Solar power Australia: Solar get financial support

| Editor: Susanne Hertenberger

Historic day for Australia as 12 new solar plants get support from ARENA: Twelve new large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plants are set to be constructed across Australia, tripling the amount of energy produced from big solar.

Australian solar's brightest day – planned big solar farms
Australian solar's brightest day – planned big solar farms
(Source: Australian Renewable Energy Agency)

Twelve new large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plants are set to be constructed across Australia, tripling the amount of energy produced from solar. The 12 projects have been chosen as part of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) multi-million dollar large-scale solar round. They are expected to unlock almost $1 billion of commercial investment and boost regional Australian economies. CEO, ARENA, Ivor Frischknecht said that Australia’s big solar industry was coming of age thanks to ARENA’s support, ensuring large-scale solar was a competitive, sustainable energy option. “ARENA is working to accelerate Australia’s shift to a sustainable, affordable and reliable energy future and our work supporting the development of Australia’s large-scale solar industry is central to this vision,” Frischknecht said.

Growing solar industry

“Six plants in Queensland, five plants in New South Wales and one plant in Western Australia are slated for funding, in a major milestone that’s expected to triple Australia’s large-scale solar capacity from 240 MW to 720 MW. They will provide enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes and deliver one tenth of the new capacity required to meet Australia’s 2020 renewable energy target. Regional economies will benefit massively from the growing big solar industry, with 2,300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs expected to be created by this round.”

He adds, “It is now up to successful companies to deliver these projects in line with ARENA’s requirements, which could see all plants built by the end of next year. This is an aggressive timetable to lock in financing, off take arrangements, connection agreements and required approvals. Several are seeking debt financing for projects through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s complementary large-scale solar program.”

Future plans for Australia

Frischknecht stated that since it was established in 2012, ARENA had been a driving force in bringing down costs and accelerating the commerciality of large-scale solar in Australia. “ARENA has carried out a multi year plan to build capacity in Australian supply chains and expertise over successive large-scale solar projects,” Frischknecht said.

“As a result of our efforts, the ARENA funding ask for big solar projects has dropped significantly from half of total project costs to just 10 per cent on average. This means that every dollar of ARENA funding is leveraging $10 from other sources in this round. ARENA’s support and knowledge sharing activities have also slashed the locally determined costs of developing and building plants by more than half, concludes Frischknecht.

More information and time table for Australia: ARENA

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