ARENA may make additional $100m available for large-scale solar

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is said to be considering making another $100 million worth of grants available in a new round of funding for large-scale solar projects, following the overwhelming response to its latest program.

The $100 million would be designed to get some 200MW of new capacity under way – and effort that could be boosted by a further $250 million of finance being made available by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The new round of funding was flagged by federal environment minister Greg Hunt in an interview last week, despite the fact that the Coalition government has yet to withdraw legislation seeking to fold up the agency’s operations.“We’ve got projects such as this, and then the new hundred million dollar round, and they (ARENA) have also been talking about a further equivalent round, simply because the uptake of demand is enormous,” Hunt said.

A spokesperson for ARENA confirmed that discussions had taken place, although it was too early to talk about the scope of the new funding round, or the timing.

The government, however, is keen to be seen to be “doing something” considering the standstill it has created in the large scale renewable energy target.

Hunt has been meeting various parties to try and find a way through the blockage. A report released last week by Green Energy Markets suggested that 4,400MW of new capacity needed to be committed this year if a shortfall in the target is to be avoided.

If a shortfall does emerge, then those obligated parties (electricity retailers) who fail to meet their quota, will be forced to pay a penalty price. But this will simply be passed on to consumers, with the government – rather than project developers – receiving the money.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson