• Against 650 MW originally targeted capacity in a RES tender in Victoria, the Australian state government has approved 928 MW
  • The six projects include 254.6 MW of solar power capacity, all using single axis trackers
  • Three companies that will build these PV farms are subsidiaries of China’s Canadian Solar, Italy’s Enel Green Power and Spain’s FRV
  • The 928 MW is expected to generate $1.1 billion investment for the state, while creating over 900 jobs
  • Project winners will need to use 64% of local content, 90% local operations and 90% local steel as per the auction guidelines
  • Under its Solar Homes Initiative, the state government has also announced subsidy for households using solar panels to use storage batteries for half the price

The Victorian state government in Australia has awarded 928 MW of new renewable energy capacity, compared to the original capacity tendered 650 MW. This is significant since this was the state’s first large scale renewable energy auction. Six solar and wind power projects have been selected in the auction. These are:

  • 180 MW Berrybank Wind Farm, west of Geelong
  • 6 MW Carwarp Solar Farm, south of Mildura
  • 2 MW Cohuna Solar Farm, north-west of Echuca
  • 336 MW Dundonnell Wind Farm, north-east of Warrnambool
  • 5 MW Mortlake South Wind Farm, south of Mortlake
  • 8 MW Winton Solar Farm, near Benalla

Carwarp Solar Farm with 121.6 MW capacity, will be developed by Canadian Solar Australia’s CS Sub Co. Pty. Ltd. Its construction is expected to begin in early 2019 and commercial operations will start in early 2020.

The 34.2 MW Cohuna Solar Farm will be developed by Enel Green Power Australia’s Cohuna Solar Farm Pty. Ltd. Its commercial operation start is scheduled for late 2019.

The third solar farm selected in the auction is the 98.8 MW Winton Solar Farm whose construction is set to start in early 2019 by Winton Asset Trust of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV). It is expected to come online in early 2020. The three PV projects with 254.6 MW capacity will all use single axis tracking.

All these projects are expected to result in $1.1 billion investment in the state, while creating over 900 jobs, according to the government. Clean energy generated by these facilities will be enough to power 646,273 households.

The auction was launched in November 2017, and conducted as part of the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets (VRET) program under which the administration aims to reach 25% of its electricity generated by renewables by 2020 and 40% by 2025. Overall, the scheme is expected to lead to $9 billion of investment over its lifetime. Project winners will need to use 64% of local content, 90% local operations and 90% local steel as per the auction guidelines.

Local renewable energy news platform RenewEconomy reported that the 650 MW auction received bids for more than 3,500 MW of capacity against the original target. The winning projects will be guaranteed a minimum price of AU$56 ($39.87) per MWh for wind, AU$53 ($37.73) per MWh for solar and AU$56 ($39.87) per MWh for PV with tracking under a ‘contract for difference’ scheme. It means if the wholesale price is higher than these rates, the developer will return the balance to the government. In case it is lower, the government will the difference. This is capped as it is assumed the bids for a base payment came in at zero, it reported.

Battery storage scheme announced

A new scheme was concurrently announced by Victoria’s government that promises to provide solar batteries for 10,000 solar panel using households in the state for half the price. Launched under its Solar Homes Initiative, it claims to help save up to $4,838 on installation of battery storage unit for eligible homeowners. The government will set up a new independent agency, Solar Victoria that will work with regulators, industry and training organizations to deliver the program. It is expected to create close to 5,500 new jobs.

The government introduced its Solar Homes Program in August 2018 offering 50% rebate to homeowners to install solar panels (see Australia’s Victoria Launches Solar Homes Program).