The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have announced the projects that have progressed to the next stage of a $100million large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) competitive round.

Twenty two large-scale solar projects were chosen to progress in the $100milion competitive round which aims to reduce costs through the deployment of 200 MW of solar PV.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the expression of interest (EOI) phase attracted strong interest, including several new entrants to the market, and the overall quality of proposals was high.

“ARENA received 77 eligible EOIs and has selected 22 high merit projects to proceed to the full application stage with submissions due by 15 June 2016,” Mr Frischknecht said.

The projects that were selected are located in all mainland states and have a total capacity of 766 megawatts (MW).

Each project demonstrated that its cost of energy was below the threshold of $135 per MWh, with some projecting costs significantly below.

“More than three times the amount of funding available through the ARENA competitive round has been requested for the 22 projects, with an ask of approximately $332million for projects totalling $1.68billion,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The strong interest and high-quality applications demonstrate Australia is serious about deploying large-scale solar and capitalising on its abundant solar resources.”

Mr Frischknecht said the funding round was well timed to drive innovation and reduce solar PV supply chain costs in Australia, where large-scale solar was still in its infancy.

“It is clear that large-scale solar has the potential to become one of the most competitive forms of energy in the world,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“It is also clear that, despite our significant solar advantages, Australia has some work to do to catch up to countries with more mature large-scale solar industries – our grid-connected large-scale solar capacity will shortly reach 240MW and is generated by a only a handful of solar plants.

Mr Frischknecht said that with ARENA’s support, the competitive round will ensure a series of large-scale solar projects get off the ground. It will also help move large-scale solar costs in Australia further down the cost curve, potentially to less than $100 per MWh by 2020.

ARENA plans to publish aggregated analysis of the EOIs in February 2016 to provide the sector with insight about cost and generation parameters.

A number of the projects short-listed are seeking project finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) under its $250million large-scale solar program.

The CEFC’s finance complements ARENA’s program but also supports other solar projects and programs with loan requirements of $15million or more, targeted at unlocking additional private sector investment in the large-scale solar sector.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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