Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s clean energy wave now an $11b tsunami

AGL Energy wind farm helps turn clean energy wave into tsunami,  The wave of wind, solar and battery energy investments across Australia is becoming a tsunami, with $11 billion of projects under way or set to begin construction this calendar year.

AGL Energy and QIC’s blockbuster 453-megawatt Cooper’s Gap wind farm in north Queensland won financial close on Thursday, pushing the combined power of projects in the pipeline to 5661 MW, the Clean Energy Council says.

That’s close to the 5900MW that Bloomberg New Energy Finance says is needed to meet the federal Renewable Energy Target of about 23 per cent of total generation by 2020.

“There’s no question that 2017 has been a game-changing year for the industry, with record investments being made in renewable energy projects across the country,” said Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton.

Cooper’s Gap will cost the $2-3 billion Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF) – backed by AGL, QIC and the Future Fund – $850 million, and deliver electricity and renewable energy credits to AGL for below $60/MWh.

Low-cost energy

It’s the latest in a series of big wind and solar projects to promise energy at lower prices than a new high-tech coal-fired power station of the kind promoted by former Prime Minister Tony Abbottcould manage commercially.

On Monday US company Solar Reserve said it would build a 150MW solar thermal power plant near Port Augusta, South Australia, for $650 million, and sell the power to the SA government for $78/MWh or less.

Earlier this year Origin Energy sold its 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm in Victoria to China’s Goldwind with a deal to buy the power and renewable energy credits for about $52/MWh, and AGL sold its Silverton wind farm in NSW to PARF with a power and credits purchase deal at $65 /MWh.

According to figures compiled by the Clean Energy Council and AFR Weekend, 2600MW of wind and solar projects are under construction or have already been commissioned in 2017 at a cost of $4.6 billion. Another 3190MW of projects worth $$6.35 billion are committed or expected to begin construction this year or in January.

More conservatively, Bloomberg New Energy Finance counts about $3.7 billion of renewable energy investment commitments for the first half of the year, and $1.1 billion for the September quarter to date – or nearly $5 billion.

Post-2020 challenge

Smaller-scale solar rooftop installations are not included in these figures and are also running at record levels for the first half of the year, with more businesses installing panels as the price drops. But the boom in large-scale renewables may not continue after 2020 if the Finkel energy review’s proposal to extend the Renewable Energy Target into a Clean Energy Target is not adopted.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Kobad Bhavnagri said that from 2020 to 2025 not much new capacity will be needed, because rooftop solar installations by households and businesses will continue to grow and “crowd out the need for large scale” wind and solar.

He expects the installed base of rooftop solar to jump from 6400MW by end of this year to 16,100MW by end 2025.

“Without further policy we think there’ll be a large-scale downturn from 202 to 2025,” Mr Bhavnagri said.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

19 August REneweconomy News

Redflow chooses Thailand for battery factory
Australian battery company Redflow Limited has today announced it has established a company in Thailand to manage production of its zinc-bromine flow batteries in South East Asia.
  • Researchers one step closer to efficient, colorful solar panels
    Researchers at Netherlands’ AMOLF Institute develop method to make solar panels green. Next stop, red and blue – and maybe even white.
  • Higher wind output in SA correlates with lower wholesale price
    Unlike yesterday’s chart on gas, today’s graph shows wind has the opposite effect – more output takes power prices lower.
  • Pic of the Day: Old meets new at solar-powered antique shop
    We love this winter-time image of the solar powered Smythesdale Antique shop – and the message that it sends.
  • Windlab’s 1200MW Kennedy Energy Park set for construction, after IPO windfall
    CSIRO spin-off raises $50m in IPO, taking its world-leading wind, solar, storage project in Queensland closer to financial close.
  • Australian wind delivers more record low prices, as private sector piles in
    AGL Energy secures PPA of below $60/MWh for 453MW Coopers Gap Wind Farm, to be built in Queensland by 2019 after reaching financial close Thursday. AGL chief says deal signals private sector’s readiness to invest in Australian renewables – but warns policy certainty still vital.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

18 August More REneweconomy news

  • CEFC backs IoT tech to help consumers control energy use, costs
    Clean Energy Finance Corporation makes two new investments in companies focused on one of the easiest ways to reduce consumer power bills.
  • Analysis of toxic emissions from Australia’s coal plants has revealed our per capita mercury emissions are roughly double the global average.
  • Tasmania talks up renewables, ignores battery storage, gets stuck on gas
    Tasmanian Energy Security report reasserts the importance of more diverse renewable energy supply. But ignores battery storage.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Standards Australia to ban home energy storage batteries!

