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Historic day for Australian solar as 12 new plants get support

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Twelve new large-scale solar PV plants are set to be constructed across Australia, tripling the amount of energy produced from big 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.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Australia’s big solar industry was coming of age thanks to ARENA 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,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“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.

“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.”

Mr Frischknecht said 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 multiyear plan to build capacity in Australian supply chains and expertise over successive large-scale solar projects,” he 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 support and knowledge sharing activities have also slashed the locally determined costs of developing and building plants by more than half.

“We made a point of working with developers and network companies to design our large-scale solar round and identify where ARENA’s support would have the most impact.

“When we announced the round in September last year we expected $100 million of grant funding would enable around 200 MW of new projects. We’ve achieved more than double that through this round with $92 million funding supporting around 480 MW in total.”

The twelve solar projects to receive ARENA support are:

Applicant Project name Size

(MW AC)

ARENA funding Total project cost Nearest town
Origin Energy Darling Downs Solar Farm 110.0 $20 million $216.7 million Dalby, QLD
Whitsunday Solar Farm Whitsunday Solar Farm 58.1 $9.5 million $122.4 million Collinsville, QLD
Neoen Australia Parkes Solar Farm 50.6 $7.5 million $107.9 million Parkes, NSW
Genex Power Kidston Solar Farm 50.0 $8.9 million $126.2 million Kidston, QLD
Manildra Solar Farm Manildra Solar Farm 42.5 $10.9 million $109.3 million Manildra, NSW
RATCH Australia Corporation Collinsville Solar Power Station 42.0 $9.5 million $95.9 million Collinsville, QLD
Neoen Australia Griffith Solar Farm 25.0 $5.0 million $54.6 million Griffith, NSW
Canadian Solar (Australia) Oakey Solar Farm 25.0 $2.2 million $47.5 million Oakey, QLD
Neoen Australia Dubbo Solar Farm 24.2 $5.5 million $55.6 million Dubbo, NSW
APT Pipeline (APA Group) Emu Downs Solar Farm 20.0 $5.5 million $47.2 million Cervantes, WA
Goldwind Australia White Rock Solar Farm 20.0 $6.0 million $44.5 million Glen Innes, NSW
Canadian Solar (Australia) Longreach Solar Farm 15.0 $1.3 million $28.7 million Longreach, QLD
TOTAL   482.0 $91.7 million $1,056.4 million

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