The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has attracted 77 expressions of interest for its $100 million large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) competitive round. This round was created to bring down the cost of large-scale solar through the deployment of 200 MW of large-scale solar PV, ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht claimed.

The round was announced on Sept 9, 2015. This will offer up to $30 million worth of grants for projects with a minimum generation capacity of 5MW (AC). It exceeded everyone’s expectations, which indicates that the sector is serious about making the most of Australia’s impressive natural solar resources through the deployment of large-scale solar.

The eligible EOIs request approximately $1.1 billion in funding for projects in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, worth more $5.5 billion. The projects combined will have a capacity of 2.8GW, which is more than 10 times Australia’s current solar capacity.

The best applicants chosen by ARENA will proceed to the full application stage by Dec 16, 2015. The application will end on June 15, 2016 to provide enough time for financing, advance approvals and several necessary contractual arrangements.

Frischknecht mentioned that a number of applicants had also reached out to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) for funding through its complementary large-scale solar financing programme, valued at $250 million. This will aid projects with loan requirements of $15 million or more.

CEFC dedicated more than $1.4 billion in finance to investment in the country’s clean energy projects which are valued over $3.5 billion since it started. Together with ARENA, it will ensure that by 2020, the cost parity between large-scale solar and wind energy will be achieved.

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