Australian news, and some related international items

Moree solar farm operational by end of 2015

Odisha bets big on solar power, plans to set up 1,000-Mw parkEnergy generation expected at Moree Solar Farm by year’s end, ABC News, 17 Nov 15 
Work is nearly complete on the Moree Solar Farm with an expectation energy will be generated at the site by the end of the year. 
A spokesman for the company behind the project, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, said there’s just a few tasks left to do on site.

“The Moree Solar Farm is entering the final stages of construction,” Technical manager Tom Best said.

“We’ve finalised the installation of the PV modules and the tracking system and we’re currently undertaking commissioning of the PV plant with a view to start generating energy by the end of the year.”

The project is led by FRV and has been funded with assistance of a $102 million grant from Australian Renewable Energy Agency and $47 million in debt financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation…….

The solar farm is expected to supply 15,000 homes.

November 19, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Canberra researchers seek information from solar home-owners

Solar panels installed on homes across ACT needed by researchers for local power study 666 ABC Canberra  By Hannah Walmsley with Philip Clark, 19 Nov 15  Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) are calling for volunteers across the ACT who have solar panels on their house to take part in a new study. This project will allow us to predict what will be fed into the grid at a particular time. Dr Christfried Webers

ANU researchers are collaborating with Data61’s Machine Learning Research Group — formerly National ICT Australia (NICTA) — to develop methods of forecasting power output from rooftop solar energy systems.

Dr Christfried Webers from the ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science said that while total energy output could be measured over long periods, little was known about changing energy output across the day. “What we need is to be able to predict how much energy will be produced over five minutes to 60 minutes,” he said.

“That’s necessary information for the energy market operator — they need information on what’s coming from hour to hour. “It’s also important for the local utility providers because they have a spinning reserve running and if they can anticipate an energy drop, they can ramp that up when they need to.”

Close to 13 per cent of households in the ACT have solar panels generating power. “If that reaches 30 per cent, it will become vital to predict what energy will be produced to ensure the stability of the grid,” Dr Webers said. How the weather can impact

Dr Webers said he hoped the project would allow his team to develop software to forecast the solar output from each suburb using low-cost data-logging devices installed on individual homes…….Canberra residents interested in participating in the project can register their interest with NICTA.

November 19, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Total Environment Centre’s legal challenge to South Australia solar tariff proposal

Solar penalty tariff proposal for SA households subject of Federal Court challenge, ABC News  By Candice Marcus, 16 Nov 15, An environment group wants the Federal Court to uphold the energy regulator’s decision to reject a penalty tariff on South Australian households with solar power.

The Total Environment Centre has intervened in a court case in which SA Power Networks is challenging the Australian Energy Regulator.

The regulator rejected a pricing proposal for households to face a solar tariff and a social tariff, which SA Power Networks said would have been directed toward helping low-income earners facing hardship in paying their bills.

It was estimated the solar tariff could cost the average solar-powered household about $100 annually.

The Total Environment Centre lodged submissions with the Federal Court urging it uphold the regulator’s rejection of the penalty pricing proposal.

Extra tariffs would be solar ‘disincentive’

Mark Byrne from the environment group said imposing additional tariffs would be a disincentive for people to install and use solar power.

“We’ve got half a million people living under solar roofs in South Australia already though and it’s going to negatively impact on them as well as making it less advantageous for new customers to install solar,” he said.

“Obviously in the long run we want to see more solar because it helps reduce greenhouse emissions as well as household electricity bills.”

He said SA Power Networks had a flawed argument.

“Their argument effectively is that solar customers should be paying more because they use less energy and the network is entitled to a fixed amount of revenue,” he said.

“The unfortunate thing about that is it discriminates against solar customers and will result in them paying about another $100 a year.

“What the network should be doing is introducing a tariff that affects everyone equally and recovers more of their revenue during those peaks, when they’re worried about the impact on prices because they have to build more to meet peak demand.”……..

November 18, 2015 Posted by | legal, solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Council approval for central Queensland solar farm near Baralaba

solar-farmingSolar farm proposal near Baralaba in central Queensland gets Banana Shire approval, ABC News, 2 Nov 15 By Jessica Lodge and Jacquie Mackay The Banana Shire Council has given approval to the solar energy company FRV to develop a solar farm near Baralaba in central Queensland. In September, the Central Highlands Regional Council gave the same company approval to develop solar operations at Tieri.

Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige said the project could create up to 200 jobs during the construction phase.”It’s a great opportunity for not only for the shire but for the community around Baralaba itself,” he said.

“So it’s right near the substation at Baralaba and the total area is 730 hectares but the panels will take up approximately 660 hectares, so it’s quite a large project.”

Councillor Carige said it was a great opportunity for the region moving forward………..

