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Global solar energy firms bid for projects in Australia

January 14
11:13 PM 2016

Origin Energy, Infigen Energy and APA Group are among several solar energy companies participating in $100-million funding scheme to build solar project in Australia. The government has received 77 expressions of interest bids from a host of companies. Australian government will offer grant of $30 million for each project. The total capacity of 22 projects would be 766 megawatts involving combined project cost of $1.68 billion.

Renewable energy companies from Canada, China and Europe are participating in bidding for solar projects in Australia. The final submission from bidders for ARENA funding is due by 15 June 2016. These companies are seeking funds to develop large-scale solar projects at an estimated cost of A$1.68 billion ($1.2billion). The cost of solar energy projects is expected to come down by half in next five years. 

Australian government is keen on solar energy sector as it gets more solar radiation per square meter. The decline in costs to supply power from solar projects is helping the growth of the solar energy sector. The cost of solar energy per megawatt-hour may come down to A$75 by 2020 from A$150 in 2015, as reported by Bloomberg.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has firmed up plans on 22 individual projects for the final stage of bids. It'll also provide $30-million grant for every project. ARENA and Greg Hunt, Federal Environment Minister, will announce the projects soon. Several potential foreign solar energy companies will enter Australian industry through these bids.

The major solar energy projects include over 100 megawatts by Origin in Queensland. China's Goldwind, Germany's Juwi and Spain's FRV have offered bids for smaller solar energy projects in Australia, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia is seeking over three times as much as funding is on offer. The final submission from bidders for ARENA funding is due by 15 June 2016.0

The total capacity of 22 projects would be 766 megawatts and require $332 millions of funds for plants. The estimated projects costs in total would be $1.68 billion. All these 22 solar power projects would be set up on mainland Australia. About 10 projects in Queensland, eight in NSW, two in Victoria and one each in Western Australia and South Australia. 

Out of 77 eligible projects, ARENA has finalized a list of 22 projects for its A$100-milllion solar energy scheme. The shortlisted projects' combined capacity would be 766megawatt and 250MW may be developed under the scheme, according to PV Magazine

Ivor Frischknecht, CEO, ARENA, said: "Each project was able to demonstrate its cost of energy was below the threshold of $135 per MW/hour, with some projecting costs significantly below this threshold level. The strong interest and high-quality applications demonstrate Australia is serious about deploying large-scale solar and capitalizing on its abundant solar resources."

It's estimated that four to 10 projects may win grants of $30 million apiece from ARENA. Clean Energy Finance Corporation will extend debt via $250-million financing program. ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht says "Australia is serious about deploying large-scale solar and capitalizing on its abundant solar resources."

The latest solar energy program will increase the capacity from 200 megawatts to 440 megawatts. This would be sufficient to power 120,000 homes. The program will also be aimed at reducing project cost in the energy sector. The solar project will lower the cost of power to $135 per megawatt-hour, while wind power costs $80-$90 per megawatt/hour. 

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