Australian news, and some related international items

Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm approved

Green Light For Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm February 1, 2016 Energy Matters

The ACT’s Minister for Planning and Land Management has approved a development proposal for a 11.18MW solar farm to be constructed south of Canberra, near Williamsdale.

The proposal was “called in”, meaning the Minister assumed the role of assessment manager for the development application. The Minister is able to call in a project if a development is considered a major policy issue, has a major effect on government objectives and provides a substantial benefit.

“Once completed, the solar farm will power more than 2500 homes, contributing to the Territory’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Minister Mick Gentleman.

“Under the Territory’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy, renewable energy will account for roughly 73 per cent of the emission reductions needed if the ACT is to reach its legislated 2020 target.”

The solar farm will be situated on farmland near the Monaro Highway and Angle Crossing Road in Tuggeranong, at a site just a couple of hundred metres from the ACT’s border with New South Wales. The new solar power station will be around 10 kilometres from the 24MW Royalla Solar Farm.

Minister Gentleman stated he has imposed strict conditions on the development as part of his decision, in order to address concerns raised in four submissions by members of the community. One of those conditions is that non-glare materials be used. Appropriate landscaping works will also be carried out and sufficient bushfire management measures put in place.

Even with the conditions imposed on the Williamsdale project, some still aren’t happy the project is going ahead and feel the consultation process was lacking.

The Williamsdale site wasn’t the first choice for the solar farm. It was originally proposed to be built adjacent to Uriarra Village. However, many Uriarra Village residents were strongly opposed to the project; primarily on the basis of aesthetics and what they stated was a lack of procedural fairness.

The ACT has a legislated target of 90% renewable energy by 2020; a goal it appears it will reach. In August, ACT Labor proposed an even more ambitious renewables target – 100% by 2025.

January 31, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | 1 Comment

Record low price for wind energy achieved in ACT deal with South Australia

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. Record price for renewable energy achieved in new wind farm deal, ACT Government says

A record low in pricing for renewable energy has been set as part of a deal to buy power from a South Australian wind farm, the ACT Environment Minister says.

The French-developed Hornsdale wind farm has been selected to supply power to the ACT, at a cost of $77 per megawatt hour.

Located just north of Jamestown in South Australia, the wind farm will eventually power 56,000 Canberra houses, providing 13 per cent of the ACT’s projected electricity demand by 2020. Continue reading

December 30, 2015 Posted by | ACT, South Australia | 1 Comment

Solar farm for Parkes, could double as sheep farm

French company plans 240ha solar farm for Parkes Landholders adjoining a proposed solar farm near Parkes in central west New South Wales are being assured they will not be adversely affected by the development. The proponent Neoen is planning a 240-hectare plant west of the town that will include about 245,000 solar panels.

Cattle producer John Smeaton plans to lease his land to the company and says planting trees around the site will address any concerns about glare.

solar and sheepHe said he was confident the area would remain productive and become ideal for grazing sheep.”These panels, cattle would wreck them, the only thing they could run there could be sheep,” Mr Smeaton said.

“Some of the other neighbours might be interested in running sheep there.

“From a fire prevention point of view I think it’s necessary for something to take the grass down, because it’s fertile farm land and the grass can grow a metre or more high and it grows hot when it burns.”

The company plans to create 120 jobs during construction if it is successful in getting grant funding and planning approvals next year. Mr Smeaton said it would also have tourism potential.

December 21, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | 1 Comment

In Australian Capital Territory panasonic home battery trial launched

sunFirst panasonic home battery trial launched in the ACT December 11, 2015  Reporter for The Canberra Times ActewAGL has partnered with Panasonic to promote the installation of solar panel and storage battery packages across the territory. Continue reading

December 14, 2015 Posted by | ACT, storage | Leave a comment

New wind farms to go ahead as Turnbull removes barrier to Clean Energy investment

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. End of Tony Abbott’s war on wind farms gives green light to Capital Region projects, Canberra Times, December 13, 2015  Canberra Times reporter Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to lift Tony Abbott’s controversial ban on government investment in wind power has been embraced by the Australian Capital Region farming community.

On Sunday, Fairfax Media revealed Environment Minister Greg Hunt has issued the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with new orders that negate the Abbott government’s June decree, which prohibited the $10 billion green bank from investing in new wind power projects.

The move gives the Clean Energy Finance Corporation the green light to fund many wind farms in the Southern Tablelands – one of Australia’s fastest growing wind investment regions – enabling them to progress from planning to construction.

