22.8 C
Byron Shire
May 16, 2022

ARENA considers another round of large-scale solar funding

Latest News

Interviews with Richmond candidates 2022: Independent Terry Sharples

Terry Sharples is a retired accountant living in the Tweed Shire and running as an Independent for the federal...

Other News

Tweed sailors take on the Peel Island Marathon

By Matt Andrews Seven corsairs from the Tweed Valley Sailing Club made the journey to Moreton Bay to compete in...

Interviews with Richmond candidates 2022: Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, Rob Marks

Rob Marks lives in the Tweed Shire, owns a small business and is running on Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party ticket for the federal seat of Richmond.

Transparency and open government 

Like Adrian Gattenhof (Letters, 13/4), I voted for Council candidates I believed would really represent the community interest and...

New Private Native Forestry Code of Practice fails koalas

NSW Farmers has welcomed the changes to the State government’s changes to private native forestry codes (PNFC) that were...

About that insert last week…

Regarding the eight page pamphlet inserted into last week’s newspaper by advertiser Tom Barnett; it was not produced by The Echo.

Emergency housing at Wollongbar getting close

Temporary housing for flood-affected people is almost ready for the first occupants at Wollongbar, near Alstonville, in Ballina Shire.

Big solar build-out at an AGL site. Photo AGL
Big solar build-out at an AGL site. Photo AGL

Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency may make another $100 million of grants available in a new round of funding for large-scale solar projects in Australia following the overwhelming response to its latest program.

ARENA has made $100 million available and attracted 77 large-scale project proposals across Australia, before narrowing that list down to 22 projects totalling some 767MW of capacity.

The $100 million it will make available is designed to be sufficient to get some 200MW of capacity under way. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is making a further $250 million of finance available, which might increase the capacity and the number of projects being built.

Now, it appears, ARENA is already considering a further round of a similar scope.

The Coalition government, ironically, has yet to withdraw legislation seeking to fold up the operations of ARENA, but environment minister Greg Hunt flagged the likely second round in an interview on Thursday after officiating at the opening of the 102MW solar plant at Nyngan, and the 53MW solar plant in Broken Hill.

‘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 ARENA supported projects in Nyngan and Broken Hill had received some $164 million from the agency, and a further $67 million from the NSW government.

But it had established a supply chain for such projects in Australia, which was a critical component for reducing costs.

The next funding round is designed to exploit and further develop that supply chain – which includes several suppliers to the car industry now looking for new industries – and a further funding round could cement those gains.

The Coalition favours large-scale at least to the pacify the wind farm critics in the Far Right rump of its own parties.

The government is also keen to be seen to be ‘doing something’ considering the standstill it has created in the large-scale renewable energy target.

Despite the overwhelming number of projects being proposed, few if any can get finance because of the lingering uncertainty in the market, and because utilities are not signing power purchase agreement.

Hunt has been meeting various parties to try and find a way through the blockage. A report released this 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.

Under one scenario canvassed by GEM, up to $2 billion in penalty payments may be made. It noted only 8.5MW of new capacity had been committed in the last four months, a tiny fraction of what is required in the coming year.

That, in turn, will likely trigger a circular blame game between utilities, the government, and the renewable energy industry.

Labor said the Coalition’s ‘hyprocisy’ on renewables had reached new levels as it celebrated the opening of the Nyngan and Broken Hill plants, which is being funded by an agency it is trying to dismantle. It pointed to the sharp slump in large-scale renewable investment since the election of Tony Abbott in late 2013.

Asked about the Coalition’s support in the radio interview, Hunt said:

‘My view has always been deeply supportive of renewables – I’ve maintained that through all different governments and all different regimes.

It’s been about finding a way to make it work in a cost efficient mechanism – and this plant is fabulous.

‘It’s already led to many other proposals in the next big round of Federal Government solar funding, and they’re coming in at a lower cost precisely because of Nyngan and Broken Hill.’

Meanwhile, Federal Labor MP Alannah Mactiernan lamented the ‘complete and utter inaction’ on the part of the Barnett Government – a Coalition government – to support large-scale renewable energy investment in WA.

She said while Ergon Energy in Queensland was looking to contract 150MW of large-scale renewables in Queensland, the WA government owned Synergy had called for tenders for large-scale generation certificates to meet its RET liabilities, but will allow the certificates to be generated anywhere in Australia.

Only one WA project made the ARENA shortlist. Most came from Queensland and NSW.

‘Labor has been warning for years that, with Colin Barnett dismantling the Office of Energy and winding back renewables programs, that WA would end up funding investment in the eastern states and missing out on opportunities to develop WA’s industry and create the jobs of the 21st century.’


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Releasing the chokehold on Australia’s water

What the trading of 40 gigalitres of water from the Barmah Choke means for the Murray Darling Basin.

COVID-19 update: May 16

The Northern NSW Local Health District says that to 4pm yesterday, 15 May, 384 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the District, including 82 positive PCR tests and 302 positive rapid antigen tests.

‘Unprecedented’ but not unpredicted – we are now suffering from our failure to listen to scientists’ predictions of the impacts of climate change 30...

As Australians head into another election season just as many parts of the east coast are recovering from ‘unprecedented’ flooding since February, and the national psyche is still reeling from the trauma of the ‘unprecedented’ Black Summer bushfires before that, it is critical now more than ever to vote according to your environmental conscience and fear for the future.

2022 Community Building Partnership Program

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin is encouraging local not-for-profit groups and councils to apply for their share of $400,000 in grants under the 2022 Community Building Partnership Program.