Renewable energy is not only a tool to provide clean energy and control the emissions that are changing our climate. It is also a growth industry offering employment and revenue opportunities almost exclusively in regional and rural communities.
For many farming landowners, such as Peter, Leigh and David Watts, of Yeungroon, featured in The Weekly Times last week, lease payments from turbines are a way to drought-proof farms by ensuring ongoing income in tough times.
There is enormous potential to grow the partnerships between rural communities and renewable energy providers.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has signalled a new approach to renewable energy and this has given businesses such as energy company Acciona the confidence to make major investments in Australia.
Last month, it announced plans to progress the Mt Gellibrand wind farm proposal, which would provide clean power to more than 100,000 households. The project would create more than 100 jobs in the building phase, about 10 ongoing roles, and deliver substantial revenue for the life of the wind farm to landowners, council and the wider community.
Australia’s Renewable Energy Target has generated $18.5 billion of investment and, under the revised target, we expect to see at least another $10 billion by 2020.
Today the industry employs more people than the coal-generation sector in Australia. With stable policy settings, a clear direction on emissions targets and an understanding that Australia requires a more sophisticated approach to energy policy, the renewables sector is well placed to innovate and grow.
Improving technology in the wind sector means we can now generate more electricity from fewer turbines and maintain an income stream for landowners, councils and community organisations in regional and rural communities. It is my hope regional Australia and the renewables sector can grow together. Andrew Thomson is managing director of energy company Acciona
DP Energy seeks approval for big solar/wind project near Port Augusta as public urged to have say ABC News2 Feb 16 Port Augusta’s council is encouraging the public to share their views on a renewable energy park proposed to the south of the city, along the Augusta Highway.
DP Energy has submitted an application to the state Development Assessment Committee for the project, which contains up to 59 wind turbines and 1.6 million solar panels, to be built in stages south of Port Augusta.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said the project fits in well in the region, which aims to be a centre for renewable energy.
“It’s been demonstrated in Port Augusta through Sundrop Farms using the technology which they’re using, in this case yes we know that wind turbines do exist around the world and around the countryside and in South Australia as well as solar PV [photovoltaic], but this one is the first of its kind in linking the two together,” he said.
The proposal is now out for public consultation and councillor Johnson is encouraging people to have a say……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-02/dp-energy-seeks-nod-for-solar-wind-project-near-port-augusta/7133076
“The fact that Arena and the CEFC are still on the chopping block shows that the Liberals’ attacks on renewables hasn’t stopped under Malcolm Turnbull. Greg Hunt has confirmed that these two agencies will remain in the Turnbull Liberal government’s sites.”
Renewables agency stripped of members and run by bureaucrat http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/feb/02/australian-renewables-energy-agency-arena-board-terms-expire-bureaucrat
Board terms expire, leaving body tasked with investing in emerging technology in hands of department secretary for second time in two years. ll appointed board members of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency have had their terms expire and have not been replaced, leaving it governed by the secretary of the Department of the Environment, Guardian Australia has learned.
The same thing happened in 2014 while Tony Abbott was prime minister, and the move has now been criticised as an attempt by the Turnbull government to remove the independence of the agency.
According to legislation, the board must consist of the secretary of the Department of the Environment and up to six others appointed by the minister. The agency can operate with the secretary being the only board member, since it reaches quorum when a majority of the board members are present, which now occurs with one.
Parliament sits for the first time in 2016 on Tuesday, with bills abolishing both the renewable energy agency (Arena) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation still before parliament, despite having been rejected by the Senate. Signs indicate the Turnbull government intends to keep them. Continue reading
Solar power station in Collinsville could be under construction this year, ABC News (includes Audio) 2 Feb 16 QLD Country Hour By David Sparkes Construction of a $100 million solar power station in Collinsville, North Queensland, could begin this year if a deal is struck for selling the electricity.
Ratch Australia plans to build the station on the site of the disused coal power station it purchased in 2011.
Business development executive general manager Anthony Yeates said the company had been short-listed in an tender process with Ergon Energy and, failing that, there were other potential clients for an off-take agreement.
“The bulk of the development activities are all completed, so it’s a fairly advanced project and it’s really just awaiting us to close out some of the important commercial arrangements,” he said………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-02/ratch-australia-collinsville-solar-project-could-begin-this-year/7132424
The latest report shows that almost two-thirds of Australians want to be self-sufficient in meeting their energy needs and while battery systems will not give complete independence for most consumers, it does offer a bit more control.
