REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson & Sophie Vorrath on 24 February 2017 The world’s biggest battery manufacturing brands and clean energy lobby groups have signalled they will fight proposed new guidelines and recommendations that could effectively ban battery storage units from inside homes and garages, saying the restrictions are over the top and don’t conform to international standards.
Standards Australia is believed to be preparing the release of new standards that would effectively force most battery storage units to be put in a free-standing and fireproof enclosure, possibly adding thousands of dollars to the cost of installation and making it uneconomic.
As a precursor to that move, Queensland workplace regulators unveiled new recommendations last week that suggested no battery storage units be installed inside homes and garage or adjoining sheds, and instead be put in separate enclosures.
The restriction appears to apply to all battery storage units, and not just lithium chemistries
Some in the industry have branded the suggestions as ridiculous…….http://reneweconomy.com.au/global-battery-storage-industry-fight-australia-home-bans-52711/
The consortium is launching two pilot projects in the ACT and on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, each involving around 5,000 households. The projects are also being overseen by a reference group that includes the Australian Energy Market Operator, the Australian Energy Market Commission and Energy Consumers Australia.
Australian consortium launches world-first digital energy marketplace for rooftop solar https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/feb/23/australian-consortium-launches-world-first-digital-energy-marketplace-for-rooftop-solar
Pilot program will allow homeowners to tap into a network of ‘virtual’ power stations made up of smart grids of rooftop solar and batteries, Guardian, Bianca Nogrady, 24 Feb 17, With that challenge in mind, in 2016, GreenSync got together with electricity network operators United Energy and ActewAGL, energy tech startup Reposit Power, and energy retailer Mojo under the auspices of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s A-Lab; an initiative that the Arena chief executive, Ivor Frischknecht, describes as an “innovation sandbox”. Arena contributed $450,000 towards the total project cost of $930,000.
What they came up with has yet to be done anywhere in the world: a network of “virtual” power stations made up smart grids of rooftop solar panels and batteries. Continue reading
Pumped hydro power station ideal for SA Spencer Gulf site, EnergyAustralia says http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-22/pumped-hydro-power-in-spencer-gulf-energy-australia/8292596 PM By Khama Reid A desert site at the top of Spencer Gulf in South Australia is perfect for a pumped hydro venture, EnergyAustralia chief executive Catherine Tanna has said.
- Power is generated by releasing sea water from a top dam, through a turbine, into a lower dam
- During times of plentiful energy on the network, seawater is pumped up into the top dam, like charging a battery
- The top dam would hold about eight hours of power which can be switch on at short notice
Backed by federal funding, the company and its partners will investigate the proposal further, with hopes it could be operational by the end of the decade.
“What’s required is to find a site, obviously being pumped hydro, that has water, but we also look for a site that has the right geography and topography … elevation, but also a site that has proximity to transmission,” Ms Tanna said.
Using $450,000 received from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the company will look at whether it is feasible to put a 100 to 200-megawatt power station close to Port Augusta and Whyalla. Continue reading
Shorten goes on front foot over 50% renewables ‘target’, The Conversation, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra February 22, 2017 Australia could be the “energy capital of Asia” but instead it is going backwards, Bill Shorten will say in a speech on Thursday, vigorously defending Labor’s target of 50% of Australia’s electricity coming from renewables by 2030.
As the government floats the prospect of help for cleaner-coal power stations and attacks Labor for committing too strongly to renewables, Shorten will say that to achieve the ALP’s 50% target much more private investment in renewable generation and technology will be needed than the amount required to get to the legislated Renewable Energy Target (RET). The RET is for 23.5% of Australia’s electricity generation in 2020 to come from renewable sources.
He will say that what is required is an emissions-intensity scheme (EIS) for the electricity sector, ongoing support for research and investments in renewable energy technology, and a plan to modernise the National Electricity Market.
The speech comes as an Essential poll this week found nearly two-thirds (65%) approved of Labor’s target of 50%; 18% disapproved. Support for the policy was 55% among Coalition voters.
After much debate last week about the precise nature of Labor’s 50% commitment – whether it was a “goal” or a “target” – Shorten will take a more assertive line. “Forget the word games – 50% renewables by 2030 is Labor’s target, our goal, our objective and our aspiration,” he will say.
“We can be the energy capital of Asia. And if Australia nails the energy question, we will collect a growth dividend that can set us up for the century.
“But despite the prize on offer, despite all our natural advantages, we’re not just stuck in the gates – we are going backwards.
