The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced the short-list of projects invited to progress to the next stage of its $100 million large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) competitive round.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the expression of interest (EOI) phase had attracted strong interest, including several new entrants to the market, and the overall quality of proposals was high.
“ARENA received 77 eligible EOIs and has selected 22 high merit projects to proceed to the full application stage with submissions due by 15 June 2016,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“The projects are located in all mainland states and have a total capacity of 766 megawatts (MW). Each project was able to demonstrate its cost of energy was below the threshold of $135 per MWh, with some projecting costs significantly below this threshold level.
“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.
“The strong interest and high-quality applications demonstrate Australia is serious about deploying large-scale solar and capitalising on its abundant solar resources.”
Of the 22 selected projects, 10 were from Queensland, eight from New South Wales, two from Victoria and one each from Western Australia and South Australia.
It will be the third largest hydroelectric energy storage project in Australia and is scheduled for completion in 2018.
Mr Frischknecht said the funding round was well timed to drive innovation and reduce solar PV supply chain costs in Australia, where large-scale solar was still in its infancy.
“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.”
ARENA plans to publish aggregated analysis of the EOIs in February to provide the sector with insight about cost and generation parameters.
A number of those short-listed are seeking project finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) under its $250 million large-scale solar program. The CEFC’s finance complements ARENA’s program but also supports other solar projects and programs with loan requirements of $15 million or more, targeted at unlocking additional private sector investment in the large-scale solar sector.