ARENA funding round backs 482 MW of large-scale solar
Winning map. Source: ARENA (http://arena.gov.au)
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on Thursday said that 12 projects totalling 482 MW have won support in its large-scale solar funding round.
A total of AUD 92 million (USD 68.7m/EUR 62.5m) of grant funding has been allocated to six plants in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one in Western Australia.
ARENA said the results of the tender far exceeded its initial expectations. "When we announced the round in September last year we expected AUD 100 million of grant funding would enable around 200 MW of new projects. We’ve achieved more than double that through this round with AUD 92 million funding supporting around 480 MW in total," said ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht.
He highlighted a dramatic reduction in the amount of ARENA support sought by large-scale projects over the past four years from half of total project costs to just 10% on average in the current 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," Frischknecht said, adding that they had an aggressive timetable to secure financing, off-take arrangements, connection agreements and relevant approvals. Several developers are seeking debt financing through a complementary programme of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
When built, the 12 solar power plants, which represent a combined investment of over AUD 1 billion, will triple Australia's large-scale solar capacity from 240 MW to 720 MW. They will also deliver about 10% of the new capacity needed to meet Australia's 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET).
Noting that some proposals had a projected levelised cost of energy below AUD 100 per MWh, CEFC chief executive Oliver Yates said the tender demonstrated the increasing cost competitiveness of large-scale solar.
The CEFC confirmed it was working on providing debt finance to the successful ARENA projects, as well as developers who failed to secure an ARENA grant, or had not sought one. Yates said there was strong potential for future funding gaps to be met through tailored financing mechanisms.