Costs of battery storage systems have been falling at a rapid rate and forecasts are for this trend to continue as more and more households adopt them. It is expected that prices will halve again within the next five years.
Solar panels have also gotten cheaper, with the Climate Council reporting a 75 per cent drop in price over the past five years.
Companies such as Reposit, an ACT-based start-up, are using the grid’s infrastructure to allow people to trade their energy directly on the wholesale market, effectively acting like a mini power station in everybody’s backyard.
Explained: The Tesla Powerwall and what it means for Australia’s energy market, ABC News, 2 Feb 16, The Powerwall, a lithium-ion battery system designed to store electricity generated from rooftop solar panels, is widely considered to be a game-changer for the electricity industry. 7.30 has asked consumer group Choice to crunch the numbers. Here’s what they found.
Mr McLachlan has appealed against the approval of the $700 million wind farm, to feature 114 turbines standing up to 165m high dotted along the ranges between Palmer, Tungkillo and Sanderston.
The appeal is listed against wind farm developers Trustpower, the Mid Murray Council, Environment Protection Agency, the Planning Department and the Environment Minister.
A preliminary conference is scheduled to be heard in the Environment, Resources and Development Court by Commissioner Lolita Mohyla at 3.30pm tomorrow.
Mr McLachlan’s is one of four appeals filed against the wind farm, which was approved by the Mid Murray Council’s development assessment panel on December 18. He yesterday declined to comment about the appeal.
In December, he submitted a video message to the development assessment panel opposing the wind farm being built.
Even if it were to be conclusively established wind farms do not produce health problems, it’s annoying and affects quality of life,” he said.
“I was frankly heartbroken that this land will be forever marred by enormous man-made structures.”
Green Light For Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/williamsdale-solar-farm-em5315/ February 1, 2016 Energy Matters
The proposal was “called in”, meaning the Minister assumed the role of assessment manager for the development application. The Minister is able to call in a project if a development is considered a major policy issue, has a major effect on government objectives and provides a substantial benefit.
“Once completed, the solar farm will power more than 2500 homes, contributing to the Territory’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Minister Mick Gentleman.
“Under the Territory’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy, renewable energy will account for roughly 73 per cent of the emission reductions needed if the ACT is to reach its legislated 2020 target.”
The solar farm will be situated on farmland near the Monaro Highway and Angle Crossing Road in Tuggeranong, at a site just a couple of hundred metres from the ACT’s border with New South Wales. The new solar power station will be around 10 kilometres from the 24MW Royalla Solar Farm.
Minister Gentleman stated he has imposed strict conditions on the development as part of his decision, in order to address concerns raised in four submissions by members of the community. One of those conditions is that non-glare materials be used. Appropriate landscaping works will also be carried out and sufficient bushfire management measures put in place.
Even with the conditions imposed on the Williamsdale project, some still aren’t happy the project is going ahead and feel the consultation process was lacking.
The Williamsdale site wasn’t the first choice for the solar farm. It was originally proposed to be built adjacent to Uriarra Village. However, many Uriarra Village residents were strongly opposed to the project; primarily on the basis of aesthetics and what they stated was a lack of procedural fairness.
The ACT has a legislated target of 90% renewable energy by 2020; a goal it appears it will reach. In August, ACT Labor proposed an even more ambitious renewables target – 100% by 2025.
Queensland installs Australia’s first Powerwall battery for solar trial, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 18 Jan 16 Energex, which is owned by the state government, launches a 12-month trial of solar batteries to investigate ways to integrate them into electricity supply
A Queensland government-owned power company has installed the country’s first solar battery storage system from Tesla as it begins a year-long trial into how it can reward consumers who cut their reliance on the electricity grid.
Energex, which has installed a Tesla Powerwall and another storage system from Californian company Sunverge at its Brisbane training facility, will collect data to work out how to integrate solar batteries into the network with financial incentives for customers.
The trial, which will extend monitoring of systems in Energex employees’ homes to those in outside consumers’ in coming months, follows lobbying by the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, of Tesla executives in the US six months ago.
Queensland boasts one of the highest rates of household solar panel systems in the world, although uptake in recent years has been inhibited by a dramatic cut in the rate consumers are paid for power that they return to the grid.
The commercial release of the Powerwall this year is widely expected to drive popular take-up of a system that at best would supply about seven hours of nightly power for televisions, air-conditioning and other appliances……..
