Renewable energy: power to the people, SMH, November 3, 2014 Michael Green Chewton’s primary school, student population 40, perches on a hill above the houses of the small central Victorian town, which borders Castlemaine. Before the year is out, its red tin roof will be home to solar panels facing east and west, positioned to best offset its demand. The school is crowdfunding for a renewable energy system, by way of a new scheme called the People’s Solar.
“Our savings won’t go back into the big bucket,” says principal Julie Holden. “They won’t be used for staffing and books.” She’s promising to fund environmental initiatives by students around the town instead, as well as more energy efficiency improvements for the buildings.
Modest though its goal sounds, Chewton Primary is one front in a revolution. Continue reading
North Coast solar industry worried by changes to Renewable Energy Target ABC News 23 Oct 2014, The North Coast solar industry says it will be impacted by changes to the Federal Government’s changes to the renewable energy target (RET).
The target is currently set at 41,000 kilowatts of renewable energy by 2020, but the Government wants to reduce that to 26,000 to reflect falling demand for power.
The changes would only impact large-scale RET projects directly, with the small-scale scheme excluded………
Geoff Tosio from Bellingen Solar Depot said the even with the small-scale target excluded, his business will still suffer if the target is lowered.
“In regards to the renewable energy target being chopped down to a “real” 20 percent, if that’s going to happen, then how is that going to happen?” he asked.
“To say that’s not going to affect household solar is quite disingenuous.”
Mr Tosio said a particular concern is that large-scale contracts will be impacted.
“We would see a dramatic reduction in the medium size, commercial size, systems that we sell,” he said.
“So while I think it’s better than the previous position, we’ll probably still see a quarter of the industry go very, very quiet.
“And that will definitely have an impact on employment.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-24/north-coast-solar-industry-worried-by-changes-to-renewable-ener/5839124
Energy company plans for region to go renewable http://www.echo.net.au/2014/10/energy-company-plans-region-go-renewable/ Simeon Michaels 8 Oct 14 Northern Rivers Energy (NRE), Australia’s first community-based renewable energy retailer in the northern rivers, plans for the region to become fossil free within years.
Mark Byrne of the Total Environment Centre, which teamed with the Office of Environment and Heritage to provide the grant, told The Echo, ‘We had several excellent tenders, but the NRE tender won because they had the most sophisticated and thorough understanding of the ways that the northern rivers community could be involved in the company.’
As reported in Echonetdaily last week, this is the first Australian attempt to adopt the community energy company model that has had dramatic effects in Hamburg (Germany) and Colorado (USA).
‘The potential is enormous,’ says NRE spokesperson Alison Crook. ‘The northern rivers already has a high level of take-up of solar PV.
‘We have a community that really understands what it means to support each other.
‘We are aware of the reality of climate change and want to do something constructive about it.
‘We can work with existing generators and there is plenty of scope for new projects.
Model for Australia
‘Our aim is to generate sufficient renewable energy to cover our use within the region – a long-term goal and a moving target, but a model for Australia.’ The $54,000 grant will assist NRE to develop its business plan, which is expected to focus on providing renewable energy at competitive rates while purchasing solar and other renewable energy at a fair price from existing residential, commercial and government system owners. Continue reading
US solar company hopes RET compromise will allow projects to go ahead, SMH October 3, 2014 Angela Macdonald-Smith US solar power company First Solar is optimistic a compromise will be hammered out on the Renewable Energy Target that will allow it to press ahead with up to $150 million of proposed projects in Australia, although other projects would still be delayed.
Jack Curtis, regional manager for Asia Pacific, said that 2-3 months ago the outlook for the RET legislation that supports the sector looked “more dire”, likely forcing an exit from Australia for the Arizona-based company.
But now he was more confident the legislation that supports the renewable industry would largely survive after the Coalition government distanced itself from the recommendations of the Warburton review into the RET…….
Government and Opposition spokespeople on energy and the environment met in Canberra on Wednesday for talks on the RET.
Opposition resources spokesman Gary Gray, who took part in the talks, signalled a compromise could be on the cards.
