ARENA is playing a vital role providing bridge funding for projects that will make large-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) more competitive by increasing confidence and building supply chains.
This competitive process has encouraged a significant drop in grant funding over the last three years. In 2014, the grant funding needed for large-scale solar projects was $1.60 per watt.
In 2015, this dropped to 43 cents per watt at the expression of interest (EOI) stage of this funding round; and to an average of 28 cents per watt in June 2016, when full applications were submitted.
By September 2016, the average requirement of the successful applicants at September 2016 is an incredible 19 cents per watt. Additionally, total project costs have been reduced by around 40%.
When this funding round was announced in September 2015 it was expected that the $100 million in grant funding would enable around 200 MW of new projects. Through the round this has more than doubled, with the $92 million funding announced supporting around 480 MW in total.
This growth in the local large-scale solar PV sector continues to provide a significant boost for Australia’s regional economy, the massive renewable infrastructure build estimated to create upwards of 2,300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs.
The amount of third party investment leveraged for each government dollar has risen dramatically, from 80 cents to about $10 for each dollar the public invests through ARENA. This will turn ARENA’s $92 million investment into a $1 billion investment in renewable infrastructure.
ARENA has worked closely with industry, State Governments and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, in developing this funding round.
Once complete, the new solar farms will triple the amount of energy produced from big solar in Australia, powering 150,000 average Australian homes and meeting 10% of the capacity build needed to meet the 2020 RET (renewable energy target).
Total project cost
|Origin Energy||Darling Downs Solar Farm||110.0||$20 m||$216.7 m||Dalby, QLD|
|Edify Energy with Solar Choice||Whitsunday Solar Farm||58.1||$9.5 m||$122.4 m||Collinsville, QLD|
|Neoen Australia||Parkes Solar Farm||50.6||$7.5 m||$107.9 m||Parkes, NSW|
|Genex Power||Kidston Solar Farm||50.0||$8.9 m||$126.2 m||Kidston, QLD|
|Manildra Solar Farm||Manildra Solar Farm||42.5||$10.9 m||$109.3 m||Manildra, NSW|
|RATCH Australia Corporation||Collinsville Solar Power Station||42.0||$9.5 m||$95.9 m||Collinsville, QLD|
|Neoen Australia||Griffith Solar Farm||25.0||$5.0 m||$54.6 m||Griffith, NSW|
|Canadian Solar (Australia)||Oakey Solar Farm||25.0||$2.2 m||$47.5 m||Oakey, QLD|
|Neoen Australia||Dubbo Solar Farm||24.2||$5.5 m||$55.6 m||Dubbo, NSW|
|APT Pipeline (APA Group)||Emu Downs Solar Farm||20.0||$5.5 m||$47.2 m||Cervantes, WA|
|Goldwind Australia||White Rock Solar Farm||20.0||$6.0 m||$44.5 m||Glen Innes, NSW|
|Canadian Solar (Australia)||Longreach Solar Farm||15.0||$1.3 m||$28.7 m||Longreach, QLD|
|TOTAL||482.0||$91.7 m||$1,056.4 m|
Scope of activity
The large-scale solar competitive round will support activities that fit within the following parameters:
- projects must generate all their electricity from solar PV
- projects must be able to demonstrate a levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of below $135/MWh (calculated in accordance with the ARENA LCOE calculator (XLS 298KB)
- projects must meet or exceed the minimum project size of 5 MW (AC)
- total grant funding requested for a project must not exceed $30 million
- projects must be connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM) or the South West Interconnected System (SWIS)
- projects must not involve behind the meter elements.
Large-scale solar PV (defined as greater than 5MW) remains in its infancy in Australia with only 4 projects commissioned and a further 4 under construction.
When the projects currently under construction are complete, installed capacity of large-scale PV will total 262 MW. This is well behind the installed capacity of comparable international markets.
ARENA has observed significant cost reduction in large-scale solar PV over the past few years and expects this to continue due to a combination of international and local improvements.
The cost trajectory of large-scale solar PV is expected to see the technology become competitive without additional support within the medium term.
The competitive round is expected to be critical in supporting this outcome by helping to close the current cost gap that exists between large-scale solar PV and other commercially competitive forms of power generation, including wind energy.
- Infographic: Large-scale solar PV investment priority
- Updated Funding Announcement (PDF 280KB) | (DOCX 159KB)
- Funding Agreement template (PDF 2MB) | (DOCX 598KB)
- Funding Agreement template – Explanatory Memorandum (PDF 22KB)
- Competitive Round pro forma bid bond document (PDF 81KB) | (DOCX 39KB)
- ARENA LCOE calculator (XLS 298KB)
- Large-scale solar knowledge sharing: How project data is collected and shared (PDF 100KB) | (DOCX 27KB)
- Data specification (XLS 37KB)
- Compliance table template (PDF 66KB) | (DOCX 142KB)
- 8 September 2016: Historic day for Australian solar as 12 new plants get support
- 22 June 2016: Project proposals show shrinking cost of big solar
- 14 January 2016: ARENA selects 22 large-scale solar projects to take next step
- 17 November 2015: ARENA’s large-scale solar round attracts serious interest
- 9 September 2015: $350m to kick start new large-scale solar projects
- 14 July 2014: ARENA announces new priorities