Aussie-Made Solar Panels Are Getting a $1 Billion Boost

Aussie-Made Solar Panels Are Getting a $1 Billion Boost

The Australian Government has announced a $1 billion fund for the local solar panel industry, also known as the photovoltaic panel industry, with its new ‘Solar Sunshot’ program to strengthen Australian solar panel manufacturing.

While Australia has the largest solar uptake of any country in the world and has many materials necessary for creating solar panels, only 1 per cent of the solar panels on our roofs have been made on-shore.

The fact that Australia has the greatest solar uptake of any country and that we have the greatest solar opportunity in Australia is no coincidence, and as far as the energy transition goes, solar has been tipped as one of the best energy sources to support our grid (wind, too). Large-scale solar grids can take up huge swathes of land (which we should not ignore), but if we’re trying to be as sustainable as possible, it makes sense to not rely on imported panels for our grid. Also, obviously, modern commercial solar panels were first cooked up in Australia, in case you want to add a bit of national pride to all of this.

And that’s where the Solar Sunshot program comes in.

“Historically, Australia has been good at going from the mining pit to port, and long may this continue. But the Australian Government will also invest in the path from pit to panels and capture more value for our economy and workforce,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

“I want a future made in Australia. And I want a future made in our regions.  Places like the Hunter that have powered our nation for more than a century will power our future.”

The $1 billion fund exists to offer support for the solar panel supply chain, in the form of production subsidies and grants. It’s also intended to keep Australia’s energy-reliant regions prospering, such as the Hunter Valley, as the government attempts to meet its climate commitments.

The next step of this initiative is with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, ARENA, which is working with stakeholders to explore the implementation of program grants and subsidies across the entire supply chain (along with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water). It’s not just building gigantic panels, after all, there’s a lot to it, including the construction of separate complex components and the sourcing of materials.

“We’re pleased to see the Australian Government recognise ARENA’s wealth of experience and close relationships with industry by calling on us to deliver the Solar Sunshot program.” ARENA CEO Darren Miller said.

“To date, ARENA has invested more than $830 million towards 233 solar PV projects. We are ready to take on the next step alongside others in the solar industry to create a domestic solar manufacturing industry.”

The program has also been accepted with open arms by industry stakeholders.

“Today’s announcement by the Albanese Government of the $1 billion Solar Sunshot program to support the manufacturing of solar panels in Australia through production subsidies and grants is a major shot in the arm that will underpin our future as a renewable energy superpower,” added Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“The missing piece of the puzzle here is establishing a strong sovereign manufacturing capability that captures this innovation and expertise to meet more of the extraordinary demand, both here and overseas, for solar products.”

A consultation period is expected to begin in the middle of April.

Image: iStock

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