Renewable energy group bids to turn Melbourne’s trams solar May 18, 2015 Tom Arup Environment editor, The Age
Melbourne’s entire tram network could be powered by solar if the state government gave a bold renewable energy proposal the green light.
While the pitch may conjure up images of trams with rooftop panels on them like the family home, the power would instead be generated at two new solar farms the project proponents plan to build near Swan Hill and Mildura.
The company behind the bid, the Australian Solar Group, have held quiet talks over four years with different arms of the government to try get the project off the ground, but has so far not got final backing.
The two solar farms would generate 80 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, about the same amount used by Melbourne’s tram network, which is the world’s largest.
Under the proposal the government would back the project by signing Public Transport Victoria (PTV) up to a power purchase agreement with the solar farms, creating a reliable revenue source alongside the renewable energy target.
The proponents say the project has been designed to ensure the cost of tram tickets would not rise, nor would it add to PTV’s power bill. It would cut 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year from running trams and give the city an obvious global selling point (see the mock-up tram design above), according to the pitch…….http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/renewable-energy-group-bids-to-turn-melbournes-trams-solar-20150518-gh3ime.html
Victoria demands government let it establish its own renewable energy target, Guardian 14 May 15 State wants federal legislation changed to remove barriers to establishing schemes similar to the national RET Victoria has demanded the federal government allow it to establish its own system to drive uptake of renewable energy, following a year of national inertia in the clean energy industry.
The Victorian government wants federal legislation altered to remove barriers to states establishing schemes similar to the national renewable energy target (RET).
Victoria has criticised the federal government’s attempts to slash the RET, which requires that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020, for stymying jobs and investment.
Allowing a “top up” Victorian RET would allow projects in Ballarat, Ararat, Warrnambool and Port Fairy to go ahead, according to the state government. Victoria gave up its own renewables target in 2009 to join the national arrangement.
Victoria’s energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the government wanted a 2020 renewables target of “at least 20%”. Victoria currently derives 13% of its energy from clean sources.
“Tony Abbott has put a strong bipartisan position on the national RET into the dustbin,” D’Ambrosio told Guardian Australia. “We’ve said enough is enough, Tony Abbott needs to get out of the way and allow us to provide industry confidence and facilitate billions of dollars in investment.
“If the target was, for example, 20%, it would create 1,400 construction jobs in Victoria. There’s too much at stake here, too much at risk. We’ve already forgone too many dollars and jobs. We were elected to create jobs and this is one sure way, along with our other policies, to get action happening.”
D’Ambrosio said she’d be happy to talk to states such as New South Wales andSouth Australia that might be interested in their own schemes to overcome what she called the prime minister’s “stubbornness and ideological zeal” over renewables………
South Australia has a goal of a 50% renewables share by 2025, while the Australian Capital Territory wants 90% of electricity to come from clean sources by 2020. However, these are aspirational targets, whereas Victoria wants a binding system to ensure renewables uptake.
Under current laws, a corporation “need not comply with any law of a state” that is similar to the national RET. Victoria wants this stipulation scrapped………….http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/may/14/victoria-demands-government-let-it-establish-its-own-renewable-energy-target?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it
There are jobs and prosperity blowin’ in the wind http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/opinion/there-are-jobs-and-prosperity-blowin-in-the-wind/story-fnkerdb0-1227337252668 MAY 06, 2015
“THE single biggest investment in rural Victoria.” That’s how Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur described the $5 billion worth of new wind farms waiting to be built in Victoria.
This recognition of the sheer scale of the opportunity the wind farms present to regional Victoria is a welcome turn in the debate. In much of the discussion around wind farms, the interests of regional Victoria are too often overlooked. How to keep farming businesses viable. How to keep tenants in the shops along the main street. How to provide the jobs that will draw the next generation of families back to small towns and farms.
These are questions country Australia has constantly had to address.
Wind farm lease payments bring a 25-year income stream on to farms and that money returns to the local economy through things such as farm upgrades, the hire of local labour and purchases from local businesses.
A full-time work force can make a huge difference to a small town and guaranteed rates income has already become vital for shires like Moyne, Pyrenees and Southern Grampians.
Crucially, wind farms don’t use a drop of water. As southeast Australia becomes drier, a large-scale energy source that makes no call on our precious water supplies will become all the more important.
But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. As The Weekly Times editorial recognised last month, more wind farms will bring a “long-term change to our beloved landscape”. Visually, wind farms are a big deal, but whether people like the look of them or not can’t be the main driver.
