Red Centre keeps shining as solar technology hub http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/alice-springs-solar-hub-technology/5613534 ABC Rural By Lauren Fitzgerald Central Australia is continuing to attract international investment from the solar industry, despite the Alice Solar City initiative wrapping up more than a year ago. In its five-year history, the program helped hundreds of homes and businesses install solar panels and solar hot water systems.
The general manager of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Lyndon Frearson, says Alice Springs now also has a reputation as a hub for developing technology.
He says companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and America are all installing different solar PV modules at the CAT site. “The range of their investment varies depending on the size of the facility that they want to put in,” he said.
“Some of them are putting in little five-kilowatt systems as a test site, where they might be putting a number of small test sites around the world, through to a Swiss-based company which only has three R & D [research and development] facilities in the world, and they chose to build one of them here.
“And certainly those investments are in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Mr Frearson says local businesses like the Alice Springs Airport are also demonstrating an ongoing commitment to solar. “They received a subsidy to do their original project, but they’ve just [installed] 320 kilowatts off their own bat, completely their own investment. “And that’s both a maturing of the economics, that the solar panels are cheaper and the energy prices have changed.
“But it also shows a degree of confidence that they as an organisation and their board have in the technology to better run their business. “And there are a number of examples within Alice and broader afield throughout central Australia where different entities are making those decisions.
“So I think the legacy of Alice Solar City in central Australia is strong. “Certainly it’s something we see people talking about with pride, and we still see people outside of Alice focus very heavily on and see Alice Springs as a leader in this space.”
Wind companies question planning office response ENERGY companies will be allowed to make minor changes to wind farm planning permits from next month. Weekly Times 22 July 14, The move — which will pave the way for up to 964 turbines to be built across the state creating up to 2376 megawatts of wind energy — has been labelled a “change of heart” by Greens leader Greg Barber.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy said “we’re making a small adjustment to the planning scheme to allow existing wind farm planning permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology”……….http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/wind-companies-question-planning-office-response/story-fnkerdda-1226997709510
Clean Energy Finance Corporation plans expansion after dodging axe http://www.smh.com.au/business/clean-energy-finance-corporation-plans-expansion-after-dodging-axe-20140721-zvdhg.html#ixzz38MD2vaOK July 22, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has capped its first year of operations, managing to avoid the federal government’s axe and generating more than $3 billion in investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
The CEFC issued more than $900 million in loans in the year to June 30 – backed by the private sector at the rate of $2.20 for each of its own dollars – securing the annual abatement of at least 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process.
Chief executive Oliver Yates said the fund generated a “reasonable return” for the taxpayer, raising funds at the government rate of about 3.5 per cent and lending under commercial terms at about 7 per cent.
The CEFC aims to at least match last year’s investments this financial year, with many of the projects “very complementary” to the government’s $2.55 billion Direct Action plan to pay polluters, Mr Yates said.
“Our numbers to date are that energy efficiency upgrades to buildings are saving about 45 per cent in energy costs,” Mr Yates said. “The challenge for Direct Action is that you need to fund all the action before you get paid for it, and that comes down to who actually funds these projects.”
In its first year, the CEFC’s investments were split about 60-40 in favour of renewable energy – largely solar – over energy efficiency projects.
Insiders say morale remains high among the 50 or so staff despite the Coalition’s vow to scrap the fund, a move blocked by Labor, the Greens and lately the Palmer United Party.
“It’s a game of snakes and ladders and has been for a while,” Mr Yates said, noting the regular policy shifts including last week’s repeal of the carbon price and uncertainty over the government’s support for large-scale renewable energy target.
Despite that uncertainty, companies and banks continue to line up for new investment, particularly in small-scale solar photovoltaics (PV).
The CEFC announced on Tuesday it will provide as much as $120 million for three new solar PV financing programs, including $70 million for US-based SunEdison. Tindo Solar, the country’s only solar PV panel maker, will also get $20 million in loans.
