$400 million for off grid renewables in Australia

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today launched an AUD$400 million (US$377 million) fund to displace diesel use in remote areas of the country.

Australian resources and energy minister Gary Gray said the Regional Australia’s Renewables – Industry Program (I-RAR) fund will generate 150 MW of new renewables capacity – including solar photovoltaic – in the next five years, including at least two 10 MW-plus projects.

The funding is aimed at off-grid and fringe-of-grid areas in Australia and could include industrial operations such as mining concerns as well as remote communities.

There is no maximum or minimum limit to the funding available for projects but each must be match funded from non Australian governmental investment, produce at least 1 MW of capacity and be online by June 30, 2018. The program can make exceptional grants of more than AUD$20 million for game changers in techonology to displace diesel in remote locations.

In addition to the I-RAR program, which is part funded by the Community and Regional Renewable Energy program (CARRE), ARENA has dipped into its AUD$3 billion budget to expand its Emerging Renewables program – to drive commercial renewable technologies – to AUD$215 million.

The deadline for applications under the I-RAR programme is December 31, 2013.