The Australian federal government's solar flagship program is providing the foundation for large-scale, grid-connected solar power through a competitive grant process.
Industrial Info reports that in 2011, two major solar projects were given the green light to proceed through the funding program: the Moree solar photovoltaic (PV) project and the Solar Dawn solar thermal project.
The Moree solar farm initially was selected as Australia's preferred utility-scale solar PV project; however, the consortium behind the project proposed major changes and failed to meet obligations under the funding agreement.
As a result, the federal government has re-opened a funding round for Australian solar PV projects, and developers are preparing to re-enter a competitive tender process for a $306 million grant.
The federal government will reconsider an updated application for the Moree solar farm, as well as three other proposals from solar developers who were initially shortlisted in 2011: AGL Energy Limited (Sydney, Australia), Infigen-Suntech Australia Pty Limited (Sydney, Australia) and TRUenergy Pty Limited (Melbourne, Australia).
TRUenergy is proposing a 180-MW, solar PV power station near Mildura, Victoria. The project is referred to as the Mallee Solar Park and consists of 19,000 thin-film, cadmium-telluride PV panels mounted on steel tables. The Victorian state government showed its support for the project in 2011 by awarding TRUenergy a grant of $100m.
Large-scale renewable energy projects in Australia have encountered problems in securing power purchase agreements.
Solar projects are struggling to secure contracts with retailers and TRUenergy, as an energy retailer, may have a better chance in securing the required power purchase agreements.
If TRUenergy is successful in securing solar PV funding, the project could begin construction as early as January 2013. The project would take more than three years to complete and is estimated to cost about $500 million.
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