Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Lights fade: $700m Mallee solar park misses out on federal funding

13 Nov 2012

PLANS for a $700 million Mallee solar park, described as one of the largest solar power station projects in the world, may be scuttled after the proposal again failed to attract federal funding. Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) yesterday said it would not pursue the EnergyAustralia (formerly TRUEnergy) project despite an available funding increase of half a billion dollars.

The agency said it was forced to make "tough decisions" to increase renewable energy uptake in regional and remote Australia. Member for Mildura Peter Crisp last month said he was "genuinely worried" about EnergyAustralia's bid to establish the Mallee Solar Park south of Mildura, despite the State Government committing $100 million towards the proposal.

Under the banner of TRUEnergy, the Federal Government had twice rejected funding for the project, which Mr Crisp said would have provided "a very substantial investment in Mildura". Mr Crisp yesterday said he hoped the project would have attracted federal funding.

"But we do have another solar power station under way with Silex Systems, as well as a number of other companies who have shown interest", Mr Crisp said. "The solar park was going to be a pretty major investment, but it was always a concern when it missed out on the main funding rounds. "Naturally, I'm disappointed, but the opportunities and credentials of Mildura are so good that I am confident that someone else will come along.