An end to the Federal Government’s attack on the renewable energy target will bring a once-in-a-generation investment boom to regional Victoria. Our choice is to embrace this and make it work, or just hope that another opportunity like it might one day turn up.
Andrew Bray is Australian Wind Alliance national co-ordinator
Melbourne city centre blocked by protests over closure of Indigenous communities – as it happened, Guardian, Helen Davidson @heldavidson 1 May 15 [excellent report and pictures]
Thousands of people joined rallies in towns and cities around Australia and overseas to protest against threatened withdrawal of funding from remote communities Tens of thousands have attended reportedly peaceful rallies across Australia and New Zealand, protesting against the threat of closure of remote communities in Western Australia.
The largest rallies in Melbourne and Sydney began at 4pm, severely disrupting Friday peak hour traffic. The Melbourne rally blocked a major intersection and Flinders st Station. Protesters intend to move to Kings Domain where they will set up a makeshift camp for two nights.
Some protesters in Sydney have moved on to the Redfern Aboriginal tent embassy after thousands walked down Sydney’s George St, delaying some public transport.
Between 500 and 1000 attended a Perth rally, as well as thousands more across Sydney, Canberra, Darwin, Adelaide, Alice Springs, and 1,000 in four New Zealand cities. …..http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2015/may/01/protests-at-proposed-closure-of-remote-indigenous-communities-live
Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm a renewable win for Victoria in dire environment, SMH April 28, 2015 Tom Arup 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
Thousands rally in Melbourne in support of remote Aboriginal communities ABC News, 11 Apr 15 Thousands of people have staged a rally in Melbourne against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities, bringing parts of the CBD to a standstill.
There were major delays to public transport on Friday as Flinders Street and St Kilda Road closed to traffic. Yarra Trams tweeted at 7:10pm to say Swanston Street trams running between the Arts Precinct and Melbourne Central Station were able to resume service.
Earlier, Metro Trains advised passengers to access Flinders Street Station via Elizabeth Street to avoid the crowds………
Last month, Tony Abbot backed the West Australian Government’s plans to close nearly half of the state’s 247 remote communities and said it was not unreasonable if the cost of providing services such as schools, outweighed the benefits.
“What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices, if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s comments received criticism from Aboriginal leaders, as well as both sides of politics.
“I think it’s a very disappointing and hopeless statement by the Prime Minister, quite frankly,” Indigenous leader Noel Pearson told The World Today in March……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-10/rally-in-melbourne-in-support-of-remote-aboriginal-communities/6384826
854 wind turbines worth $5 billion ready to be built in Victoria CHRIS MCLENNAN THE WEEKLY TIMES APRIL 01, 2015
Wind farms near Mortlake, Ballarat, Ararat, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Ballan, Colac and St Arnaud can turn the soil the moment the Federal Government implements a new Renewable Energy Target scheme…….
……AGL Energy has built big wind farms at Oaklands Hill and Macarthur costing $1.18 billion. In its submission to the Senate wind farm inquiry AGL Energy estimates it has created 875 direct and indirect jobs in rural Victoria.
Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Murray Emerson said his council last week approved the Enerfin proposal. “It is a $460 million project, individually it would be the biggest investment in the shire’s history,” Cr Emerson said.
“Small rural shires like ours are battling all the time and the economic benefits from a project of this scale would be incredibly welcome.”Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper, who spoke at the Portland inquiry on Monday, said there were wind farm projects worth $1.68 billion ready to begin in his shire.
“This is an industry we already know very well and our residents support, we have a community which is pro-wind farm. “There are lots of jobs in construction, benefits from rates and the farms benefit which host them. “Rural shires have low populations and big areas to service, so a free kick of this magnitude is something we are very excited about.”
MAV president Cr McArthur said the dollar investment from wind farms “was astronomical”.
…….Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Government was promoting wind farms because of job creation and regional development and impact on greenhouse gas.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the Government had recently reduced the exclusion zone from winds farms from 2km to 1km to help create even more projects. She said developments would now be approved by the state’s planning minister.
Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said wind farms “would be a boon” to small rural councils with limited rate income.
Mr Barber said the pressure was on the State Government as well as the Federal RET negotiations “to make the wind farms happen” http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/wind-turbines-worth-5-billion-ready-to-be-built-in-victoria/story-fnkfnspy-1227286154627
This is the world’s first concentrated solar photovoltaic (CSPV) power station just launched by research and development company, RayGen Resources.”The end result is very low cost solar electricity and we think it’s going to really revolutionise solar energy,” said Robert Cart, CEO and co-founder of the company.
