Could solar power be about to transform the electricity industry and drive prices down? http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4240286.htm Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 21/05/2015 Reporter: Matt Peacock A revolution driven by solar panels and cheaper batteries is transforming Australia’s electricity industry and promising to drive power prices down.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Imagine life without that dreaded quarterly power bill. That could be around the corner for people with solar panels. Until now, solar energy couldn’t be stored efficiently and people who had it relied on the electricity grid for backup. Now, new battery technology means that could change. Matt Peacock reports. Continue reading
Australian scientists have designed and installed solar energy technology in Cyprus to help the island nation shift away from fossil fuels and also to tackle its chronic water shortages.
A team from the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, took five weeks to construct a ‘solar thermal field’ containing 50 heliostats – large mirrors that reflect the power of the sun. The solar thermal field lies in Pentakomo, on the southern coast of Cyprus and places the country at the frontier of solar energy research in Europe.
The CSIRO won an international tender to provide its technology to Cyprus for a trial that could lead to broad solar take-up in the country and elsewhere. It is understood that several other countries in Europe and the Middle East are interested in adopting CSIRO solar technology.
Cyprus hopes to take on the technology so it can reform its oil-dependent economy and meet a European Union target of 13 per cent of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. The Mediterranean country is also plagued by water shortages and may use solar energy to power desalination plants.
The CSIRO technology uses mirrors to track the sun and reflect it towards a single receiving point on top of a tower. This heat then warms a fluid, in this case molten salt.
The molten salt, heated to 250°C, is stored in a hot tank and the steam produced powers a turbine for electricity. Crucially, this storage method allows for energy to be produced long after the sun has disappeared.
“The question about solar is always about storage at night-time,” said Wes Stein, solar research leader at CSIRO.
“This liquid is cheaper and more efficient than batteries, such as those made by Elon Musk. We can generate steam for electricity on a cloudy day. Continue reading
Australian households chase sun to lead world on solar adoption http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/australian-households-chase-sun-to-lead-world-on-solar-adoption-20150516-gh2uh9.html May 16, 2015 Mark Sawa Northside Chronicle reporter Australian households are world leaders in solar power installation, according to new figures from Australia’s peak industry body representing the fossil fuel and renewable energy sector.
The Energy Supply Association of Australia, representing the fossil fuel and renewable energy sector, has sourced data from around the world revealing household solar photovoltaic (PV) penetration in Australia is way out in front of any other nation.
The report shows almost 15 per cent of Australian households have adopted the technology to power their homes.
This is more than triple that of Germans, who are second on the world stage and typically thought of as the most prolific solar adopters. Continue reading
Renewable energy group bids to turn Melbourne’s trams solar May 18, 2015 Tom Arup Environment editor, The Age
Melbourne’s entire tram network could be powered by solar if the state government gave a bold renewable energy proposal the green light.
While the pitch may conjure up images of trams with rooftop panels on them like the family home, the power would instead be generated at two new solar farms the project proponents plan to build near Swan Hill and Mildura.
The company behind the bid, the Australian Solar Group, have held quiet talks over four years with different arms of the government to try get the project off the ground, but has so far not got final backing.
The two solar farms would generate 80 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, about the same amount used by Melbourne’s tram network, which is the world’s largest.
Under the proposal the government would back the project by signing Public Transport Victoria (PTV) up to a power purchase agreement with the solar farms, creating a reliable revenue source alongside the renewable energy target.
The proponents say the project has been designed to ensure the cost of tram tickets would not rise, nor would it add to PTV’s power bill. It would cut 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year from running trams and give the city an obvious global selling point (see the mock-up tram design above), according to the pitch…….http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/renewable-energy-group-bids-to-turn-melbournes-trams-solar-20150518-gh3ime.html
But while this was happening a revolution was unfolding in the affordability of solar power systems. Rather fortunately for Australia, we are one of the best positioned nations to take advantage of this revolution. Continue reading
Origin launches solar services program for homes, small business, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 12 May 2015 Major Australian utility, Origin Energy, is set to launch a solar leasing program in three separate states, focusing on small-scale residential and commercial solar systems.
The move by Origin follows the launch, a week earlier, of the battery storage product from rival gentailer, AGL Energy – which was announced ahead of schedule, and to coincide with Tesla’s sensational energy storage reveal.
AGL’s first “proposition” – customers are being asked able to “register their interest” – will be a limited number of 6kWh batteries the size of a large suitcase, made to suit a family home with around 3-4.5kW of rooftop PV. And while this makes AGL Australia’s first energy retailer to stake a claim in the energy storage market, Origin says it will be the first to enter the roof-rental space, and says it hopes to expand its program into other cities.
The solar power purchase agreement market represents huge and largely untapped potential in Australia. Companies like SolarGen and SunEdison are already taking advantage – the soon to be launched 350kW PV system at Tyrrell’s Wines Hunter Valley vineyard, which we report on here, offers one of the nation’s first commercial examples.
