Australian news, and some related international items

Green bonds fast gaining popularity

Victoria-sunny.psdGreen bonds the new black in the market as environmental financing surges, ABC News, 26 July 16 By business reporter Stephen Letts The environmentally sensitive shoots developing in the global bonds market appear to be heading for a serious growth spurt with another record quarter of “green bonds” issuance.

In a research note on the sector, the credit ratings agency Moody’s found environmentally focused green bond issuance in the June quarter hit a record $US20.3 billion ($27 billion), well above the $US16.9 billion ($22.5 billion) recorded in the first quarter of the year.

Added together, the two quarters raised almost 90 per cent more capital than in the first half of 2015.

“The global green bond market is now poised to reach $US75 billion ($100 billion) in total volume for 2016 and so set a new record for the fifth consecutive year, given the strong issuance already observable in the first two weeks of Q3,” Moody’s senior vice president Henry Shilling said.

That fresh flow in the third quarter includes $300 million worth of bonds from Victoria put out to tender earlier this month, the first green issuance from an Australian state or federal government……

Clean energy projects dominate the market

The increasing demand has been supported by many big pension funds now carrying mandates that stipulate portfolios must hold required levels of environmentally friendly investments.

Around two-thirds of green bond proceeds in the quarter were directed to renewable energy and energy efficient projects, with clean transport accounting for a further 17 per cent of the money raised.

The US dominated issuance, with 23 per cent of the market, followed by the big development agencies such as the World Bank, with 17 per cent, although China is expected to bounce back to its dominant position in the market with $US3 billion worth of bonds in the pipeline for sale in coming months…….

July 27, 2016 Posted by | business, energy, Victoria | Leave a comment

Solar and battery mini grid hits the suburbs

solar city

Australian Mini-Suburb ‘Tesla Town’ Project with Powerwalls gives a glimpse into future sustainable communities, Electrek, Nathaniel Kobza, 15 July 16  Near Melbourne, Australia lies an incredible suburban project underway dubbed YarrabendThis development is currently home to 60 houses and is planned to eventually hit around 2500. What is unique about this venture is not only the art, food or shopping that will be near it, but that all of the houses will come standard with Tesla Powerwalls and solar panels. Via the Heidelberg Leader, Nick Marinakis, sales and marketing manager of the Glenvill development team for Yarrabend, states that the suburb…

will achieve the highest possible ESD rating under the UDIA (Urban Development Institute of Australia) Envirodevelopment scheme, a first for an infill development site in Melbourne.

UDIA’s chief executive, Danni Addison, said that a big reason that this will receive the highest rating is because it will “be one of the most environmentally sustainable developments in Australia.” Further, Ms. Addison goes on to explain:

Some areas that are a standout include water reduction of 43 per cent, landfill reduced by 80 per cent and the potential to reduce energy use by 34 per cent. The Powerwalls, combined with solar panels, will mean that future residents will be able to benefit in a variety of ways, including dramatically smaller power bills and knowing that the majority of their energy usage is coming from a clean and renewable source…….

July 25, 2016 Posted by | solar, storage, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victoria to get record-breaking wind farm

WIND-FARMRecord-breaking, brolga-friendly, $650m wind farm gets government green light, The Age, July 19 2016 Benjamin Preiss    Victoria’s most productive wind farm generating enough power for 140,000 households will be built in the south-west after the state government approved the plans.

The $650 million wind farm, to be built near Dundonnell, will have 96 turbines.  Once completed, it will produce enough power to supply the combined populations of Ballarat and Warrnambool.

The project will create an estimated 300 jobs during construction, with 16 positions once it is built…….The wind farm’s layout was designed to accommodate brolga breeding and flocking habits, according to the government………

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

The People’s Solar at Melbourne’s Abbotsford Convent’s major crowd-funded solar energy project

solar-panels-and-moneyAustralia’s Largest Solar Crowdfunding Campaign a Success,  Pro Bono, Ellie Cooper, 14 July 16   For-purpose business, The People’s Solar has helped iconic Melbourne Not for Profit, the Abbotsford Convent raise $120,000 for its renewable energy project in the biggest crowdfunding project of its kind in Australia. The People’s Solar, part of Energy for the People, is a platform for delivering community-owned solar power to schools and Not for Profits.

Director and co-founder Tosh Szatow told Pro Bono Australia News this was the biggest solar crowdfunding project of its kind in Australia to date. It was also the largest project his business has been involved in.

“It’s really exciting. We’ve raised something like $250,000 now over two years, so the amount of money we’ve raised for projects has been doubling every six months, and that includes the project with the convent,” Szatow said. “We’ve now completed about 10 projects, it’s the biggest by some margin and it’s really confirmed for us that we can fund really big projects like this.

