Australian news, and some related international items

Utility scale solar projects to benefit from ARENA funding as solar costs have fallen

logo-ARENACost cuts set solar on track to capture share of RET February 11, 2016  Energy Reporter Rapid cost reductions have put solar power on a fast-track to capturing at least some of the 2020 Renewable Energy Target market for large-scale projects and are attracting a new breed of player into the local sector.

Last month’s short-listing by the Australian Renewable Energy Association of 22 projects for funding under its $100 million grant round featured a number of names new to Australia, as well as many taking their first foray into solar. Indian conglomerate Adani, better known for its controversial Galilee coal ambitions, also revealed its local solar ambitions this week.

Australia’s wealth of sunshine sets it up to become a leading player in large-scale solar, according to ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht, in a logical follow-on from our enthusiastic adoption of rooftop solar.

Frischknecht points to startling progress on the cost front over the past few years for utility-scale solar projects. Continue reading

February 13, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Telstra to rollout solar and battery storage technologies

Aust-sunTelstra takes on energy utilities with home solar and storage plan, Independent Australia Giles Parkinson 11 February 2016  Telstra’s rollout of solar and battery storage looks to be a game-changer in the home energy market. RenewEconomy‘sGiles Parkinson reports. 

AUSTRALIA TELECOMMUNICATIONS giant Telstra plans to accelerate the rollout of solar and battery storage technologies, and is looking to offer home energy services to millions of consumers in the first sign it will take on the major energy utilities.

Telstra has established a dedicated project team to be led by Ben Burge, the feisty CEO of Powershop and Meridian Energy Australia,which has made major inroads into the Australian energy oligopoly, and which has been a keen proponent of wireless technology and smart-phone apps.

The arrival of a giant corporation such as Telstra into the home energy market signals massive change in the industry, as new technologies such as solar and battery storage, and the “internet of things” offer new avenues to the consumer market.

Telstra is flagging the possibility of offering home energy services – including solar and battery storage – as part of its bundled services that includes internet and telephone.

Telstra’s head of new business, Cynthia Whelan says in her corporate blog:

We see energy as relevant to our Connected Home strategy, where more and more machines are connected in what is called the Internet of Things.

We are looking at the opportunities to help customers monitor and manage many different aspects of the home, including energy……..

Analysts have predicted for several years now that the traditional energy industry would come under attack from new players such as telcos, and IT giants such as Google.

Mark Coughlin, the head of utilities at PwC, says electricity utilities, are facing their “Kodak moment” as the emergence of rooftop solar, in combination with battery storage and smart software, shift the power from the utility to the customer.

And, he says, telcos such as Telstra are better at consumer service than energy utilities, which will struggle to maintain their right to survive. …….,8666

February 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, solar, storage | Leave a comment

Adani going for solar energy project in Australia

Adani pursuing solar energy project  February 10, 2016  Indian mining giant Adani is pursuing a solar power project in Australia after years of delays in building a mega coalmine in central Queensland.

The company has confirmed it is chasing investment opportunities in Australia’s solar generation sector, saying it is focusing on potential opportunities in Queensland and South Australia…….


    February 11, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

    In bushfire season, Solar microgrids and batteries are safer than conventional grid

    heat_waveTurner says his company has been in productive talks with Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio over the prospect of subsidising Zen Energy systems capable of running as a localised backup for periods when the grid needs to be switched off

    Solar microgrids and batteries could prevent another Black Saturday bushfire, Guardian,  9 Feb 16, The cause of the Kilmore East fires that contributed to Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires was found to be an ageing SP AusNet power line

    Smaller sustainable energy systems are a better option than trying to maintain ageing Australian energy infrastructure, say experts  
    On 7 February, Australia solemnly marked the anniversary of an electrical fault.It was on this date in 2009 that Melbourne endured its hottest conditions on record – a sweltering 46.4C.

    To make matters worse, hot winds blasted through the region at speeds in excess of 100km/h. In Kilmore East, just north of Melbourne, a critical failure in a 43-year-old power line caused bursts of 5000C plasma to arc out and ignite the tinder-dry vegetation in the gully below.

    Fanned by such extreme winds, the fast-growing inferno would by the end of the day be responsible for the majority of the 173 lives lost in the dozens of fires that engulfed Victoria on Black Saturday, Australia’s worst bushfire disaster.

    Several of the other blazes that day were started by felled power poles and other electrical issues. This was also the case for many other fires before and since, including Australia’s previous-worst bushfire tragedy, the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, which claimed 75 lives.

    Richard Turner, director of South Australian renewable energy powerhouse Zen Energy, has a plan to stop such a thing happening again. Continue reading

    February 10, 2016 Posted by | solar, storage, Victoria | Leave a comment

    South Australia Riverland farmers get new crop – harvesting the sun

    solar leasngSolar venture in SA Riverland aims to make abandoned crop land productive again, ABC News, 10 Feb 16  By Isabel Dayman Solar energy might be a saviour for some South Australian Riverland fruit growers who abandoned their crops and land during severe drought late last decade.

    Key points:

    • Solar test site has 800 panels on the roof of an old storage depot
    • Proponent Mark Yates says all profits would stay in the local community
    • Many fruit blocks were abandoned at the end of last decade due to severe drought

    A test site with 800 solar panels on the roof of an old storage depot at Renmark has been set up by Yates Electrical Services director Mark Yates to show what might be possible.

    “We wanted to use this as a test case to see what the viability of the small-scale generation plants could be and whether they could be implemented in a community,” he said.