Crookwell farmer and NSW regional organiser for the Australian Wind Alliance, Charlie Prell, said wind farms now able to access funding include Collector, Rye Park, Yass Valley, Bango, Rugby, Crookwell two and three, Capital two, and Boco two.

“All of these wind farms will contribute massively to the local economy, not only during construction, but over the life of the wind farms,” Mr Prell said.

“It’s giving farmers in these regions a passive income stream with making our operations more sustainable, financially and environmentally, and giving local businesses the opportunity to participate in construction activities.”

Under the new mandate, the corporation will be allowed to invest in any wind projects provided they involve “emerging and innovative” technology, although it does encourage it to “focus on offshore wind technologies”.

Mr Prell said the wind farms already operating in this area have contributed significantly to small business, particularly in Goulburn, Bungendore, Taralga and Crookwel……..

December 14, 2015 Posted by | ACT, New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Canberra residents in their thousands march for climate action

climate-changeThousands gather in ACT for climate march  November 29, 2015 Thousands of Canberrans have joined a worldwide protest by marching to support action on climate change.

They gathered on the front lawn of parliament house, a broad cross-section of people from Labor and the Greens to the fireman’s union, bee keepers, the Grim Reaper and Tibetan cows – pantomime-style cows that is.

 “We are unstoppable, another world is possible,” was the chant as the march – estimated by organisers to be as many as 6000 people – set off.

Federal Labor ACT MP Gai Brotmann said people were sending a strong message to the Turnbull government. “Action is required on climate, credible action and direction action is not that,” Ms Brotmann told AAP.

November 30, 2015 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Canberra researchers seek information from solar home-owners

Solar panels installed on homes across ACT needed by researchers for local power study 666 ABC Canberra  By Hannah Walmsley with Philip Clark, 19 Nov 15  Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) are calling for volunteers across the ACT who have solar panels on their house to take part in a new study. This project will allow us to predict what will be fed into the grid at a particular time. Dr Christfried Webers

ANU researchers are collaborating with Data61’s Machine Learning Research Group — formerly National ICT Australia (NICTA) — to develop methods of forecasting power output from rooftop solar energy systems.

Dr Christfried Webers from the ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science said that while total energy output could be measured over long periods, little was known about changing energy output across the day. “What we need is to be able to predict how much energy will be produced over five minutes to 60 minutes,” he said.

“That’s necessary information for the energy market operator — they need information on what’s coming from hour to hour. “It’s also important for the local utility providers because they have a spinning reserve running and if they can anticipate an energy drop, they can ramp that up when they need to.”

Close to 13 per cent of households in the ACT have solar panels generating power. “If that reaches 30 per cent, it will become vital to predict what energy will be produced to ensure the stability of the grid,” Dr Webers said. How the weather can impact

Dr Webers said he hoped the project would allow his team to develop software to forecast the solar output from each suburb using low-cost data-logging devices installed on individual homes…….Canberra residents interested in participating in the project can register their interest with NICTA.

November 19, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Australian Parliament House will soon be 100 per cent renewably powered.

renewable-energy-pictureTom Swann says ACT government will have last laugh at climate sceptics, Canberra Times, November 13, 2015   Reporter for The Canberra Times. “…..researcher and campaigner Tom Swann says whether the former treasurer or prime minister or anyone else in Federal Parliament likes it or not, the Australian Parliament House will soon be 100 per cent renewably powered.

This is one of the implications of the ACT government’s clean energy policies, the most ambitious in Australia, which Mr Swann will explain at the Progressive Canberra Summit on Saturday morning, at a gathering of people discussing energy, housing, social justice and sustainability in this city and globally.

Mr Swann will point out the ACT government plans to completely decarbonise the territory’s electricity system and its moves to decarbonise its investments, by starting to divest from fossil fuels.

He will ask a group of people how can Canberra make the most of this leadership? “How do we ensure this transition engages all of Canberra, using local energy and expertise and providing options to those on lower incomes?” Mr Swann said.

He will present research from public policy think tank Australian Institute which shows three in four Canberrans surveyed (78 per cent) support the 100 per cent renewables target, a majority strongly supporting it. The polling also found an interesting national perspective.

“Canberra’s leading position on renewables is the envy of the rest of the country,” Mr Swann said.

The research is based on two polls  in September, one by ReachTEL of 731 residents in Fraser electorate and 717 residents in Canberra electorate, while a separate poll by Research Now surveyed 1407 people across Australia.

