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The Generator Operations Series

A deep dive into the operations of large-scale solar projects in Australia

In 2016 ARENA and the CEFC invested in 14 large-scale solar projects that have played an important role in accelerating the early development of the large-scale solar industry in Australia and the integration of utility-scale renewable energy generation in the National Electricity Market. The Generator Operator Series of reports, prepared by ARENA and the CEFC, considers the real-world experience of these valuable assets.

Australia is a world leader in solar energy, including large-scale projects. However, there is enormous untapped potential with respect to complex large-scale developments. CEFC finance is helping close this gap, working alongside a diverse range of global and Australian investors, as well as ARENA.

about the industry

Large scale solar market drivers

  • The ARENA and CEFC large-scale solar program played an important role in the development of the large-scale solar industry in Australia by helping to drive down the cost of large-scale solar development, construction and finance.
  • The round attracted international engineering, procurement and construction providers to Australia, strengthening the cost competitiveness of the local industry – so that the building, owning and operation of large-scale solar farms in Australia no longer requires grant funding.
  • The project proponents were obliged to share knowledge, insights and data from their projects.
  • The large-scale solar projects overcame many challenges to reach first generation. Information and knowledge collected from the projects provides crucial insights for the energy industry and regulators about the nature of renewable projects amid the energy transition.
  • The reports can help developers, investors and electricity grid authorities to better understand the Australian large-scale solar market and the potential investment risks and mitigants.

report findings

Market potential

Read our series of reports, developed by ARENA with input from the CEFC:

  • Insights from the first wave of large-scale solar projects in Australia: presents the key insights and trends that project proponents learnt from reaching financial close, construction, grid connection and ramping up to full generation. Analyses the detailed operational data from utility-scale renewables on the National Electricity Market.
  • Large-scale Solar Operations: reports on the detailed operational data from the early projects, including project performance, operational expenditure and project revenues.
  • Ramp Rates for Solar and Wind Generators on the NEM: analyses high frequency (four second) dispatch data from 2020 at 54 grid-connected solar and wind generators to improve the understanding of the relationship that exists between size (geographical footprint and capacity) and ramp rates.
  • Negative pricing and bidding behaviour on the NEM: explores bidding practices for semi-scheduled generators and tracks the trend towards more dynamic bidding strategies, with a focus on bidding behaviour during negative price intervals.
  • Forecasts vs Actuals from the LSS projects: compares actuals with grant stage forecasts for three key variables that affect project financial viability, including solar resource, generation and revenue and reflects on the way each of the project’s forecasts compared to what actually happened across 2019 and 2020.
  • Benchmarking large-scale solar PV performance in Australia: compares satellite information with ground-based measurements and analyses the differences, while providing data that offers a useful solar farm performance benchmark for industry stakeholders.
  • Unlocking curtailed solar energy on the NEM through storage: estimates the potential generation, associated revenue and emissions reduction benefits that could be captured by co-locating large-scale battery storage at 44 NEM connected solar farms.
Last updated November 2022. Energy grid, Market reports
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