“There is a long-standing tradition of the government of the day and the opposition of the day finding common ground on renewable energy,” Mr Gray said on Thursday……
Both the Nyngan and Broken Hill plants being developed by First Solar and AGL are under construction and should come into operation next year.
First Solar is also planning a solar plant at Rio Tinto’s remote Weipa bauxite mine in Queensland, and it has similar ventures with a mining company and with a utility planned but not yet made public.
Spanish renewable energy firm sets up Melbourne-based subsidiary, THE FIFTH ESTATE 23 September 2014 Spain’s Elecnor Group has ignored the current political climate in Australia’s renewable energy sector and launched an infrastructure subsidiary based in Melbourne. ……..
Elecnor Australia’s first project is the $164 million solar photovoltaic farm in Moree, New South Wales for the Moree Solar Farm Company Pty Ltd, part of Fotowatio Renewables Venture. The joint venture originally included Pacific Hydro, which announced in August it was withdrawing from the project due to the policy-driven uncertainties impacting the renewable energy industry.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has contributed $101.7 million towards construction and operation of the project, and $47 million has been provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Covering 191 hectares, the farm will comprise 232,960 panels with a forecast annual output of 150 gigawatt-hours direct into the main energy grid, enough to power about 15,000 homes. It is expected to be complete and commissioned by the second quarter of 2015.
In a media statement, Elecnor said Australia will be a base for it to expand operations in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on developing business infrastructure and renewable energies………
The Moree project has already created a number of positions to be based at the town, with the firm earlier this month advertising for an assistant project manager (engineer), a construction manager, six technical engineers as sub-contract supervisors, mechanical and electrical engineers, a civil engineer, two draftpersons, accounts and administration, purchasing and logistics.http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/business/investment-deals/spanish-renewable-energy-firm-sets-up-melbourne-based-subsidiary/67877
Outlook for Australian Solar Market is Positive, says Citigroup http://www.energydigital.com/renewables/3600/Outlook-for-Australian-Solar-Market-is-Positive-says-Citigroup Kevin Smead 26 Sept 14
In a surprisingly optimistic forecast, Citigroup predicted that the Australian solar market would reach 14 GW by 2020. This would require a growth of 2.2 GW per year—with current capacity at 3.5 GW—to reach the predicted goal. This prediction includes both rooftop and utility-scale solar.
The biggest question mark for the prediction remains Australia’s Renewable Energy Target and how its potential scaling back could dramatically affect the solar market, though that ultimately remains to be seen.
“There is no commentary directly linked to the Australian forecasts—which are part of a global solar demand forecast—so it is unclear whether this takes into account any changes to the renewable energy targets,” CleanTechnica’s Giles Parkinson notes. “If the large scale RET stays in place, a large amount of utility-scale solar could be built in Australia—as Bloomberg New Energy Finance has predicted. Certainly, many companies such as US-based Recurrent Energy, Spain’s FRV and others have large pipelines of projects.”
The Australian market is certainly an attractive one due to its high-value natural resources. However, the scaling back of the RET could pull the rug out from under the rooftop solar industry, as subsidies and any form of aid would effectively vanish.
Still, some parts of Australia are fighting for renewable energy. South Australia has committed to a lofty goal of using 50% renewable energy by 2025. This, and other smaller state initiatives, could help drive an industry that the federal government looks to scale back—and ultimately help make Citigroup’s prediction come true.
SUPERCRITICAL SOLAR: CSIRO’S SOLAR BREAKTHROUGH OFFERS NEW OPPORTUNITIES, Techly, by Bianca Wright Thursday 25 September 2014 “…….In June, the CSIRO announced that it had managed to generate supercritical steam using solar energy. The CSIRO’s Energy Director Dr Alex Wonhas called it a game-changer.
“It’s like breaking the sound barrier; this step change proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources.”
According to the CSIRO, supercritical solar steam is “water pressurised at enormous force and heated using solar radiation”. Wonhas noted, “Instead of relying on burning fossil fuels to produce supercritical steam, this breakthrough demonstrates that the power plants of the future could instead be using the free, zero emission energy of the sun to achieve the same result.”