Warnings of energy storage market chaos, as industry unites against home battery ban Sophie Vorrath on 17 August 2017 One Step Off The Grid

The potentially industry crippling home battery installation safety guideline proposed by Standards Australia has again been slammed by the industry, as fundamentally flawed and – if passed – certain to throw the energy storage industry into chaos, both in Australia and overseas.

In a newsletter to members on Tuesday, Australia’s Energy Storage Council said that the current Draft Battery Standard ASNZ5139 – which effectively bans the installation of lithium-ion battery storage systems inside homes and garages on the basis that they are a fire risk – needed to be completely re-written.

“The draft Standard is not evidence-based and has enormous implications for the Australian and global battery storage industry,” the ESC said. Continue reading

August 18, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, storage | Leave a comment

18 August REneweconomy news

  • Graph of the Day: South Australia’s wholesale price changes in 2017
    SA chart paints a picture of how power prices were higher when gas dominated the fuel mix in the state.
  • Origin to add “a Hazelwood” of renewables by 2020, but says CET remains “critical”
    Despite an upbeat renewables outlook, Origin Energy CEO says the market is not out of the woods yet, and that for investment to keep up momentum, policy stability remains at a premium, and the introduction of a Clean Energy Target is critical.

    • Jay Weatherill on hydrogen, load-shedding, community activism and his critics
      The SA Premier talks eggs, sausages, solar thermal, battery storage… and why the federal Clean Energy Target still matters.
    • Origin FY17: Revenue up, margins up, customers down
      Origin Energy lost electricity customers but grew revenue, price and margin for the full-year 2017. Overall the result was strong at virtually every line.
    • Chinese climate impacts will hit Australian economy
      How hard will climate impacts in China hit Australia’s economy? It’s a question for the Senate inquiry into national security implications of climate change.
    • AGL launches free rooftop solar energy monitoring service
      AGL is offering households with rooftop solar systems a free service to help them protect potential savings by monitoring their systems.
    • Origin rides high power price wave – but says it has to stop
      Origin results show its retail division made the most of a “transitioning energy market.” But CEO says further power price rises “bad for everyone.”
    • New Energy Solar recognised as an ABA100 winner
      New Energy Solar has today been recognised as an ABA100 Winner in The Australian Business Awards 2017.
    • New Secretary appointed for DELWP
      The Andrews Labor Government has today appointed Mr John Bradley as the new Secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

August 18, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

South Australian Premier announces Solar thermal power plant for Port Augusta

Solar thermal power plant announced for Port Augusta ‘biggest of its kind in the world’,  ABC, 15 August 17, A 150-megawatt solar thermal power plant has been secured for Port Augusta in South Australia, State Premier Jay Weatherill has announced.

Construction of the $650 million plant will start in 2018.

Concentrated Solar Power Simple Explanation

Aurora facts:

  • 150-megawatt solar thermal power with eight hours of storage
  • Plant will deliver 495 gigawatt hours of power annually, or 5 per cent of SA’s energy needs
  • Equivalent to powering more than 90,000 homes
  • Located 30 kilometres north of Port Augusta
  • Company says it is “completely emission free”

Mr Weatherill said the Aurora Solar Energy Project would be ready to go in 2020 and would supply 100 per cent of the State Government’s needs.

The Government will pay a maximum of $78 per megawatt hour.

Mr Weatherill said the solar thermal plant was “the biggest of its kind in the world”.

“Importantly, this project will deliver more than 700 jobs, with requirements for local workers,” he said…….

A 150-megawatt solar thermal power plant has been secured for Port Augusta in South Australia, State Premier Jay Weatherill has announced.

Construction of the $650 million plant will start in 2018.

Mr Weatherill said the Aurora Solar Energy Project would be ready to go in 2020 and would supply 100 per cent of the State Government’s needs.

The Government will pay a maximum of $78 per megawatt hour.

Mr Weatherill said the solar thermal plant was “the biggest of its kind in the world”.

“Importantly, this project will deliver more than 700 jobs, with requirements for local workers,” he said.

Mirrors to direct sunlight onto tower

Solar thermal uses heliostats, or mirrors, to concentrate sunlight onto a tower that heats molten salt. The heat created is then used to generate steam.

Solar Reserve said the plant will be able to provide between eight and 10 hours of storage and had no requirement for gas or oil generated electricity as a backup.

It is expected to employ 50 full-time workers on an ongoing basis once it is operational.

The company said the power station will operate in a similar fashion to a coal or gas station, meaning many of the jobs would “require the same skill sets”.

Mr Smith said he looked forward to supporting “federal and state renewable energy targets”.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Port Augusta local community welcome greenlighting of solar thermal power plant

Solar thermal power plant supporters and locals welcome greenlighting of Port Augusta project, ABC North and West , By Khama Reid  14 Aug 17 The Port Augusta community and its clean energy supporters have welcomed the news that the world’s largest solar thermal power station will be built in the region.

It was announced yesterday that US operator Solar Reserve would build the 150 megawatt power station known as the Aurora Solar Energy Project at Carriewerloo Station, about 330 kilometres north of Adelaide……

The Government and company attended a public meeting at Port Augusta where they were met with applause and cheering…..

Local Aboriginal leader Malcolm ‘Tiger’ McKenzie said he could see many opportunities in the project to boost employment for Aboriginal people.

“We’re 30 per cent of the population but we don’t participate in the workforce as much,” he said.

Mr McKenzie said he wanted to work with the Government and Solar Reserve to get the best employment outcomes.

“It’s a modern Australia now. We as Aboriginal people have got to maximise opportunities to live in this country and that’s having a job, having an education and contribute.”……

August 16, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

16 August More REneweconomy news

  • How solar tower and storage won on costs
    SolarReserve says its winning solar tower and molten salt storage project can deliver dispatchable, renewable power at just $78/MWh. Why so low?
  • Senvion installs first prototype of 3.4M140 EBC
    Successful completion of optimised turbine for low wind sites.
  • Younicos-designed WEMAG battery park successfully “black starts” grid on first attempt
    Project partners for Europe’s first commercial battery plant to bring innovative black start concept to market maturity/Younicos software manages reliable re-establishment of power grid.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Adelaide Advertiser (!) applauds decision for Port Augusta solar thermal power plant

The Advertiser Editorial, August 15, 2017: Solar plant can take heat off our power

August 16, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

16 August REneweconomy news

  • Coal rift? Coalition sends mixed message on new coal power
    Federal treasurer says cheap new coal power a “myth”, federal energy minister says it must be considered – even if the market disagrees.
  • Tesla Tiny House goes on tour
    Powerwall, as part of the newly created Tesla Tiny House is hitting the road and making its way around Australia.
  • CommBank to face new shareholder resolution after climate policy fail
    Market Forces will lodge a new shareholder resolution against Commonwealth Bank after its climate change position statement released today fell well short of its publicly-made 2 degree commitments.
  • Victorian EV conversion company secures CEFC backing
    SEA Electric says $5m CEFC loan will help meet growing demand for technology that converts commercial trucks and vans to electric vehicles.
  • Failed experiment: Now it’s retail arms gaming energy consumers
    First it was the networks, then generators. Now it’s the retail arms gouging consumers. A bipartisan review of Victoria’s retail electricity market reveals a failed experiment that has delivered the most inflated power bills in Australia.
    Mount Emerald Wind Farm reaches major construction milestone
    Construction at the $360 million Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Mareeba reached an important milestone last week when the first of 53 turbine foundations was put in place.
    First Solar Awarded 241MW module supply contract for edify energy solar projects in Australia
    Company to deliver more than 500MW in Australia over the next 12 Months

August 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Mount Emerald Wind Farm reaches major construction milestone

The 800-tonne foundation which is buried to ground level provides an immovable anchor for each turbine and consists of a 50-tonne reinforced steel cage filled with around 350m3 tonnes of concrete, or up to 70 truckloads.

Ratch Australia Corporation Executive General Manager Business Development, Mr Anthony Yeates, said the first foundation was always a special milestone in wind farm construction. Continue reading

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Solar company to Deliver More Than 500MW in Australia over the Next 12 Months

First Solar Awarded 241MW module supply contract for edify energy solar projects in Australia  Company to Deliver More Than 500MW in Australia over the Next 12 Months

BRISBANE, Australia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aug. 11, 2017– First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced it has been awarded a 241 megawatt (MW)DC module supply contract by RCR Tomlinson Ltd (ASX: RCR) as engineering, procurement and construction contractor for Edify Energy’s Daydream (180.7MWDc) and Hayman (60.2MWDC) solar projects in Queensland, Australia.

This contract takes First Solar’s delivery pipeline to over 500MW in the next 12 months, cementing it as the leading module supplier for large-scale solar in Australia.

Located across two sites north of Collinsville, the projects will utilize an optimized technology solution that includes single axis tracking technology from Array Technologies, Inc., and more than 2,026,565 First Solar advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules, to produce approximately 531,000 megawatt-hours of sustainable energy each year.

 The First Solar Series 4 modules chosen for the projects are ideally suited to the hot and humid environmental conditions of the Whitsunday Region, due to a superior temperature coefficient, and better shading and spectral response.

