ARENA launches $100M global solar innovation challenge

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RayGen Carwarp. Image credit: ARENA, RayGen

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has launched the $100 million Solar ScaleUp Challenge, inviting innovators, developers, engineers, financiers, and solar customers worldwide to accelerate large-scale solar innovation and reduce costs.

The Challenge aims to stimulate greater innovation and collaboration in the solar sector, particularly in installation, operations, and maintenance, to achieve ARENA’s Ultra Low-Cost Solar (ULCS) vision, the agency said in a news release.

“Ultra low-cost solar is critical for reducing electricity costs and decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors such as industry and transport,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“It is also a key factor in Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower, playing a major role in supplying our key trading partners with low-emission products such as green iron and hydrogen,” he added.

The Challenge, delivered in collaboration with Greenhouse Tech, will facilitate the formation of multidisciplinary teams and support global collaboration.

“Teaming up with Greenhouse Tech allows us to bring in more expertise to achieve the objectives of the Challenge,” added Miller.

ARENA’s Solar Lab brought together influential solar sector figures to define actions needed to unlock ULCS, focusing on innovation in solar farm installation, operations, and maintenance.

“Bringing together all stakeholders involved in solar projects is key to solving these problems innovatively and quickly scaling the solutions,” said Mark Rowland, chief collaboration officer at Greenhouse.

ARENA aims to reduce the installed cost of solar projects to 30 cents per watt and achieve a levelized cost of electricity below $20 per megawatt hour by 2030, unlocking a total installed capacity of 1 terawatt by 2050.

ARENA invites participation from anyone involved in solar farm construction and operation. Ideas on reducing the cost of large-scale solar installation or operation and maintenance are welcome.

The Challenge complements the $1 billion Solar Sunshot Program, which focuses on growing Australia’s solar PV manufacturing capabilities and commercializing local innovation.

The Solar ScaleUp Challenge is open for eight weeks.

For more information on how to participate, visit the Solar ScaleUp Challenge website.