ARENA's new priorities include solar R&D and stable grid
AGL Broken Hill Solar Plant. Source: ARENA. License: All Rights Reserved.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on Tuesday presented the priorities of its new investment plan, with one of the piers being solar photovoltaics (PV) research and development (R&D).
From now on, ARENA will also pay more attention to delivering a secure and reliable electricity system, with that being the first of the four listed priorities.
“We are looking for new ways to adapt our electricity grid to increase productivity, make the grid more flexible and better integrate renewable energy so it can be stored and shared when and where it is needed,” said CEO Ivor Frischknecht.
The new priorities will be used to guide nearly AUD 800 million (USD 598m/EUR 548m) of funding over the coming years. They concern applications submitted after May 1, 2017.
ARENA seeks new flexible capacity and grid stability technologies able to balance the electricity system with higher shares of renewables, new ways to evolve electricity grids to integrate more distributed energy resources, and projects that provide knowledge and information relevant to deliberations on energy policy, market rules, regulation or network practices and procedures.
ARENA believes that an improvement in integrated distributed energy would lead to individuals using distributed renewables and other technologies to meet up to half of Australia’s electricity needs by 2050. This would also cut spend on grid infrastructure by up to AUD 16 billion.
When it comes to solar power, ARENA is looking to support new technologies and tools that will lower the installed costs of PV systems, improve system reliability and longevity, and develop materials for new markets or applications. The goal is to help local businesses translate these ideas into PV manufacturing supply chains.
The agency believes that cutting solar PV costs to less than AUD 0.06 per kWh coupled with appropriate market conditions could lead to solar PV producing over 30% of Australia’s electricity within 15 years.
ARENA’s two other priorities under the new investment plan are improving energy productivity and exporting renewable energy. It aims to help Australia meet the National Energy Productivity Plan goal to improve energy productivity by 40% by 2030.
“We want to show the benefit of adopting different technologies and approaches – such as energy efficiency, electrification and fuel switching to renewable energy sources,” Frischknecht added.