Utilities, however, have been slower to get with the program………
Canberra-based renewable energy consulting company IT Power will analyse the performance of six major lithium-ion battery brands, comparing them to “old school” and advanced lead-acid batteries for use in large and small electricity grids.
T Power’s managing Director Simon Troman said storage was the next step needed to help integrate renewable energy, especially solar, into electricity grids.
“It kills the argument put out there by the anti-renewable mob that they’re intermittent and you can’t rely on them… and it turns intermittent renewables like solar and wind into a direct competitor for base-load power.
Rather than research new options for storage, Mr Troman said the trail will purchase batteries for
testing that are already commercially available making the impact more immediate and maintaining the independence of the data.
Electric car maker Tesla’s first foray into lithium-ion batteries for homes the Powerwall, announced last week featuring technology developed by Canberra start-up Reposit Power, could be part of the trials when it goes on the market. Continue reading
RET cut a step backwards, says Solar Citizens http://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/ret-cut-a-step-backwards-says-solar-citizens/2632812/ 8 May 15 THE announcement today of an in-principle agreement to drastically cut the Renewable Energy Target to 33,000 gigawatt hours will cost thousands of jobs, millions in investment and lock in more expensive power for all Australian consumers, according to Solar Citizens.The decision to slash the Target will take Australia backwards and increase pressure on already stretched family budgets, said National Director Claire O’Rourke.”This massive scale back of the RET could mean up to a $45 billion revenue windfall to the big power companies over the next 15 years and now it looks likely that households will continue to pay more,” she said.
“The vested interests of the power companies have received special treatment from the Abbott Government at the expense of ordinary Australians who want more solar and renewable energy, not less.
“Recent polling from The Australia Institute shows 75% of Australians support an increase in the Renewable Energy Target, not a decrease. The cut to the RET will cost 8,000 jobs and be particularly devastating for solar companies looking at installing big solar projects.
“The Coalition’s proposal to include burning wood waste in the Target, which is the remaining sticking point for the deal, would be yet another horrendous step backwards.
“Renewable energy is recognised globally for the jobs, opportunities and savings on power bills that it can deliver. More than 1.3 million households – that’s at least 2 million voters – have already installed rooftop solar power and are now benefiting from lower power bills.”Yet the decision today will take Australian renewable energy generation backwards.
“They have pledged to support a national goal of at least 50% solar and renewable electricity generation by 2030, an end to unfair fees for solar owners and to help all Australians with the rising cost of electricity bills,” Ms O’Rourke said.
Australian company creates world-first floating solar system NEWS.COM.AU MAY 02, 2015 AN AUSTRALIAN company is leading the way for renewable energy after creating a world-first floating solar system.
Infratech Industries selected the Northern Areas Council Waste Water Treatment Plant in South Australia as the first location to implement the new system.
Director Felicia Whiting said it is expected the innovative technology will generate an estimated 57 per cent more power than fixed land-based systems.
“The proprietary tracking, cooling and concentrating technology uses water to counteract the gradual loss of output caused by overheating solar panels to create a better performing and more efficient system,” she said.
“The Northern Areas Council will reap additional economic benefits with a cost saving of approximately 15 per cent on their current energy expenditure, plus an additional one per cent margin on the excess energy provided to the local community.”
- Ms Whiting said the biggest challenge in implementing the technology was changing the mindset of government officials and bureaucrats who questioned the need for renewable energy.
“Just how strong Australia’s post-2020 emissions reduction targets remain unknown, however we do know solar innovation is a milestone towards Australian councils, communities and businesses making a difference,” she said.
“As Australians evangelise this type of technology, it is our hope that renewable energy becomes the mainstream rather than niche solution.
“Change is not beyond us and this is definitely a strong step forward.”………http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/australian-company-creates-world-first-floating-solar-system/story-fnjwucti-1227331868879
Renewable energy and potable water for Flinders Island community
ABC Rural By Rosemary Grant 22 Apr 15 The Bass Strait community of Flinders Island says two major projects to deliver clean water and electricity represent the future for remote settlements.
Over the 18 months, $25 million will be spent; half on a renewable energy scheme, and the rest on potable water for the main towns of Whitemark and Lady Barron.
Flinders Mayor Carol Cox said replacing old fossil fuel power stations with a new lower carbon energy source was a global aim.
Mrs Cox said it was the third time the council had tried to get a reliable renewable electricity system, and the funding commitment would make Flinders Island the benchmark for remote communities………
Mrs Cox said existing wind power would be integrated with a new wind energy generator, solar energy panels at the airport and a new solar energy field around the power station.
Hydro Tasmania will design and install the new $12.9 million multi-source renewable electricity system on Flinders Island.
Project manager Simon Gamble said it was an exciting prototype that would be the benchmark for remote communities in the Pacific and Asia. Continue reading
The contrast with South Africa, another coal dependent country, could not be greater. It has so far contracted for more than 5,000MW of large scale wind and solar and announced overnight it would look to install another 6,300MW – much of this solar PV and solar thermal, where it has become a leader in the global market.
developers in WA are confident their projects can go ahead, because of the unique nature of that market, and there are numerous smaller projects that could also get the tick of approval, and finance, if a resolution is found
First 100MW solar plant points to missed opportunity in Australia, REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson on 17 April 2015 In a ceremony attended by the heads of AGL Energy and First Solar, and ministers from the NSW government – but not the federal government – the last and 1,366,380th solar panel was installed on the 102MW Nyngan solar farm in western NSW on Friday.