November 4, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

For solar energy in Australia, the future is looking bright

Australia-solar-plughighly-recommendedHere comes the sun: funding for solar energy will fast-track Australia’s renewable future  Corrs Chambers Westgarth A global surge in solar investment is driving new growth in Australia’s solar sector. Costs are falling and storage technology is improving, making solar energy an emerging force in Australia’s clean energy future.

At a global level, energy experts are predicting large-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) to be the least-cost option for power generation almost universally by 2030.[1]

Locally, investment in Australia’s renewable energy industry is forecast to exceed A$40 billion over coming years. This translates to an estimated 30-50 major projects comprising at least 6000MW of new generating capacity to be built by 2020.[2]

Australia’s solar industry is also backed by a number of key funding initiatives. The result is a bankable investment environment that will enable investors and project proponents to harness Australia’s abundant solar resource.


November 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Sunshine in your beer in Sydney

sunPingala community-owned solar project to hit the roof of Young Henrys brewery, SMH,  2 November  Environment Reporter

Imagine if there was sunshine in your beer.  With a plan to build a solar farm atop the Young Henrys brewery in the heart of Sydney’s inner west, there soon could be.

Community members can become shareholders in the project – a collaboration with community energy organisation Pingala – and therefore, part owners of a future local solar farm. “When the Pingala guys came and spoke to us about it, we hadn’t had an interest in solar. Being able to put enough aside for large-scale solar wasn’t something we could afford,” said brewery part-owner Oscar McMahon.

“This was the perfect thing for us. We will start buying the power from the Pingala solar system on our roof, repaying people’s local investment into that system … we start buying renewable energy from our community.”

Electricity from the system will be used to power brewing processes, avoiding around 127 tonnes greenhouse gas emissions a year…….

The project will be the first for Pingala, part of a plan to start building community-owned solar farms on businesses and organisations across Sydney. The first stages have been realised with approval for a $40,000 innovation grant from the City of Sydney. Pingala volunteer Tom Nockolds said the renewable energy movement can no longer be ignored. “This idea, [it’s] time has really come. We’re opening up a new way for people to invest in renewable energy.” He said the project is directed at everyday “mums and dads who are struggling to find an opportunity to invest in renewables”. “Particularly in Sydney, where a high proportion of people live in apartments, are renters, or don’t have roof [space],” he said.

The Pingala initiative will aim for a 6 per cent to 8 per cent return for investors. After they have been paid back, the panels are gifted to the business to continue using.  The first stages have been realised with approval for a $40,000 innovation grant from the City of Sydney.

Pingala volunteer Tom Nockolds said the renewable energy movement can no longer be ignored. “This idea, [it’s] time has really come. We’re opening up a new way for people to invest in renewable energy.”He said the project is directed at everyday “mums and dads who are struggling to find an opportunity to invest in renewables”. “Particularly in Sydney, where a high proportion of people live in apartments, are renters, or don’t have roof [space],” he said.

The Pingala initiative will aim for a 6 per cent to 8 per cent return for investors. After they have been paid back, the panels are gifted to the business to continue using

The Young Henrys project has the nod from Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who said it shows how Sydney “can make the shift to renewable energy even faster”. While Pingala is still obtaining financial and legal advice for the project, Mr Nockolds said in the early new year solar panels will be appearing on the Young Henrys roof…..

November 2, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

McKinley Shire, Queensland, promotes local business with renewable energy initiative

poster-renewables-rallyMcKinlay Shire in north-west Queensland sheds light on solar cost-saving plans for council, traders By Zara Margolis A north-west Queensland council has begun the second stage of a plan to help local businesses reduce their power bills. The McKinlay Shire has awarded a contract to a renewable energy company to install solar panels on nine local businesses and some council buildings.

Mayor Belinda Murphy said the company was finalising the solar designs, which should be installed by the end of the year. “The whole aim of council’s approach with this was really triggered by drought initially as well,” she said. “As I’ve said before, there is help for landholders but there has certainly been no direct help and support for businesses in these rural towns. “We identified this about 18 months ago and they were the ones who told us their biggest impacts are freight and power.”

Councillor Murphy said the panels would also be installed at a number of council assets. “Even just from a council perspective we’re going to have a projected power cost saving of around $60,000 per annum,” she said.

“Now we have a power cost annually of around $340,000, so that’s nearly a 20 per cent saving which council can then use to put back into other services, the community, other assets or into reserve.”


October 31, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Karoonda Council, South Australia, considering floating solar plant

solar floating S AustFloating solar power plant mooted for Karoonda to power waste management pump station  The District Council of Karoonda-East Murray says it will look into the possibility of a floating solar power plant at Karoonda in South Australia’s Murray-Mallee region.

