Following the failure of both Solar Flagships projects to meet their December 15 funding deadlines, the Australian Government has extended the deadline for the Solar Dawn solar thermal project by a further six months but has re-opened bidding for the Moree Solar Farm photovoltaic project.
The Moree Solar Farm a $930 million project by the Spanish FRV, Pacific Hydro and BP Solar. The project was to receive $306.5 million Commonwealth Government and $120 million from the New South Wales Government.
Ever since the results of the original tender was announced, analysts have been critical of the selection of a bidder which did not have a power purchase agreement in place and the choice of a consortium which included BP – a company which was not believed to be strongly committed to solar power. Since being selected for the project, BP has quit the solar business but said that it would, nevertheless, remain part of the Moree Solar consortium.
The three other constoria which were short-listed for the PV project – AGL/First Solar, TruEnergy/First Solar and Infigen/Suntech – will be asked to update their tenders in the light of the big drop in PV prices over the past two years.
The other Solar Flagships project, Solar Dawn, is to build a $1.2 billion solar thermal plant in south-west Queensland. The Commonwealth Governemt is to contribute $465 million to the project.
The Solar Dawn project is led by the French nuclear energy giant Areva, which is planning to deploy the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology it bought from Ausra in 2010. Late last year, the consortium abandoned plans to add a gas booster to the 250 megawatt solar array.
The Queensland Government-owned power utility was originally part of the consortium but has since withdrawn, leaving only the UK’s Wind Prospect CWP and Areva.