The tower acts as a receiver that collects sunlight from the mirrors that are computer controlled to move as they track the sun.”The collector field focuses the light on the receiver. The receiver directly converts that light to electricity,” said co-founder and technical director of RayGen, John Lasich.
The very small receiver is the unique part of this technology. “This is the only commercial version of this technology in the world,” said Mr Lasich.”It combines heliostats and denser photovoltaic cells, which when combined give very low cost and high efficiency.”
At this stage the $3.6 million project is a pilot testing facility. But the company are happy with the results.”It looks and feels pretty much like the real thing does,” said Mr Lasich.
High efficiency meets low costThe small plant generates enough power to run about 75 to 100 homes and the company says the technology is cheaper and more efficient than placing solar panels on roofs……….
The company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with their Chinese commercial partners. Juye Solar have invested $6 million which will allow RayGen to expand its manufacturing. They are currently in the process of building a larger facility at the same location.
A further $15 million will be invested by Juye Solar to develop the business in China to meet the large demand……
The ultimate aim for RayGen is to have distribution around the world. “We build the high tech components and software and sell that to the companies and they build the balance of system and put the whole plant together,” said Mr Lasich. http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2015/03/31/4207919.htm
what makes the Mildura plant so special is that it was built without a cent of government grants being tipped in.
helps illustrate how solar’s smaller, highly modular scale and fast construction time could allow it to play a far greater role in ensuring the target for the large-scale RET is met
Belectric have a developed a standardised 3MW solar power installation system they call the 3.0 MegaWattBlock (pictured below) which they roll-out across the globe.
Australia’s biggest solar farm powers-up but solar’s potential shines elsewhere, Business Spectator, TRISTAN EDIS 23 MAR
Australia’s largest ever solar power plant, AGL’s 102 megawatt Nyngan – has begun feeding power into the grid. But there’s a far more interesting solar power plant no one is talking about in Mildura.
The Nyngan plant in Western NSW now has its first 25MW of capacity, involving 350,000 solar modules made by First Solar, generating power that is exporting power to the grid. Further generation will progressively be brought online over the next three months as the remaining three sections of the plant are individually commissioned.
It’s unambiguously good news, yet I’m far more excited about the solar power plant in Mildura even though it’s substantially smaller – 3MW of capacity versus Nyngan’s 102MW. In fact it’s quite astounding that the completion of the Mildura plant has received no press whatsoever, because when it started feeding power to the grid in April last year it was the second largest operational solar power plant in the country at the time, and remains comfortably the largest in Victoria. Continue reading
Australian state of Victoria open for wind energy business http://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/article/australian-state-of-victoria-open-for-wind-20150320 Robin Whitlock Friday, 20 March 2015 The Victorian State Government in Australia has made some regulatory changes in order to make the state more attractive to wind farm developers.The changes will help to unlock billions of dollars in investment, providing a bipartisan deal can be reached on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). The director of the Clean Energy Council (CEC), Russell Marsh, said that under restrictive rules introduced by the previous government, a coal mine could be built closer to homes in the state than a wind turbine.
“It is important to get the balance right between attracting renewable energy investment to Victoria and ensuring that the voice of communities is heard when building a wind farm” Mr Marsh said. “But the restrictions introduced by the previous government simply drove wind farm companies to other states and robbed Victoria of investment and job opportunities in regional communities. New wind farm applications virtually dried up after these new measures were introduced.”
Mr Marsh added that it is fantastic to see the Andrews Government recognising the need for change and acting to address some of the most draconian parts of the former governmental legislation, which is clearly a step in the right direction.
The changes will mean that the 2 kilometre setback distance between houses and wind turbines will be reduced to 1 kilometre. The Planning Minister will decide on wind farm applications and local councils will be responsible for regulating new and existing wind farms. The ongoing review of the national RET by the Federal Government has led to an 88 percent reduction in investment in large renewable energy projects such as wind farms across the country over the course of last year. The RET remains the industry’s highest priority and bipartisan support for a strong RET needs to be secured in order to return investment and stability to the renewable energy industry. According to Mr Marsh, once this happens, the industry can look forward to working with the Victorian Government to build renewable energy infrastructure and pass the many benefits of that onto rural and regional parts of the state.
