Australian news, and some related international items

Victoria’s Planning Tribunal gives go ahead for wind farm

windmills-and-hayVCAT approves Berrimal Wind Farm changes 15 Sep 2014,

Victoria’s planning tribunal has given the green light to changes to a renewable energy company’s plans for a 24-turbine wind farm in the Buloke Shire.

Acciona’s Berrimal Wind Farm had the support of the Buloke Shire but needed approval from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to make the amendments to its original planning permit.

The project is located between Wedderburn and St Arnaud and is expected to generate 72 megawatts of electricity.

Buloke Shire’s chief executive officer, John Hicks, says the $150 million project will benefit the municipality in a number of ways.

“That will provide six ongoing jobs for maintenance and looking after the turbines, plus the economic development that’s available to other people in the shire because of the added business,” he said.

“There’s also the benefits of rates coming into the shire which relieves the burden on other ratepayers.”

However, Acciona says all its projects, including the Berrimal Wind Farm, are on hold because of the uncertainty caused by the Federal Government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target.

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Double benefit in farming both cattle and wind, in Western Australia

wind-farm-Snowtown-SAWA farmer living amongst wind turbines backs keeping Renewable Energy Target 7 NEWS BY CLAIRE MOODIESeptember 14, 2014 Living amongst 15 massive wind turbines might not be everyone’s idea of paradise, but West Australian Mid West farmer Bruce Garratt believes he is investing in the future.

Eight years ago, he agreed to accommodate the turbines as part of WA’s first privately-built wind farm, south of Geraldton, and is still enjoying the serenity.

“People tell me how noisy they are, people tell me how they affect your health,” he said. “I’ve had lots of people tell me different things that honestly, unless they have lived on a wind farm, they don’t really know what they are talking about.”

Mr Garratt, who manages cattle and crops on his 2,000 acre property, said the turbines — part of the Alinta Walkaway Wind Farm — provided an additional passive income, as well as a sense of purpose.

“No-one in their right mind could put up an argument and say that wind turbines aren’t of benefit,” he said. “They’re not producing C02.”

Mr Garratt is critical of the recent Warburton review that recommended either closing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) to new entrants or scaling it back…….

Coal-fired generators the winners: wind farm owner

Continue reading

September 15, 2014 Posted by | Western Australia, wind | Leave a comment

CSIRO prints solar panels!

solar-panel-printer-CSIROThe Power Of The Press: CSIRO Installs Solar Panel Printer By Amy McQuire  Solar technology In Australia took a step forward recently, with the installation of a machine that can print solar panels. Amy McQuire reports.

Printable solar panels could power our laptops and rooftops – even our skyscrapers – sooner than we think after a new solar-cell printer, the nation’s largest, was recently installed at the CSIRO.

The printer, worth $200,000 and funded by the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VOSCC), is able to print organic solar cells ten times the size of what was previously possible, and straight onto paper-thin plastic or steel.

It’s a faster and more cost-effective method than solar panels using traditional silicon cells (used to power objects like our calculators) because it uses organic polymers (a bonding of different materials) that absorb sunlight , generate charges and produce electricity.

Because these organic solar panels are more related to materials like cling wrap they are thin, flexible and printable.

The cells produce 10-50 watts of power per square metre (50 watts is enough to power a small laptop computer) and they can be printed fast, at speeds of up to ten metres per minute.

But the printer is not entirely new technology, the CSIRO says. It’s similar to what you would use to screen-print T-shirts. CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins said the aim was to make the technology as accessible as possible.

“We’re developing the technologies to work with existing printing processes, so the printers that we’ve got are the same sort of printers that you could use for paper, or even things like t-shirts, and we’re developing our processes to be able to use these existing printing technologies so that the barrier to entry for manufacturing these new printed solar cells is as low as possible,” Dr Watkins said.

The printer represents a significant step forward for the VOSCC team, which is made up of a consortium of the CSIRO and the Melbourne and Monash Universities, who have been working on printing solar cells since 2007.

The size of the solar cells were increased to an A3 size sheet of paper from the size of a coin in only three years.

The CSIRO says the possibilities are growing and there are companies interested in taking the technology commercial.

“Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers,” VICOSC project coordinator Dr David Jones said.

“By printing directly to materials like steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials.”

September 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Western Australia to lose 1000s of jobs if RET is scrapped – Senator Ludlam

Ludlam-in-SenateLudlam warns of job losses in wake of Renewable Energy Target review   WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has warned $800 million will be slashed from the WA renewable energy sector if the Abbott Government dumps the Renewable Energy Target.

