Australia’s biggest solar energy developer gets $500 million in funding
AUSTIN, Texas – Australia’s largest solar energy development company has received a $500m investment from the Chinese state-owned Solar Energy Corp. and the U.S. government’s Clean Energy Investment Trust.
The investment, which comes as Australia continues to grapple with a solar power shortage, will be announced Monday, and will be used to accelerate development of Australia’s first fully commercialised solar power plant, the Australian Solar Energy Authority (ASEA).
Solar Energy Corp., based in the Australian state of Tasmania, will also receive funding to accelerate its deployment of solar power in the country’s energy markets, the ASEA said.ASEA chairman and chief executive officer, Stephen Broughton, said the company would build an 80-megawatt solar power facility, which would be capable of generating around 100 megawatts of power per year.
“The first Australian solar power station will be the largest ever in Australia,” Broughtons chief executive said.
“The Australian Solar Power Authority is delighted to support this first Australian facility to become the world’s largest.”
The project is part of a broader plan to build a 300-megawatts capacity in the coming years.
Australia is one of only two countries, along with the United Kingdom, to have no nuclear power plants.
Solar energy is a key part of the government’s clean energy plan, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
The ASEA will also invest $5.5 million in renewable energy research, and $1 million in solar energy research in Tasmania.
It is the first of the major funding agreements announced by the Australian government for solar projects in recent years, which will support the development of projects in the region.
In addition to the $500M investment from Solar Energy, which is earmarked for the project, $500,000 will be invested by the Chinese government to help advance the development and commercialisation of solar projects.
The project also involves the support of the Chinese investment bank, the China Investment Corp., which is the largest shareholder of the company.
Solar Energy Corporation CEO John Gartner said the investment would help drive further deployment of Australia-wide solar power and provide “a massive boost to our Australian solar project portfolio”.
“It’s great news for all Australians who have been struggling with a supply shortage,” he said.
The project, which could begin construction in 2020, will provide 1,300 direct solar energy jobs, with another 600 indirectly related to the construction and operation of the plant.
More than 2,000 people are currently employed by the project.
Solar energy is currently a very marginal part of Australia ‘s electricity generation mix, but has been gaining traction in recent times, with projects such as the $4.4bn project in Queensland and the $5bn project on the Great Barrier Reef, which are among the largest solar power projects in history.
A spokeswoman for ASEA said the funding for the investment “is part of our long-term strategy to provide the industry with the infrastructure and support that it needs to ensure that it can become a leading solar power generator of the future.”