The Adani-owned Carmichael mega-mine inches ever so slowly towards a final approval amid falling coal prices and fierce community opposition. At the same time Adani has recently expressed interest in solar farms in South Australia and Queensland. What will the growth of Australia’s large scale solar sector be set to experience?
The large scale solar industry is still relatively new in Australia, with only a handful of installations online, most notably the Nyngan (102MW), Moree (56MW), and Broken Hill (53MW) solar farms. Many more utility-scale solar systems have been approved, and an indication of the boom to come is ARENA’s release of 22 large scale solar projects invited to apply for ARENA funding.
The existing large scale solar proposals will form part of the solar development Australia see in the short term as the major energy players clamber to meet the Renewable Energy Target requirement by 2020. Failing to do meet this target will attract a penalty, which will then be passed onto energy consumers as an increase in electricity price. The expansion of large-scale PV systems across Australia will create a resource demand for the construction, operation and maintenance of these sites. For the solar industry to respond to this demand, the industry needs to develop a sound understanding of what utility solar entails.