Three in four Canberrans (75 per cent) said they were willing to pay more on their bills to achieve the 100 per cent renewables target and almost two in three (62 per cent) said they would be willing to pay at least $5 per week more on household electricity.

 Almost three in four Australians from outside of Canberra (72 per cent) said they wanted a similar policy in their own state……..

November 13, 2015 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Wind farms seek contracts in Australian Capital Territory

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. Fifteen wind farms vie for ACT contracts as second auction round closes, Canberra Times, October 16, 2015   The Canberra Times reporter Environment Minister Simon Corbell believes the ACT is still a strong renewable energy “buyers’ market” after receiving 15 proposals to supply Canberra with 200 extra megawatts of wind power from 2018.

The territory government’s second large-scale wind energy auction closed bidding on Wednesday, having attracted only three fewer proposals than the last round in February.

The closure of bids in the “reverse auction” process, in which wind farms compete to be among two or three to supply the ACT with energy in exchange for a feed-in tariff, comes as the Department of Environment and Planning’s annual report showed 18.5 per cent of the territory’s energy was supplied from renewable resources in the last financial year.

The figure, up from 14.2 per cent in 2010/11, showed a major acceleration in renewable power uptake was needed if the government was the reach its target of green energy supplying 90 per cent of the ACT’s needs by 2020. But the document also notes successful wind farm bidders from the first auction are due to come online between 2016 and mid-2017, contributing to about 25 per cent of the ACT’s expected electricity demand in 2020.

Mr Corbell said the winning farms from the most recent auction would contribute an additional 25 per cent of forecast 2020 demand to the supply, while solar farms launched between 2014 and 2016 would provide an additional three per cent.

“This second wind auction will cut over half of the emissions associated with electricity usage in each and every Canberra household,” he said.”Our early review of bid pricing indicates we are still in a very strong buyers’ market.”………

The government plans for the bulk of renewable energy infrastructure to be in place by 2018, with a target of green energy supplying 80 per cent of electricity in that year.That would leave only 10 per cent of power to be switched to renewables in the final two years before the target is achieved.

An interim report released earlier this year showed the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions had fallen 8 per cent between 2011/12 and 2013/14.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | ACT, wind | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory inviting Tesla Motors to research renewable energy

Canberra asks Tesla Motors to host research presence in ACT , ABC News 10 Oct 15 The ACT Government is pitching to one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies, asking it to consider establishing a research hub in Canberra. Chief Minister Andrew Barr last week sat down with executives at US giant Tesla Motors at the company’s headquarters in California.

Tesla are already selling electric cars in Australia – as well as developing new storage technology for renewable energy. Mr Barr wants the company to set up a research and development presence in Canberra, highlighting the city’s investment in renewables.

A spokesman for Mr Barr said it was a “productive meeting”, and a formal letter had been sent to the company. In the letter to Tesla management, Mr Barr said Canberra offered a “unique location advantage” for the renewable energy industry.

“The ACT has the most aggressive renewable energy and emissions reductions targets in the nation, by a significant margin, and amongst the most aggressive in the world,” he said. “Our region also includes a world-class expertise in renewable energy and energy storage technology research and development, across both public and private organisations.

“Employment in the ACT renewable energy sector grew over 400 per cent during the last five years.”

From next year, Tesla’s wall-mounted Powerwall batteries will be available in Australian homes.

The company will be utilising software from Canberra start up firm Reposit Power when Powerwall is launched, allowing solar panel owners to sell power back to the grid. Mr Barr used the Canberra-based company’s success was an example as to why Tesla should make further ties with the capital.

“I understand Reposit Power’s technology is unique and is an example of the innovative environment in Canberra,” he said……

October 12, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar, storage | 1 Comment

Canberra school Amaroo to get benefits from ACT’s largest rooftop solar system

sunAmaroo School to gleam under ACT’s largest rooftop solar system, Canberra Times, September 25, 2015   Canberra Times reporter Amaroo School will gleam beneath the territory’s largest rooftop solar system when school returns next term. Almost 2000 large solar panels will be installed across the school’s buildings, producing 600kW of power to be fed into the ACT electricity grid.

The school is leasing its roof space to solar energy company Solar Choice and will power the equivalent of about 175 Canberra houses each year. The 20-year lease will also generate $30,000 a year in school funding.

Solar Choice managing director Angus Gemmell said a team of 30 contractors would install the panels over the next fortnight while students were on school holidays, before solar inverters were installed the week after.