The fund will also provide up to $80 million as part of a cornerstone investment with a unit of Colonial First State to create Australia’s first unlisted clean energy investment platform for institutional investors. Colonial First State will aim to raise as much as $500 million for investments.
Falling solar PV prices have made panels more attractive for residential and commercial users alike. Globally, solar PV investment fell 22 per cent last year but actual new capacity rose 27 per cent because of tumbling costs, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network.
Game-changing rooftop solar boom is squeezing the profits out of coal power in Australia http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/rooftop-solar-boom-squeezing-profits-coal-power-autralia.html Michael Graham Richard (@Michael_GR) 14 July 14
Solar power briefly turned electricity prices negative in Queensland Australia is known for its coal, which provides over 80% of its electricity and is a big export, but someday soon it might be known for its solar power. Thanks to rapidly falling solar PV prices, there’s been a rooftop solar boom in Australia. It’s now reaching a point where few coal generators made money last year, and even fewer will make profits this year… Wholesale energy pricing even briefly went negative in the middle of the day (see graph below) recently in the middle of the day in Queensland where there is 1.1 gigawatt of solar spread over more than 350,000 buildings.
Australia as a whole has about 3.4GW on 1.2 million buildings! Eventually, coal won’t be able to compete with solar at any price:
let’s imagine that the wholesale price of electricity fell to zero and stayed there, and that the benefits were passed on to consumers. In effect, that coal-fired energy suddenly became free. Could it then compete with rooftop solar?
The answer is no. Just the network charges and the retailer charges alone add up to more than 19c/kWh, according to estimates by the Australian energy market commissioner. According to industry estimates, solar ranges from 12c/kWh to 18c/kWh, depending on solar resources of the area, Those costs are forecast to come down even further, to around 10c/kWh and lower. (source)
The next step will be for people to get some storage and go off the grid to avoid having to pay these network charges. Australian solar installers are already reporting that “between 15 and 20 per cent of solar customers are asking about storage, and that rate is increasing each month.”
With companies like Tesla having ambitious goals to cut battery prices down over the next few years with gigafactories, the combo of cheap solar PV + cheap battery storage will be hard to beat. Dirty power sources will simply stop being competitive. Australia has lots of sun and high network costs, so it’s at the forefront of this movement. But most other countries will follow at their own pace. The best things we can do to accelerate the switch over to clean energy is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, create regulation that is more friendly to rooftop solar (net-metering, for example), and put a price on carbon emissions.
Photon to build solar plus storage unit for NSW broadcast tower REneweconmy, By Giles Parkinson on 15 July 2014 German-based solar group Photon Energy is to install a large scale solar plus battery storage hybrid power system at a telecommunications tower in New South Wales that it says could be the fore-runner of thousands of such installations across the country.
The system, to be installed at a broadcast tower operated by BAI near Muswellbrook, will provide 24/7 power through a 39kW solar array and a 215kWh battery storage installation. An 8kW diesel generator will provide standby in emergencies.
Photon Energy says once successfully tested the concept could be implemented on thousands of sites across Australia.
Michael Gartner, the head of Photon Energy‘s Australian operations, said the project was a great step forward“ for solar power to provide clean and economically viable power supply for remote sites.
“The potential for solar PV in the replacement of conventional energy sources is substantial and will bring cost benefits and emissions savings for Australia in the coming years and decades.“
“… We can show how to incorporate solar PV into any given energy system and prove that using abundant sunlight for your own power consumption is the way forward.”……..http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/photon-build-solar-plus-storage-nsw-broadcast-tower-37262
The Carbon Tax Is Dead, Long Live the ..? http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4399 18 July 14 The carbon tax is dead; but don’t expect to see a major difference in power bills – or for too long.
It doesn’t matter that many households were compensated for any impact of the scheme under the Household Assistance Package, or that the carbon tax prevented 11 to 17 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
Nor does it matter higher it resulted in some filthy brown-coal fired power stations being mothballed.
