The head of the Australian government-owned green bank, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), says the energy transition is not happening fast enough.
While announcing the CEFC was putting forward A$37 million (US$26.6 million) in funding towards Spanish company X-Elio’s 200-megawatt Blue Grass Solar Farm, near Chinchilla in Queensland, CEFC chief executive Ian Learmonth said the energy transition needed to pick up pace.
“The transition to net zero emissions requires substantial decarbonisation, at a much faster pace than we are currently achieving,” he said.
“One of the most effective ways to do that is to fortify Australia’s renewable energy sector and reduce the cost of solar PV generation to help meet stretch targets for technologies such as green hydrogen, low emissions steel and aluminium.”
His comments come after the Australian government pledged more funds earlier this month to support research and development into lowering the cost of solar photovoltaics as it targets net zero emissions by 2050.
The government’s independently run Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) is putting up to A$40 million funding towards projects directly aligned with the agency’s Solar 30 30 30 goal — targeting 30% module efficiency and reducing the total cost of construction of utility scale solar farms to 30 cents per installed watt by 2030.
Blue Grass supports 30 30 30 goal
The CEFC confirmed Thursday its investment in the Blue Grass project supported the Arena-led 30 30 30 initiative, with the project to feature bifacial solar panels and half-cut cells technology, both of which increase performance and efficiency.
The 375,000 bifacial solar panels to be featured at the Blue Grass solar farm, which CEFC said have increased generation capacity compared with existing panels.
The half-cut cells technology is also said to reduce the cell to half the normal size, with the smaller cells producing half the current, reducing power loss and improving efficiency to produce more energy, according to CEFC.
“With this latest investment we are proud to have contributed to the delivery of more than 3.5GW of low emissions generating capacity, including 2GW of solar and 1.5GW of wind. This clean energy will underpin our energy transition for generations to come,” Learmonth added.
It is estimated the Blue Grass solar farm will create 400 regional jobs during construction, with the project to come online later this year.
US tech giant Salesforce has already agreed to purchase 25% of the Blue Grass output and the solar farm is anticipated to cut Australian emissions by 320,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per annum.
Cheap solar can drive down cost of hydrogen
The Australian government sees ultra low cost solar as key to achieving its goal of green hydrogen production at a cost below A$2 per kilogram.
Arena believes lower cost solar will be key in scaling up production of low cost green hydrogen, which could also play a key role in decarbonising heavy industry and enable the production of low emission materials in Australia, such as green steel and aluminium.
In addition to domestic uses, Australia is also setting its sights on becoming a major hydrogen exporter, with the government focused on building demand, achieving low-cost hydrogen production at scale and reducing hydrogen delivery costs.