The United Nations' science team in Perth, on a fact-finding mission, today decided to support proposals by the Western Australian Government that the city be chosen as the headquarters for the UN's new solar energy research centre.
Their recommendation to `strongly support' the selection of Perth as the site for the new International Centre for Applications of Solar Energy (CASE) will now go to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in Geneva for final approval.
Deputy Premier Ian Taylor said the news was a tremendous boost for WA, its scientific community, and its solar energy industry.
"It means all our work to put the State at the forefront of Australian solar energy technology could now well pay huge dividends," Mr Taylor said.
"Perth is set to become a world centre for solar research specialising in solving the energy problems of developing nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
"As such, it would attract some of the world's leading research scientists and see the injection of funds from such organisations as the World Bank for research projects we as a State could never have been able to finance."
Mr Taylor said that before ending its assessment, the 14-member team had indicated international funds would be provided to support research valued at more than $9 million over the first three years.
In the initial stages the centre - proposed for construction at Murdoch University - would concentrate on a detailed assessment of the Asia-Pacific's energy needs; how best to satisfy those needs; and how best to organise the transfer of such technology.
Construction of the $2.4 million research facility would be funded by UNIDO.
The Western Australian Government and the Federal Government have agreed jointly to contribute $1 million a year for three years towards the centre's operation costs.
Mr Taylor said the Department of State Development, which had been largely responsible for putting together the proposal, would now form a working group to assist with the centre's detailed planning.