Council CEO Peter Smithson said the floating solar plant would provide power for the waste management pump station next to the stormwater dam.

A similar plant is already operating at Jamestown in the state’s mid-north.

Mr Smithson said the council had committed to undertake further due diligence about the green power opportunity.

“We’ve been approached by a company about the possibility of a solar generating power plant at Karoonda which would provide power to our CWMS [Community Wastewater Management System] pumps,” he said.

“We’ve gone and looked at Jamestown.

“There’s quite a long resolution because it really details the fact that there’s no capital outlay by council and it really looks at the fact that we’ve done due diligence and we’ve asked the company to come and address the next council meeting.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 2 Comments

Opportunity for Port Augusta to be repowered with solar thermal energy

map solar south-australiaRepower Port Augusta, 30 Oct 15 In incredibly exciting news, after returning from a visit to a massive solar thermal plant in the United States, the federal local member for Port Augusta Rowan Ramsey has revealed to The Transcontinental that US solar thermal giant SolarReserve have made a bid to build solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta!

 After a long running community campaign, numerous studies and actions from people like you this revelation is a huge step forward in the community driven push to Repower Port Augusta with solar thermal.

 So, what does this mean?

 The ACT Government are using a policy called a reverse auction to help them meet their 100% renewable energy target by 2025. This is a policy where they effectively bid for projects to buy renewable power from and early this year they called for bids from projects across the country from solar with stoage.

 This is the policy we called on the SA Government to adopt in our submission to the state government that many of you signed onto.

 We are still waiting on the result of the bid, but we know the bid for solar thermal from Port Augusta is one of thirty from across the country.

 Can you share this great news on Facebook and call on the State and Federal Government to back SolarReserve’s bid to build solar thermal in Port Augusta?

 It’s a huge step forward and a testament to the community campaign backed by people across the country that SolarReserve are ready to build solar thermal in Port Augusta.

October 29, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

Poll shows Australians overwhelmingly reject coal and nuclear- solar is tops

“Most (84 per cent, up 2 points) prefer solar amongst their top three energy sources, followed by wind (69 per cent, up 5 points). Gas and nuclear both crashed 7 points to 21 and 13 per cent respectively, with nuclear and coal now tied as least preferred,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute in a press release.

sun-championAustralians support renewables? Absolutely, all we need now is a federal government that reflects the electorate’s view. The survey shows both the government and the Opposition need to “join mainstream Australian attitudes with climate commitments and policies” that promote clean energy

Climate Institute poll finds Australians support renewables August 18, 2015 Rich Bowden

Renewables appear to be a vote winner. Someone may want to tell our government. Continue reading

October 26, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland’s revolutionary solar energy systems – on carparks and other commercial buildings

Are these solar panels the setting of the sun for coal mines? Brisbane Times October 22, Tony Moore Solar energy systems on top of shopping centres, car park shade covers, hospitals, airports and other commercial buildings are the beginning of the end for large scale coal power stations, one alternative energy developer will explain on Friday.

solar carparks Qld

Shakra Energy managing director Sam Khalil will on Friday outline how the solar energy system his company has installed as a “shade cover” over carparking at Buranda is now doubling as a solar energy generator. He says the system cut energy costs for the owner by between 30 to 40 per cent.

Mr Khalil believes companies and big energy users – like hospitals and huge retailers – are beginning to wake up the potential solar energy from their rooftops, completely separate to solar energy from homes.

It generates 147MW and save 122 tonnes of CO2 emissions from the environment each year.

“If we can save them 30 to 40 per cent on electricity bills that are $10 million, $20 million, $30 million a year, why wouldn’t you do it?” Mr Khalil argues.

“We are right at the forefront of where the future of energy production has to be in Australia,” he said.

“Right at the forefront of the job creation for making business more efficient so they can employ more people.”……..

Shakra Energy has placed solar energy panels on top of shade cloth covers that shade cars on top of PA Central on Ipswich Road at Buranda, directly opposite the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

It generates 100 kilowatts of energy, enough to power the shops and business in the Ipswich Road building, plus run the car park operations.

One hundred kilowatts – depending on what is in the house or the business and the size of the house of the business – could power between five and 30 homes or premises……..

Mr Khalil says their Buranda plant was the first commercial solar production facility in Queensland, outside a similar scheme on the rooftop at one building of the University of Queensland.

He said his company has recently been invited to lodge tenders for similar schemes at large commercial properties.

“Let’s just say hospitals, airports, major shopping centres,” he said.

Oxley Federal MP Bernie Ripoll and Greens Senator Larissa Waters will be at the launch on Friday……..

Greens Senator Larissa Waters praised the concept.

“This is just the kind of innovation that our Sunshine State needs to shine as a leader in the clean energy future,” Senator Waters said.