Sarah Miller of CSIRO Energy Technology explained that thermal power stations produce steam that spins a turbine, which converts the steam’s thermal energy into mechanical energy to drive an electrical generator that ultimately produces electricity………
The CSIRO leads the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI) which believes the cost of generating concentrating solar thermal power could be reduced from 26.5 cents per kilowatt hour to around 12 cents by 2020.
“This reduction in costs would mean that concentrating solar thermal power station would be cost competitive with traditional power plants and will be able to provide near-zero emissions electricity without destabilising the grid,” Miller said. “Concentrating solar thermal power technologies have advantages over many other renewable energy technologies because thermal energy can be stored and converted to electricity when needed, allowing dispatchable power generation.
“Concentrating solar thermal technologies can also be used to produce high quality process heat and drive chemical reactions. A future concentrating solar thermal world achievement will be 24 hour production of supercritical steam from storage.”
But, Hoogesteger said, it’s also important to recognise that one of the advantages of solar power is that solar often works best by decentralising power generation………
“Solar means that we need to think differently. As a result of the kind of ongoing, gradual innovation that doesn’t always get the headlines, businesses and homes can be their own power plants right now. So it would be wrong to seize on this one innovation and overlook what solar is already doing for business, government and households.”
Despite this, the CSIRO’s breakthrough represents a step forward in terms of solar as a viable option at a larger scale than previously envisaged…….http://www.techly.com.au/2014/09/25/supercritical-solar-csiros-solar-breakthrough-offers-new-opportunities/
The Power Of The Press: CSIRO Installs Solar Panel Printer https://newmatilda.com/2014/09/11/power-press-csiro-installs-solar-panel-printer By Amy McQuire Solar technology In Australia took a step forward recently, with the installation of a machine that can print solar panels. Amy McQuire reports.
Printable solar panels could power our laptops and rooftops – even our skyscrapers – sooner than we think after a new solar-cell printer, the nation’s largest, was recently installed at the CSIRO.
The printer, worth $200,000 and funded by the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VOSCC), is able to print organic solar cells ten times the size of what was previously possible, and straight onto paper-thin plastic or steel.
It’s a faster and more cost-effective method than solar panels using traditional silicon cells (used to power objects like our calculators) because it uses organic polymers (a bonding of different materials) that absorb sunlight , generate charges and produce electricity.
Because these organic solar panels are more related to materials like cling wrap they are thin, flexible and printable.
The cells produce 10-50 watts of power per square metre (50 watts is enough to power a small laptop computer) and they can be printed fast, at speeds of up to ten metres per minute.
But the printer is not entirely new technology, the CSIRO says. It’s similar to what you would use to screen-print T-shirts. CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins said the aim was to make the technology as accessible as possible.
“We’re developing the technologies to work with existing printing processes, so the printers that we’ve got are the same sort of printers that you could use for paper, or even things like t-shirts, and we’re developing our processes to be able to use these existing printing technologies so that the barrier to entry for manufacturing these new printed solar cells is as low as possible,” Dr Watkins said.
The printer represents a significant step forward for the VOSCC team, which is made up of a consortium of the CSIRO and the Melbourne and Monash Universities, who have been working on printing solar cells since 2007.
The size of the solar cells were increased to an A3 size sheet of paper from the size of a coin in only three years.
The CSIRO says the possibilities are growing and there are companies interested in taking the technology commercial.
“Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers,” VICOSC project coordinator Dr David Jones said.
“By printing directly to materials like steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials.”
Dennis Matthews, 13 Sept 14 Matching supply and demand has always been a problem and is not unique to renewables.
An interesting thing about wind power in SA is that the % installed capacity (MW) is the same as the % delivered electricity (MWhr). In other words, wind power is no worse than non-renewables in terms of the amount of time that it is generating.
