Construction of the $15m Whyalla Solar Oasis power station has begun in Whyalla, South Australia, it has been announced.

On completion the new solar thermal power station will provide a base-load, or 24-hour power supply, for this time next year.

Initially, the station will consist of four big dishes which will generate power for up to 1000 homes. The long-term plan is for 600 dishes, each 500m² in area, in a 2km x 1km area at the city’s northern entrance.

The expanded plant is anticipated to generate about 130GW of power a year, enough for 19,000 average homes. The project will also prevent 129,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to that generated by 36,000 cars each year.

Construction of the power station started after 12 years of planning and 30 years of research by the Australian National University, said Eddie Hughes, deputy mayor of Whyalla Council.