In turn, this will provide direct employment and will also provide flow-on benefits to local contractors, suppliers, shops, restaurants, accommodation providers and much more while wind farms are being constructed.
Aboriginal rally brings Melbourne CBD to standstil SAMANTHA LANDY HERALD SUN MARCH 13, 2015 HUNDREDS of Aboriginal rights activists have shut down Melbourne’s CBD in a protest against the planned closure of remote indigenous communities in Western Australia. The demonstrators brought Swanston St to a standstill during the evening peak, disrupting traffic and almost a dozen tram routes for about an hour and a half from 6pm…….
Ms Onus said Mr Abbott’s comments that living in remote communities was a “lifestyle choice” were “blatantly racist”. “These people live where their ancestors have been for tens of thousands of years,” she said.
“There will be (thousands of) Aboriginal refugees if these communities close. “We know what happens to homeless Aboriginal people — they’re often criminalised. “They’re gonna end up in prisons and hospitals and homeless shelters.”
Ms Onus said protests were also being held in other capital cities.
Victoria Police spokesman Adam West said there were no incidents during the firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/aboriginal-rally-brings-melbourne-cbd-to-standstill/story-fni0fit3-1227261910970
Renewable energy projects, including solar energy schemes i are staging a revival in Victoria under the new Andrews Labor government.
The Woodend local sustainability group is launching two green energy projects: a new solar energy scheme and the resurrection of a longstanding plan for three community-owned wind turbines.
Today, at the Sustainable Living Festival in Woodend, Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will announce a $100,000 grant for a 30-kilowatt solar farm.
The panels will be installed at the old timber mill, where the tenants’ ongoing electricity bills will be reinvested in more solar panels. It will create a “perpetual fund” for community renewable energy, says Ralf Thesing, president of the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group.
Last week, D’Ambrosio announced a $200,000 grant for the central Victorian town of Newstead to become fully powered by renewable energy.
She says the Labor government will “support and stand alongside” communities such as Newstead and Woodend, who are planning “to better control how their energy is made and where it comes from”.
“Everywhere I go, whether it’s metro Melbourne or regional and rural Victoria, people love renewable energy,” D’Ambrosio says. “That’s why we’re seeing many communities coming up with plans to make renewable energy part of their everyday life. They’re bottom-up approaches and they’re a terrific boon for local jobs.”
The Andrews government is preparing a “renewable energy action plan” and finalising the guidelines for its $20 million “new energy jobs fund”. It will also release a discussion paper on community-owned wind power.
For the clean energy advocates in Macedon Ranges shire, the election result was transformative. “It changes our situation completely – from being banned, we’re now unbanned,” says Barry Mann, who is helping co-ordinate the wind power project……….
The Victorian Liberal party appears to have had a change of heart under the leadership of Matthew Guy. For the first time, the state has a “shadow minister for renewables”, David Southwick. He says Victoria has the opportunity to be a leader in renewable energy. “We want an industry that can deliver more clean energy and clean energy jobs.”
Victorian Greens to use renewable energy group as bargaining chip with Labor http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/victorian-greens-to-use-renewable-energy-group-as-bargaining-chip-with-labor-20150211-13bzxm.html February 11, 2015 Richard Willingham State Political Correspondent for The Age The findings of a new Victorian renewable energy group to improve the sector will be used by the Greens as a bargaining chip in upper house negotiations with the Labor government.
The Greens have invited industry and experts to help tackle Victoria’s low investment in renewable energy, under a Greens plan.
Last year the Climate Council found that Victoria had the least favourable regulatory conditions of any Australian state for renewable energy.
Greens Melbourne MP Ellen Sandell is hosting a meeting next month with experts from the sector to address the state’s poor performance and has invited Premier Daniel Andrews and Industry Minister Lily D’Ambrosio. Both said they would not be attending.
The Greens, who hold five critical upper house votes, say the roundtable will produce a plan for how to bring jobs in clean energy to Victoria, accusing Labor of having no real plan for the sector at last year’s election.
Ms Sandell, who is energy spokeswoman, said the roundtable and its findings could be used as a bargaining chip in upper house negotiations.
“We have always said we will use our power to get the best outcomes for climate change and renewables however, we can. I’m starting by bringing renewables experts together and I hope the Premier listens to their recommendations,” Ms Sandell said.
“Despite incredible wind and solar resources, we have the most restrictive policy environment in the country, making it the worst place in Australia to invest in new energy sources.”
“As a result, we have the second lowest renewable energy capacity per capita of all of the states. Something has to change, and I’m determined to make it happen.”