    “We’d like to get 12 months of full data — that way we can draw a really clear picture and be really transparent to show people what the costs are and what the returns are.”

    Mr Yates said the owners of vacant fruit blocks might be able to generate a profit from the abandoned land, which he said would be preferable to letting big investors set up large-scale solar operations and take any profits elsewhere.

    “With our small-scale solar farms, 100 per cent of the profits that the system generates can be retained by the local community,” he said.

    “Traditional methods of generating income are always going to [be there], but I suppose this is just a way we can introduce a completely new market to the area.”…….. The Renmark solar test site is expected to start generating power from the region’s abundant sunshine by the end of this month, and it is planned to be sold into the electricity grid.’s-former-fruit-growers/7149150

    February 10, 2016 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

    Queensland disused coal power site could be solar station this year

    Solar power station in Collinsville could be under construction this year, ABC News map-solar-Queensland(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………

    February 3, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | 1 Comment

    Energy self sufficiency- battery storage and solar getting cheaper

    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.

    battey TeslaExplained: 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.

    By 7.30‘s Andy Park, digital producer Amy Sherden

    What is the Tesla Powerwall?While the concept of a home battery storage system is not new to Australians, the Tesla Powerwall unit has been highly anticipated. Continue reading

    February 3, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

    Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm approved

    Green Light For Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm February 1, 2016 Energy Matters

    The ACT’s Minister for Planning and Land Management has approved a development proposal for a 11.18MW solar farm to be constructed south of Canberra, near Williamsdale.

    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.

    January 31, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

    Queensland moves to solar energy in a planned way

    map-solar-QueenslandQueensland 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…….

    January 19, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

    Planned New South Wales solar farm may have Aboriginal stakeholders

    sunWind company seeking Aboriginal stakeholders for possible solar farm development 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.

    January 14, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

    Queensland could get huge boost for its solar industry

    logo-ARENAQueensland solar farms in the race for federal funding  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.

     ARENA’s large-scale solar competitive round is designed to boost Australia’s total large-scale generation capacity by almost double to 400 megawatts (MW), generating 860,000MW hours a year, or enough power for 120,000 homes. Other Queensland projects under consideration are at Baralaba, Kidston and Collinsville.

    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.

    January 14, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

    South Australian launch for Aboriginal owned solar energy storage system

    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.

    portable solar system AllGrid

    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

    January 11, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland, solar, South Australia | 2 Comments

    Popularity of Western Australia’s rooftop solar makes privatisation of electricity assets unlikley

    text-people-power-solarWA’s rooftop solar so popular power privatisation not an option, says expert, Guardian, , 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

    January 7, 2016 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

    Leeton, New South Wales: plan for multimillion dollar solar farm

    Solar-Farm-Canberra proposed for Wumbulgul  A $90m solar farm is proposed near Leeton in the New South Wales Riverina, to help power a new rail freight hub in the region. Photon Energy has been in discussions with Leeton Shire Council since 2012 about a solar development.

    It’s now asked the state government to consider a proposal for a 100 megawatt plant, with the ability to double that output, next to the recently opened Western Riverina Intermodal Freight Terminal at Wumbulgul.

    Documentation lodged with the Planning Department states the solar farm would be on a 140 hectare site on the Griffith Road and would take around a year to build.

    Photon estimates the farm would have a life of around 30 years, after which infrastructure could be updated or the site rehabilitated.

    The application says feedback from initial discussions in August is positive and a community consultation plan will be developed.

    The Department is now preparing its requirements for the solar project.

    January 7, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

    Solar Australia: 1.5 Million+ Solar Power Systems Installed

    1.5 Million+ Solar Power Systems Installed In Australia January 5, 2016Energy Matters  More than 23.2 million solar panels are now installed in Australia – a module for every man, woman and child in the nation.

    According to solar consultancy firm SunWiz, Australia registered its 1,500,000th solar power system on December 22, 2015. More than 4.65 gigawatts of sub-100kW capacity systems are generating clean electricity across the country and saving their owners a bundle on power rates.

    SunWiz states Australia boasts the highest number of installations per capita in the world and the equivalent of 18% of Australian households own a PV system.

    map australia-solar-installations

    “Australia ranked 8th in the world for capacity installed in 2014, and is likely to be a top-10 country for installed capacity in 2015,” says SunWiz.

    State-wise, while Queensland has the most solar power systems in the country ( 450,000+), South Australia has the highest proportion of households with PV installed (30%).

    Solar PV is now contributing more than 2.5% of Australia’s electricity requirements. While that may not sound like a huge amount, it’s very valuable electricity as solar panels typically produce the most power during periods coincide with high demand. This reduces the need for added mains grid infrastructure and the incidence of higher cost generation from peaking power stations; the cost of which can exceed $13,000 per megawatt-hour ($13 a kilowatt hour).

    For 2016, SunWiz predicts the residential solar market will slightly contract, the small and mediumcommercial solar sector will grow 10-20% and the large-scale commercial segment will also experience significant growth as companies become increasingly aware of how much can be saved on energy costs by going solar.

    SunWiz doesn’t expect much in the way of utility scale projects being brought online in Australia this year.

    “… the focus will be upon earlier stages of project development, with utility-scale project deployment starting in earnest in 2017 and growing from there.”

    The utility scale sector went into limbo during the drawn-out battle over Australia’s Renewable Energy Target; instigated by now ex-Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. After dragging on for eighteen months, the issue was finally settled in June 2015; ensuring sunnier days ahead for the sector.

    January 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | 1 Comment


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