The Warbuton Review into the RET, commissioned by the federal government in February, has recommended scrapping the target, which Senator Ludlam says will see up to $10.7 billion in renewable energy investment head overseas, threatening 21,000 jobs.

In WA, 16 per cent of households are solar-powered, and Mr Ludlam said the RET had benefited Perth’s poorer suburbs.

“A study by the Greens shows that WA’s poorer suburbs have the highest uptake in solar, which has collectively saved $87million a year or $560 per household,” he said. “WA is in a unique position to be the best investors in clean energy with our plentiful sunshine and independent energy market.

“WA now boasts 414 accredited solar installers and scrapping the RET would result in a loss of thousands of local jobs. The Greens has shown that if more investment into clean energy was supported, another 27,000 jobs could be created.”

A spokeswoman for State Environment minister Albert Jacob said the potential scrapping was federal government issue.

Comment is being sought from Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

September 15, 2014 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Canberra protestors worried about wind farms disturbing their rural setting

wind-farm-evil-1Residents fighting Jupiter wind farm plan Canberra protest, Canberra Times September 15, 2014  Land owners in communities along the Goulburn-Braidwood Road are continuing their self-described “David and Goliath battle” to stop a $400 million wind farm development proposed for 12,000 hectares in the area.

The Residents Against Jupiter Wind Turbines group last week said progress was being made in the fight, after another community meeting at Tarago and contact with Goulburn MP and planning Minister Pru Goward.

Planning is underway for a demonstration outside the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday as group members want territory residents to know the local impact of some renewable energy sources.

An Australian-Spanish joint venture is developing the 110 turbine wind farm on the properties of 25 landholders. The individual turbines are set to be more than 110 metres high, with three 63-metre rotor blades, near small towns at Lake Bathurst, Tarago, Mayfield, Boro, Mount Fairy and Manar.

Group spokesman Michael Crawford said many of the residents were current and former Commonwealth and state public servants who had migrated to the area, east of Goulburn, and were desperate to preserve their rural setting……..

The group believes the state’s wind farm development guidelines are inadequate, and fail to take full account of impacts including noise, visual changes, sleep and health effects and property values…..

The company has several proposed wind farm projects in New South Wales and Victoria.

Read more:

September 15, 2014 Posted by | ACT, wind | Leave a comment

Check on how the electricity utilities charge you big-time for solar hot water

a-cat-CANI think you could fix this excessive cost problem by switching to Powershiop

Dennis Matthews, 13 Sept 14 Matching supply and demand has always been a problem and is not unique to renewables.

An interesting thing about wind power in SA is that the % installed capacity (MW) is the same as the % delivered electricity (MWhr). In other words, wind power is no worse than non-renewables in terms of the amount of time that it is generating.

Sola-Kleen-Hot-waterConcerning off-peak electricity. This is very wasteful, you end up heating and reheating the same water because of heat losses, especially over night. In addition in some areas off-peak electricity is controlled centrally through a square wave distortion (SWD) system. This means that off-peak is no longer just overnight. It can be any time of the day that suits the electricity utilities. This has the effect of undercutting solar hot water systems. After sunrise, when solar starts to heat a solar hot water system, the electricity utility can, and does in my area, switch on the off-peak heater. In order to prevent this I have to physically switch off the off-peak hot water system at the meter box and turn it on again late in the day when solar is no longer effective.

I suspect this is happening to a lot of people in SA with solar hot water and they are wondering why their bills are still high. Look for the SWD box (grey in my case) in the meter box. If you have one then you may have to do the same as me.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, solar | Leave a comment

Australian solar investment – over 1500 businesses have gone solar!

Australia-solar-plug15,000+ Australian Businesses Have Gone Solar  More than 15,000 Australian businesses have installed solar panels says the Clean Energy Council.

“Businesses have now invested almost $460 million in solar power systems across the country, helping them to collectively save about $64 million on their bills every year,” said Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

Mr. Thornton says the businesses operate in a broad range of sectors –  from dairy and chicken farmers through to wineries, offices, supermarkets and retail outlets.

“There is an increasing recognition that the current modest support provided by the RET means the business case for solar power makes sense, helping businesses become more competitive in tough economic conditions.”

However, he warns slashing the Renewable Energy Target could see the opportunity lost or make it so paperwork-heavy some businesses simply wouldn’t bother.

“The rest of the world is going full-speed ahead on solar and there is a huge opportunity here for Australian businesses if we leave the RET alone,” he said.

