Tindo supports Solar Sunshot program – Plans Australia’s first solar panel gigafactory

Tindo Solar has supported the Albanese government’s Solar Sunshot policy during a visit by the Minister for Climate Change and Energy The Hon Chris Bowen MP as the company plans for the country’s first solar panel manufacturing ‘Gigafactory’.

Solar Sunshot allocates $1 billion to support solar PV manufacturing over 10 years and Tindo plans to  apply for funding for a project which could create up to 300 jobs.

Tindo Chief Executive Officer Richard Petterson said Solar Sunshot was a tightly focused funding allocation that relied on production credits, where a manufacturer had to make the goods before receiving assistance in arrears.

He said the production credits are a short-term mechanism to help narrow the price gap between locally made panels and imports, while the industry scales, at which point locally manufactured products will be increasingly competitive and a domestic supply chain will emerge. 

“Countries are shifting their energy systems to renewable sources, and they must maintain a level of sovereign control of those new systems by supporting local manufacturing,” said Mr Petterson. “This means the Australian renewables industry is competing with Beijing, Washington and Brussels. The Sunshot program attempts to neutralise this discrepancy and to have some sovereign capability in our emerging energy system.

“What’s more, with the ISP estimating 70 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar PV and 69 GW of distributed solar PV by 2050 to meet domestic electricity demand alone, the market for panels is growing exponentially. This presents a clear opportunity for a domestic industry if is supported to scale quickly,” he added. 

Mr Petterson said the Sunshot program was only in the consultation period, however Tindo was proposing an expansion of its current facility in Adelaide to capacity – bringing 45 new jobs – and at the same time building a ‘Gigafactory’ on the East Coast, capable of producing 1GW of premium quality panels per annum.

The $90-100 million Gigafactory will create 250 jobs and be capable of producing 7000 panels per day and will go some way to meeting the estimated 22,000 panels which will need to be installed each day to meet Australia’s 2030 decarbonisation targets. 

Based on its experience at its 150MW factory in Adelaide, Tindo estimates that 1GW+ is the scale required to catalyse a domestic downstream supply chain and the company is in talks with local manufacturers of glass, aluminium, solar cells and other components. 

Mr Petterson said Australia’s high-quality resources industry and advanced manufacturing capability, created an opportunity to develop an entire solar PV supply, so long as the scale was sufficient to justify the investment.

“There is clear need for Australia to build sovereign capability in renewables manufacturing, and to ensure there is more Australian-made content in clean energy infrastructure as we decarbonise our electricity system. To build a renewables manufacturing industry we need scale, and we see Sunshot as a practical short-term way to do that.