All 12 projects selected in the Federal Government’s large-scale solar funding round will go to construction after successfully securing finance, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced this week.
Every dollar that ARENA has contributed to funding the solar projects has leveraged an average of 10 dollars from the financial sector, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation also played a role in eight of the 12 solar power plants.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton described the progress of large-scale solar power in Australia as “remarkable” in terms of scale and investment attractiveness.
“The cost of big solar has almost halved in price over just the last couple of years. The sky really is the limit for this technology, which is proving instrumental in attracting jobs and investment to regional parts of Australia,” Mr Thornton said.
At the beginning of May 2017, the renewable energy projects already under construction or scheduled to start during the year added up to $7.5 billion in investment and more than 4100 direct jobs. The large-scale solar projects which have reached financial close will deliver $3.5 billion of investment and 2540 direct jobs, with thousands more in indirect benefits to the regions.
Six of the ARENA-funded projects are in Queensland, with five from New South Wales and one in Western Australia.
Last week the Clean Energy Council held the inaugural Large-scale Solar Industry Forum in Brisbane, which was a sell-out event attracting more than 300 technical specialists. Mr Thornton said the buzz at the forum was clearly evident, reflecting the strong momentum across the sector and a pipeline of projects across the country.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said due to the targeted funding provided by the organisation, utility-scale solar was now almost as cheap as wind energy – at least five years earlier than expected.
“In practical terms, this latest milestone means each of the 12 projects is fully financed and has locked in engineering, construction and connection agreements, along with council approvals and environmental approvals,” he said.
“Significantly, this round has unlocked a billion dollars in investment from other sources.”
More information about the projects can be found on the ARENA website.