CLIMATE SPECTATOR: Stalling the solar roll-out

The $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program faces more delays because of difficulties in financing the projects. Perhaps the ACT will show the way forward for the roll-out of big solar.

Climate Spectator

The federal government's $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program faces delays, with neither winning consortium likely to meet the mid-December deadline for locking down finance.

Both the $1.2 billion Solar Dawn project, which proposes to build a 250MW solar thermal facility in Queensland, and the $923 million Moree Solar Project, which plans a 150MW solar PV facility in the north of NSW, are having difficulty striking power purchase agreements. While both are still hoping to meet the December 15 deadline, this is highly unlikely and it is understood they have won approval from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism for an extension.

The progress of the Solar Flagships projects is being keenly watched – both in the context of these projects, and for the rollout of large-scale solar in Australia, which continues to drag behind Spain, the US, the Middle East and north Africa, to the disbelief of international energy companies. The success of these projects also have deep implications for the prospects of a second round of funding in the flagships program, the structure of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the political rhetoric around clean energy, which has become nearly as divisive in Australia and the US as the often confected polemic around climate science.

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