The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has attracted a huge amount of interest for its $100 million large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) competitive round.
This round, which ultimately aims to help bring down the cost of large scale solar in Australia, offers grants of up to $30 million for projects with a minimum generation capacity of 5 MW (AC).
Originally announced on 9 September 2015, this round has seen 77 eligible expressions of interest (EOIs) received by ARENA; representing $1.1 billion in funding sought for projects with a total value of $5.5 billion.
All up, the EOI’s add up to 2.8 GW of installed solar capacity – more than 10 times Australia’s existing large-scale solar presence.
Projects built from this latest round should nearly double Australia’s large-scale solar capacity; from 240MW to around 440MW.
“The level of interest in the ARENA large-scale solar PV competitive round exceeded our expectations,” said ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht. “It sends a strong signal the sector is serious about deploying large-scale solar and making the most of Australia’s enviable natural solar advantage.”
ARENA is now assessing the EOIs and says it expects to have picked successful applicants chosen to proceed to the full application stage by 16 December this year.
Mr Frischknecht said a number of applicants had also approached the Clean Energy Finance Corporation ( CEFC) for financing through the CEFC’s $250 million large-scale solar financing program; a complementary initiative supporting projects with loan requirements of $15 million or more.
ARENA was provisioned approximately $2.5 billion in funding when it commenced and has completed 49 projects so far; with more than 200 projects currently under management. The Agency currently has around $1.3 billion in funds yet to be committed.
“..we will continue to target our investments towards a renewable future by creating the conditions that accelerate change and increase the bankability of emerging renewables,” Mr Frischknecht said earlier this month.
While ARENA offers a grants system, the CEFC invests for positive financial return.
The CEFC has committed more than $1.4 billion in finance to investments in clean energy projects valued at over $3.5 billion since it began.
Both ARENA and the CEFC aim to see cost parity between large-scale solar and wind energy being attained by 2020.