“And the other exciting thing is the organisations we’re working for would otherwise find it really hard to find the money to pay for solar power, and so it’s really great to know we’re able to help those organisations.”

The Abbotsford Convent, spread over 16.8 acres, has green space and historic buildings, which are said to house Australia’s largest multi-arts precincts. “It’s an iconic building in Melbourne… that’s really well loved by people in Melbourne, and the activities that are hosted at the convent are really important to the community,” Szatow said.

“As well as support for the creative arts and music, painting, sculpture and it’s a really valuable public asset. There’s a large green space which is a real oasis for people in that community. So there were a lot of reasons to get behind it.”

He said the $120,000 solar panel installation, half of which was crowdfunded through Pozible and the other half matched through a donor, would make a huge difference to the convent.

“It will save up to about $15,000 a year, and I believe that’s enough to fully fund the maintenance of their public open space so that’s all the gardening and upkeep on the gardens,” he said.

“So that’s a huge saving to their bottom line. And because it’s a Not for Profit organisation, it runs entirely on donations, saving that $15,000 every year is going to make a huge difference over the course of the panels lifetime.” The mission of Energy for the People is to help foster a “democratic” energy market where all Australians can access renewable energy. Szatow said The People’s Solar was started to focus on social impact and community benefit.

“[We were] talking with a lot of organisations that were struggling to find the money to go solar even though solar power has a pretty good financial payback. We were really looking for a solution to that,” he said.

“And I think more broadly there’s a really strong ethic in what we do with Energy for the People. We’re really keen to give back to the communities that we do work in, and solar is a really nice way of executing that and bringing together our skills and capability in clean energy with our interest and enthusiasm for the community side of things.”

July 15, 2016 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victoria is beating New South Wales in the renewable energy race

Parkinson-Report-Climate change: how Victoria trumped New South Wales in the great renewable energy race
Wind and solar energy projects are set to be the big winners of the state’s ambitious renewable energy targets, Guardian,  6 July 16 
 Victoria’s ambitious renewable energy targets will see a doubling of the state’s wind energy capacity.

Two years ago Rob Stokes, the then environment minister for New South Wales, promised that his state could become Australia’s answer to California in the clean energy industry.

“We are making NSW No 1 in energy and environmental policy,” Stokes, a Liberal,told the Clean Energy Week gathering in Sydney in July 2014.“When it comes to clean energy, we can be Australia’s answer to California.”

It was a bold vision, and a laudable one, but it didn’t turn out that way.

Investment in large-scale renewable energy, apart from some federally funded large-scale solar projects, has all but dried up. In May, a report by the Climate Council rated NSW as the “worst place” for renewable energy investment in Australia.

It’s ironic because NSW has the biggest pipeline of undeveloped renewable energy projects in the country. But now other states are seeking to grab a bigger share of the renewable energy pie, particularly as traditional industries of car manufacturing and steel-making face an uncertain future.

Last month Victoria became the latest Labor government to announce renewable energy targets over and above the federal target, announcing it would aim to have 25% of its electricity served by renewable energy by 2020, and 40% by 2025.

That compares with a national target that translates to about a 23% by 2020, and the Australian Capital Territory’s 100% target by 2020, Queensland’s 50% target by 2030 and South Australia’s 50% target by 2025, a percentage it is likely to reach later this year.

ut Victoria’s target appears the most ambitious of the lot, simply for the sheer number of new wind and solar farms that will be needed to meet the target. And it also intends to have legislation in place from next year that will ensure the target is met.

The 40% by 2025 target translates into some 5,400MW of new renewable energy capacity to be installed within the next 10 years. That will be almost exclusively wind and solar farms and is three times as much renewable energy capacity as the state has installed up till now and nearly equal to the national target for 2020.

“This is an ambitious target but a very achievable target,” says the Victorian energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio. She intends to adopt the system of “reverse auctions” pioneered successfully by the ACT, which will have some 600MW of large scale renewables in place by 2020 to meet its own 100% target.

Already, under a previously announced tender designed to support wind projects, the Victorian government has signed contracts that will help two windfarms be built over the next year – a 13-turbine windfarm at Kiata near Horsham and a 44-turbine windfarm at Mount Gellibrand near Colac………

July 8, 2016 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victorian government backing 2 new wind farms


The new wind farms will produce enough energy to power 80,000 homes. They will be located at Kiata near Horsham and Mount Gellibrand near Colac.  The Kiata wind farm will have up to 13 turbines, while Mount Gellibrand will host up to 44. Both projects are expected to be operating by 2018.

The government says it is using its purchasing power to support these wind farms through so-called renewable energy certificates. The state government has committed to purchasing some renewable energy certificates from these two wind farms, giving them an additional revenue stream. Certificates are allocated to wind farms as part of the national renewable energy target. Producers of renewable energy can also sell the certificates to energy retailers.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was rebuilding much-needed confidence in the renewable energy industry. “We can build a strong, sustainable, renewable energy industry that powers our broader economy, creates well-paid jobs and reduces our environmental impact,” she said.

Last month the government committed to a renewable energy generation target of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.  Planning Minister Richard Wynne is also considering six applications to amend existing wind farm permits so they can increase their turbine size.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews’ ambitious plan for boosting wind energy

Wind farm boom looms as Premier Daniel Andrews looks to boost clean power, The Age, , 16 June 16, Senior Writer Victoria would have 40 per cent clean electricity in less than a decade – nearly tripling the current level – under an ambitious plan announced by the Andrews government.

Andrews, Daniel

The government has set targets to ramp up wind power and large-scale solar power, paid for through an increase in household and business electricity bills and spending from the budget.

With private spending on clean electricity largely stalled due to a lack of confidence in federal government support for a national renewable energy target, the Andrews government believes its policy will make Victoria the centre of a revitalised industry. It estimates that, at the peak of construction in the middle of the next decade, there will be about 4000 workers helping to build the target’s 5400 megawatts capacity of clean energy.

To put that in perspective, there are 18 wind farms with planning approval in the state, but not built.

The government says its target will improve the viability of the industry enough to build all of them – and nearly as many again – within nine years.

On top of this, one-fifth of the new generation capacity built would be solar plants in the state’s north.

In a statement, Premier Daniel Andrews said meeting the targets – 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025, up from 14 per cent today – would bring about $2.5 billion of clean energy investment into the state.

“The world is shifting to renewable energy. It creates jobs, drives growth and protects our environment, and Victorians want to be at the forefront,” he said……

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Melbourne’s world first renewable energy project

solar cityClimate change: Melbourne renewable energy project provides global blueprint

The project, which would create a guaranteed market for renewable energy, aims to reduce city’s annual emissions by 138,000 tonnes a year, Guardian, David Sparkes   10 June 16,  “……… major cities around the world are watching closely to see if Melbourne’s strategy could become a blueprint for them to follow.

The Melbourne renewable energy project, conceived and managed by the city council, has been two years in the making. Thirteen major institutions operating in the city have formed a consortium that will sign an agreement to purchase a large chunk of their electricity from a new large-scale renewable energy project.

The consortium members are the city of Melbourne, Australia Post, National Australia Bank, the University of Melbourne, RMIT, data centre operator NEXTDC, Zoos Victoria, the city of Port Phillip, Moreland city council, the city of Yarra, Citywide, Melbourne convention and exhibition centre and Bank Australia. If the project goes ahead, it will reduce Melbourne’s carbon emissions by 138,000 tonnes per year……..

The strategy is revolutionary, as it is the first time in Australia that a group of buyers has joined forces to purchase large-scale renewable energy. In fact, the council says it is not aware of a similar model anywhere in the world, especially under the leadership of a city council………

June 11, 2016 Posted by | energy, Victoria | Leave a comment

Totally Renewable Yackandandah leading Victorian town to 100% renewable energy

Victoria-sunny.psdA Yack attack on climate in Yackandandah,  TUCKED away in a picturesque nook of Victoria’s North East is a small town doing big things.June 7, 2016

RIAHN SMITHThe Weekly Times

Yackandandah — home to between 700 and 2200 people, depending on where you draw the town border — is one of dozens of communities across the country leading the way on renewable energy.

Its goal is ambitious: to be 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy sources by 2022.

At the helm is Matthew Charles-Jones, an environmental education teacher and former university lecturer who runs an education and accommodation facility at Falls Creek.

He’s a co-chair of Totally Renewable Yackandandah, or TRY as it is more familiarly known, a committee of about half a dozen passionate locals promoting the renewable energy message……

Although Matthew is quick to clarify the 100 per cent target is TRY’s goal and not the official town plan, if the yellow cardboard yaks popping up across the district are any indication, plenty of locals are signing up to the vision.

The Australian PV Institute tracks solar power installations across the country. Its most recent data shows 249 dwellings within the 3749 postcode (taking in Yackandah and Bruarong, a hamlet about 13km south) are producing their own solar energy, about 35 per cent of a combined 700 homes.

This, says Matthew, is up from 24 per cent when TRY entered the scene.

Yackandandah Health, a facility that provides aged care as well as a host of primary health services, was one of the first organisations to take up the mantle.

It has installed 348 solar panels to provide 90kW of power and reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 115 tonnes — in real terms, the equivalent of taking 23 cars permanently off the road.

The system, which produces about a quarter of their electricity consumption, is also expected to save the non-profit, community-owned organisation $1 million over the next 25 years…….

While it is not uncommon for town-folk to be perceived as more progressive than their farming neighbours, around Yackandandah, farmers are also jumping on the bandwagon…….

Firm believers in solar energy’s ability to give a financial return to home and business owners, the TRY committee has established a “perpetual energy fund” to help further ease the cost concern, offering loans for people to install solar systems and then make repayments with the savings off their electricity bill.

It’s an initiative designed to fill the gap left by changes to Australian energy policy that have put solar energy, and renewables in general, on the back burner.

“We need such a massive amount of change in this sector and for me, our traditional institutions aren’t doing enough about it,” Matthew says.

“Around the world countries, communities and business are investing heavily in renewable energy but because there hasn’t been a clear, enduring policy in Australia and in that absence, investment in renewable energy collapsed…….

Yackandandah is not alone.

Matthew estimates there are nearly 80 communities across Victoria leading the way in renewable and community energy.

Closest to home is Newstead, a small town about a 15-minute drive from Castlemaine in central Victoria. Six years ago it announced its goal to be Australia’s first 100 per cent renewable energy town by 2021.

“They’re doing remarkable work,” says Matthew, while noting the town has been helped along by significant financial input from the Victorian Government…….

June 8, 2016 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Hi-tech renewable energy jobs reviving south-west Victoria’s economy

solar,-wind-aghastHigh-tech, clean energy jobs key to future of Geelong, south-west Victoria, ABC News, 5 June 16 By Cameron Best Steve Garner understands how important his wind farm manufacturing business is for the town of Portland in south-west Victoria.

As the state’s traditional manufacturing base continues to decline, jobseekers and the wider economy are looking for the jobs of the future.

Six months ago, Mr Garner’s Keppel Prince Engineering facility lay idle under the Federal Government’s freeze on new wind energy investment and former prime minister Tony Abbott’s desire to reduce the growth rate of what he labelled as “visually awful” wind farms.

Now, under a new Clean Energy Finance Corporation mandate, the production line at Keppel Prince is back up and running with about 300 workers making towers for a project near Ararat.

It has come just in time for Portland, which is facing the possibility of life without its major employer……

“the stronger we can grow something like this [facility], that actually does create a lot of jobs, the better off we’re going to be.

“And if we get government support to do that, we’ve then got a sustainable business for a long period of time.”…

New-wave tech replacing manufacturing of old

High-tech industries are springing up to utilise some of the skilled workers coming out of the automotive industry but in order to remain globally competitive, this new wave of advanced manufacturers cannot afford to be as labour-intensive as the companies of old…….,-clean-energy-jobs-the-key-to-geelong-future/7476816

June 5, 2016 Posted by | business, Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Infrastructure Victoria draft report includes nuclear power as an option

exclamation-‘Bicycle highways’ through Melbourne CBD backed by cycling advocate, ABC News, 2 June 16  “….Infrastructure Victoria has proposed the cycle “highways” at a cost of $100 million, one of more than 200 ideas put forward in an options paper looking at state projects for the next 30 years…..

Other ideas in the options paper included high speed rail from Sydney to Melbourne and building a nuclear power plant….
Infrastructure Victoria will release a draft report after public submissions later in the year.’bicycle-highways’-through-melbourne-cbd-idea-welcomed/7467380

June 3, 2016 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Export industry potential for Victorian solar energy project, backed by Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Victoria-sunny.psdVictorian solar project wins government grant to take its technology to world, The Age,  April 24, 2016 –  A Victorian technology company striving to produce more efficient and cheaper solar power has won financial backing from the national renewable energy agency to expand its plans.

RayGen Resources, based in Melbourne, will receive a new $2.9 million government grant to help it commercialise what the company says is ground-breaking solar technology that has already received overseas interest.

The technology involves laying out a large array of mirrors that tracks the sun throughout the day and creates a concentrated light beam onto a highly efficient solar photovoltaic receiver sitting on top of a central tower.

In March last year, RayGen opened a 200-kilowatt pilot plant at Newbridge, near Bendigo, to showcase the technology, which the company has dubbed “PV Ultra”. The pilot was built with support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, also called ARENA.

The company has now won another ARENA grant, to be announced on Monday, to upgrade the Newbridge project with later versions of the technology and to bolster its solar receiver manufacturing operations at its Blackburn headquarters.