“When the Coalition came to office and declared war on the RET scheme, investment in large-scale renewables fell by 88% in one year.
“After being rated one of the four most attractive destinations in the world for renewable energy investment in 2013, we now don’t even crack the top ten.
“In the last three years, the world has added nearly three million jobs in renewables energy – and Australia has lost 3000,” Shorten will say, speaking at Bloomberg…….
The first and most important step to provide that certainty and to assist the transition to renewable energy is to establish an EIS for the electricity sector, he will say. An EIS rewards energy generators that produce pollution levels lower than a set benchmark.
An EIS would drive investment in new sources of energy – renewables but also gas, Shorten will say.
“An EIS doesn’t rely on taxpayer funding or government officials making investment decisions. It leaves both decisions and funding to the private sector, to the market,” he will say. “It will reduce power bills and reduce pollution.”
Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out an EIS despite the preliminary report of the Finkel inquiry into future security of the national electricity market giving it a positive nod…….https://theconversation.com/shorten-goes-on-front-foot-over-50-renewables-target-73460
EnergyAustralia outlines plans for 100MW pumped hydro plant in SA http://reneweconomy.com.au/energyaustralia-outlines-plans-for-100mw-pumped-hydro-plant-in-sa-68973/ By Sophie Vorrath on 21 February 2017 Having chalked up three major solar power purchase agreements in as many months, EnergyAustralia is talking large-scale energy storage this week, in a briefing with the federal government on the potential for a massive pumped hydro project in the renewables rich state of South Australia.
EnergyAustralia managing director Catherine Tanna, along with the company’s executive for energy, Mark Collette, were in Sydney on Tuesday updating the Cabinet Energy Committee on the progress they have made, along with their research partners Melbourne Energy Institute and Arup Group, investigating the viability of a pumped hydro energy storage plant using seawater.
In a statement on Tuesday, Arup Group said that the proposed South Australia project would have the capacity to produce around 100MW of electricity with six-to-eight hours of storage – the equivalent of 60,000 home battery systems, EnergyAustralia says, but at “one-third of the cost.”
Pumped hydro, one of the oldest and most basic and low-cost forms of energy storage, converts electrical energy into potential energy by pumping water up to the top of a hill, storing it there in a reservoir, and then using it when needed to generate electricity at very high efficiency.
Most recently in Australia, it has been linked with a ground-breaking project being developed by Genex Power, which proposes to convert an old gold mine into a 330MWh pumped hydro storage project, to go alongside a 150MW solar PV array.
But its potential for Australia has come into sharper focus in recent months, as governments and electricity market operators grapple with the problem of how to support the smooth transition of electricity networks to renewable energy generation. Continue reading
More than 70% believe Coalition not doing enough on energy – poll
Guardian Essential survey shows a clear majority supports Labor’s goal of sourcing 50% of energy from renewables by 2030, Guardian,
A majority of voters surveyed in the latest Guardian Essential poll supports Labor’s renewable goal, suggesting Coalition attacks are not working. Guardian, Katharine Murphy, 21 Feb 17, More than 70% of voters think the Turnbull government is not doing enough to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy for Australian households and businesses – and a clear majority also supports Labor’s goal of sourcing 50% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.
The latest Guardian Essential poll suggests that the Turnbull government’s relentless partisan attacks on Labor’s 50% renewable energy policy, and its concerted efforts early in the new political year to position itself as the party of cheaper and more secure power, haven’t yielded the desired result.
The poll shows 71% of the sample think the federal government is not doing enough to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy – and only 12% rate the current effort as satisfactory.
Even among their own constituency, Liberal and National voters, 62% of the sample said the government was not doing enough.
When asked about the ALP’s aspirational goal to source 50% of energy from renewable sources by 2030, 65% of voters registered their approval of the concept.
The political campaign by the government hasn’t moved the dial in any significant way. Attitudes to the policy have changed little since it was unveiled by Bill Shorten in 2015.
Voters were also divided about whether or not Australia should build new coal-fired power stations but a clear majority opposed the idea. Forty-five per cent of the sample said it was a bad idea and 31% supported building new coal-fired power stations.
