The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) have teamed up to provide $350 million in funding for between four and 10 new large-scale Australian solar farms.

As part of its $100 million program, ARENA is seeking bids from major solar PV project proponents for grants of up to $30 million. Projects must have a minimum generation capacity of 5 MW (AC).

The ARENA funding round aims to support the development of a further 200 MW of additional large-scale solar capacity – on top of the 211 MW of solar at AGL’s twin solar farms in Broken Hill and Nyngan as well as Fotowatio Renewable Venture’s (FRV) Moree Solar Farm, and the 30 MW of solar at FRV’s Royalla and Synergy and GE Financial Services’ Greenough River solar farms.

ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht said the funding round’s purpose is to bring down the cost of large-scale solar developments in Australia and achieve cost parity with large-scale wind by 2020.

Meanwhile, the CEFC’s complementary $250 million large-scale solar financing program will support projects of more than 10 MW with loan requirements of $15 million or more.

“The CEFC finance will be available over a longer term, at a fixed rate. We see this as critical to providing added certainty and confidence to developers and producers in the large-scale solar supply chain, which is still developing in Australia,” CEFC Chief Investment Officer Ted Dow said at the Disruption and Energy Industry Conference in Sydney on 9 September.

“The CEFC finance will be available for projects which have power purchase agreements, as well as those proposing to take some merchant risk.”

Mr Dow said the CEFC would also seek to catalyse other sources of finance – such as co-investment in debt and equity – to support large-scale solar developments.

The CEFC is also targeting support for projects within other large-scale renewable energy programs, including the ACT’s 50 MW Next Generation Solar initiative, the Queensland Government’s 40 MW solar auction and Ergon Energy’s 150 MW renewable energy program.

“When fully deployed, this $250 million program will be the single largest debt financing commitment to the large-scale solar sector to date,” Mr Dow said.