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Renewable energy grant mechanisms 'need evaluating'

10th Feb 2012

The government's Solar Flagship scheme has been largely unsuccessful so far because it has chosen to invest in the wrong technologies, one group has emphasised.

Beyond Zero Emissions explained that a large-scale solar plant, such as the Moree Solar Photovoltaic Plant, was set to be a failure from the start.

Director of the group Matthew Wright suggested that this scheme was unlikely to work because it "involves a huge greenfield deployment of PV technology which is ideally suited to being nested in the grid".

Instead, it should be installed on the rooftops of houses and businesses where it is able to make a real difference, the expert indicated.

"Leading renewable energy economies like Germany, Spain, Italy and China, favour placing rooftop solar on your local supermarket or hardware store rooftop, or at home where very little needs to be spent on integrating the technology and paybacks are sooner," Mr Wright commented.

This is ultimately a product that is able to compete in the retail electricity market by improving the economic situation considerably.

As a result, Mr Wright explained that there is little point in creating a product that has competitive retail pricing and then placing it in the wholesale market.

"It's like asking your local Woolworths to compete with Metcash or the Footscray Wholesale Fruitand Vegetable market," he quipped.

Instead, the only place for photovoltaics in a large-scale solar plant is when it is hybridised with a solar thermal facility kitted out with 12 to 16 hours of storage, added the expert.

This report follows a decision by the government to reopen applications for a solar energy grant, after Moree Solar Farm was unable to attract the private financing it needed.

Furthermore, the project underwent a number of changes in relation to the original submission.

All of the shortlisted applicants - AGL, Infigen-Suntech and TRUenergy - will therefore be able to re-enter their bids for funding, which will be considered by the Solar Flagships Council.

The government expressed that it is seeking to back the best solar PV project available at the current time, as well as providing support for solar energy projects and technologies.

Attempts are being made to reinvigorate the solar electricity market after the cost of panels dropped by around 70 per cent over the past two years.

A decision on the latest round of funding is expected to be made in the second quarter of 2012.

Posted by Bob Dawson


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