Final project in ARENA’s large-scale solar round reaches financial close

Every large-scale solar plant supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in its groundbreaking solar competitive round will become a reality after twelfth and final project reached financial close.

The final project is Goldwind Australia’s 20MW White Rock Solar Farm, to be located in New South Wales.

ARENA is providing almost $90 million of grant funding towards the 12 projects in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, which together will triple Australia’s big solar capacity.

Eight of the projects are also receiving a total of $320 million debt finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the large-scale solar competitive round meant utility scale solar was now almost as cheap as wind energy, at least five years earlier than expected.

“This competitive round is the perfect demonstration of how ARENA is accelerating Australia’s shift to a low emission, renewable energy future,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“From zero to more than 20 plants in five years, Australia’s large-scale solar industry has grown at a tremendous pace thanks to concerted efforts by ARENA and the CEFC.

“We know of at least six new plants that are being developed without any ARENA grant funding support.

“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.”

Mr Frischknecht said the round had unlocked billions of dollars in investment from other sources.

“Regional economies will benefit massively from the growing big solar industry, with an estimated 2300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs expected to be created by these plants,” he said.

Works have already begun on nine of the 12 plants, with work on the remainder to commence imminently.

Mr Frischknecht said when ARENA developed its competitive funding round in 2015, it expected $100 million funding to support 200MW of new projects.

“We’ve managed to more than double this – 490MW of big solar with $87 million funding,” he said.

“It’s enough renewable energy to power 150,000 Australian homes and generate one-tenth of the new capacity needed to meet 2020 Renewable Energy Target.”

The 12 projects include:

  1. Genex Power’s 50MW Kidston Solar Park
  2. Canadian Solar’s 15MW Longreach Solar Farm
  3. RATCH’s 42.5MW Collinsville Solar Power Station
  4. APA’s 20MW Emu Downs Solar Farm
  5. Edify Energy and Zircon’s 57.5MW Whitsunday Solar Farm
  6. Neoen’s 30MW Griffith Solar Farm
  7. Canadian Solar’s 25MW Oakey Solar Farm
  8. Origin’s 110MW Darling Downs Solar Farm
  9. Goldwind Australia’s 20MW White Rock Solar Farm
  10. Neoen’s 25MW Dubbo Solar Hub
  11. First Solar’s 42.5MW Manildra Solar Farm
  12. Neoen’s 55MW Parkes Solar Farm

The projects are expected to be completed between late-2017 and mid-2018.