Billion-dollar shot in the arm for manufacturers

Workers installing solar panels. | Newsreel
A billion-dollar project will boost domestic solar panel production. | iStock

Businesses can now register to be part of a $1 billion project to develop Australian-based manufacturing of solar panels.

The Solar Sunshot project, to be delivered by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), aims to provide a pathway for local solar PV innovation to be commercialised.

ARENA CEO Darren Mlller said the project would provide support across the entire solar PV supply chain, including the scaling up of module manufacturing capabilities and exploration of other areas of the supply chain where grant funding could help kickstart the industry.

“This could include polysilicon, ingots and wafers, cells, module assembly, and other parts of the solar supply chain, including solar glass, advanced deployment technology, or other aspects identified through industry consultation,” Mr Miller said.

ARENA funded the Australian Photovoltaic Institute’s (APVI) Silicon to Solar Report to investigate solar manufacturing capability and potential in Australia.

The report outlined a credible pathway for a domestic supply chain that could result in benefits such as securing access to solar PV components as Australia significantly scales up deployment of solar PV, creating local jobs, attracting significant private investment and unlocking potential export opportunities.

ARENA and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) will publish a consultation paper outlining proposed specifications for the Solar Sunshot program, including objectives, funding mechanisms, timings, and draft eligibility and merit criteria.

“Australia has the opportunity to build high-quality products across the solar PV supply chain. Although we have a very small production capability today, we have the skills and the partnerships to establish a strong base that can be built on over the next decade,” Mr Miller said.

“We’ll be consulting widely with industry and other stakeholders to hear their views and inform what will be a transformative scale up of Australia’s solar PV manufacturing capacity.”

Following the consultation period, ARENA and DCCEEW will develop the final program design.

Stakeholders can register their interest in participating in the consultation process at ARENA’s funding page.