Sep 08, 2016

ARENA funding to fire up six Qld solar projects

ARENA funding to fire up six Qld solar projects

Six Queensland projects are among a dozen large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to win a share of almost $92 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said Australia’s big solar industry was coming of age thanks to ARENA support, ensuring large-scale solar was a competitive, sustainable energy option

“Six plants in Queensland, five plants in New South Wales and one plant in Western Australia are slated for funding, in a major milestone that’s expected to triple Australia’s large-scale solar capacity from 240 MW to 720 MW,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“They will provide enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes and deliver one tenth of the new capacity required to meet Australia’s 2020 renewable energy target.

“Regional economies will benefit massively from the growing big solar industry, with 2,300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs expected to be created by this round.

“It is now up to successful companies to deliver these projects in line with ARENA’s requirements, which could see all plants built by the end of next year. This is an aggressive timetable to lock in financing, off take arrangements, connection agreements and required approvals.

ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht.

“Several are seeking debt financing for projects through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s complementary large-scale solar program.”

Ratch Australia’s proposed $100 million Collinsville Solar Farm was among those to win ARENA funding, being awarded $9.5 million – or almost 10 per cent of the project’s forecast construction costs.

Ratch executive general manager – business development Anthony Yeates said certainty of project delivery and cost competitiveness were key elements of ARENA’s merit assessment process.

“I think ARENA also liked that the project will utilise the site of Ratch’s now decommissioned Collinsville coal-fired power station and will seek to take advantage of existing electrical infrastructure including substations and Ergon’s distribution network,” he said.

Ratch executive general manager – business development Anthony Yeates .

Mr Yeates said the grant would further improve the project’s cost competitiveness and elevate its appeal to prospective electricity off-takers.

“There are still a lot of things moving around at the moment, but if all goes to plan, construction could kick off early next year which would be a great outcome for the Collinsville and Whitsundays region,” he said.

The 42 MW Collinsville solar farm would feature around 180,000 solar photovoltaic panels and supply power equivalent to the annual needs of 15,000 homes.

Ratch is also developing the Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Mareeba which is scheduled to start construction later this year.

Mr Frischknecht said since it was established in 2012, ARENA had been a driving force in bringing down costs and accelerating the commerciality of large-scale solar in Australia.

“We made a point of working with developers and network companies to design our large-scale solar round and identify where ARENA’s support would have the most impact,” he said.

“When we announced the round in September last year we expected $100 million of grant funding would enable around 200 MW of new projects. We’ve achieved more than double that through this round with $92 million funding supporting around 480 MW in total.

“This competitive tender approach could be adopted to speed up the commercialisation of other renewable energy technologies such as battery storage, concentrating solar thermal and bioenergy.”

The 12 projects awarded funding in the round announced today were:


Applicant Project name Size
ARENA funding Total project cost Nearest town
Origin Energy Darling Downs Solar Farm 110.0 $20 m $216.7 m Dalby, QLD
Edify Energy with Solar Choice Whitsunday Solar Farm 58.1 $9.5 m $122.4 m Collinsville, QLD
Neoen Australia Parkes Solar Farm 50.6 $7.5 m $107.9 m Parkes, NSW
Genex Power Kidston Solar Farm 50.0 $8.9 m $126.2 m Kidston, QLD
Manildra Solar Farm Manildra Solar Farm 42.5 $10.9 m $109.3 m Manildra, NSW
RATCH Australia Corporation Collinsville Solar Power Station 42.0 $9.5 m $95.9 m Collinsville, QLD
Neoen Australia Griffith Solar Farm 25.0 $5.0 m $54.6 m Griffith, NSW
Canadian Solar (Australia) Oakey Solar Farm 25.0 $2.2 m $47.5 m Oakey, QLD
Neoen Australia Dubbo Solar Farm 24.2 $5.5 m $55.6 m Dubbo, NSW
APT Pipeline (APA Group) Emu Downs Solar Farm 20.0 $5.5 m $47.2 m Cervantes, WA
Goldwind Australia White Rock Solar Farm 20.0 $6.0 m $44.5 m Glen Innes, NSW
Canadian Solar (Australia) Longreach Solar Farm 15.0 $1.3 m $28.7 m Longreach, QLD