Mr Gemmell, who will soon oversee construction of the Majura Valley solar farm, said the school’s utility-scale panels would be about 25 per cent bigger than the panels installed on regular houses.

“We have large skillion, north-facing roofs that are much like a ski slope to the north. The panels can be perfectly flush-mounted, they won’t need tilt fronts,” he said………

the installation was part of a broader rollout of solar technology in the territory, which had seen rooftop solar capacity jump from less than one megawatt in early 2009 to about 45 megawatts today.

“As we head to a 90 per cent renewable energy target, rooftop solar is going to play an increasingly important role,” he said.”Medium and large-scale rooftop solar is the growth market now for PV [solar power] in Australia and I’m very excited to see Amaroo sharing in those benefits.”

Amaroo School principal Julie Cooper said the school, which is also home to a wind turbine, would make the most of the money injected into the school via the roof space lease.

September 26, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

French ACT co-operation on renewable energy for Canberra and South Australia

French diplomacy delivers renewable energy to Canberra and $250m to South Australia, ABC, SA Country Hour By James Jooste, 26 Aug 15 A joint venture between French company Neoen and the Australian Capital Territory Government will inject $250 million into the South Australian economy and deliver clean energy to the capital. Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Huge solar panel array for Canberra Hospital’s roof

Canberra Hospital to get one of the nation’s largest solar rooftop arrays August 15, 2015  Reporter at The Canberra Times The ACT government will spend up to $3.3 million, and install one of the nation’s largest rooftop solar arrays, to make Canberra Hospital more energy efficient.

The moves to add a 500-kilowatt solar system and install LED lights throughout all hospital buildings were aimed at slashing energy use at the site, which accounts for a quarter of the government’s electricity bill.

Overlapping two of his portfolios, Deputy Chief Minister Simon Corbell said the loan to ACT Health from the Carbon Neutral ACT Government Fund – by far the largest in the fund’s short history – would reap financial rewards.

“The Canberra Hospital delivers a critical 24-hour service to our community and is the ACT government’s largest user of energy,” he said.

“The announcement will see the hospital save a massive $490,000 a year in energy bills by 2017-18 and improve the government’s overall carbon footprint.”

The Sunday Canberra Times understands the hospital would become home to one of the top 10 largest roof-mounted arrays in Australia. A 500kW rooftop array [see below] at Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Melbourne, using 2000 panels, was Victoria’s largest when installed last year………

solar-toyota Melbourne

August 16, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Government’s attack on Clean Energy Finance Corporation threatens commercial solar projects in ACT

Federal directive on solar threatens commercial rooftop projects in the ACT, says Simon Corbell July 13, 2015  Chief Assembly reporter for The Canberra Times. The Abbott government’s directive against investment in small and medium-scale solar threatens commercial rooftop projects in Canberra, ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell said on Monday.

Mr Corbell attacked Prime Minister Tony Abbott as “public enemy No 1” on renewable energy.

“He’s putting jobs at risk, he’s putting investment at risk and he’s putting the industry at risk, an industry that will need to grow considerably over the next decade if Australia is to meet its international greenhouse gas reduction commitments,” Mr Corbell said.

He was responding to news of a draft directive from the Abbott government to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in small and medium-scale solar projects. The corporation was also ordered not to invest in new wind projects.

He was responding to news of a draft directive from the Abbott government to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in small and medium-scale solar projects. The corporation was also ordered not to invest in new wind projects.

Mr Corbell said there was potential for major growth in solar on office blocks, shopping centres and warehouses, but it needed the certainty provided by the corporation’s backing.
The ACT government has signed 20-year contracts with three wind farms and three solar farms, with a guaranteed price for the energy they produce over 20 years, as part of its ambitious target of meeting 90 per cent of the city’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020. One of the solar farms is operational to date. Still to come is funding for “next-generation” solar, and more wind projects.

Mr Corbell said the ACT’s large-scale projects were not threatened by the decision, with the ACT government’s funding providing the certainty that companies and financiers needed.

Queensland, South Australia and Victoria were already looking at the ACT’s model, he said.

July 15, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

100% renewable energy will power Canberra’s light rail

Canberra light rail to run on 100pc renewable energy, Capital Metro Minister says, ABC News 20 June 15  Stage one of Canberra’s light rail network will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, according to Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell.

Mr Corbell said the multi-million-dollar transport project, linking Civic to Gungahlin in Canberra’s north, provided a significant opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the territory…….

June 19, 2015 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment


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