by: JOE KELLY From:The Australian June 09, 201212:00AM
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LABOR has announced the winner of its Solar Flagships program after a delay of several months, approving nearly $130 million in federal funding for a 159 Megawatt project across two NSW sites.
The Solar Flagships program came under pressure earlier this year after Energy Minister Martin Ferguson announced in February that bidding under round 1 of the scheme's photovoltaic (PV) stream would be re-opened after the Moree Solar Farm failed to meet its deadline last December to reach financial closure on its project.
A $129.7 million grant was instead awarded yesterday to energy retailer AGL Energy and PV manufacturer First Solar, with the project to be built across two sites including Broken Hill in western NSW and Nyngan in central NSW.
The $450m project has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power approximately 30,000 homes, with Mr Ferguson yesterday saying the project represented excellent value for money and high commercial viability. The NSW government has committed $64.9m to the project.
The $1.5bn Solar Flagships program was first announced in December 2009 and in June last year the Moree Solar Farm was offered a grant of $306.5m, but was unable to meet its financing conditions by December 15.
With the reopening of bidding, the government confirmed yesterday that the Moree project was again assessed by the Solar Flagships Council and found to be "of high merit" but will be referred on to the new Australian Renewable Energy Agency for further consideration.
"When it comes to developing first-of-a-kind projects it is important that the Australian government seeks to reduce the risks where possible to give the Australian solar industry the best opportunity to grow," Mr Ferguson said.
"At the end of the day it all comes down to cost, and if large-scale solar is going to succeed in Australia it has to be cost competitive."
In February, Mr Ferguson also announced a five-month extension for the $1.2bn Solar Dawn thermal project in Queensland to reach financial closure. The government will discover within weeks whether the 250 Megawatt project will meet its extended financing deadline.
It's good news, it doesn't do any because energy stocks broke down the strong support, stayed under it for a week. It's ready for another fall. oil is cheap, who gives and cares about solar projects when traders can buy oil half price.