The people positive about the idea of building new coal-fired power stations were Liberal/National voters (47%),men (39%) and people aged 65 and over (53%)……
Most voters are also attributing power blackouts in South Australia to failures of the energy market in responding to extreme weather events (45%), rather than to problems with too many windfarms……https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/21/more-than-70-believe-coalition-not-doing-enough-on-energy-poll
Why new coal? Solar towers + storage beats it on all counts http://reneweconomy.com.au/why-new-coal-solar-towers-storage-beats-it-on-all-counts-16080/ By Giles Parkinson on 21 February 2017
Tom Georgis, the head of international development for SolarReserve, says solar towers and storage can match and beat coal on capability – providing baseload and flexible generation – and match new coal on cost, and provide zero emissions output as a bonus.
“This is just not a direction that financial markets are heading in,” Georgis told RenewEconomy in an interview on Tuesday, during a visit to Australia, where the company is hoping to build a $700 million, 110MW solar tower and storage facility in Port Augusta, and in other states too.
“In our opinion it is almost backward looking,” Georgis said, adding that carbon capture and storage in electricity generation is unproven and not cost-effective, and coal generation needs to take account of the impact of mining, and of emissions.
The Australian energy industry, including fossil fuel generators, have reacted to the Coalition’s push for new coal plants with a mixture of surprise and disbelief, saying any such plant is “uninvestable”.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has estimated costs at between $138/MWh and more than $200/MWh, and significantly higher with CCS. It and others say estimate emissions reductions are grossly over-estimated.
SolarReserve says its own technology costs are “well under ” coal, even without CCS. It has been coy about its costs in Australia, having never built a plant here before, although CEFC executive director Simon Brooker told a Senate inquiry this month that a cost of around $150/MWh was being talked about for a first of its kind plant. Costs would then fall quickly as others are built.
SolarReserve is believed to be participating in a South Australian government tender for 75 per cent of its electricity needs, competing mostly with new gas stations and existing mothballed ones. It has talked with both the CEFC and ARENA.
Interestingly, Engie, the owner of the mothballed Pelican Point gas station near Adelaide considered to be its biggest rival in the tender, reportedly told the same inquiry on Monday that running the generator would not be economic, even with a government contract, because of the cost and availability of gas.
This may have prompted S.A. energy minister Tom Koutsantonis to say some positive things about solar towers and storage last week. Both the federal Coalition and Labor have promised to help promote solar towers, but have done nothing since the election.
Georgis says SolarReserve has already beaten gas generators on price in a tender in Chile last year, and is confident it can beat new gas generation in Australia too. Its main issue lies in the length of a contract, which will be crucial in its ability to secure finance.
Georgis again underlined the capability of solar towers and storage, and its ability to provide baseload power, power on demand, bulk storage, and use its steam turbines to provide the ancillary services normally delivered by fossil fuel generation.
He says battery storage will make sense for short-period needs, and as a cheaper option to network upgrades and for accompanying solar in distributed generation, but battery storage could not deliver or compete on price for bulk storage.
Pumped hydro was also unlikely to provide a “baseload” option, and was reliant on arbitrage opportunities (pumping water up hill while prices were low, and generating power when prices were high) to make it economic. Solar towers, on the other hand, had zero fuel costs.
Frydenberg on blackouts: No mention of failing network, gas, software, REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 21 February 2017 Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg has put the blame for recent blackouts in South Australia directly on the state’s high penetration of wind and solar, and attributed no blame to network faults, storms or failing gas plants.
In a speech on energy security to the right-leaning Sydney Institute on Monday night, Frydenberg listed four black-out events that had hit South Australia since and including the “unprecedented” state-wide outage on September 28.
He made no mention of the fierce storms, the falling power lines, the network faults that caused outages in December and February, or the role of gas plants that sat idle, or had to shed capacity because of the heat and other technical faults.
Nor did he mention the software glitch that meant 90,000 households, rather than 30,000, suffered power cuts in South Australia earlier this month when demand hit record highs.
Instead, Frydenberg pointed only to the roles of wind and solar, both of which he said were producing at a fraction of their capacity when the rolling blackouts were implemented.
“This means that the days of easily forecastable supply are over,” he said. “Nowhere was this more clear than during the last South Australian blackout, when 90,000 consumers lost power.”
An Australian Energy Market Operator report last week said the cause of the problem was bad forecasting, not just of supply, but of demand. It was caught short when demand spiked and could not wake a gas generator from its slumber.
Another 300MW of gas capacity was unavailable because it was broken – with half of it failing in the hours before the blackout. Wind energy was producing twice as much power as had been forecast a day earlier. Solar was the only local generation that produced exactly as predicted.
As AEMO told the Senate inquiry last week: “It is going back to the unforced and unplanned outages that eroded our reserves at that time in such a short period of time.