Terry Effeney, the chief executive of Energex, said information about the effect of solar batteries on peak demand could allow power network operators to defer costly infrastructure investments or reduce generation where possible.
Contrary to the idea of consumers being able to quit the grid, Effeney said the 12-month trial would “demonstrate that in fact the best way to use batteries and solar is to integrate them into the grid to deliver the best possible outcome to the customers”. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/18/queensland-installs-australias-first-powerwall-battery-for-solar-trial
Queensland searches for a solar fix, THE AUSTRALIAN, JANUARY 18, The acid test for governments, here and everywhere, in the post-Parisian energy environment is turning talk in to meaningful action……Annastacia Palaszczuk’s regime in Brisbane is embarking on a year in which it must put its policies where its mouth was in January 2015, when it scored an upset win in the state elections.
Committed to being the nation’s standard bearer on advancing solar power, the government has sensibly thrown the ball to its new Productivity Commission before it acts…..
The commission’s official role is to come up with a “fair price for solar exports” — that is, the surplus power from householders’ rooftop PV arrays flowing in to the southeastern Queensland grid.
The commission’s draft report is due next month and the final version in May.
Its impact will be felt beyond Queensland’s borders as policymakers elsewhere also have a keen interest in riding the wave of solar enthusiasm that sees the number of Australian homes with PV on their rooftops creeping up towards 1.5 million, a penetration rate of 16 per cent nationally…….
Wind company seeking Aboriginal stakeholders for possible solar farm development http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-13/wind-company-seeking-aboriginal-stakeholders-for-possible-solar/7086478 By Kerrin Thomas The company behind the White Rock Wind Farm, to be located in northern New South Wales, is considering developing a solar farm nearby and is seeking Aboriginal stakeholders to assist in preparing a heritage assessment.
Construction of Stage 1 of the White Rock Wind Farm is expected to start soon, at the site 24kms west of Glen Innes.
70 wind turbines will be constructed initially, expected to produce enough energy to power 75,000 homes a year.
The proponent, Goldwind Australia, has now engaged a company to conduct an assessment of the Aboriginal heritage impacts of a potential solar farm adjacent to the wind farm site.
The company is proposing a 20 to 25 MW facility that would occupy an area of about 50 hectares, with power to be exported through the wind farm’s substation.
NGH Environmental has been engaged to seek information from Aboriginal Stakeholders with cultural knowledge of the Maybole/Spring Mountain area. The purpose of the consultation with Aboriginal people is to assist the proponent in the preparation of the Aboriginal heritage assessment.
Those involved in the process will be required to assist in the determination of the cultural significance of any Aboriginal objects or places within the subject area.
Registrations close later this month.
Queensland solar farms in the race for federal funding http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-solar-farms-in-the-race-for-federal-funding/news-story/54e6f7e5880087d774e2661f94898c12 January 15, 2016 JESSICA MARSZALEK The Courier-Mail THE Sunshine State could be set for a huge boost to its solar industry with 10 large-scale solar farms vying for $100 million in Federal Government grants.
The projects earmarked for Queensland, including in Dalby, Proserpine, Oakey, Hughenden, Longreach and Ipswich, are among 22 nationwide invited to make applications to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that the projects together represented a potential $1.68 billion investment in solar.
“The shortlisted proposals were chosen from a very strong field, demonstrating Australia is ready to invest in utility-scale renewable energy options suited to the 21st century,” Mr Hunt said.
Large-scale solar photovoltaic power is in its infancy in Australia with only three projects commissioned and three more under consideration. It is far fewer than in comparable international markets, with ARENA hoping the technology becomes more competitive in the future as costs come down and government support won’t be necessary.
Strong Renewable Energy Support In Key LNP Electorates http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/renewables-australia-lnp-em5288/
January 12, 2016 The passion for renewables in Australia isn’t waning, but support for coal appears to be – particularly when it comes to new mines. This is a continuing trend among voters of all political leanings.
72-77% of voters recently polled in conservative electorates support Australia becoming a 100% renewable energy powered nation by 2030.
A ReachTEL-conducted survey of thousands of residents across the federal electorates of New England, Page, Warringah and Dickson in December revealed just 14% to 18% opposed a renewables powered Australia.
The polling of these voters also indicated a global moratorium on new coal mines had strong support; at 50 – 57%.
It will come as no surprise that Labor and Greens voters indicated even stronger support.