Like it or loathe it, it’s kaput. Spin bettered substance and Thursday’s passing of the repeal turned Australia from a leader to laggard.
“The repeal of Australia’s carbon price is a tragedy, not a triumph” said Michael Raupach Director, Climate Change Institute, Australian National University.
“It flies in the face of three giant realities: human-induced climate change, the proper role of government as a defender of the common good, and the emerging quiet energy-carbon revolution”.
According to the ABC, , consumers can expect to save between 20 and 50 cents each day on their electricity bills now the carbon tax has been repealed.
However, any financial benefit relating to power bills could quickly be eaten up by increases in other charges.For example, in New South Wales, Ausgrid wants increases of around 2 per cent a year over the next five years and TransGrid wants to raise prices by almost 4 per cent – this is just in relation to network charges.
Other states including South Australia have just implemented more electricity price rises. The average South Australian household will pay around $85 a year more.
In Queensland, households were recently hit with a 13.6 per cent increase, expected to cost the average household an extra $190 a year.
Depending what end of the scale of carbon tax savings are to be had, any relief may have already been gobbled up before many will receive their post-carbon tax bill. Anyone planning to do something other than pay power bills with the perceived windfall may need to re-evaluate those plans.
The search for the clean coal holy grail http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/ The Abbott government and a group of investors are pinning their environmental hopes on a clean coal technology that is still in the very early stages of development. Paddy Manning tracks the quest for the clean coal holy grail and investigates the men getting unspeakably rich from the search.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made clear that a key plank of the government’s plan to tackle climate change is reducing emissions from existing black and brown coal-fired power stations……
Ignite Energy Resources, a member of the DICE network, recently recieved a $20 million grant to produce liquid fuel for DICE engines from brown coal, among other things………
photo - Dr John White Executive Director, Ignite Energy Resources
Dennis Matthews 18 July 14 Electricity retailers in SA are required by law to pay domestic solar electricity generators only 7.6c a kWh (the minimum retailer payment) and this will automatically decrease to 6c/kWh now that the carbon pricing legislation has been repealed by the Abbott government. Yes, no ifs or buts, automatically!
Given the grossly unequal lobbying and market power of electricity retailers versus domestic solar generators then this can only be described as a travesty. And things are only going to get worse for the household consumer with price increases already flagged by retailers and the monopoly network provider.
Whilst we wait with bated breath to see what happens to what retailers are going to charge us, thanks to Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA), retailers already know that they will pay 20% less to domestic solar generators.
Annual investments in large-scale renewable energy in Australia http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/annual-investments-in-largescale-renewable-energy-in-australia-20140716-ztkwl.html July 16, 2014Tally of Australia’s investment in large-scale renewable energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
2000: $54.5 million
2001: $85.8 million
2002: $255 million
2003: $543.7 million
2004: $721.6 million
2005: 1.472 billion
2006: 1.797 billion
2007: $1.222 billion
2008: $1.198 billion
2009: $1.756 billion
2010: $3.091 billion
2011: $1.649 billion
2012: $1.924 billion
2013: $2.691 billion
PROPOSED $18M RENEWABLE ENERGY DIESEL HYBRID PROJECT AT COOBER PEDY Coober Pedy Regional Times July 14, 2014 Coober Pedy in the Far North of South Australia, hosting a population of around 3,000 people, derives it’s electricity from a 3.9 MW diesel power station, and a 0.15MW wind turbine.
Power capacity in the small desert town is set to increase to a massive 8.9 MW pending outcomes of today’s announcement that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has approved $18.5 million of support for a renewable energy, diesel hybrid project at Coober Pedy in South Australia.