Concerning off-peak electricity. This is very wasteful, you end up heating and reheating the same water because of heat losses, especially over night. In addition in some areas off-peak electricity is controlled centrally through a square wave distortion (SWD) system. This means that off-peak is no longer just overnight. It can be any time of the day that suits the electricity utilities. This has the effect of undercutting solar hot water systems. After sunrise, when solar starts to heat a solar hot water system, the electricity utility can, and does in my area, switch on the off-peak heater. In order to prevent this I have to physically switch off the off-peak hot water system at the meter box and turn it on again late in the day when solar is no longer effective.
I suspect this is happening to a lot of people in SA with solar hot water and they are wondering why their bills are still high. Look for the SWD box (grey in my case) in the meter box. If you have one then you may have to do the same as me.
15,000+ Australian Businesses Have Gone Solar More than 15,000 Australian businesses have installed solar panels says the Clean Energy Council.http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4490
“Businesses have now invested almost $460 million in solar power systems across the country, helping them to collectively save about $64 million on their bills every year,” said Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton.
Mr. Thornton says the businesses operate in a broad range of sectors – from dairy and chicken farmers through to wineries, offices, supermarkets and retail outlets.
“There is an increasing recognition that the current modest support provided by the RET means the business case for solar power makes sense, helping businesses become more competitive in tough economic conditions.”
However, he warns slashing the Renewable Energy Target could see the opportunity lost or make it so paperwork-heavy some businesses simply wouldn’t bother.
“The rest of the world is going full-speed ahead on solar and there is a huge opportunity here for Australian businesses if we leave the RET alone,” he said.
Mr. Thornton states slashing the RET would also see the loss of up to 5800 jobs in this part of the nation’s solar power sector.
For now, the segment is humming along. National commercial solar providerEnergy Matters reports it has installed 4 megawatts capacity of commercial scale systems (10kW+) and currently has 2MW of projects in the pipeline.
Among the high profile projects in Energy Matters’ portfolio are Western Australia’s largest privately-owned rooftop solar power system (Bidvest Foodservices) and Australia’s largest privately funded array (NEXTDC’s M1 Data Centre in Melbourne).
In August, Energy Matters stated that just among its monitored systems, 1 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity had been generated and it expects cumulative generation for those systems to reach 3 million kilowatt hours by end of this year.
According to the August Sunwiz Insights, of the 48 x 100kW commercial solar power systems installed in Australia in the previous 3 months; Energy Matters led the rankings with 5 x 100kW systems.
A portfolio featuring a selection of Energy Matters’ commercial solar projects can be viewed here. Businesses interested in learning more about how solar can benefit their bottom line can contact Energy Matters’ commercial team on 1300 553 213 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Australian Energy Storage Council launched to bring together industry and promote standardisation PV Tech, By Andy Colthorpe Sep 12, 2014 The Australian Energy Storage Council, a new industry representative body has been launched for energy storage in Australia, backed and co-founded by the Australian Solar Council.
The Australian Energy Storage Council was formally launched this morning. The Australian Solar Council will back the new organisation with resources initially, with solar council chief executive John Grimes also acting as its head.
“It is important that energy utilities engage with the energy storage sector sooner rather than later,” said Grimes. “Too often the energy sector ignores emerging technology trends and is blindsided when they are deployed widely. That’s why one of the first things the Energy Storage Council will do is to focus on developing standards and protocols for embedding energy storage into the energy network.”
The call for standardisation across the energy storage industry has been voiced by a wide cross section of parties, including academics and battery manufacturers.
The storage council will be a non-profit organisation, paid for by memberships, training activities and from hosting industry events. According to the council, it will seek to connect local members with global industry partners.
The new group joins other regional and international energy storage industry associations in the growing space, including the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA) and one of the earliest-formed organisations of its kind, the California Energy Storage Alliance, which according to CESA’s deputy head Chris Edgette, was influential in helping the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in drafting the recently issued mandate for utilities to install 1.3GW of storage by 2020………http://storage.pv-tech.org/news/australian-energy-storage-council-launched-to-bring-together-industry-and-p
Large solar company First Solar not impressed with Abbott govt’s proposed compromise on Renewable Energy Target
US’s First Solar says Australian govt’s renewable energy ‘compromise’ likely to be rejected KERRIE SINCLAIR THE COURIER-MAIL SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 A COMPROMISE position on Australian renewable energy market reform being touted by federal ministers won’t be palatable to the industry as it would still mean certain death, a leading solar company said Thursday.
