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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3411

Senator Cash asked the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 3 May 2010:

(1)   What grants, concessions or schemes are currently available to promote the use of solar technologies in Australia

(2) (a)   How many applications have been received for the Government’s $1.5 billion Solar Flagships Program (the program); and (b) what are the criteria required to be met by applicants.

(3) (a)   Who are the members of the Solar Flagships Council which will assess applications for the program; and (b) what is the anticipated time frame for decisions to be made on applications.

Senator Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —The Minister for Resources and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The Australian Government has a range of initiatives in place to promote the use of solar technologies in Australia. The 20 per cent by 2020 expanded Renewable Energy Target (RET) came into force on 1 January 2010 and is driving the additional deployment of renewable energy generation. Solar energy is an eligible technology under the scheme. The RET includes the Solar Credits initiative, which provides a multiplied credit for generation from small-scale solar systems. On 26 February, the Minister for Climate Change, Water and Energy Efficiency announced that from 1 January 2011, the RET will include two parts - the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET). The SRES will cover small-scale technologies such as solar panels and solar hot water systems and provide a fixed price of $40 per megawatt hour of electricity produced. The Australian Government’s Clean Energy Initiative is investing in a range of low emission energy technologies and includes the following funding programs, which are targeted to solar technologies and are delivered through the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism: - The Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) is providing funding for two solar projects under the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program. - The Australian Solar Institute is currently funding 13 innovative photovoltaic and solar thermal research and development projects to advance solar energy technologies in Australia. - The Solar Flagships Program is a competitive grants program to provide funding for the construction and demonstration of large scale, grid-connected solar power stations operating within a competitive electricity market in Australia The expanded Clean Energy Initiative announced in the May 2010 budget also includes the $652 million Renewable Energy Future Fund, which will support the development and deployment of large and small scale renewable energy projects. In addition, there are a number of other initiatives delivered through the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, including: - The National Solar Schools Program (NSSP). - The Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme offers rebates for the replacement of an electric storage hot water heater with a low emission water heater.

(2) (a)   Fifty two proposals were received for Round 1of the Solar Flagships Program. (b) The eligibility criteria set out in the Solar Flagships Program Administrative Guidelines - Round 1 and further detailed in the Solar Flagships Program Round 1 Information Guide for Applicants, are: 1 Eligibility Criteria 1.1 To be eligible for consideration for a grant provided in Round 1 of the program, an applicant must: 1.1.1 complete and lodge a Solar Flagships Proposal Form with the Department by the specified closing date; 1.1.2 demonstrate that the nominated research partner is an eligible EIF Research Institution as defined by the Specification of Higher Education Institutions, Research Institutions and Vocational education and Training Providers No. 2 of 2009; 1.1.3 provide evidence that the applicant’s proposed project is endorsed by the State or Territory governments governing the jurisdictions in which the project is proposed to be built. 1.1.4 be a non-tax exempt Australian company incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 or a wholly or majority owned Commonwealth or State Government body; 1.1.5not be insolvent, bankrupt, in liquidation, or under administration or receivership; 1.1.6 be able to demonstrate access to, or right to the beneficial use of, any intellectual property necessary to carry out the project; 1.1.7 be able to demonstrate that they have sought funding at a ratio of at least two dollars from private, State or Territory government sources for every dollar from the Solar Flagships program, and have exhausted private, State or Territory government funding sources; 1.1.8 not have had a judicial decision relating to employee entitlements made against it (not including decisions under appeal) and have not paid the claim; and 1.1.9 not be named as an organisation that has not complied with the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999. 1.2   To be eligible for consideration for a grant in Round 1 of the program, a project must: 1.2.1have a net solar electricity generation capacity of at least 150MW; 1.2.2 be connected to the National Electricity Market or the South West Interconnected System by 31 December 2015; 1.2.3 use an eligible solar technology, either photovoltaic or solar thermal; 1.2.4 provide evidence that the technology to be used in the project: 1.2.5 has been demonstrated in operation at a scale of at least 30MW generation capacity for 12 months; or 1.2.6 is a replicable module that has been demonstrated in operation for at least 12 months and the applicant has proposed scale up plans that are supported by financial and construction firms. 1.2.7 undertake project development in stages of no less than 30MW of net electricity generation capacity; 1.2.8 be located on a single site, if it is a proposal using a solar thermal technology; 1.2.9 be located on no more than five sites, each of which would be connected to the same electricity grid, if it is a proposal using a photovoltaic technology; 1.2.10 use only solar energy or eligible supplementary energy sources, where those supplementary energy sources are operated as an integrated part of a solar thermal project; 1.2.11 limit the output of electricity from eligible supplementary energy sources to 15 percent of the net electricity output from the plant; 1.2.12 be scheduled to complete construction and commissioning of the plant by 31 December 2015; and 1.2.13 include an off-take agreement between the project proponent and a market participant, either contractually or through ownership.

(3) (a)   The Solar Flagships Council members are: Dr Mike Vertigan AC (Chair) Mr Antony Cohen Ms Kathy Hirschfeld Ms Gaye McMath Dr Jenny Purdie Dr John Tamblyn Mr Mark Twidell

(b)   The Australian Government announced eight projects shortlisted under Round 1 of the Solar Flagships Program on 11 May 2010. The shortlisted projects will now undertake feasibility studies and be invited to submit Full Applications for funding. The Government will fund one photovoltaic and one solar thermal project under Round 1. The Government expects to announce the successful Round 1 applications in the first half of 2011.