Mr. Thornton states slashing the RET would also see the loss of up to 5800 jobs in this part of the nation’s solar power sector.

For now, the segment is humming along. National commercial solar providerEnergy Matters reports it has installed 4 megawatts capacity of commercial scale systems (10kW+) and currently has 2MW of projects in the pipeline.

Among the high profile projects in Energy Matters’ portfolio are Western Australia’s largest privately-owned rooftop solar power system (Bidvest Foodservices) and Australia’s largest privately funded array (NEXTDC’s M1 Data Centre in Melbourne).

In August, Energy Matters stated that just among its monitored systems, 1 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity had been generated and it expects cumulative generation for those systems to reach 3 million kilowatt hours by end of this year.

According to the August Sunwiz Insights, of the 48 x 100kW commercial solar power systems installed in Australia in the previous 3 months; Energy Matters led the rankings with 5 x 100kW systems.

A portfolio featuring a selection of Energy Matters’ commercial solar projects can be viewed here. Businesses interested in learning more about how solar can benefit their bottom line can contact Energy Matters’ commercial team on 1300 553 213 or by emailing

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Launch of Australian Energy Storage Council

Australian Energy Storage Council launched to bring together industry and promote standardisation PV Tech, By Andy Colthorpe  Sep 12, 2014  The Australian Energy Storage Council, a new industry representative body has been launched for energy storage in Australia, backed and co-founded by the Australian Solar Council.

The Australian Energy Storage Council was formally launched this morning. The Australian Solar Council will back the new organisation with resources initially, with solar council chief executive John Grimes also acting as its head.

“It is important that energy utilities engage with the energy storage sector sooner rather than later,” said Grimes. “Too often the energy sector ignores emerging technology trends and is blindsided when they are deployed widely. That’s why one of the first things the Energy Storage Council will do is to focus on developing standards and protocols for embedding energy storage into the energy network.”


The call for standardisation across the energy storage industry has been voiced by a wide cross section of parties, including academics and battery manufacturers.

The storage council will be a non-profit organisation, paid for by memberships, training activities and from hosting industry events. According to the council, it will seek to connect local members with global industry partners.

The new group joins other regional and international energy storage industry associations in the growing space, including the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA) and one of the earliest-formed organisations of its kind, the California Energy Storage Alliance, which according to CESA’s deputy head Chris Edgette, was influential in helping the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in drafting the recently issued mandate for utilities to install 1.3GW of storage by 2020………

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Large solar company First Solar not impressed with Abbott govt’s proposed compromise on Renewable Energy Target

US’s First Solar says Australian govt’s renewable energy ‘compromise’ likely to be rejected KERRIE SINCLAIR THE COURIER-MAIL SEPTEMBER 12, 2014  COMPROMISE position on Australian renewable energy market reform being touted by federal ministers won’t be palatable to the industry as it would still mean certain death, a leading solar company said Thursday.

Jack Curtis, regional vice president for Asia Pacific at First Solar, the US’s largest solar panel company, said a reform proposal now being floated, as well as the proposals of a federal government-commissioned review released last month, were all potentially fatal to Australia’s renewable energy industry.

First Solar has a $500 million active project pipeline in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, a potential future pipeline of $250 million and has a venture with Rio Tinto to build an up to 6.7 megawatt, $23.4 million solar power plant at the Weipa bauxite mine on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula……..

GE, one of Australia’s largest foreign investors, has rejected the Warburton review proposals, saying either option would risk pushing up household power bills and raise sovereign risk issues for the Australian economy.

First Solar on Thursday said the option that appeared to be emerging as the federal government’s possible compromise position would not be acceptable to the industry.

“I think you’ve already started to see this idea of a ‘real 20 per cent’ target being thrown about as the government’s potential compromise position,” Mr Curtis said.

“But any one of those three (the first two of the Warburton report or that compromise position) wouldn’t be palatable at all to the industry.

“Because it’s gradations of death for the industry. It’s a question of, ‘Do you want to die from one bullet in the head or two or three bullets in the head?’ It’s irrelevant because you’re still lying on the ground dead.”

Mr Curtis said it wasn’t clear if the federal LNP had decided its position on large-scale RET reform…….

“In some of the large projects we’re involved with, say in western NSW, more than 50 per cent of the project procurement comes from local companies that for example used to make parts for auto companies and have retooled to provide parts for solar projects.”

Mr Curtis also questioned Rio Tinto’s call this week for governments, industry and communities to support development of ‘clean coal’ technology which aims to capture and bury underground forever the planet-warming emissions of coal-fired power stations…….

