The utility-scale solar industry in Australia is set to get a major cash injection, as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced a shortlist of 22 projects to receive a total of $100 million in funding.
The shortlisted projects range from 10 MW to 106.8 MW, and cover every mainland state, though the vast majority are located in Queensland (10) and New South Wales (8).
Origin Energy, Infigen Energy, Windlab and Genex Power are among the Australian companies invited to progress to the next stage of the $100 million large-scale solar PV competitive round, along with big international players such as Ratch, Canadian Solar, Juwi, Neoen and Suntech. (See here for the full list.)
The projects – with a total capacity of 766 MW – include a number of hybrid developments that combine solar PV with wind generation or other technologies. These include Windlab’s Kennedy Energy Park> – a combined solar and wind facility – and Genex Power’s Kidston Project, which combines solar PV with pumped hydro storage.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said each of the projects offered a cost of energy below the threshold of $135/MWh, with some projecting costs significantly lower than this, but that Australia still lagged behind other countries in this respect.
“It is clear that large-scale solar has the potential to become one of the most competitive forms of energy in the world,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“It is also clear that, despite our significant solar advantages, Australia has some work to do to catch up to countries with more mature large-scale solar industries – our grid-connected large-scale solar capacity will shortly reach 240 MW and is generated by a only a handful of solar plants.
“Through this competitive round, ARENA’s support will ensure a series of large-scale solar projects get off the ground and will help move large-scale solar costs in Australia further down the cost curve, potentially to less than $100 per MWh by 2020.”
Mr Frischknecht said more than three times the amount of funding available through the ARENA competitive round has been requested for the 22 projects, with an ask of approximately $332 million for projects totalling $1.68 billion.
A number of those shortlisted are also seeking project finance from the Clean energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) under its $250 million large-scale solar program, which operates alongside the ARENA program.
“The strong interest and high-quality applications demonstrate Australia is serious about deploying large-scale solar and capitalising on its abundant solar resources,” Mr Frischknecht said.