What is the Ultra Low Cost Solar PV Funding
The Ultra Low Cost Solar PV Funding is an initiative which aims to support Research & Development (R&D) projects to accelerate cost reductions and help meet the Australian Government’s solar stretch goal.
The Australian Government’s Long-Term Emissions Reduction Plan and Low Emissions Technology Statement 2021 (LETS) identifies that reducing the cost of solar PV generation will be critical to unlocking the economic, employment and emissions abatement potential of other priority low emissions technologies. The LETS has identified a stretch goal of $15 per MWh for the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) for utility scale solar PV.
The Ultra Low Cost Solar PV (ULCS) Round is open to a broad range of applicants, including research groups and commercial organisations. The program seeks ambitious proposals that can make a significant contribution to these cost reduction objectives. This is a competitive funding round under our Transformative Research Accelerating Commercialisation (TRAC) Program. It is open to applications for projects which have achieved a Technology Readiness Level of at least three at the time of applying.
The objectives of the Funding Round (Round Objectives) are to:
- support ambitious and sustainable cost reduction and improved efficiencies for utility scale solar PV across one of two Streams
- facilitate collaboration between research groups and industry by building on core research to drive commercialisation activities as part of an integrated project approach.
In order to support the Australian Government’s stretch goal of $15 per MWh for the LCOE for utility scale solar PV, the following intermediate technology targets (Technology Targets) have been identified. Proposals should target significant progress against these:
- Higher module efficiency: ARENA seeks to accelerate the development of commercially competitive modules with efficiencies above 30 per cent.
- Lower costs of deployment: ARENA seeks to accelerate cost reductions for utility scale solar PV deployment toward 30 cents per watt. Achieving this is expected to require novel approaches to constructing solar farms.
- Longevity: In order to meet the LCOE stretch goal, utility scale solar farms should have a minimum asset life of 30 years, with longer asset operating lifetimes expected.
ARENA has allocated a funding envelope of $40 million (Funding Envelope) for the Funding Round. The Funding Envelope is split amongst two Streams as outlined below. The funding allocation for each Stream
is indicative only and may be changed at ARENA’s discretion.
1. Cells and modules ($20 million): Improvement in the efficiency of cells and modules is a key lever for reducing LCOE. Cells and modules also need to be cost competitive, offer longevity and consider sustainability issues when manufactured and deployed at scale.
2. Balance of System costs and Operations and Maintenance ($20 million): Significant reduction of Balance of System (BoS) costs and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) costs are also required to achieve ULCS. Innovative plant design configurations and the use of advanced automation in assembly and construction are potential pathways to lower utility scale solar PV construction costs. In the O&M phase, automated maintenance technology and intelligent plant monitoring systems are potential cost reduction pathways.
The Funding Round is open to Projects that align with the Round Objectives. Proposals must comply with the following parameters:
- The amount of ARENA grant funding requested must be a minimum of $2 million and no greater than $8 million;
- Projects align with the scope of one of the Streams outlined in Section 3 and target significant cost reductions;
- Project timeframe of up to five years, which is split between core research (up to three years) and commercialisation activities (up to two years). A stage-gate mechanism will be implemented within the Funding Agreement to assess the viability of the proposed technology and commercialisation pathway prior to commencing stage 2 (Commercialisation);
- Development of technology that is assessed as having achieved a minimum Technology Readiness Level of 3 at the time of applying. Projects should aim to progress the relevant technology beyond its starting TRL;
- The Applicant must present a proposed commercialisation pathway for the technology, which is expected to be refined during the course of the Project; and
- Proposals must budget no more than 50 per cent of total ARENA funding sought towards commercialisation activities, to a limit of $2.5 million.
The Applicant must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of ARENA that the Project described in the Proposal:
- involves Ultra Low Cost Solar PV;
- addresses one of the Stream requirements in section 3 of the guidelines;
- is aligned with both of the Round Objectives; and
- meets the definition of R&D activities as set out at item 3.5 of the Program Guidelines.
Further, the Proposal must:
- involve a technology with a minimum of TRL 3 at the time of applying;
- involve a project timeframe of no more than 5 years including up to 3 years for the R&D stage and up to 2 years for the commercialisation stage;
- request a total ARENA grant of between $2-8 million; and
- request no more than 50% of the ARENA funding towards commercialisation activities, to a maximum of $2.5 million.
Applications close 11 April 2022.
02 March 2022 – $40 million funding round to drive ultra low cost solar
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced up to $40 million in funding to support research and development (R&D) that aims to support the achievement of the Government’s ultra low cost solar stretch goal. ARENA has set an ambitious target of ‘Solar 30 30 30’, to improve solar cell efficiency to 30 per cent and reduce the total cost of construction to 30 cents per watt by 2030.
Ultra low cost solar will be a key input to scaling up production of low cost green hydrogen. The technology is key to unlocking other decarbonisation pathways for heavy industry including low emission materials such as green steel and aluminium, according to the Australian government’s latest Low Emissions Technology Statement.