ARENA launches global $100M Solar ScaleUp Challenge

Blue sky and fluffy white clouds reflected in solar panel array (sensing)
Image: iStock

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has launched its global $100 million Solar ScaleUp Challenge, inviting innovators, developers, engineers, financiers and solar customers around the world to accelerate innovation in large-scale solar and help drive down costs.

The aim of the challenge is to stimulate greater innovation and collaboration in the solar sector—particularly in installation, operations and maintenance—enabling ARENA to realise its Ultra Low-Cost Solar (ULCS) vision.

Related article: ARENA spruiks huge potential of ultra low-cost solar 

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the large-scale deployment of solar is key to the clean energy transition and in achieving global decarbonisation.

“Ultra low-cost solar is critical for reducing electricity costs and decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors such as industry and transport. It is also a key factor in Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower, a vision which would see Australia playing a major role in supplying our key trading partners with low emissions products such as green iron and hydrogen.

“Collaboration in solar is key to reducing costs and maintaining Australia’s leading role in the development and innovation of solar technologies. We are aiming to bring together leaders across Australia and the world to tackle the challenges presented in our quest for even cheaper renewable energy through this critical technology,” Miller said.

The challenge is being delivered in collaboration with Greenhouse Tech, whose innovative online platform is designed to facilitate the formation of multi-disciplinary teams and support collaboration on a global scale.

Related article: Consultation opens for Australia’s $1B Solar Sunshot program

ARENA is looking to reduce the installed cost of a solar project to just 30 cents per watt and reach a levelised cost of electricity below $20 per megawatt hour by 2030. This could help unlock a total installed capacity of 1 terawatt by 2050.

The Solar ScaleUp Challenge is open for eight weeks and is expected to complement the Solar Sunshot program by building a pipeline of solar PV innovation that can be adopted by manufacturers along the supply chain and project developers.

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