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April 3, 2024

Solar Learning Centre

Albanese Announces $1 Billion Solar SunShot Manufacturing Program and Rebrands the Net Zero Economy Agency 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited a decommissioned coal power station in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales to announce the new Solar SunShot program. It’s aimed at supporting the solar industry in Australia. While choosing the location for the announcement did have a bit of dramatic flair, the announcement itself is quite interesting.  

A third of homes in Australia have solar panels installed on the roof. It’s the highest penetration of residential rooftop solar in any country currently. Less than 1% of the solar components used for our installations are manufactured domestically. We import almost everything related to solar from other countries. The announced Solar SunShot program aims to change this by incentivizing local production of solar technology components.  

Group of individuals posing with a solar panel at an outdoor event.

The government’s $1 billion investment in the Solar SunShot program will boost Australia’s renewable energy sector domestically with subsidies, grants, and other incentives to create a manufacturing chain in Australia. This is a significant commitment that’s part of the government’s efforts to establish the Net Zero Economy Authority (more on that in a bit), promoting clean energy investments nationwide. 

“Australia should not be the last link in a global supply chain built on an Australian invention,” said Albanese. “We have every metal and critical mineral necessary to be a central player in the net zero transformation and a proven track record as a reliable energy producer and exporter. We can also invest in strategic manufacturing capability, particularly in components critical to the energy and economic transition, like solar panels.” 

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In tandem with Solar SunShot, the NSW Government is rolling out the NSW Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative. With an initial funding round of $275 million, this initiative supports workers, small businesses, and manufacturers in transitioning to renewable energy solutions. 

The Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative is crucial to the NSW Government’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. It encompasses three programs under the Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020 – 2030: 

  1. Clean Technology Innovation 
  1. Low Carbon Product Manufacturing 
  1. Renewable Manufacturing 

Businesses will benefit from these grant and funding programs aimed at lowering the carbon footprint of open manufacturing facilities and developing new manufacturing facilities (or expanding existing ones).  

Wooden blocks arranged to symbolize sustainability goals, with '2050 net zero' highlighted.

The Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative has three grant programs and five funding streams. Each funding source has documents that offer better details and outline the terms and conditions of the funding streams.  

There is an eligibility tool on the New South Wales website about the Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative. This tool helps determine the best funding stream for your project. We also advise reading the guidelines and supplementary documents. 

If you’re interested in seeing a local story about supporting talent in clean energy, you might want to check out the following article titled, First Year Electrical Apprentices Soar at Penrith Solar Centre with Apprenticeship Australia.

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The program will be expanded in the future for businesses and manufacturers after the first stage concludes in 2030. The future rounds of the initiative will focus on getting government offices and organisations to work with local manufacturers who build and distribute renewable products like solar panels.  

These initiatives are designed to guarantee that regions driving Australia’s economy continue to thrive in the transition to a net zero economy. Initiatives like this one deepen the industrial base, particularly in regional areas.  

Aerial view of a solar power plant with rows of photovoltaic panels arranged in a circular pattern around a central tower.
RayGen solar project near Albury – Source:

“Australian research helped invent the modern solar panel – today’s announcement is about creating Australian jobs to help manufacture them,” said Chris Bowen, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. “We know that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity, $1 billion to support Australian manufacturing in solar technology will help seize that opportunity.” 

The $1 billion federal investment in Solar SunShot builds upon the Australian Government’s existing commitments to renewable energy, totalling over $40 billion. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will collaborate with industry to design and implement Solar SunShot, focusing on the entire solar supply chain. 

“For every job created in manufacturing there are a further three-and-a-half jobs sustained in the supply chain,” said Courtney Houssos, the NSW Minister for Domestic Manufacturing and Government Procurement. “We will leverage our government procurement spend to build in offtake agreements with local solar manufacturers and foster the industry’s growth.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about solar components, what they do, and how to prioritise what to explore on your solar journey, you might want to check out the following article titled, How to Shop for Your Solar System.

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ARENA will begin evaluating and consulting in mid-April to address various aspects of the supply chain; from solar panel assembly and manufacturing solar components to developing new solar technology and research. This initiative aligns with other programs like the Hydrogen Headstart program, also administered by ARENA. 

Clean Energy Council (CEC) Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the SunShot program is the “missing piece of the puzzle” to establish a strong sovereign manufacturing capability that “captures this innovation and expertise to meet more of the extraordinary demand, both here and overseas, for solar products.” 

A man wearing glasses with a national flag in the background.
Anthony Albanese – Source:

“Australia has led the rest of the world in the research, development and uptake of rooftop solar systems, but we have thus far missed the opportunity to manufacture more of these components here at home. This is about to change,” he said. 

If you’re interested in learning more about solar systems, you might want to check out the following article titled, How Much Solar Do You Need?

The announcement of the Solar SunShot program comes hot on the heels of legislation that was introduced on Wednesday last week (March 27th, 2024) to establish the Net Zero Economy Authority. Essentially, it’s a makeover for the Net Zero Economy Agency, which has a mission to support industry and investment as Australia transitions to renewable energy.  

The Prime Minister had this to say as part of the rebranding of this government organisation: “We are home to every metal and critical mineral essential to net zero. Our workforce is skilled and valued, our safety standards are the highest in the world and we have a proven track record as a reliable producer and exporter of energy and resources,” he said. “The Net Zero Economy Authority will play an important role in one of the most significant economic events in Australian history and position us as a renewable energy superpower.” 

A group of people posing in front of a building at Penrith Solar Centre.

At Penrith Solar Centre, we are committed to bringing Australia to Net Zero in 2050. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about who we are and how we’re working for the future of the planet and our species, you might want to check out the following article titled, What Is Solar Energy? How It Works, How to Use It, and Pros & Cons

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