“I’ve seen clean coal promoted as the solution to the world’s dirty coal problems for a long time and I’m yet to see anything that’s a commercially viable solution,” Mr Curtis said…….

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Flexible home solar energy storage system available in Australia

SMA Flexible Energy Storage System Available In Australia  11 Sept 14, For Australian solar households looking to distance themselves from the mains grid, the competitively-priced Sunny Home Manager Flexible Storage System is worth considering.

Whether the ultimate goal is to completely ditch the grid or still maintain a mains connection; this clever system from SMA is up to the task.

The system has been developed to enable households to store surplus electricity generated by their solar panel array for use when the sun isn’t shining or in blackout conditions. It consists of a Sunny Island battery inverter, a Speedwire Data Module, SMA Energy Meter and Sunny Home Manager.

Available from national solar provider Energy Matters; it’s an open concept that works with most battery technologies (including lithium-ion) and any existing grid connect inverter. This degree of flexibility allows Energy Matters to package an entire energy storage solution, including batteries, according to a customer’s needs and circumstances.


In the image above, the solar inverter converts the DC current produced by the solar panels to AC power for household use.

Any power not being used by household appliances is transmitted to the Sunny Island. The Sunny Island charges the batteries and also offers an uninterruptible, grid-quality power supply.

Power not being utilised by either the household or Sunny Island is exported to the mains grid.

At night, or when called upon, the Sunny Island converts the DC energy stored in the batteries back into AC power for use by the household.

The SMA Energy Meter communicates solar generation and consumption data via Speedwire to the Sunny Home Manager.

The Sunny Home Manager provides live data on electricity use to aid in smart energy management. Reports and visualisations of all the relevant electricity flows are displayed via a user-friendly interface, providing comprehensive and concise data.

Reports and data generated by the Sunny Home manager can be accessed on a PC or smartphone.

Unlike some grid-connected energy storage solutions, if a mains-grid blackout is experienced; the system doesn’t shut down – it will automatically switch to using the energy stored in the battery bank.

The SMA flexible storage solution is also “future-proof” – it will be compatible with future smart grid technologies.

September 11, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Developing methods for renewable energy to the grid

electric-carThe biggest factor is the roll out of electric vehicles

How to get renewable energy into the grid — without losing power The Conversation, Anthony Vassallo Delta Electricity Chair in Sustainable Energy Development at University of Sydney, 11 September 2014 

The recent review of the Australian Renewable Energy Target has once again raised the issue of the “unreliability” of some renewable power sources such as wind and solar power. Their variability, which arises from the weather or daily and seasonal cycles, leads some to conclude that they will only ever be able to supply a minority fraction of Australia’s electricity.

But for the most part we have the technology available to ensure a steady supply of power, and where we don’t, technology is rapidly advancing.

South Australia is at the forefront of integrating renewables into the existing grid. With more installed wind than any other state (almost 1,500 megawatts), wind now provides on average 25% of its annual electricity production. On recent occasions it provided 100% of the state’s needs and even exported 487 megawatts of power in June this year………

….Our national electricity grid (mostly on the eastern and southern states) is the result of decades of growth, largely built on legacy operation — large, remote, baseload coal power plants that need to operate continuously.

This resulted in the three tier generation comprising baseload, intermediate and peaking.

Baseload is the term used to describe the large coal-fired power plants that were designed to provide cheap, continuous power. In fact because of their size and design it was not feasible to greatly reduce their output overnight, so it was necessary to provide an incentive to consumers to use power at night to keep them running efficiently.

This was the “off-peak” hot water and other time independent loads that were encouraged through very low tariffs……….

Improving forecasts

There are a number of alternatives to managing this variability, such as more accurate renewable generation forecasting and demand response (i.e. specific actions to reduce customer loads, such as payments for reducing consumption).

Wind power generation can now be forecast with useful accuracy. In Australia, wind forecasting is now better than 10% error for 40 hours ahead, and better than 4% error for 1 hour forecast……. Continue reading

September 11, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | 1 Comment

The 3 demands at the top of the IPA’s 75-strong wish list for a “better Australia” were the repeal of the carbon price, the abolition of the Department of Climate Change and clean energy funds.


Parkinson-Report-Tony Abbott’s Year of Leading Dangerously, REneweconomy By  on 8 September 2014 Just over a year ago, after it became clear that Tony Abbott’s Coalition would sweep to a federal election victory, the predominant thought among many in the clean energy and climate policy space was: Well, he won’t be that bad, will he?

