Two of Australia’s renewable energy agencies have committed millions in funding to large-scale solar development.
Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation has announced a $250 million large-scale solar finance program intended to boost development in Australia. Meanwhile, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) in cooperation with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced a separate $100 million programme that will seek bids from major large-scale solar PV project developers for grants of up to $30 million a piece.
The CEFC and ARENA announced the moves earlier this week, which the CEFC explains “will represent the largest lending commitment to the large-scale soar sector in Australia to date.” In its own press release, ARENA suggested that “at least four, and as many as 10, new large-scale solar farms will be built across Australia” as a result of the announced funding.
Specifically, CEFC Chief Investment Officer Ted Dow explained that the $250 million program will drive down the cost of large-scale solar in Australia, “and further strengthen Australian industries in the solar supply chain.” Furthermore, Mr Down said that the program will support the accelerated development of large-scale solar PV projects of more than 10 MW, with loan requirements of $15 million or more.
“The CEFC finance will be available over a longer term, at a fixed rate,” Mr Dow said. “We see this as critical to providing added certainty and confidence to developers and producers in the large scale solar supply chain, which is still developing in Australia.”
“The CEFC finance will be available for projects which have power purchase agreements, as well as those proposing to take some merchant risk,” Mr Dow continued. “We will also seek to catalyse other sources of finance to support large scale solar developments, through co-investment in debt and equity. In this way, we can help fill the funding gap in the large-scale solar sector, and encourage greater participation by banks and other institutions as the sector expands and develops a track record of proven credit and operational performance.”
“Australia has huge natural advantages in this area: more sun than almost anywhere else and a solar R&D sector that is the envy of the world,” added ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. “The funding round is about unlocking that capability to deploy large-scale solar farms across the nation. This will drive further innovation in the sector and create efficiencies in Australia’s solar PV supply chains.”