Jack Curtis, regional vice president for Asia Pacific at First Solar, the US’s largest solar panel company, said a reform proposal now being floated, as well as the proposals of a federal government-commissioned review released last month, were all potentially fatal to Australia’s renewable energy industry.
First Solar has a $500 million active project pipeline in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, a potential future pipeline of $250 million and has a venture with Rio Tinto to build an up to 6.7 megawatt, $23.4 million solar power plant at the Weipa bauxite mine on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula……..
GE, one of Australia’s largest foreign investors, has rejected the Warburton review proposals, saying either option would risk pushing up household power bills and raise sovereign risk issues for the Australian economy.
First Solar on Thursday said the option that appeared to be emerging as the federal government’s possible compromise position would not be acceptable to the industry.
“I think you’ve already started to see this idea of a ‘real 20 per cent’ target being thrown about as the government’s potential compromise position,” Mr Curtis said.
“But any one of those three (the first two of the Warburton report or that compromise position) wouldn’t be palatable at all to the industry.
“Because it’s gradations of death for the industry. It’s a question of, ‘Do you want to die from one bullet in the head or two or three bullets in the head?’ It’s irrelevant because you’re still lying on the ground dead.”
Mr Curtis said it wasn’t clear if the federal LNP had decided its position on large-scale RET reform…….
“In some of the large projects we’re involved with, say in western NSW, more than 50 per cent of the project procurement comes from local companies that for example used to make parts for auto companies and have retooled to provide parts for solar projects.”
Mr Curtis also questioned Rio Tinto’s call this week for governments, industry and communities to support development of ‘clean coal’ technology which aims to capture and bury underground forever the planet-warming emissions of coal-fired power stations…….
“I’ve seen clean coal promoted as the solution to the world’s dirty coal problems for a long time and I’m yet to see anything that’s a commercially viable solution,” Mr Curtis said…….http://www.couriermail.com.au/business/uss-first-solar-says-australian-govts-renewable-energy-compromise-likely-to-be-rejected/story-fnihsps3-1227056769087
SMA Flexible Energy Storage System Available In Australia http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4486 11 Sept 14, For Australian solar households looking to distance themselves from the mains grid, the competitively-priced Sunny Home Manager Flexible Storage System is worth considering.
Whether the ultimate goal is to completely ditch the grid or still maintain a mains connection; this clever system from SMA is up to the task.
The system has been developed to enable households to store surplus electricity generated by their solar panel array for use when the sun isn’t shining or in blackout conditions. It consists of a Sunny Island battery inverter, a Speedwire Data Module, SMA Energy Meter and Sunny Home Manager.
Available from national solar provider Energy Matters; it’s an open concept that works with most battery technologies (including lithium-ion) and any existing grid connect inverter. This degree of flexibility allows Energy Matters to package an entire energy storage solution, including batteries, according to a customer’s needs and circumstances.
In the image above, the solar inverter converts the DC current produced by the solar panels to AC power for household use.
Any power not being used by household appliances is transmitted to the Sunny Island. The Sunny Island charges the batteries and also offers an uninterruptible, grid-quality power supply.
Power not being utilised by either the household or Sunny Island is exported to the mains grid.
At night, or when called upon, the Sunny Island converts the DC energy stored in the batteries back into AC power for use by the household.
The SMA Energy Meter communicates solar generation and consumption data via Speedwire to the Sunny Home Manager.
The Sunny Home Manager provides live data on electricity use to aid in smart energy management. Reports and visualisations of all the relevant electricity flows are displayed via a user-friendly interface, providing comprehensive and concise data.
Reports and data generated by the Sunny Home manager can be accessed on a PC or smartphone.
Unlike some grid-connected energy storage solutions, if a mains-grid blackout is experienced; the system doesn’t shut down – it will automatically switch to using the energy stored in the battery bank.
