In an effort to replace the use of diesel in rural Australia the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has launched a new A$400m fund aimed at boosting solar and wind power.
ARENA wants to create around 150 MW in renewable energy capacity over the next five years and reduce the preference of diesel in remote off-grid parts of the country.
The plan is already expected to lead to the creation of two large-scale renewable energy plants with capacities of at least 10 MW.
Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray said at the launch of the new initiative that there is tremendous potential for the development of renewable energy usage in remote parts of the country, many of which still experience difficulty in accessing reliable sources of power.
According to Design Build Source online Gray pointed in particular to the potential of renewable energy in the mineral-rich Pilbara region, where wind power can be half the cost of diesel, and energy demand is rising more rapidly than in any other part of the country.
“It’s no secret that in Western Australia we have a lot of remote areas and meeting our growing energy demand is a big issue,” he said. “Where there is no grid-connected electricity, many communities and industries truck-in fuels to generate energy.”
Projects applying for funding from ARENA under the new program must generate at least one megawatt of capacity and come online by June 30, 2018.
ARENA has indicated it may be willing to support standalone projects requiring investment in excess of $20 million, as long as they are “real game changers for renewable energy in Australia.”
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