A roundtable day has been held in Canberra by the Federal Department of Energy, Resources and Tourism to discuss the future deployment of large-scale solar projects in Australia.


Attendees at the event included manufacturers, retailers, distributors, companies, financial and academic institutions, sector associations and government representatives such as Federal Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Australian Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne.


Presentations were given by BP Solar on the Moree Solar Farm and by AREVA Solar on the Solar Dawn Project, both winners of Round 1 of the Solar Flagships Program.


Both companies emphasised the importance of large-scale solar projects in Australia, and the need for the second round of Solar Flagships to maintain the same high standards for projects as in the first round.


The need for improved finance provisions for large-scale solar projects, the need for strong government policy for the sector and support for the growth of the solar sector’s skills base were also highlighted at the roundtable.


Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism Deputy Secretary Martin Hoffman explained the operations of the newly-established Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to the roundtable attendees, and highlighted that ARENA would consolidate a number of funding programs and agencies for the industry – including Solar Flagships and the Australian Solar Institute.


ARENA, an independent statutory agency, will decide application specifications for Round 2 of the Solar Flagships Program as well as a distributing a collective total of $3.2 billion in existing government funding for research and development into, and commercialisation of large-scale solar.


“The challenge now for the roundtable organisers is to usefully organise the information and discussion presented on the day into a format that can provide sensible advice to Federal Government on the pursuit, support and implementation of large‐scale solar projects,” the APVA said.