Yes, he will, and he has been. As we noted in our pre-election summary on September 6 last year, there was every reason to believe that anAbbott government could be worse than people feared. And not it should be noted, by doing anything Abbott hadn’t already flagged, but by doing exactly what he said he would do.

Several months earlier, RenewEconomy flagged Five ways Abbott could kill renewables in Australia. They were: Kill the carbon price, the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, make the renewable energy target unworkable, and disband the Climate Change Authority.

He has acted on all five. Here’s how he has progressed.

Can the carbon price. Tick.

Can or dilute the Renewable Energy Target, and make it unworkable. Tick. The Abbott government now has the recommendation it needs, from the controversial Warburton Review, now it just a matter of implementing them. The uncertainty in the industry has brought all large-scale investment to a halt.

Axe the Climate Change Authority. This was one of the government’s first acts. It hasn’t yet succeeded, but the CCA has been gutted by the departure of many key personal. It has been sidelined from the RET Review, and its key findings on climate policies and emissions targets are ignored by the government, and ipso facto by mainstream media.

Can the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. It’s still trying, with a vote to be presented to the Senate later this month. Funding has already been cut, but Abbott wants to cut all future funds and absorb the running of the committed projects back within a government department.

Can the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It tried, but once again the Senate has stymied its attempts. Still, the CEFC can be directed where to direct its funds, and it is increasingly likely it will be given modified mandates to help out with the discredited Emissions Reduction Fund, the key plank of Direct Action policy.

A lot of what Abbott has sought to achieve in his first year was mandated by the Institute of Public Affairs, the conservative think tank that has become a voice for extreme right views and vested interests. Continue reading

September 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

In spite of Tony Abbott, Australia’s Largest Solar Farm Opened

Australia’s Largest Solar Farm Opened 4 Sept 14  Canberra’s Royalla Solar Farm, owned by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), was opened on Wednesday.

The 24MWp solar power plant  is located just south of Tuggeranong, approximately 23 kilometres south of the Canberra CBD and will generate enough electricity to supply around 4,500 Canberra homes.
Comprised of 83,000 solar panels, it’s not only largest solar farm in Australia, Royalla is also the first large scale solar facility connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Among those at the opening were ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell, Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes and Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“This project has helped to demonstrate the exciting opportunity and massive benefits that large scale solar can deliver in Australia,” said Mr. Thornton.

“The Royalla Solar Farm is a showcase for what is possible using today’s technology, and has utilised many local businesses, suppliers and contractors to deliver a real boost to the local economy.” Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Australia’s top engineers call for keeping Renewable Energy Target as it is

Engineering peak body backs Renewable Energy Target 2 Sept 14  Following the release of the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target, peak professional body Engineers Australia has reiterated its support for maintaining the RET in its current form.
“Not only are there major environmental benefits to be had under RET, but there are significant employment and economic benefits to be gained from RET projects, especially in regional areas,” said Chair of Engineers Australia’s Sustainable Engineering Society, Dr Alice Howe.

“The RET is clearly delivering benefits for Australia, and Engineers Australia does not support moves to dilute or weaken its operation.

“Engineers are central players in delivering Australia’s energy infrastructure, and we stand by the need to create a long-term and sustainable energy sector in this country. Ongoing investment in renewables is a critical component of our energy security mix.

“Heavy reliance on fossil fuels creates a major vulnerability in our economy. If significant global action on greenhouse gas reductions occurs, the consequences for Australian energy exports and even Australia goods and services, due to their high carbon footprints, may be severe.

-“While we welcome strong public debate on this topic, we urge the government to stand by the RET in its current form. Engineers Australia believes that the RET should be retained to at least its present level,” said Dr Howe. -

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Ignore incorrect Report on Renewable Energy Target – say investors

solar-panels-and-moneyany changes to the RET scheme would need to pass through both the House of Representatives and the Senate and that Mackay Sugar would “continue to engage in the political process to urge government to adopt a more favourable approach”

Investors urge Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to ignore renewable energy target report KERRIE SINCLAIR THE COURIER-MAIL SEPTEMBER 02, 2014

AUSTRALIAN super funds with hundreds of millions of dollars ring-fenced for investment in renewable energy are poised to invest offshore unless the Federal Government makes a strong, long-term commitment to renewables.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, which represents Australian institutional investors with $1 trillion in funds under management, on Tuesday said it will urge the Abbott government to ignore a report which it said used incorrect investment assumptions. Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment


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