Solar Choice and Edify Energy‘s Gannawarra Solar Farm is the second largest of 22 ‘high merit’ projects selected to move ahead in the most recent competitive funding round for large-scale solar by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The shortlisted projects were selected from 77 expressions of interest (EOIs) which met the Agency’s basic eligibility criteria – including a requirement to demonstrate the ability to deliver energy at a cost of less than $135 per megawatt-hour (MWh).
According to ARENA head Ivor Frischknecht, Australia’s large-scale solar industry is still ‘in its infancy’, despite the fact that “large-scale solar has the potential to become one of the most competitive forms of energy in the world.” ARENA says that the aim of the $100 million funding round, which was announced last September, is to reduce costs and facilitate the deployment 200 megawatts (MW) of large-scale solar.
“Through this competitive round, ARENA’s support will ensure a series of large-scale solar projects get off the ground and will help move large-scale solar costs in Australia further down the cost curve, potentially to less than $100 per MWh by 2020,” Mr Frischknecht said.
The Gannawarra Solar Farm – located west of the rural Victorian town of Kerang – will be constructed in stages, with an eventual total capacity of up to 300MW. In its EOI to ARENA, Solar Choice and our partner Edify Energy put forward 52.8MW of capacity – the first stage of the project’s development. The grid connection infrastructure created for the initial stage of the project will also be used to connect the subsequent project sections as they are completed.
In terms of size, Solar Choice and Edify Energy’s submission was number two on ARENA’s list, after a 100MW project in Queensland. It was also one of two projects from the state of Victoria that made the cut.
Planning approval for the project was granted in November of 2013, and Solar Choice announced that an investor had been secured for the project last October. The Gannawarra Solar Farm is one of several planning-approved, large-scale solar farms that Solar Choice currently has under development, including the 2 gigawatt (GW) Bulli Creek Solar Farm outside of Toowoomba in Queensland. These projects will follow the same model of incremental construction as the Gannawarra Solar Farm.
Altogether, the 22 projects shortlisted by ARENA account for a total of over 750MW of solar capacity, while only 200MW will eventually be selected. This means that the list will be pared down significantly in its final iteration.
Submissions for the full application stage of the funding round are due on 15 of June this year.
© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd