Australian news, and some related international items

Flinders Island to be Asia Pacific benchmark for renewable energy-powered remote communities

renewable-energy-pictureRenewable 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

April 23, 2015 Posted by | solar, Tasmania, wind | 1 Comment

As Abbott govt delays decision on RET, South Africa races ahead with renewable energy

Map-Abbott-climateThe 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

Parkinson-Report-First 100MW solar plant points to missed opportunity in Australia, REneweconomy  By  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

April 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

New South Wales goes for big solar energy

sunBaird and Nyngan bask in big solar energy switch by  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

April 18, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Bette health for Port Augusta with solar thermal power plant

Port Augusta solar thermal power promises better health SA Conservation Council says 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

April 9, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

Griffith University’s promising battery energy storage system


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.”……..


April 4, 2015 Posted by | efficiency, Queensland, solar | 1 Comment

RePower Port Augusta explain how Solar thermal power plant project could be economically viable

Solar thermal power plant project at Port Augusta ‘economically highly unviable’, 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.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

Low-cost high-efficiency concentrated solar photovoltaic power station launched in Victoria

Victoria-sunny.psdThe central Victorian sun powers world’s first concentrated solar power station, ABC Central Victoria By Larissa Romensky and Jonathan Ridnell, 31 March, 2015 

 A pilot facility, claiming to be the world’s lowest-cost energy plant, has opened in Newbridge in Central Victoria converting sunlight into electricity. In a paddock off a dirt road stands a massive 25-metre tower directed at a field of silver rotating panels that shimmer in the sunlight.

This is the world’s first concentrated solar photovoltaic (CSPV) power station just launched by research and development company, RayGen Resources.”The end result is very low cost solar electricity and we think it’s going to really revolutionise solar energy,” said Robert Cart, CEO and co-founder of the company.

The tower acts as a receiver that collects sunlight from the mirrors that are computer controlled to move as they track the sun.”The collector field focuses the light on the receiver. The receiver directly converts that light to electricity,” said co-founder and technical director of RayGen, John Lasich.

The very small receiver is the unique part of this technology. “This is the only commercial version of this technology in the world,” said Mr Lasich.”It combines heliostats and denser photovoltaic cells, which when combined give very low cost and high efficiency.”

At this stage the $3.6 million project is a pilot testing facility. But the company are happy with the results.”It looks and feels pretty much like the real thing does,” said Mr Lasich.

High efficiency meets low costThe small plant generates enough power to run about 75 to 100 homes and the company says the technology is cheaper and more efficient than placing solar panels on roofs……….

The company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with their Chinese commercial partners. Juye Solar have invested $6 million which will allow RayGen to expand its manufacturing. They are currently in the process of building a larger facility at the same location.

A further $15 million will be invested by Juye Solar to develop the business in China to meet the large demand……

The ultimate aim for RayGen is to have distribution around the world. “We build the high tech components and software and sell that to the companies and they build the balance of system and put the whole plant together,” said Mr Lasich.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Mildura’s solar farm – successful without a cent of government money

what makes the Mildura plant so special is that it was built without a cent of government grants being tipped in.

helps illustrate how solar’s smaller, highly modular scale and fast construction time could allow it to play a far greater role in ensuring the target for the large-scale RET is met

Belectric have a developed a standardised 3MW solar power installation system they call the 3.0 MegaWattBlock (pictured below) which they roll-out across the globe.Solar-installation-Belectri

Australia’s biggest solar farm powers-up but solar’s potential shines elsewhere, Business Spectator, TRISTAN EDIS  23 MAR 

Australia’s largest ever solar power plant, AGL’s 102 megawatt Nyngan – has begun feeding power into the grid. But there’s a far more interesting solar power plant no one is talking about in Mildura.

The Nyngan plant in Western NSW now has its first 25MW of capacity, involving 350,000 solar modules made by First Solar, generating power that is exporting power to the grid. Further generation will progressively be brought online over the next three months as the remaining three sections of the plant are individually commissioned.

It’s unambiguously good news, yet I’m far more excited about the solar power plant in Mildura even though it’s substantially smaller – 3MW of capacity versus Nyngan’s 102MW. In fact it’s quite astounding that the completion of the Mildura plant has received no press whatsoever, because when it started feeding power to the grid in April last year it was the second largest operational solar power plant in the country at the time, and remains comfortably the largest in Victoria. Continue reading

March 25, 2015 Posted by | solar, Victoria | 1 Comment

ACT solar farm project will go ahead – in a different location

ACT solar farm project moved from controversial Uriarra site to Williamsdale
666 ABC Canberra 24 Mar 15 
A controversial project to build a solar farm next to the rural village of Uriarra has been dumped by the ACT Government after fierce opposition from local residents.

Plans by Elementus Energy to build a 26,000-panel solar farm that could power more than 1,400 homes will now be moved to Williamsdale in the Territory’s south.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell told 666 ABC Canberra the Government would now license parts of blocks 1470 and 1471 in the district of Tuggeranong (Williamsdale) for the OneSun Capital solar project.

But an approval process would still be necessary for the new location.