The SMA flexible storage solution is also “future-proof” – it will be compatible with future smart grid technologies.
Australia’s Largest Solar Farm Opened http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4477 4 Sept 14 Canberra’s Royalla Solar Farm, owned by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), was opened on Wednesday.
The 24MWp solar power plant is located just south of Tuggeranong, approximately 23 kilometres south of the Canberra CBD and will generate enough electricity to supply around 4,500 Canberra homes.
Comprised of 83,000 solar panels, it’s not only largest solar farm in Australia, Royalla is also the first large scale solar facility connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM).
Among those at the opening were ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell, Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes and Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton.
“This project has helped to demonstrate the exciting opportunity and massive benefits that large scale solar can deliver in Australia,” said Mr. Thornton.
“The Royalla Solar Farm is a showcase for what is possible using today’s technology, and has utilised many local businesses, suppliers and contractors to deliver a real boost to the local economy.” Continue reading
Why Warburton wants to set solar industry back a decade REneweconmy, By Giles Parkinson on 1 September 2014 “………In the long term, it seems that the solar market in Australia – which could be leading the world – will be set back a decade.
That seems to be the clear and deliberate intention of the RET review panel, which says that large-scale solar farms are not needed, and not desirable. It expects its recommendations on the small-scale solar sector to set the market back by around 10 years.
Yingli Green Energy, the world’s biggest solar module manufacturer, warned that if these recommendations are adopted, Australia will be left behind in a world that is embracing renewable energy as a tangible player in the global energy mix.
“Australia’s extremely high levels of solar radiation mean that solar PV technology is particularly efficient in producing energy outputs,” Yingli’s Australian head Daman Cole said in a statement.
“This country can lead in the adoption, investment and innovation in solar energy. Academically, our universities lead the world in solar photovoltaic innovation, but regretfully the political uncertainty is hurting Australia’s solar industry.
“While we remain stranded in uncertainty around Australia’s clean energy future, the solar industry is experiencing strong growth in many other markets such as China, Japan, South East Asia and the Americas.
The problem with solar is that it is being adopted at a rate unforeseen and unimagined by the fossil fuel industry. Australia leads the world in residential rooftop solar, with more than one in five houses having solar systems, or 1.3 million homes, with a total of 3.3GW installed – even if it does trail in large scale installations. (The first utility-scale solar farm to be connected to the National Electricity Market will be formally opened this week).
Various official studies, such as those done by the market operator in WA, have predicted that installation rates could treble – reaching three-quarters of residential homes, and 90 per cent of businesses. New financial models would allow rental homes and apartments to become part of the market.
This is causing massive problems for generators, such as those owned by the Queensland government and recently sold by the NSW government, because it is eating away at demand, andrevenue, at what used to be the most profitable time of the day.
The RET review variously describes rooftop solar as causing cross-subsidies, an assessment repeated by the AEMC in its analysis of network costs and tariffs, but rarely are the benefits brought to the front. Last week, the South Australian network operator said that the 565MW of rooftop solar in that state – it has the highest penetration – had delivered clear benefits in moving and reducing the peak, and for grid stability.……..
A new report by the REC Agents Association on Monday warned that 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses could collapse if the RET Review recommendations were implemented.
It says that the solar industry currently comprises more than 3,800 businesses, with annual retail sales of more than $2.5 billion.
“Should the Government axe or significantly reduce the Renewable Energy Target, we would see a 40-50 per cent reduction in demand for solar and the closure of at least a thousand small businesses,” it says.
It says the absolute majority (96%) of the 3,800 solar businesses in Australia are SME sized businesses, and more than 93 per cent of the roughly 21,000 Australians who work in the Australian solar industry work in SME’s.
“It has been one of Australia’s fastest growing employment and business sectors, having grown twenty fold in the last decade. In less than ten years, the industry has created more than $17 billion of direct retail sales and tens of billions of flow on expenditure on in-direct support services.” http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/warburton-wants-set-solar-industry-back-decade-57479