ARENA’s regional outlook; Solar Dawn discontinued

A new program to increase renewable energy uptake in regional and remote areas of Australia has been announced by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, as part of its inaugural General Funding Strategy and Investment Plan for 2012-15.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) also announced that it will no longer pursue development of the 250 MW Solar Dawn project in Queensland.

ARENA Chair Greg Bourne said the General Funding Strategy and accompanying Investment Plan for 2012-15 includes strategic, supporting and complementary initiatives to drive long-term change.

The Investment Plan includes four new programs aimed at delivering renewable systems in regional and remote locations, removing roadblocks for regional and remote renewable energy, building Australia’s next generation solar and developing a comprehensive knowledge sharing program.

“The Regional Australia’s Renewables program will aim to deliver renewable systems in regional locations where energy consumption is forecast to increase and where fossil fuel-based generation costs are the greatest,” Mr Bourne said.

Mr Bourne also said ARENA has made tough decisions on projects referred to it from the Solar Flagships program, resulting in an increase to $2.2 billion in funds available for investment.

“ARENA continues to support large-scale solar projects, such as the AGL-First Solar thin-film PV solar project. We are also continuing discussions with Moree Solar Farm and Infigen-Suntech on potential projects based on their short-listed Solar Flagships program applications.”

Mr Bourne said after exploring several options to address current market conditions, however, ARENA is no longer pursuing development of the 250 MW Solar Dawn solar thermal project in Queensland.

The Solar Dawn Consortium said in a statement that it “Remains committed to Australia’s large-scale concentrated solar power industry, although it is no longer pursuing development of the solar thermal power project in Queensland.”

Consortium spokesperson Anthony Wiseman said “With ARENA soon to embark on a range of new initiatives, we look forward to sharing our experience and working with ARENA to help build Australia’s clean energy future.”

The General Funding Strategy and Investment Plan are available on the ARENA publications page.

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