“The ACT Government is proposing to enter into a rental arrangement with the developer for a new site on land the Government now owns at Williamsdale, on the Monaro Highway,” Mr Corbell said.

“And it will occur without any change to the tariff feed-in price that the developer bid in the reverse auction for the solar farm project.

“What this means is a clearer path. We can get on and hopefully see that project built and it also addresses the concerns raised by Uriarra residents.”……

March 25, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Prices of solar battery systems set to plunge


Munson sees Australia as one of the most prospective markets in the world. That’s because of its high electricity costs, huge grid, expansive geography, excellent solar resources, and the penetration of rooftop solar PV.

But it’s also because the industry – from regulators down to networks and retailers, partly as a result from the boom in rooftop solar and the prospects for battery storage – are beginning to rethink their business.

Why battery system costs may fall 3x faster than solar PV By  on 20 March 2015  Everyone, it seems, agrees that battery storage is the next big thing to affect global energy markets. What is not agreed upon is the timing. Some think this may happen in a few years, others in a decade or more. Some think it is happening now.

The big question for many is how quickly battery storage costs will fall in coming years. Will it be as dramatic as that of solar PV, which took everyone but a few solar savants off-guard and cut costs 80 per cent over a five-year period? Some – such as investment banking giants Deutsche Bank and UBS – say it will. Others say it is not possible.

Ken Munson, the founder and head of smart energy systems start-up Sunverge – which is backed by an Australian government-funded investor – is in no doubt that storage costs will fall. In fact, he thinks they could fall three times as fast as solar costs did. Continue reading

March 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | 2 Comments

Australian Senate votes to back councils’ solar initiatives in western New South Wales.

sunSenate shines a light on bright solar initiative in western NSW The Senate has passed a motion calling on all levels of government to back a solar powered initiative in western New South Wales.

The Greens put forward the motion in the Upper House yesterday about the solar energy exchange initiative which involves 24 council areas throughout the state’s west.

The program is also known as SEXI. Each council is installing photo-voltaic panels as part of the initiative.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the motion was a significant show of support in the project and its ambition to provide cleaner energy. “There is nothing binding on this motion on anybody,” the Senator said. “However it clearly carries weight when the national parliament of the country comes behind a project in one specific region.”

Senator Rhiannon said the project set an example for other councils around the nation to follow.

“To have the support of the Senate clearly adds weight to this important project for solar energy in western New South Wales,” she said.  The councils involved in the initiative include Balranald, Bourke, Mid-Western and Narrabri.

March 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

South Australia shows the way with a floating solar energy plant

Australian-first floating solar farm due to begin construction in SA ABC News By Matthew Doran, 5 Mar 15 An Australian-first floating solar power plant is expected to be operational in South Australia by early April, with construction about to begin. (Below – a floating solar energy plant in France) 



The plant will float on a wastewater treatment facility in Jamestown in the state’s mid north. Felicia Whiting of Infratech Industries said the plant was designed so that much of the construction could be carried out offsite and slotted together at the facility. “We should see some plant on the site within about two weeks,” Ms Whiting said.

She also explained that as the solar panels were floating they would be kept cool by the water mass, making them about 57 per cent more efficient than land-based solar panels. “It prevents water evaporation up to 90 per cent of the surface area covered, and for dry states and dry climates that’s a big water saving measure,” Ms Whiting said.

“It prevents the outbreak of blue-green algae by keeping the surface water cool, which is for treated wastewater an issue in water quality. “By preventing photosynthesis, the energy from the sun goes into the panel rather than into the water.”……

Ms Whiting said that once operational, the plant would become Infratech’s showpiece for export around the world.”We’ve invested our whole research and development program in this technology over the past two years in South Australia,” she said.

“We have other councils waiting to have a look at this and see how it might be adapted to a water basin or a community wastewater management scheme.

“We are using Australian engineering and it’s an Australian supply chain – that will be taken internationally.”

March 6, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Labor government to fund Macedon community solar energy program

Victoria-sunny.psdAndrews government shows renewed interest in renewables The Age, February 28, 2015  Michael Green

Renewable energy projects, including solar energy schemes i are staging a revival in Victoria under the new Andrews Labor government.

The Woodend local sustainability group is launching two green energy projects: a new solar energy scheme and the resurrection of a longstanding plan for three community-owned wind turbines.

Today, at the Sustainable Living Festival in Woodend, Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will announce a $100,000 grant for a 30-kilowatt solar farm.

The panels will be installed at the old timber mill, where the tenants’ ongoing electricity bills will be reinvested in more  solar panels. It will create a “perpetual fund” for community renewable energy, says Ralf Thesing, president of the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group.

Last week, D’Ambrosio announced a $200,000 grant for the central Victorian town of Newstead to become fully powered by renewable energy.

She says the Labor  government will “support and stand alongside” communities such as Newstead and Woodend, who are planning “to better control how their energy is made and where it comes from”.

“Everywhere I go, whether it’s metro Melbourne or regional and rural Victoria, people love renewable energy,” D’Ambrosio says. “That’s why we’re seeing many communities coming up with plans to make renewable energy part of their everyday life. They’re bottom-up approaches and they’re a terrific boon for local jobs.”