“Yes, we knew the wind would drop-off and we knew the solar would drop-off at a particular time, but our reserves were fine up until the point when we had forced outages.” i.e. the gas plants.
Frydenberg also spoke of South Australia’s price spikes, but made no mention of similar price spikes in Queensland and South Australia.
Indeed, average wholesale electricity prices in coal-dependent Queensland so far this month have average $301/MWh, nearly 50 per cent more than South Australia last July ($201/MWh), when network supplies from Victoria were restricted by an upgrade and which helped trigger the Coalition’s anti-renewable campaign.
In February this year, NSW has averaged $214/MWh while South Australia has averaged $210/MWh. In January, average wholesale prices in Queensland were at $197/MWh, while in South Australia they averaged just $84/MWh.
AEMO, in its report, has insisted that it is not the nature of wind energy or solar that have contributed to the various blackouts. Frydenberg, however, is having none of it….http://reneweconomy.com.au/frydenberg-on-blackouts-no-mention-of-failing-network-gas-software-19688/
SA power bills rose less in past decade than coal states, REneweconomy By Sophie Vorrath on 21 February 2017 A new report charting Australia’s rising power prices over the past decade has undermined claims that South Australia’s high electricity prices have been driven by the state’s uptake wind and solar, showing that its rises have been less than in coal dependent states.
The argument that South Australia’s high electricity prices are a result of its pursuit of wind and solar is an argument prosecuted by conservative media and politicians alike, but the new report from the Australian National University underlines the fact that its prices have always been high, but have moderated since its investment in renewable energy.
The ANU report, commissioned by News Limited, but available here, shows that average household electricity bills have increased less in the renewables-rich state of South Australia over the past 10 years than they have in Australia’s eastern states, which are predominantly powered by coal and gas-fired generation…….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/sa-power-bills-rose-less-past-decade-coal-states-95588/
Solar power battery storage would solve SA’s electricity problems, company says, ABC News, By Claire Campbell, 21 Feb 17, The company behind a $100-million solar plant with battery storage says its project could solve South Australia’s energy woes as the Federal Government announces a $445,000 investment into a pumped hydro-station for the state.
South Australia’s power supply has been scrutinised since the state was plunged into darkness last September, and was forced to “load shed” during a recent heatwave.
South Australian-based renewable energy company Zen Energy is working to build a $100-million solar power plant with 100 megawatts of battery storage in the region.
Chairman Professor Ross Garnaut said the battery would “solve most” of the state’s energy problems and if increased by a further 50MW it would solve “all” energy issues.
“The blackouts of the past year would not have happened if this was in place,” he said.
“We think that it can make a major contribution both to grid stability and also to provide a buffer for when peak demand for power exceeds supply from other sources.”…… http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-21/solar-power-battery-storage-could-have-prevented-sa-blackout/8290304
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg aims to have coal mining subsidised by Clean Energy Finance Corporation
Josh Frydenberg flags changes to allow CEFC to invest in carbon capture and storage, ABC News, AM By Eliza Borrello, 20 Feb 17, Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has revealed the Government is considering lifting a ban on allowing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to invest in carbon capture and storage……At the moment the CEFC, the Government’s green bank, is not allowed to invest in it.
But amid the Coalition’s renewed support for coal-fired power, Mr Frydenberg said that could change…..
Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler said it would require the kind of legislation Labor would strongly oppose. “This would be an outrageous act of vandalism against a successful financing mechanism for renewable energy, for energy efficiency projects and for genuine low-carbon technology,” he said.”It’s no real surprise, I guess, because the Liberal Party has never really supported the CEFC. “It tried to abolish it for three years and now seems committed to making it a finance mechanism for the coal industry, which is unable to attract finance from the private sector.”
Government interested in low-emission coal-fired plants Mr Frydenberg said he was also interested in investment in high-efficiency, low-emission coal-fired plants.
Currently they are not green enough for the CEFC to invest in, but Mr Frydenberg has flagged changing the rules. “The Government could issue a new mandate to the CEFC which would then inform its guidelines and would make possible an investment in a high-efficiency low-emission power plant,” he said……
But Mr Butler said the market was not interested in the kind of plants Mr Frydenberg was suggesting.
“It doesn’t reflect the reality in the electricity industry. No-one in the industry is talking about the reality of building new coal-fired power stations,” he said. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-20/government-interested-in-carbon-capture-tech-frydenberg-says/8284682
The number of high-priced events in Queensland so far this year are 40 (yes, forty) times more common than in renewables-strong South Australia. Did we hear a peep of protest from the Coalition about this? No.
