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Australia Announces AUD 1 Billion For Solar Program

published: 2024-04-01 15:17

The Australian solar PV manufacturing industry has got its own version of the US’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the European Union’s Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) with the Solar Sunshot program. Launched by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the program will offer AUD 1 billion ($651 million) funding as production subsidies and grants.

To be implemented by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Solar Sunshot program will support the development of innovative manufacturing facilities in the country, across the supply chain—polysilicon, ingots, wafers, cells and module assembly.

Complementary aspects of the supply chain such as the production of solar glass, module frames, deployment technology and other innovation or manufacturing elements required for solar development may also be covered in its ambit.

Currently, Australia has the highest uptake of solar panels in the world, according to the government, but only 1% is manufactured locally.

“Australia should not be the last link in a global supply chain built on an Australian invention,” said Albanese. “Historically, Australia has been good at going from the mining pit to port, and long may this continue. But the Australian Government will also invest in the path from pit to panels and capture more value for our economy and workforce.”

ARENA, along with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), will launch a consultation on the Solar Sunshot plan in April 2024. The idea is to gather feedback for program design and delivery timelines.

The Solar Sunshot funding follows ARENA commissioned Australian PV Institute’s (APVI) Silicon to Solar (S2S) study that explored Australia’s potential to establish 10 GW polysilicon and 5 GW wafer, cell and module production each by 2030.

Clean Energy Council’s (CEC) Kane Thornton welcomed the new program saying, “More than 3.7 million Australian homes have installed rooftop solar, with almost half a million new systems being installed every year.” He added, “The missing piece of the puzzle here is establishing a strong sovereign manufacturing capability that captures this innovation and expertise to meet more of the extraordinary demand, both here and overseas, for solar products.”

The Solar Sunshot initiative follows the AUD 15 billion National Reconstruction Fund announced by the federal government a year ago in March 2023, to fund 7 priority areas including solar panel manufacturing.

Momentum for domestic solar PV manufacturing is already building up in the country. In February 2024, the State Government of New South Wales (NSW) announced its Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative with AUD 275 million in the maiden round.

The government plans to launch round 2 under which it will work with the industry to leverage government procurement to offer offtake agreements to local manufacturers of renewable products and low-carbon materials.

Recently, Queensland announced ‘prescribed’ status for AUD 7.8 billion polysilicon production project of Quinbrook that will help fast-track its approval.

One of the world’s richest men of India, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited is also exploring up to 14 GW clean energy production capacity in Australia with Brookfield.

Source:Taiyang News

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