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Albanese announces $1bn for solar panel manufacturing

Manufacturing News

The federal government has announced a $1 billion Solar SunShot scheme in association with the NSW government to support the development of solar panel manufacturing in Australia.

Solar SunShot will help Australia capture more of the global solar manufacturing supply chain through support, including production subsidies and grants.

This will help ensure more solar panels are made in Australia, according to the Prime Minister who made the announcement at the site of the former coal-fired Liddell Power Station.

In parallel with Solar Sunshot, the NSW Labor Government is delivering the NSW Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative, with the $275 million first round now open to support workers, small businesses, manufacturers and innovators to take advantage of the transformation of our energy grid.

In the second round, the NSW government will work with industry to leverage government procurement to offer offtake agreements to local manufacturers of renewable products and low carbon materials.

Albanese said: “We have every metal and critical mineral necessary to be a central player in the net zero transformation, and a proven track record as a reliable energy producer and exporter.

“We can also invest in strategic manufacturing capability, particularly in components critical to the energy and economic transition, like solar panels.”

Today only one company – Tindo Solar in Adelaide – manufactures panels in Australia – however almost all components from glass to frames and solar cells are imported.

Other companies do assemble imported panels into value added products such as 5B which has developed a transportable, modular and easily installed panel system.

And Australia is a centre of global solar cell research – with local start up SunDrive building a pilot plant to manufacture its ultra high efficiency cells.

Apart from that there are big players such as Fortescue Future Industries that would be keen to access government funds.

Albanese’s plans will have nurture an entire supply chain – including the development of solar cell manufacturing – to make real his intentions.

Not only that but production will almost certainly require very significant government support, with the government talking about production subsidies and grants.

Panels come largely from China which has ramped up production such that prices are falling fast, squeezing manufacturing outside China and forcing some out of business.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) National Secretary Steve Murphy said the announcement was a significant achievement and a major step forward in the journey toward Australia’s renewable energy future.

Murphy said: “This investment through the Solar Sunshot program will help create tens of thousands of secure, high-quality, and highly skilled jobs in regional areas and generate billions more in investment and economic growth.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Anthony Albanese’s launch event.

Further reading:
Browse @AuManufacturing’s coverage of Tindo Solar here.
Browse coverage of 5B here.
Browse coverage of SunDrive here.

Picture: Tindo Solar

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