CEC: Over $11 billion in large scale PV under construction

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More than half of the record-setting $20 billion in large scale renewable projects currently being installed in Australia are solar PV. The impressive figures were published today by the Clean Energy Council (CEC), which noted that the “billion-dollar economic boom” could be threatened if national energy policy is let to “languish”.

“The total value of the projects underway is double where we were at the end of last year. The wind and solar projects completed in 2018 add up to $6 billion, taking the total of projects completed or underway this year to more than $26 billion,” said CEC Chief Executive Kane Thornton in a statement. “More than 80 projects are being built, which will deliver over $20 billion of investment and 13,000 direct jobs. It really is an amazing time for this industry.”

The CEC reports that over 9 GW of large scale solar projects are currently under construction or soon to start. This totals an investment of $11.44 billion, creating 8,834 jobs.

In terms of projects completed in 2018, the CEC reports that roughly 1.8 GW of large scale solar was commissioned, across 20 PV power plants. In total, these solar projects represented over $2.3 billion in investment. 34 wind, solar and bioenergy projects were completed over the year.

The largest large scale solar projects to be completed were the 189 MW Coleambally Solar Farm, which was developed by Neoen; the APA Group’s Darling Downs Solar Farm with 138 MW; and  Genex’s Kidston Solar Project – Stage 1 with 126 MW.

Once fully commissioned, the 275 MW(DC) Bungala Solar Farm will surpass the projects listed as completed by the CEC.

Across all renewables, Queensland is the leading state with 27 large scale projects under construction or soon to commence, with NSW in second place with 23, then Victoria (19), SA (9), WA (3) and Tasmania (2).

The rapidly falling cost of large scale renewables and their increasing size is reflected in the CEC figures. The CEC reports that in 2017, 47 projects worth 820 MW of capacity reached financial close. In 2018, that number fell to 25 projects for a generation capacity of close to 2.3 GW. The total investment rose from $1.9 billion to $4.3 billion in the same period.

“While new [renewable project] investment no longer requires subsidy, it does require long term energy policy certainty,” said Thornton. “States and territories have stepped in to fill the void with their own initiatives to encourage jobs and investment in new clean energy. But there remains a clear vacuum of federal energy policy in Australia.”

Thornton, who often strikes a conciliatory tone regarding energy policy, called the spade a spade in his statement today. “As the year closes, we are no closer to national, bipartisan energy and climate policy. If anything, we are further away than when we started.”

Across all renewables 14.6 GW of projects are currently under construction. This, the Australian renewables peak body observes, is four times more generation capacity than the Liddell Power Station.