“Renewable energy is popular across the political spectrum. Part of Tony Abbott’s undoing was that he placed himself at odds with the electorate on this issue,” said Ben Oquist, Executive Director of The Australia Institute said.“These results show politicians of any hue who undermine support for a 100% renewable future risk an electoral backlash.”
Mr. Oquist also stated construction of new mines in a struggling market is “a recipe for economic disaster.”
“China recently announced a 3 year moratorium on new coal mines. Malcolm Turnbull can and should show the same commitment to deliver on commitments made at the Paris climate meeting in December,” he said.
The chances of a moratorium? Late last year, Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg claimed there was a “strong moral case” for coal. Also in October, the Federal Government granted Adani re-approval to build the massive and very controversial Carmichael coal mine
Back in 2014, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) issued a wake-up call to investors, stating the global coal industry’s economic models were flawed. IEEFA said major coal projects with a reliance on export markets such as India constituted a huge financial risk.
The Australia Institute is actively campaigning against new coal mines in Australia and says a local moratorium will send the strongest political signal that the reign of coal is over.
Renewable energy calculator launched for farmers http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/renewable-energy-calculator-launched-for-farmers/2896307/ 12th Jan 2016 NSW Farmers has developed and launched an online calculator to help households and small farm businesses to test the financial viability of investing in solar PV and batteries.
The online calculator was launched to coincide with Tesla’s announcement that Australia would be the first market to receive its PowerWall battery which, along with other battery products, is expected to significantly accelerate the penetration of renewable energy across Australia.
NSW Farmers energy expert Gerry Flores cautioned households and small to medium farm businesses to adopt a conservative approach to this new technology.
“It’s important for farm business owners to consider whether energy storage is right for them before they make any substantial investments,” he said.
Mr Flores, a photovoltaics engineer who developed the calculator, said it could estimate potential savings and the financial case for several scenarios in NSW.
To help households and farm businesses better understand and utilise the calculator, NSW Farmers will hold a webinar on Friday January 22 at 10:30am.
For further information or to register click here.
For more information about the calculator click here.
The products are being launched at Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural centre in Adelaide on Wednesday 2 September. Ms Oberon said Adelaide was chosen for the launch because of the council’s Sustainable City Incentive Scheme, which provides up to $5000 towards the cost in installing solar PV storage across the residential, business, education and community sectors. Funding for the program also has financial support from the South Australian government.
“We felt it was important to acknowledge the South Australian government and the City of Adelaide for such a forward-looking and innovative scheme,” Ms Oberon said.
The company is also hoping other state governments and councils will be encouraged to take up the idea of supporting the uptake of renewable energy storage.
The company’s core mission is based on the fundamental Aboriginal approach of stewardship of the earth and its resources. This means needing to shift out of high-emissions fossil-fuel derived energy.
Aboriginal-owned energy company one-upping Tesla By Willow Aliento, The Fifth Estate Friday 8 January 2016 The renewable energy storage game is about to be disrupted, with Australian Aboriginal-owned company AllGrid Energy announcing the launch of WattGrid, a new 10kWh solar energy storage system it says is around 30 per cent cheaper than the Tesla Powerwall.
Customers also don’t have to wait until 2016. Spokeswoman for AllGrid, Deborah Oberon, said the company expected to be making its first deliveries in the next two to three months.
The $11,999 WattGrid unit comprises an aluminium cabinet containing tubular lead acid gel batteries, and a hybrid 5kW solar inverter with battery management system that has load share capability with the grid and uninterrupted power supply capability.
The unit is also accompanied by a software app, WattsHappening, that allows users to view real-time information and interface with the system.
Beta testing has shown the unit can help solar owners maintain an energy supply profile that can be matched to the demand profile, potentially rendering drawing grid power unnecessary.
The Queensland-based company is also releasing another product it has developed, the PortaGrid. This is an independent unit comprising solar panels, storage, UPS, inverter and outlets that is suitable for remote and off-grid locations, as well as emergency situations.
The units can be supplied with an inbuilt weather station that will automatically close up the panels in the event of a severe weather hazard such as a cyclone. Continue reading
WA’s rooftop solar so popular power privatisation not an option, says expert, Guardian, Calla Wahlquist, 6 Jan 16 Prof Philip Jennings, a renewable energy expert, says investors would be unlikely to be interested in unprofitable power networks Western Australia would not be able to privatise its electricity assets “even if they gave it to them for nothing” because the popularity of rooftop solar panels has made state-owned power stations unprofitable, a renewable energy expert has said. Continue reading