The Andrews government is preparing a “renewable energy action plan” and finalising the guidelines for its $20 million “new energy jobs fund”. It will also release a discussion paper on community-owned wind power.

For the clean energy advocates in Macedon Ranges shire, the election result was transformative. “It changes our situation completely – from being banned, we’re now unbanned,” says Barry Mann, who is helping co-ordinate the wind power project……….

The Victorian Liberal party appears to have had a change of heart under the leadership of Matthew Guy. For the first time, the state has a “shadow minister for renewables”, David Southwick. He says Victoria has the opportunity to be a leader in renewable energy. “We want an industry that can deliver more clean energy and clean energy jobs.”


February 28, 2015 Posted by | solar, Victoria | 1 Comment

Some solar panels are shoddy quality: vast majority are good quality

solar-paneltext-relevantSolar experts claim multi-billion dollar subsidies wasted on cheap and dodgy panels, The Age February 22, 2015  Political reporter More Australians are buying cheap rooftop solar panels that fail long before their promised lifespan, prompting claims a federal rebate scheme needs to be overhauled to prevent dodgy systems receiving public subsidies.

Solar industry experts say lax rules covering the scheme – which provides incentives of up to $4350 for a $5500 rooftop system –  mean it is not always delivering the environmental benefits promised.

They blame an explosion of cheap, mainly Chinese-produced solar panels that have flooded the market over the past five years that are failing to provide the 15 years of clean power expected. Installers in four states told Fairfax Media that the worst systems stopped working within 12 months, with others “falling apart” within two or three years.

Problems reported include silicon that cannot stand up to the Australian sun, water egress in panels, fires and defective inverters. The term “landfill solar” is used in the industry to describe dodgy solar systems of uncertain origin……….


Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton played down the scale of failures and warned against blaming production faults on systems from one country.

He said the “Chinese success story” had led to prices for solar tumbling dramatically, allowing more households to invest in green energy.

“If someone is getting a subsidy there is an expectation that the benefit to the environment and society equals or outweighs that cost. There are cases of systems not running for 15 years and people have got rid of them, but from our point of view most will run for 25 years,” he said.

“There are cases that come up just like in any industry, but failure rates are low.”…….

Nigel Morris, a solar industry analyst and consultant to the Clean Energy Council, said he wasn’t aware of any statistics that showed a widespread problem.

“Is the industry perfect? Absolutely not. Do we occasionally have quality issues with product and installations? Yes, we do … There is evidence to say it is not endemic.”

A recent Choice survey found, while more than 80 per cent of solar system owners were satisfied with what they had bought, 17% of owners of Chinese-made solar systems and 11 per cent of those with a German inverter had experienced problems of some kind.

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

South Australia: huge solar project from Origin Energy

Parkinson-Report-Origin Energy to build Australia’s biggest rooftop solar array  By  on 19 February 2015

Origin Energy and Zen Energy Systems are to build a 3MW solar system on the rooftop of the old Mitsubishi factory in Tonsley, Adelaide, in what will be the largest rooftop solar array in the country.

The awarding of the contracts was announced by the South Australian government this week. The intention to build the array was first announced late last year. Origin Energy will own the rooftop array and sell the output to the tenants of the Tonsley high tech centre (artists impression to the right), under a power purchase agreement that it is looking at replicating elsewhere in the country.

Indeed, Origin Energy managing director Grant King says the company is “changing its view” on electricity markets, and is particularly interested in the economics of utility-scale solar in Australia.

“We are working hard to understand economics of utility scale solar in Australia,” King told an analysts briefing.

Origin has also revealed it has bought a 40 per cent stake in the 69MW Javiera solar project in Chile (pictured right), which is being built by SunEdison in the Atacama desert, without subsidies, and will supply electricity mainly the nearby Los Pelambres copper project.

Origin Energy says this will also help it understand the economics of large-scale solar – both in international markets, and in Australia.

Zen – a tenant in the Tonsley complex – has been awarded the installation and maintenance contract.

“It’s a great job to get to ramp up our capacity and profile with a number of multi-megawatt jobs in the pipeline currently evolving for ZEN around Australia,” managing director Richard Turner said.

South Australia Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the tender for the 3MW solar project had attracted a huge response from tenderers. “Tonsley is fast gaining a reputation as an innovation precinct with a focus on sustainability and urban renewal, so it’s not surprising that a project of this size has attracted significant interest,” he said.

Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter said the project would add to South Australia’s credentials as a national leader in renewable energy.

Hunter noted that South Australia has 41 per cent of the nation’s operating wind farm capacity and one in four households have rooftop solar panels.

“If South Australia was a nation, we would rank second only to Denmark as the world leader in terms of installed wind power on a per capita basis,” he said.

Origin’s head of energy markets, Frank Calabria, said the company was delighted to be named preferred partner for the innovative Tonsley project, which will see Origin build, own, and retail the electricity generated by the 3MW solar array.

“We are excited about this project, which will be the largest rooftop solar array Origin has installed, as it builds on our solar leadership and demonstrates our renewed focus on our solar business.

February 21, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment


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