Australian news, and some related international items

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

Australian electricity utilities to supply battery energy storage

battey TeslaAustralian Utilities Cozy Up to Home Storage: ‘If We Don’t Respond, Someone Else Will’ Three Australian power companies are set to offer Panasonic’s residential battery systems. Greentech Grid  Jason Deign  June 5, 2015

Australian utilities are moving to combat the threat of revenue loss from residential energy storage by opting to supply batteries themselves. Three companies — Red Energy, Ergon Energy and ActewAGL — announced trials offering Panasonic battery systems.

“Our customers are already showing interest in this technology, and if we don’t respond to what our customers want, someone else will,” said ActewAGL CEO Michael Costello.

The Australian Capital Territory utility, which already has more than 15,000 residential installations in its catchment area, expects to start offering the systems this October.

“The trial will validate batteries as a product offering in the Canberra environment and evaluate the product functionality,” Costello said.

He confirmed ActewAGL had been working with Panasonic for two years “on how to make a trial of battery energy storage in Canberra a reality.”

Panasonic, which last year won the contract to supply Tesla’s Gigafactory in the U.S., is said to be keen on using utilities and retailers as a channel to the residential market, rather than selling direct to homeowners…….

June 6, 2015 Posted by | ACT, storage | Leave a comment

Canberra battery storage trial likely to kill the myth of “no baseload renewables power”

Battery trial could kill anti-renewable energy argument    Reporter at The Canberra Times A three-year trial of batteries to find the most effective electricity storage options could kill the anti-renewable energy argument once and for all and help households with rooftop solar choose the best products for them, the company behind the tests says.

Canberra-based renewable energy consulting company IT Power will analyse the performance of six major lithium-ion battery brands, comparing them to “old school” and advanced lead-acid batteries for use in large and small electricity grids.

logo-ARENAA testing centre will be established at the Canberra Institute of Technology for the trials to be partially funded by $450,000 from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

T Power’s managing Director Simon Troman said storage was the next step needed to help integrate renewable energy, especially solar, into electricity grids.

 “If we can nail this down it means that the value of the PV solar on the grid is no longer just in the sunshine hours, but in the whole 24-hours of the day,” he said.

battey Tesla“It kills the argument put out there by the anti-renewable mob that they’re intermittent and you can’t rely on them… and it turns intermittent renewables like solar and wind into a direct competitor for base-load power.

Rather than research new options for storage, Mr Troman said the trail will purchase batteries for
testing that are already commercially available making the impact more immediate and maintaining the independence of the data.

Electric car maker Tesla’s first foray into lithium-ion batteries for homes the Powerwall, announced last week featuring technology developed by Canberra start-up Reposit Power, could be part of the trials when it goes on the market. Continue reading

May 9, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | 1 Comment

Australian Capital Territory could become Australia’s Silicon Valley of renewable energy

ACT pushes to expand its renewable energy industry  May 1, 2015 –  Reporter at The Canberra Times The ACT could become Australia’s Silicon Valley of renewable energy development and a test site for new logo-ARENAtechnology as it moves towards reaching its 90 per cent renewables target by 2020.

At the centrepiece of a new strategy to expand the renewable energy industry in the ACT is a $1.2 million Renewable Energy Innovation Fund collected from private companies as part of the government’s 200 megawatt wind auction. Continue reading

May 2, 2015 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory helps Victoria’s wind energy industry to get going

WIND-FARMCoonooer Bridge Wind Farm a renewable win for Victoria in dire environment, SMH April 28, 2015  Environment editor, The Age It’s been a torrid few years for renewable energy in Australia, with jobs being shed and investment drying up. The Victoria landscape has been no exception.

So it is perhaps to some state shame that one of the few recent Victorian projects to get the financial go-ahead has been backed by the Australian Capital Territory.

On Tuesday renewable energy firm Windlab​ announced it has signed a deal with a Japanese company for the final financing for a $50 million wind farm north-west of Bendigo, meaning construction will now begin mid-year.

The Coonooer​ Bridge Wind Farm will have a modest six turbines and generate up to 19.4 megawatts of power, enough for 14,000 homes It is one of three wind projects supported by the ACT government via feed-in-tariffs, with winning projects selected earlier this year through an auction. Company RES Australia was also backed to build a 80.5 megawatt wind farm near Ararat.

The auctions are part of the ACT’s goal to have 90 per cent of its electricity needs come from renewable power by 2020. Continue reading

April 30, 2015 Posted by | ACT, Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Professor Penny Sackett points to Australian Capital Territory’s leadership on Climate Change

climate-changeSustainability Symposium: World to learn from Canberra’s climate change policy April 16, 2015   Reporter at The Canberra Times Canberra is a world leader when it comes to climate-change policy, but Australia is still not doing enough to tackle the problem, former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett says.

Professor Sackett, now deputy chair of the ACT Climate Change Council and an adjunct professor for the ANU’s Climate Change Institute, will join Nobel laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, and ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell at a climate change symposium bringing together about 12 Nobel Prize winners in Hong Kong from April 23.

She said Australia wasn’t the only country that had to catch up with its cities leading the way on climate change.

The invitation extended to Mr Corbell to address the international symposium’s policy challenge session was evidence of Canberra’s reputation as a world leader tackling climate change, Professor Sackett said.

“People are recognising how Canberra is not only stepping up with ambitious targets … but actually already on its way to meeting them,” she said. “I would really love to see the country I live in … do all it can for climate change and I don’t think we are there yet.”……

Professor Schmidt said Canberra’s status as an affluent city with people who had a greater understanding of climate change allowed it to be “more adventurous on a small scale”.

Neither the federal government nor opposition’s policies would solve climate change in the short-term, Professor Schmidt said, instead scientific solutions would take 20 years to develop but work should begin now.

“We don’t actually have that much more carbon to throw up in the atmosphere before we start exceeding two degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century,” he said.

Professor Schmidt said he expects a declaration from the symposium to be taken to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December to help reach a “sensible outcome”.

Professor Sackett said the “very important” summit would be where nations decide whether they will stand with their citizens to do all they can to combat climate change……..

April 17, 2015 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory a winner for renewable energy jobs

ACT renewable energy jobs soar in past five years April 14, 2015  Canberra Times Reporter The number of jobs in the ACT renewable energy industry has increased by more than 400 percent over the past five years, the largest increase in Australia.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released earlier this week, 630 people were employed by the renewable energy industry last year with 480 employed by the government or non-profit institutions and 150 in solar power.


But while the ABS figures indicated a growth in ACT employment they revealed more than 2000 jobs had been lost in the industry nationwide over the past two years.

Some 12,590 people were employed full-time in the wind, solar and other renewable energy industries last year down from almost 15,000 two years earlier…….

In late 2013, the ACT government legislated a 90 percent renewable energy target for the territory by 2020 drawing praise from the Climate Council as a welcome contrast to federal uncertainty. …………

Mr Antflick  Elementus Energy manager director Ashleigh Antflick,said he expected the solar farm, which will be relocated from a proposed site near the Uriarra village to beside the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale, to be a long-term stable employer of skilled labour in the ACT.

“We are looking at working with a number of tertiary education institutions in the territory to be part of their skills programs for undergraduate and technical training programs,” he said.

Mr Antflick said the ACT government and broader community were supportive or major solar power investments despite a concerted public relations campaign from Uriarra villagers to relocate the solar farm.

“There is a pretty clear understanding by territorians of the broader climatic benefits of solar energy and I think broad support for doing something to make a positive contribution to climate change,” he said.

April 15, 2015 Posted by | ACT, employment | Leave a comment


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