Please see updated story: Solar towers on fast track after Coalition tips in extra $110 million.
The federal Coalition government has announced that it will provide $110 million in concessional loans to a solar tower and molten salt storage project in Port Augusta, as part of last minute negotiations with the Nick Xenophon Party to pass major tax cuts.
The commitment was announced by finance minister Mathias Cormann as part of a deal with the NXT to approve tax cuts for businesses with revenue of less than $50 million.
Senator Cormann says the Coalition will provide a confessional loan of $110 million in 3 per cent interest rate to an unspecified solar thermal project. He said the government will call for formal proposals via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corp.
The front runner for the deal is the 110MW solar tower and molten salt storage project proposed by the US company SolarReserve. Other proposals are likely to come from Vast Solar and others.
“We welcome the announcement today from the Senate, and it is critical step in progressing the project – but the key outcome is to obtain a long term power purchase agreement,” said Daniel Thompson, the Australian development manager for SolarReserve.
Earlier, the energy minister Josh Frydenberg announced that the CEFC would invest $80 million in the 113MW Bodangora wind farm near Wellington in NSW.
“This investment in large-scale renewable energy projects such as Bodangora, is part of the Turnbull Government’s technology neutral, non-ideological approach to provide affordable, reliable electricity as we transition to a lower emission future,” he said in a statement.
The $236 million Bodangora wind farm is expected to be operational in the latter half of 2018.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.