And while it is a welcome thought that Australia has finally made it onto the big solar map, it also highlights just what could have been for big solar in Australia. Continue reading
Baird and Nyngan bask in big solar energy switch http://www.governmentnews.com.au/2015/04/baird-and-nyngan-bask-in-big-solar-energy-switch/ by Julian Bajkowski on April 17, 2015 The Federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) may still be in political limbo, but states are voting with their sustainable dollars after New South Wales’ Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts and Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman cut the ribbon on what has been hailed as the installation of the final solar panel at Australia’s largest solar project. Continue reading
Port Augusta solar thermal power promises better health SA Conservation Council says http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-08/green-group-makes-fresh-calls-for-port-augusta/6377670 South Australia’s peak environment group says the need for solar thermal power in Port Augusta is an urgent health issue, as well as having climate change implications.
A study by Alinta Energy has found solar thermal technology is currently economically unviable.
Conservation Council of South Australia chief executive Craig Wilkins said a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta would not only help with jobs but improve local health.
Mr Wilkins said Port Augusta residents had suffered the health impacts of coal for decades.
He is calling for greater government support.
“We’ve got a dirty industrial plant which could be transferred to a cleaner technology which would help with jobs and the community’s health and that is a shift to the solar thermal as quickly as possible,” he said
Battery energy storage project shows promise for electricity network, Eureka Alert 2 Apr 15 Cheaper, more efficient power among benefits from intelligent scheduling and operation system GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY WITH RISING ELECTRICITY PRICES ONE OF THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING HOUSEHOLDS, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY (AUSTRALIA) RESEARCH INTO ENERGY STORAGE AND SUPPLY HOLDS THE PROMISE OF CHEAPER, BETTER QUALITY POWER FOR THE LOW VOLTAGE (LV) ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION NETWORK.
According to the research from Griffith’s School of Engineering and published in the journal Applied Energy, a forecast-based, three-phase battery energy storage scheduling and operation system provides benefits such as reduced peak demand, more efficient load balancing and better management of supply from solar photovoltaics (PV).
Researcher Mr Chris Bennett, working under the supervision of Associate Professor Rodney Stewart and Professor Jun Wei Lu, has developed and applied an intelligent scheduling system to a South-East Queensland-based LV distribution network servicing 128 residential customers.
“The low voltage network is a typical suburb of a few hundred homes where there is a single area transformer and recently there has been a substantial increase in the number of homes with installed residential solar PV in these settings,” says Mr Bennett.
“Daily peak demand in residential networks typically occurs in the evenings in summer and both late morning and evening in winter. But because solar PV generation is dependent on incoming solar radiation, peak generation occurs during the middle of the day, typically when demand in the residential distribution network is low.”
“This means there is an incongruity between when energy is generated and when it is required, which can lead to power supply and quality issues.
“However, with a battery energy storage (BES) system comprising Lithium Ion battery banks coupled with smart power control systems, such as STATCOMS, and featuring embedded intelligent forecasting software, we can better manage the LV network.”……..
Solar thermal power plant project at Port Augusta ‘economically highly unviable’, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-01/solar-thermal-project-at-port-augusta-hits-a-cost-barrier/6366388Alinta Energy says A group lobbying for a solar thermal power plant to be built at Port Augusta in South Australia says Alinta Energy may have overestimated the project’s cost.
The company’s latest report into the potential for a solar thermal power plant near the Upper Spencer Gulf city has found the project to be “economically highly unviable”.
Alinta owns the coal-fired Northern Power Station and the disused Playford Station but a study report found that a funding gap and falling electricity demand meant a conversion of the station to solar thermal was unlikely to happen.
But Lisa Lumsden, from the group RePower Port Augusta, said the finding was unsurprising given the uncertainty around the federal Renewable Energy Target (RET).
The Federal Government is yet to decide on the figure set for a national target on the amount of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020.”As we continue to have no decision and no action and certainty around the RET, the prospect of solar thermal happening in Port Augusta becomes less and less,” Ms Lumsden said.
There has been a strong push from the local community in recent years to convert the coal-fired station to renewable energy.Ms Lumsden said new technologies and plant configurations meant the project could actually be much less expensive than Alinta predicted.
“If they take that all into account over the next two or so months, and bring that information to the fore, we know that some of that will bring the costs down significantly, like more than half,” she said.”We know some of those technologies have the capacity to do that.”
Alinta Energy said that even under the most optimistic scenarios, it would fall short of the $570 million capital cost by about $150 million.
Ms Lumsden said the State Government should step in and fund the $150 million shortfall.
The company is continuing to investigate the project’s potential.