The project is subject to a final investment decision by power provider Energy Developments Limited (EDL), along with approvals and agreements. If approved, completion is anticipated in mid-2017.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Energy Developments Limited (EDL) is proposing to combine wind, solar and diesel to provide the town with 70 per cent renewable energy over the life of the project. (picture below adapted from .http://cooberpedyregionaltimes.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/proposed-18m-renewable-energy-diesel-hybrid-project-at-coober-pedy/#more-8751)
“With ARENA’s support, EDL is seeking to integrate up to 2 MW of solar PV, 3 MW of wind generation and enabling technologies into its existing 3.9 MW diesel power station at Coober Pedy,” Mr Frischknecht said.
This ambitious project may demonstrate a combined approach for powering off-grid Australian communities that currently rely solely on expensive trucked-in diesel.
Yanni Athanasiadis, the Vice Chairman of Coober Pedy’s Retail Business and Tourism Association said today, “This is very good news for Coober Pedy that ARENA have allocated $18.5M towards a potential renewable energy diesel hybrid plant.”……….
Vice President of Coober Pedy Opal Miners Association John Dunstan said that the Miners Associaton has offered to allow the Solar and Wind infrastructure to be situated on a site opposite the existing power station, that the Association uses for it’s own industry purposes.
“If it’s going to help bring cheaper power to the Coober Pedy residents and businesses, the Miners Association are very willing to allow the installations of the 2 MW of solar PV, 3 MW of wind generation on it’s land.”
“Currently EDL have erected a wind monitor at the location to monitor wind speeds at Coober Pedy for the next 12 months to help determine what size turbines will be used”, said Dunstan. “Coober Pedy’s current wind turbine is 0.15MW but these new turbines will be over twice the size.” he said.
.Mr Frischknecht said the project will include short-term energy storage, fast start diesel engines and an advanced control system to enable smooth operation.
“These enabling technologies have been successfully tried and tested by Hydro Tasmania at the ARENA-supported King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project and this represents an opportunity to see them evolve for use on the mainland and in an outback community that has few alternative energy options,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“Further demonstration of these technologies is expected to reduce costs over time and improve opportunities for future deployment without subsidies…….http://cooberpedyregionaltimes.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/proposed-18m-renewable-energy-diesel-hybrid-project-at-coober-pedy/#more-8751
Banks Also At Risk From RET Threat http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4392 15 July 14, There’s a lot more riding on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target than just clean power, Australians taking control of their energy bills and thousands of jobs. Last week we mentioned a risk to the retirement savings of millions of Australians should the RET be gutted or abolished.
Now its been revealed Australian banks are holding nearly $900 million worth of large scale energy certificates (LGCs) connected to the Renewable Energy Target. The Australian states the banks include ANZ, Macquarie Group, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank; which hold 20 per cent of LGCs.
The value of these certificates has been fluctuating wildly as the argy-bargy over the RET continues. The Australian cites an example of LGCs plummeting from $30.50 per megawatt hour to $26.05 shortly after the appointment of climate-change sceptic Dick Warburton as head of the RET review. LGCs then hit a low of $22.43 in June due to uncertainty of the outcome of the review.
However, when Senator Ricky Muir weighed in on the subject of supporting renewables last week, their value reached $30.80. Uncertainty over the future of the RET isn’t just affecting LGC value. The situation is driving investment away from Australia and the longer the situation goes on, the more difficult it will be to attract local and foreign investment back as these investors will increasingly see Australia as wishy-washy on renewables and subsequently, high risk.
Pacific Hydro recently announced plans to cut 10 per cent of its Australian workforce due to uncertainty over the carbon tax and Renewable Energy Target.
It’s quite a ridiculous situation given the amount of investment and number of jobs at risk; along with other benefits. It’s become even more incredulous in light of the the Government’s own modelling showing the RET will reduce power bills for end consumers. Even with the facts firmly established, the Government is instead choosing to perpetuate myths about the RET.
PowerLegato Energy Storage System Available In Australia http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4390 14 July 14 AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) has announced its PowerLegato commercial and home energy storage system is now available to Australian customers.