“First Solar’s unique energy yield advantage enables our solar projects in North Queensland to produce more energy per MW installed than other available PV technology,” said John Cole, Edify Energy’s Chief Executive. “This is of significant importance for asset owners and operators looking to maximize energy production.

The First Solar team has been very supportive and a key enabler of these projects.”

On completion, the projects will provide significant environmental benefits, producing enough sustainable energy to displace 429,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year combined.

This will serve the needs of approximately 73,000 average Queensland homes, the equivalent of taking approximately 115,000 cars off the road.

Construction on the projects is scheduled to commence in Q3 2017, with module delivery in Q4 2017 and Q1 2018.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

12 August – more REneweconomy news

  • It’s absurd. But consumers might be better off quitting the grid
    As long as Australia’s energy networks hold on to their inflated asset base, and generators and retailers to their inflated profit margins, consumers will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands with solar and battery storage. But what a hopeless failure in public policy that would be.
  • EOI open for NQ Clean Energy Hub
    A key part of the $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan will commence today.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

12 August REneweconomy news

  • Australia’s biggest wind farm is also its least productive
    What’s wrong with Australia’s biggest wind farm? Victoria’s 420MW Macarthur facility was supposed to produce 50% more power than it did last year.
  • Another solar farm planned for Collinsville, as Blackrock buys in
    New 50MW Hayman solar farm to go merchant, as US investor BlackRock makes first big move into renewables with two solar farm investments.
  • Australia’s first battery “giga-factory” set for development in Darwin
    Australian company Energy Renaissance says it has “sealed deal” with NT government, locking in Darwin as preferred site for 1GWh lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant.
  • New rules for retailers, but don’t sit there waiting for your electricity bill to go down
    A call to retailers; Information about discounts will be simpler, but you’ll still have to do the legwork to shop around.
  • Scientists develop spit-powered battery
    You can make a battery out of a lemon, a tomato, an orange or a stack of pennies. And now you can make a battery using spit.
  • RCR awarded $315M for Daydream and Hayman solar farm projects
    RCR Tomlinson Ltd is pleased to announce that it has been awarded two contracts for the 150MWac Daydream Solar Farm and the 50MWac Hayman Solar Farm, developed and maintained by Edify Energy Pty Ltd.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Solar power, wind power, storage – to replace Liddell coal plant

Liddell coal plant to be replaced by solar, wind, storage

AGL Energy has continued to rubbish suggestions from members of the Coalition, as well as the Murdoch media and the ABC, that Australia should invest in new baseload generation, particularly in coal plants.

“We just don’t see the development of a new coal-fired power plant as economically rational, even before carbon costs,” AGL Energy CEO Andy Vesey told analysts and journalists at a briefing on Thursday, to mark the release of its annual profit results.

And nor would the company consider extending the life of existing coal-fired generators, such as the Liddell plant in the NSW Hunter Valley, which is scheduled to close in 2022.

AGL made a point in its presentation that the most economic option to replace the 2000MW Liddell would not be coal, or baseload gas, but a mix of energy from wind and solar, and various load shaping and firming capacity from other sources.

 This could include battery storage, pumped hydro, demand response mechanisms, and gas peaking plants. It confirmed it is looking at all possibilities but it highlights the shift from reliance on “baseload” power, which as we saw last summer does not equate to reliability, and dispatchable generation.

Already, the 200MW Silverton wind farm is under construction near Broken Hill, and the 465MW Coopers Gap wind farm in Queensland is expected to begin construction soon. Vesey said this would provide “clean reliable energy” for the grid.

AGL also reproduced its estimates of the current cost of wind and solar PV. Both renewable energy technologies delivered energy at a lower cost than brown or black coal, and were still competitive even after adding “firming costs”.

These estimates do not include carbon risk, and the only thing stopping increased investment in those technologies was the lack of policy certainty, Vesey said.

“The challenge is that we are at a point where the lack of certainty around carbon policy is preventing people from investing in the right options, which we think is wind, solar, and storage,” he said. Asked if the company would extend Liddell, built in 1973, particularly given the windfall earnings from the ageing and fully depreciated coal plants in its portfolio given the high wholesale prices, Vesey said no.

Even without factoring in the carbon risk, it would require significant investment in an asset that would be less reliable and have higher cost than other possibilities, such as renewables.

Indeed, Liddell only operated at a capacity factor of 50 per cent in the last financial year, barely above the best performing wind farms.

Notably, half of its capacity was not available during the supply crunch of the NSW heat wave, when wind and solar saved the day after the state’s two biggest gas generators also crashed.

The Bayswater plant operated at 64 per cent capacity, while Loy Yang A operated at around 75 per cent.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment