIF) to fund ‘world-leading’ research that will assist in the construction of one of the largest solar power plants in the world.


Moree Solar Farm has also received funding under Round 1 of the Solar Flagships program, bringing the total Commonwealth funding for the project to just over $300 million.


The Moree Solar Farm will consist of over 650,000 photovoltaic panels and will power around 45,000 homes and perform ‘cutting-edge’ research into the development of the solar industry in Australia.


"The research will enhance the performance, resilience, profitability and social benefits of large-scale solar photovoltaic power. The ambitious project shows Australia is capable of leading the world when it comes to clean energy," Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said.


The CSIRO will lead a consortium of researchers from a number of tertiary education institutions, including representatives from the University of New south Wales, University of Newcastle and Hunter TAFE. The consortium will conduct research into the proposed Moree Solar Farm - a $925 million project led by BP Solar, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and Pacific Hydro.


The Moree Solar Farm proposal is for a 150 megawatt photovoltaic power plant for outer Moree. Twice the size of any photovoltaic power plant operating in the world today, it is estimated that the project will create around 300-400 jobs during the construction phase.


Moree Solar Farm spokesman Tony Stocken said the research and development grant would ensure the community shares in the benefits flowing from the Solar Flagships program.


"The EIF funding enables BP Solar, FRV and Pacific Hydro to work side-by-side with some of the foremost solar experts in Australia.


"As a result, what is learned from this project will provide a solid foundation for the development of a long-term solar industry in Australia," Mr Stocken said.


Preliminary research will begin this year, with completion and commissioning of the plant expected by the end of 2015.