In 2016, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced it was putting around $100 million on the table to find the best large scale solar projects in Australia. It expected to fund four to ten, generating 200 megawatts of electricity. But, by the end of the process, ARENA announced it was getting more bang for its buck than it ever could have imagined: 12 solar farms across the country, from Emu Downs in WA to Kidston in Queensland, with a combined capacity of 490 megawatts. Today, the program, also supported by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has helped make utility grade solar almost as cheap as wind power, at least five years earlier than predicted. ‘Rewired’ visits some of the local communities who are welcoming solar projects with open arms, buoyed by the jobs, economic activity and increased electricity supply that they bring. Find our more:


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Twin Hills  

Perched on twin hills about two hours north of Perth and built on the remains of prehistoric beach are two renewable energy farms - one established and the other underway.

The Emu Downs wind farm and soon to be solar farm next door have been a boon for the local area of Badgingarra. Farming families have members already employed under the turbines and local businesses are on site at the solar farm.

The complexities of Australia’s energy mix and what that might look like have been a minor feature in the series. Here in Emu Downs Western Australia, it’s materialised.

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The town that says yes  

Dubbo has a history of saying yes to new things.

In the 1970s, after a nearby town turned down the offer of a new zoo (fearing escaped lions would kill livestock) Dubbo jumped at the chance. Decades on they’ve said yes again to two new large scale solar farms - one in nearby Narromine and the other just out of the city.

The new solar farms will be in good company. Dubbo is one of the top three towns or cities in New South Wales when it comes to rooftop solar adoption. And, like our trip to Griffith, Parkes and Nyngan, it’s easy to see why. Dubbo is sunny all the time.

Special guests on this episode are comedian Dave O’Neil and NSW Renewable Energy Advocate Amy Kean.

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Next episode is the final in our trip. We’re headed to WA where a solar farm there will complement the existing wind farm out the back.

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The hum of 1300000 solar panels  

At around 600 acres the sprawling Nyngan Solar Farm was the largest in the southern hemisphere when completed only 4 years ago.

What’s it like to visit a solar farm of this size?

And, how have electricity generation costs come down since?

In this episode we head out to northern NSW and also check in with Darren Gladman at the Clean Energy Council for some statistics on how the cost of generation is plummeting.

We hope you’re enjoying our exploration of new large scale solar projects around Australia.

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Viva Las Parkes  

It’s famous for its Elvis Festival and a telescope dish that helped put man on the moon. 

But now Parkes, in central west NSW is about to become famous for something else altogether: solar power.

Popping up on a property next door to the town’s mayor, the Parkes Solar Farm will come online towards the end of 2017. When it does, it will power the town’s annual Elvis festival and a whole lot more.

The solar development, one of 12 being supported by ARENA as part of its recent competitive round, will generate approximately 138,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable electricity into the national power grid each year.

This generation will be equivalent to taking either 38,000 cars off the road or planting 195,000 trees, producing enough electricity to power approximately 21,000 homes.

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Moon power and marijuana rumours  

Griffith is a regional city with impressive industries, Yellow Tail wine for one. Each day container-loads of its product leave the area by train bound for the export market. This thriving business uses more power than a small town - and it will need even more as it continues to grow.

Enter the town’s new large scale solar farm, currently under construction, and getting ready to feed into the local grid - creating an additional supply of energy for a host of high quality agri-businesses in the region.

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Mining the sun  

A disused goldmine 400 or so kilometres inland from Townsville holds the tantalising promise of solar energy that powers the grid after the sun goes down.

The project in Kidston (population: 3 or 4) is the first development to begin construction following the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s Large Scale Solar Competitive Round. It’s a solar farm that one day could charge one of the world’s biggest batteries, ingeniously fashioned from the mine.

In the first episode of Rewired we drive in, meet the locals and a backpacker from Missouri who see the solar farm as a boon to the region.

Learn more about ARENA’s solar energy projects -

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On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA has invested around $90 million in 12 large scale solar farms around the country after a competitive funding process.

Many of the projects are underway, already generating economic and social benefits for those regional and remote communities that will soon boast their very own solar farm.

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Coming soon...  

Rewired is a new podcast from ARENA, Australia’s renewable energy agency.

Traveling around Australia, host Courtney Carthy sits down with the farmers, construction managers and everyone in between who are witnessing, first hand, a quiet solar revolution in Australia.

Join him as he hears how the ARENA-supported solar projects are rewiring the electricity grid and providing jobs and other economic benefits to rural and regional communities across the our sun-drenched country.  

For more information check out

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