Available in 7.2, 4.8 and 2.4 kWh models, PowerLegato can be used in both on-grid and off-grid applications and boasts among the world’s highest energy density in such a unit. AUO says the PowerLegato can store an average 25% more energy per kilogram of weight than competing products.
Very competitively priced, the PowerLegato is the recipient of iF and Reddot design awards and the software that runs the system, EnergyOptimizer, also won this year’s iF Communication Award.
The PowerLegato’s hybrid inverter and charger architecture, EnergyOptimizer software and battery management system (BMS) helps ensure maximized power independence, safe operation and longer battery life. The system has been made to be as user-friendly as possible and incorporates a password protected touch panel.
The PowerLegato’s 48v lithium-ion batteries are made in Japan and feature over current, over temperature, over voltage and undervoltage protection.
The unit is IP31 rated, meaning it is protected from condensation.When PowerLegato is installed in conjunction with a solar panel system, the main power supply will come from the PV system during favourable conditions and once the PowerLegato is fully charged; surplus exported to the mains grid. During the night or on days with heavy cloud, the energy stored in PowerLegato can be used first and the mains grid acts as a backup. The system can also operate fully stand-alone from the grid.
In April 2010, AU Optronics Corp was listed among the top 100 green companies in China. One of its subsidiary companies is BenQ Solar, the manufacturers ofBenQ solar panels.
The home energy storage revolution is at a point reminiscent of the rooftop solar revolution just a few years ago – the products are rapidly decreasing in price and the range available is growing at a fairly rapid clip. Just last week we announced the Samsung SDI All In One home energy storage system is now also available in Australia from Energy Matters
PowerLegato datasheet (PDF)
Ricky Muir seeking to save the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Lenore Taylor, political editor theguardian.com, Tuesday 8 July 2014 Senator is seeking to amend the carbon tax repeal bills to stop $435m in funding being stripped from the clean energy body Motoring Enthusiast senator Ricky Muir has emerged as a surprise would-be saviour of the $2bn Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena), seeking to amend the carbon tax repeal bills to stop $435m in funding being stripped from the clean energy body and promising to try to stop its abolition.
Muir’s amendment is very similar to one already circulated by the Australian Greens, and seeks to stop immediate funding reductions for Arena, which the government is seeking to abolish with separate legislation to be voted on in September.
The move raises the possibility that the crossbench could frustrate the government’s intention to abolish Arena. Palmer United party senators have already promised to stop the government’s plan to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the existing renewable energy target.
But the government is already seeking to effectively close Arena ahead of legislation passing, refusing to reappoint board members as their terms expire. The government wants to return $1.3bn in Arena funding to the budget, and then have the industry department oversee around $900m in funding deals that have already been struck.
Muir’s amendment would stop the immediate $435m funding cut announced by the Coalition last September, but a spokesman for the Victorian senator said it was the first step in an attempt to retain the body.
“Ricky wants to preserve Arena. He is in favour of renewable energy and he thinks it is doing great work,” the spokesman said. Muir’s intervention comes as the Senate prepares to pass the package of bills repealing the carbon tax on Wednesday or Thursday, with the backing of the three Palmer United party senators and others on the new crossbench.
PUP’s Senate leader, Glenn Lazarus, introduced PUP’s only amendment to the main carbon tax repeal bills on Tuesday, reversing the onus of proof so that power retailers must show they have passed on cost savings to households.
As previously reported by Guardian Australia, PUP is also finalising amendments to legislate its dormant ETS, which it has announced will be part of the bill to repeal the climate change authority.
PUP has said its amendments will retain the CCA to advise governments on when a set of conditions are met to activate the Australian ETS. The negotiations are about exactly what actions will be required by trading partners the United States, the European Union, South Korea, Japan and China for the Australian ETS to be enacted.
At times PUP leader Clive Palmer has referred to the other countries having to have an ETS, but another proposal is that they would need to have an “effective” carbon price at a certain level, meaning they might be achieving significant greenhouse gas reductions through different policies.
