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Clarifying Strategic Funding Support for CSP in Australia

As we celebrate 100 years of CSP technology, Australia continues to hold potential as a CSP investment destination. However recent consultation by AUSTELA with CSP investors in Japan, the US, Germany and Spain also reveals considerable confusion about Australia’s strategy for CSP.

ARENA’s General Funding Strategy and Investment Plan, announced in November 2012, provide broad guidance about ARENA’s priorities and areas of focus, and ARENA has emphasized a willingness to enter into discussions with project proponents to provide guidance on project development. This flexible approach has benefits, but comes at the cost of lack of clarity for investors.

CSP is well-positioned to address many of ARENA’s highest priority concerns, such as reducing reliance on diesel for energy in remote and regional areas, providing dispatchable renewable energy for the mining and resources sector, ensuring a stable electricity grid while increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the electricity system, and assisting in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables through the use of hybrid systems and energy storage.

It puzzles international investors that this strong alignment is not reflected in program design that strategically supports CSP development in Australia. For international CSP investors already in Australia, absence of a sustained program of project opportunities such as those in effect in India, Saudi Arabia, MENA and the US begs questions about the logic of continuing an Australian presence.

Around May 2013, ARENA proposes to publish its Guidelines for the Remote Australia’s Renewables program (RAR), along with guidance as to the type of financial instruments ARENA may be prepared to offer to support renewable energy projects. These clarifications will be welcome and may help investors to better understand ARENA’s approach, and the funding tools at ARENA’s disposal.

For Australia to successfully compete for global capital market share in the rapidly increasing international CSP investment pool, a clear set of guidelines for CSP investors in their dealings with ARENA could be a critical factor.

AUSTELA has proposed to ARENA a collaboration with the CSP industry to produce a set of CSP-specific guidelines, aimed at providing better clarity for CSP investors as to the criteria ARENA will apply to CSP project proposals.

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Contact Details

Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association Ltd
ACN: 149 005 210
PO Box 6127
ACT 2602, Australia