Australian SKA bid bolstered by construction of hybrid power plant

Australia’s bid for the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project has been bolstered by news that a state-of-the-art power plant will be built to supply its renewable energy.

WA science and innovation minister, John Day, said the Horizon Power hybrid diesel solar power plant will supply radio-quiet conditions necessary to the radio astronomy activities carried out at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO).

“Horizon Power will not only build a power plant to deliver a reliable power source but will also deliver an innovative design to shield radio emissions from interfering with astronomy activities,” Day said.

“If our bid to host the SKA is successful, the plant will also support early SKA operations and, with a peak load of 1.1 megawatts, the power plant has been designed to produce zero radio emissions — a prerequisite for radio astronomy.”

WA regional development minister, Brendon Grylls, said the state government has already donated $15.5 million toward the project, which would supply power to the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) if the SKA bid was unsuccessful.

“Similar plants could potentially be deployed in a number of remote Aboriginal communities to provide a reliable power source across regional Australia,” he said.

“ASKAP is one of the most powerful radio astronomy instruments in the Southern Hemisphere and if Australia and New Zealand should win the final bid to host the SKA, the flow-on effects and benefits to the Mid-West and other regions will be significant.”

AARNet spoke to Computerworld Australia earlier this year, giving an update on its role in the bid.

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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