The future of solar power in Australia is looking very bright indeed, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)! The country’s solar power production is set to triple, with 12 new solar power plants to be built throughout 2017 – six of them in Queensland.
ARENA has announced a $92 million investment programme which will see a dozen plants being built – six in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one in Cervantes, Western Australia. The largest plant will be on Darling Downs in QLD, which will generate up to 110MW, and this programme will in turn lead to $1 billion of commercial investment.
This move, says ARENA, will triple Oz’s large-scale solar production capacity to 720MW, up from 240MW. This is enough to power 150,000 average homes.
Not only will the building projects attract $1 billion in investment, but it will give a huge boost to the regions’ economies. QLD alone stands to gain $0.5 billion in investment and more than 500 jobs as a direct result of the plants, as well as the indirect jobs created. Four of the six Queensland projects have been promised long-term state government support through revenue contracts.
The falling cost of renewables
Renewable energy is becoming cheaper, as the production costs for solar panels and solar batteries fall. At present, one in seven Australian homes has a solar array and this number is only going to increase, despite the feed-in tariffs in several states being reduced and even discontinued.
Work starts in February
The 50-KW Kidston Solar Project build, north of Townsville in QLD, will start in February and should be completed by December 2017, with the electricity first flowing into the state’s grid by February 2018.
This plant will not only be a large solar farm, but it will also feature an integrated pump storage hydro. This is a really big move, because a pump storage hydro acts like a very large, low cost and efficient battery to store the power generated, helping to make power cuts a thing of the past!