Ben Courtice from Yes2Renewables said uncertainty around Australia’s renewable energy target had stalled investment in large-scale renewable energy projects.
“There is a real role for state governments to keep renewable energy’s share of our electricity use growing and sustain the industry into the future,” Mr Courtice said.
Invitations have been sent to Infigen, Solar Council, Metro Solar, Keppel Prince, local universities and Environment Victoria.
Schools and hospitals could win from climate-fund bid, The Age February 1, 2015 Jason Dowling and Tom Arup School buildings and hospitals could be upgraded to save power and reduce emissions under a potential bid from Victoria for a slice of the Abbott government’s multibillion-dollar climate-change fund.Victorian school buildings and hospitals could be upgraded to save power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions under a state government bid for a slice of the Abbott government’s multibillion-dollar climate-change fund.
Environment Minister Lisa Neville met her federal counterpart Greg Hunt to discuss how Victoria could access the $2.55 billion emissions reduction fund – the central pillar of the Coalition’s “direct action” policy.
She said while it had previously been unclear how states could win federal funding to reduce emissions, the conversation with Mr Hunt had been encouraging that it would be possible to get support to introduce energy efficiency measures across a series of schools and hospitals.
“He was saying we could do that, so hopefully that’s right,” she said.
Under the federal policy, companies and governments can bid for funding to cut emissions. Funding will go to projects that show through an auction process that they can cut emissions at lowest cost.
On other climate change policies, Ms Neville told Fairfax Media the Andrews government would review the state Climate Change Act and would look at reintroducing a state emissions reduction target. The former Labor Brumby government introduced a target of a 20 per cent emissions cut by 2020, but it was scrapped by the Coalition………
Ms Neville said South Australia was also reviewing its climate change laws and she hoped the two states could work together to become an investment target for renewable energy. A joint emissions reduction target with South Australia was not out of the question.
Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said he would also like to see the state government explore ways to use the federal emissions reduction fund to shut some of the state’s high-emissions brown coal power generation.
On a new emissions reduction state target, Mr Wakeham called for a body such as the federal Climate Change Authority to be given the job of advising Victoria on targets.
He said Labor’s previous state target should be the starting point, and that targets should be short term to remain front of mind for politicians. ……..http://www.theage.com.au/environment/schools-and-hospitals-could-win-from-climatefund-bid-20150131-13277i.html
ACT wind energy auction: And the winners are …. REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 14 January 2015 The ACT government’s wind energy auction has thrown up some surprising winners, and none of the planned 200MW of wind turbines will be built within a bull’s roar of the nation’s capital, if market intelligence is correct. The ACT government advised the winning tenderers of their success just before Christmas, and have until early February to prove that they have the finance in place to build the projects.
The winners have not been publicly announced, and will be kept confidential. But through a process of elimination – i.e. by crossing out those among the 18 project tenders who concede they didn’t make it, there are three likely winners.
They are the Hornsdale wind project in South Australia – regarded as the country’s most prospective wind project because of its excellent wind resources. Industry estimates suggest that the project could be a go-er with a tariff of around $80/MWh…………
The second winner is thought to the small Coonooer Bridge wind project in Victoria. This is owned by Windlab, a spinoff of CSIRO which is based in Canberra. Coonoer is likely to be just 18MW, but will also likely have a level of community ownership through an innovative structure that we discussed here.
The third project is less certain but is thought to be the Ararat project owned by RES, also based in Victoria. It is also bidding for less than half of its nominated capacity of more than 220MW.
The ACT wind energy auction is important to the wind industry in Australia because the sector has been at a standstill for nearly two years. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, no new wind projects were financed in Australia in 2014 because of the Federal government’s attempts to nobble the renewable energy target.
That helped cause an 88 per cent slump in large scale clean energy investment, and pushed Australia down from 11th position to 39th in the world, below Myanmar and Honduras. For some international investors, the ACT auction was considered to be the last hope in Australia, given the uncertainty that continues around the RET.
Contrary to the federal government, which sees its future in coal, the ACT government hopes to source 90 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. It will do this through a series of auctions – 40MW of large scale solar already completed, an initial run of 200MW of wind, and around 50MW of other large scale solar projects including storage, and 23MW of waste-to-energy projects.
The ACT government raised the prospect of winning tenders going to other states if the price was cheaper, although it did profess to have a strong “local content” component of the tender………….http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/act-wind-energy-auction-and-the-winners-are-25695