The uncertainty about the amendment means the Climate Change Authority Repeal Bill will be considered separately to the rest of the carbon tax repeal legislation. It is unclear whether the government is considering the amendment.
Introducing the PUP’s power pricing amendments, Lazarus said the Australian ETS would occur “if the day comes when our American trading partners, the US, China, the EU, Japan and Korea set up an emissions trading scheme.”
Lazarus said the carbon tax repeal was “historic”.
It is understood the PUP senators and independent senator Nick Xenophon and DLP senator John Madigan are still considering how they will vote on the legislation to repeal Arena, but may back the Greens and Muir and refuse to allow its abolition.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/08/ricky-muir-seeking-to-save-the-australian-renewable-energy-agency?cmp=wp-plugin
World’s first building-integrated solar system built in Australia http://ecomento.com/2014/07/08/worlds-first-building-integrated-solar-system-built-in-australia/ July 8, 2014 – NextPremium.co Many people looking to go (at least partially) off the grid install rooftop solar panels, but a house purpose-built for solar power is another matter entirely.
The first building-integrated solar energy system was recently installed in a house in suburban Sydney, Australia, CleanTechnica reports.
The house’s rooftop array thin-film photovoltaic panels with a solar-thermal duct system that warms and cools the air. While the top layer produces electricity like any other solar panel, heat trapped between the layers is also used by the house.
Australian steel manufacturer Bluescope produced the $5 million system with government assistance in the form of a $3.2 million loan grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Government money is often an important factor in getting projects like this off the ground (no pun intended).
Whether integrated solar catches on remains to be seen, but at least the public will now get a chance to see what this technology can do. This post appeared first on NextPremium.com
How pushing water uphill can solve our renewable energy issues The Conversation, Andrew Blakers Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES) at Australian National University 9 July 2014
More and more renewable energy sources are being plugged into Australia’s electricity grids. South Australia, for example, will get 40% of its electricity from wind and solar once the Snowtown wind farm is completed later this year.
But if renewable energy is ultimately to dominate the market, we will need ways to store the energy so we can use it round the clock. The good news is that it is easy to store energy. All you need is two small reservoirs – one high, one low – and a way to pump water between them.
This technique, called “off-river pumped hydro energy storage”, can potentially provide the energy storage that Australia needs to embrace renewables fully. It’s cheap, too.
How pumped hydro works
When there is excess electricity, water is pumped through a pipe or tunnel, to the upper reservoir. The energy is later recovered by letting the water flow back down again, through a turbine that converts it back into electricity. Efficiencies of 90% in each direction are possible.
Pumped hydro is by far the most widely used form of energy storage, representing 99% of the total. Worldwide, pumped hydro storage can deliver about 150 gigawatts, mostly integrated with hydroelectric power stations on rivers………..
There is little opportunity for Australia to develop on-river hydroelectric power, because of environmental and other constraints. But, there are vast opportunities for short-term off-river energy storage. A typical site would comprise a pair of small reservoirs connected by a pipe through which water would be cycled daily, together with a pump and turbine, powerhouse and power lines.
Australia has thousands of excellent potential sites in hilly areas outside conservation reserves, with typical elevation differences of 750 m. They don’t need to be near a wind or solar farm.
Off-river electricity storage has several advantages over typical on-river facilities:
- There are vastly more potential sites
- Sites can be selected that do not clash with environmental and other values
- The upper reservoir can be placed on top of a hill rather than in a valley, allowing the elevation difference to be maximised
- No provision needs to be made for floods (typically a major cost).
A system comprising twin 10-hectare reservoirs, each 30 m deep, with a 750 m elevation difference, can deliver about 1,000 megawatts for five hours.
Between 20 and 40 of these systems would be enough to stabilise a 100% renewable Australian electricity system……..http://theconversation.com/how-pushing-water-uphill-can-solve-our-renewable-energy-issues-28196