ARENA launches $100 million Solar ScaleUp Challenge

Participants in the solar energy sector have been invited to join a new $100 million Solar ScaleUp Challenge, delivered by the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and aiming to progress towards a goal of “Ultra Low-Cost Solar”.

According to a statement from ARENA on Wednesday, the global challenge aims to “stimulate innovation in how solar farms are deployed and operated” and will be open for eight weeks. 

It is part of a goal by ARENA to bring the installed cost of a solar project to 30 cents per watt generated (from a current 100 cents per watt) and reduce the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) to below $20 per megawatt hour (currently $50 – $80) by 2030.

“Ultra low-cost solar is critical for reducing electricity costs and decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors such as industry and transport,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“It is also a key factor in Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower, a vision which would see Australia playing a major role in supplying our key trading partners with low emissions products such as green iron and hydrogen.”

Proposed projects will be evaluated for support through the $100 million grant funding pool. They can reduce installation cost and timelines, reduce operations or maintenance costs, or reduce LCOE in other ways. (More information is available here.)

Key dates for the challenge are below

  • Challenge submissions (open June 19 – August 14)
  • Evaluation (August 15 – September 11)
  • Online showcase event for shortlisted applicants (October 16)

Top teams from the showcase will be eligible to apply for grants, with the first funding round to be announced “as early as December 2024” according to ARENA’s website.

Picture: Kidston Solar Farm (credit ARENA)

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