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Australian PM Outlines Solar Energy Plans

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The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Sunday his government's 1.4 billion-Australian-dollar (US$1.05 billion) investment in large solar power farms would help make the country a leader in solar energy.

While touring the Liddell power station in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, Rudd outline how the 1.4 billion, announced in last week's budget, would be spent.

Up to four solar power plants, with a combined power output of one coal-fired power station, will then be constructed, and the solar power plants will have to be built close to the electricity grid and in areas with plenty of sunshine, Rudd said.

"Rather than to be solar followers worldwide we intend to be solar leaders worldwide," he said.

The prime minister also warned that if the opposition blocked savings measures in the budget, projects like the solar farms -- and increased pensions -- would be jeopardized.

Earlier, Rudd announced that Australia had joined the International Renewable Energy Agency that aims to speed up the global renewable industry.

More than 80 countries have already joined the organization, which was established in January this year.

(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2009)