All up it is expected to cost $5.8 million and be completed by December.

RayGen chief executive Alex Wyatt said the expansion would help the company deliver its solar receivers to overseas buyers, including solar-concentrating projects in China.

The RayGen solar PV receivers use a compound called gallium arsenide, commonly used in satellites and space stations, instead of the more typical silicon-based technology. While gallium arsenide is more expensive than silicon, it is also more efficient and when enough sunlight is concentrated it can become cost effective to use, particularly in very sunny areas.

RayGen and ARENA were also partly involved in a 2014 project at the University of NSW, called Power Cube, which set a world record for converting sunlight into power for a solar PV system……

The Turnbull government recently announced it would retain ARENA, dropping Abbott-era plans to axe the agency. But it is seeking to slash the $1.3 billion that ARENA was still due to receive in coming years to help foster new renewable energy development.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victoria making coal mine owners pay for rehabilitation

Victoria’s coalmines forced to pay more towards site rehabilitation costs  The state’s premier says owners of Latrobe valley mines are profitable enough to absorb tens of millions of dollars in extra costs without cutting jobs Victoria’s coalmines are being ordered to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars more for the rehabilitation of their sites when mining ceases.Latrobe coalmines not paying enough for cleanup: Hazelwood fire inquiry

coal plants Latrobe

The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, maintains the additional payments will not put jobs at risk.
The Victorian government announced on Friday the existing rehabilitation bonds would be increased in June from $15m or less to $34.25m for Yallourn, $36.7m for Hazelwood and $56m for Loy Yang.They will all then double again – to the current estimated rehabilitation liability for each mine – by January. On Thursday, the fourth and final report into the Hazelwood mine fireconcluded Latrobe valley mines were not making sufficient paymentsto cover rehabilitation costs.

It urged an immediately increase of tens of millions of dollars in the bonds until a review into the system was complete.

Andrews said on Friday the mines’ owners were profitable enough to absorb the additional costs. “We’ve had companies for too long that have been allowed to put aside just a fraction of what it costs to keep their mines safe and return those mine sites to the community … at the end of their useful life,” Andrews told reporters in Morwell.

“These are profitable companies. Let’s not have any of this talk that jobs are at risk – they are not at all.”

April 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Impact of climate change on Victoria worse than previously thought

climate-changeClimate change fears worsen following University of Melbourne and CSIRO ­research April 1, 2016 CHRIS McLENNAN The Weekly Times THE impact of climate change on Victoria’s weather could be twice as bad as previously thought.

A team of University of Melbourne and CSIRO ­researchers believes popular computer predictions over-estimate the flow of rain run-off into rivers.

Victorian Government scientists believe the state faces a much warmer and drier ­future which could result in longer fire seasons, less rainfall in winter and spring south of the Great Dividing Range, and less rainfall in autumn, winter and spring in the north.

Scientists say climate change is already being felt across Victoria, with a rise in temperature and a drop in rainfall since 1950.

The university research found climate modelling failed­ to adequately cater for drought. Under prolonged dry conditions, modelling predicted twice as much run-off into rivers and catchments than was occurring,” Prof Andrew Western said……..

April 4, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

At last Victoria might now get going, farming solar energy

Victoria-sunny.psdHas Victoria’s moment in the sun finally arrived?, The Age,  March 27, 2016 Despite a decade of promises and plans from governments, policy uncertainty and project collapses has meant very little has materialised but now a handful of proposed Victorian projects are again on the table.

Phil Galloway stands in an open field between vast stretches of almond trees. The empty land is marginal and the sun above it bright.

One day soon he hopes to roll out 220,000 solar panels across the empty space on the Almas Almonds farm at Bannerton, generating enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes.

“The sun is really just another crop”, Mr Galloway, a former BHP executive, said during a meeting with the local council this week.

“And we’re utilising land that would have otherwise stood empty.”


His company, Syncline Energy, is the latest in a long line of proponents that have sought to kick start a large-scale solar industry in Victoria’s sunny north west.

But despite a decade of promises and plans from governments, policy uncertainty and project collapses have meant that very little has materialised. And a celebrated concentrated solar project near Mildura was axed by its proponents in 2014, with the land and equipment later sold.

Now a handful of proposed Victorian projects are again on the table.

The latest bout of activity was sparked by $100 million in competitive grants on offer from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which is looking to drive innovation in large-scale solar and drive down costs.

It is understood seven Victorian projects were among the 77 that registered initial interest with ARENA. Syncline Energy’s proposal, and another from Solar Choice located near Kerang, were the only two from Victoria to make a recently announced shortlist of 22. Continue reading

March 28, 2016 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment


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