“The Palaszczuk Government needs to hurry up and implement the 50 per cent renewable energy target it promised in the election, instead of pushing ahead with coal exports through the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

With solar power, rooftop panels have exceeded grid parity

Parkinson-Report-Rooftop solar costs vs the grid: A city by city guide By  on October 21, 2015 You may have heard of the expression “grid parity”. In the case of rooftop solar panels, it is the point where the cost of energy supplied from your own rooftop solar array falls below the cost of grid-power.

It is also known as “socket parity”, because it compares the price of rooftop solar power to the cost of grid-sourced power at the electricity sockets in your house.

Australia was one of the first countries in the world to reach grid or socket parity – thanks to its high electricity prices (largely due to soaring network costs), and its excellent sunshine. There are now nearly 100 countries that have reached the same benchmark.

But Australia has not just reached socket parity, it has smashed it. In most cities in Australia, the cost of rooftop solar is now less than half the price of grid-based power. Indeed, even some utilities offer to install rooftop solar on your roof for free, and charge only 11c/kWh for the output.

A new report from Beyond Zero Emissions, which recommends Australia set a path to 100 per cent renewable energy, highlights those cost differences.  Continue reading

October 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Kerang, Victoria, gets economic boost from Lalbert solar farm

victoria-solarLalbert solar farm near Kerang tipped to boost jobs as Solar Choice secures investor for $550m project  ABC News, The company behind one of the largest solar farms in Australia says it expects the project to create up to 150 jobs for northern Victoria.

Construction of the $550 million solar farm on a 526 hectare property at Lalbert, west of Kerang, should start midway through next year, after the company Solar Choice secured an investor to finance the project.

The farm will have a production capacity of 350 megawatts and has the potential to power about 220,000 homes…….

Gannawarra Shire’s Roger Griffiths said the farm was another step towards developing Kerang’s future as a centre for renewable energy investment.

“What this does is just offers that bit of diversity, it props up our rate base and it provides a lot of other benefits right throughout the community,” he said.

“So we’re more than happy to have it on board and fingers crossed that everything runs smoothly and we see a booming new industry in and around Kerang in the next five to 10 years’ time.”

October 18, 2015 Posted by | solar, Victoria | 1 Comment

South Australia: subsidy for large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects

sunRooftop solar subsidies for SA business

October 14, 2015 AAP
 SOUTH Australian businesses can apply for up to $30 million each to install rooftop solar panels.

CLIMATE Change Minister Ian Hunter says the subsidy for large-scale photovoltaic (PV) projects, between 10 and 50 megawatts, will help businesses take advantage of a $100 million commonwealth funding pool aimed at increasing the uptake of solar panels.

“This is a great opportunity for potential developers to bring the cost of solar PV down to a price comparable to wind energy,” Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter said on Wednesday.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | politics, solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Broken Hill’s solar mega-plant operational this year

Broken Hill mega-plant solar panels lift the roof  OCTOBER 12, 2015  Sid Maher
The final panels on the biggest large-scale solar power station in the southern hemisphere will be installed at Broken Hill today, paving the way for the plant to be fully operational by year’s end.

solar farm NSW

The 53-megawatt solar plant, a partnership between AGL and First Solar, will work in conjunction with the 102MW Nyngan solar plant to produce enough electricity to power about 50,000 average Australian homes. The Nyngan plant began operating six months ago. “There is a real sense of momentum driving large-scale solar in Australia today,’’ Australian Renewable Energy Agency acting chief executive Ian Kay said.

The large-scale solar plant begins operation as more than 1.4 million households in Australia have solar panels on their roofs, providing the highest penetration at the household level in the world.
However, the government is trying to drive more solar uptake at the commercial level as part of the 23.5 per cent renewable energy target. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has set a priority of increasing the uptake of utility- scale solar as part of the government’s renewable energy mix.

The government through ARENA had provided $166.7 million towards the $440m AGL Solar Project.
“As well as powering Australian homes with renewable energy, this project is also assisting AGL to transition towards a decarbonised economy. It’s a win-win scenario,’’ Mr Hunt said.

Mr said there was $350m available through ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to further accelerate growth in the sector. ARENA has a $100m large-scale solar round that could double the capacity of large-scale solar.

AGL executive general manager group operations Doug Jackson said the Broken Hill Solar Plant was already generating up to 27MW of renewable energy into the grid and the remaining 26MW was expected to be brought on line this month.

First Solar’s regional manager for the Asia Pacific, Jack Curtis, said the project combined industry leading thin film modules and construction techniques. He said the Broken Hill plant contained 677,760 of First Solar’s advanced PV modules. The Cadmium Telluride modules offered significant efficiency and reliability advantages over typical crystalline silicon modules, Mr Curtis said.
National Affairs Editor

October 14, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment


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