There is no doubt that more renewables, and more competition, will reduce that pricing power. That is a given.
But the Coalition and many in the mainstream media simply don’t want to know. They have barely reported on the high-priced events in Queensland and NSW, or on the real cause of those events in South Australia.
They don’t want to know: politics and ideology are at play.
High energy prices? Blame fossil fuel generators, not renewables, REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 8 February 2017 It seems that you can ask the Coalition government a question about pretty much anything – plunging polls, Donald Trump, Cory Bernardi or even the weather – and the answer will always be the same: “We’re focused on electricity prices.”
Great. But what exactly is the Coalition doing about it? On the evidence to date, not a whole lot, apart from blaming renewables for soaring wholesale electricity costs and promoting something called “clean coal,” despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that coal generation it is not very clean, and not cheap.
They are chasing the wrong target. Australia has experienced some extraordinary high wholesale electricity prices this summer, and most of these price surges have come in states with little large-scale wind or solar.
It is the activities of the fossil fuel generators that are to blame. This is about competition, or the lack of it, and the fossil fuel generators have been going to extraordinary lengths to get rid of competition.
The Australian Energy Regulator has been investigating more than half a dozen “high priced” events, as it is required to do when prices jump above $5,000/MWh. Some of the reports it has already completed make astonishing reading. Continue reading
SA power woes to spread nation-wide, starting with Victoria, Australian Energy Council warns, ABC News 9 Feb 17 By Claire Campbell The Federal Government needs to take urgent action to improve its energy policies before the rest of Australia falls victim to the type of large-scale blackouts experienced in South Australia, the Australian Energy Council has warned.
About 90,000 South Australian homes and businesses were blacked out Wednesday when the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) issued a load-shedding order to avoid potential damage to the network equipment due to supply deficiency.
It asked for more power generators to be switched on but did not receive “sufficient bids” and said it did not have enough time to turn on the second unit at Pelican Point. AEC chief executive officer Matthew Warren said there was no shortage of electrons and available power, but it was not dispatched when required.
He said the entire nation’s system needed upgrading quickly because energy reliability was not just a state issue…….
AEMO has warned that load-shedding is possible in New South Wales on Friday. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-09/sa-power-woes-to-spread-through-rest-of-australia-aec-warns/8257032
Powershop reveals cash for renewable projects from customers who paid more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/09/powershop-reveals-cash-for-renewable-projects-from-customers-who-paid-more
Energy retailer raised $100,000 from customers, which will be given out as grants to community-owned energy projects, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 9 Feb 17, Amid fresh attacks on renewable energy targets from the federal government and large energy retailer ERM Power, smaller electricity retailer Powershop has raised $100,000 from its customers to be given out as grants to 10 community-owned projects around the country.
Three months ago Powershop launched the Your Community Energy initiative, where they gave customers the opportunity to pay higher rates, which it said would then be distributed to renewable energy projects that were community-owned.
Powershop aimed to raise $20,000 by the end of 2016 but, as of February 2017, it had raised $100,000.
One project – rooftop solar on the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (Ceres) centre in Melbourne – has already received $10,000 from the initiative and used that to complete their 15 KW solar installation.
A spokeswoman for Ceres, Judy Glick, said the installation would save the community group $2,000 each year and reduce their yearly emissions by almost 16 tonnes of CO2. “Ceres is on a mission to achieve zero emissions by 2025,” she said.
Five other projects were also announced as recipients of a share of the money. Continue reading
Carmichael mine jobs need ’21 times the subsidies’ of renewables, says lobby group
Federal funding for Adani project amounts to $683,060 a job, compared with $32,191 a worker in Queensland’s clean energy sector, 350.org says, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 8 Feb 17, Clean energy projects in Queensland are already on track to create more employment than Australia’s largest proposed coalmine, which if funded federally would cost taxpayers 21 times more per job, according to new study.
Federal government agencies are investing $71.4m in seven solar farms and a windfarm in Queensland, which are set to deliver a total of 2,218 jobs, according to analysis by climate advocacy group 350.org.
Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal project in central Queensland, which has obtained conditional approval for a $1bn federal infrastructure loan, is predicted to deliver 1,464 jobs.
The level of federal subsidy for Adani would amount to $683,060 a job, compared with $32,191 a worker in Queensland’s clean energy sector.
The Queensland government has accused the federal government of misrepresenting key data while talking up coal in an ideological attack on renewable energy. Continue reading