Australian news, and some related international items

 Large-scale solar the next wave of renewable energy

Jul 27 2016. The federal government has allocated more than $600 million to help large-scale solar projects get off the ground, as utility solar photovoltaic projects become the next wave of renewable energy to be embedded into the national electricity market…...(subscribers only)

July 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Canberra solar project co-located with wind farm

solar-wind-turbineGullen Range Wind Farm adds solar project in Australian first, Canberra Times  John Thistleton 27 July 16

Australia’s first large-scale solar farm to be co-located with wind turbines will be built near Canberra, saving money and creating a more reliable, cheaper renewable energy model.

The 10 MW solar photovoltaic plant near the existing Gullen Range Wind Farm, 28 kilometres north west of Goulburn, will likely be followed by more co-located generators, says the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which is providing $9.9 million for the $26 million project.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said under the co-location model developers could save money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs including access tracks by co-locating wind and solar plants, while also reducing environmental impacts. Proponents expect savings of about $6 million.

Mr Frischknecht said solar and wind were complementary sources of renewable energy that produced power at different times of the day and year.

“Co-location provides more continuous energy generation, as wind farms tend to generate more energy overnight while solar only generates during the day. Gullen Wind Farm generates more power in winter and the new solar farm will generate more in summer,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“It could also unlock new markets for medium-scale solar PV projects, because scale isn’t as important for competitiveness when plants are co-located.”……

July 27, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar, wind | 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

Canberra’s solar farms with sun- tracking technology

Mr Han says the ACT’s solar projects are small, but internationally the industry is indebted to Australia.

“In China scales are much bigger, ultimately the solar voltaic cell is actually Australian technology that was originally developed out of the University of NSW,” Mr Han said. “That technology was commercialised in China as well as Europe. A lot of the technology and breakthroughs we still owe to Australia research and development.”

The proponents say the ACT is Australia’s front -runner in solar projects.

“The long term off-take agreements, or power purchase agreements, mean it has a reliable and predictable revenue stream for owners and investors, ” Mr Crockett said.

diagram solar tracker“The ACT has proved how efficient, effective and cheap it is to transition your electricity sector, you are seeing now the Victorian Government is going to do something very similar,” Mr Crockett said.

Mugga Lane and Williamsdale solar farms to begin tracking sun by year’s end July 21 2016 John Thistleton
A GPS-guided pile-driver sinking steel posts into the ground is swiftly changing the landscape in South Canberra for a new solar farm. Continue reading

July 22, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

South Australia to get world’s biggest solar + storage project

Parkinson-Report-World’s biggest solar + storage projects planned for Australia  By  on 19 July 2016    Australian infrastructure investor Lyon Group says it plans to build the world’s biggest solar plus storage project in South Australia in the next two years, and sees a huge future for combined solar and battery storage plants..

Lyon Group’s David Green – which worked on developing a soon-to-be built 30MW solar plant and 1.4MW/5.3MWh lithium battery storage facility near Cooktown, in far north Queensland, before selling it to German-based company Conergy – plans a series of other projects and claims a pipeline of more than 300MW of solar and up to 60MW of battery storage.

The first new project is planned for South Australia, with a 100MW solar PV plant to be combined with a battery storage array of up to 40MW, Green says the plant could be in operation near Roxby Downs by early 2018, and there are plans for other similar projects around the country.

solar + batteries Lyon

The first stage of what is known as the Kingfisher project – 20MW of solar PV plus a minimum 2MW battery storage  – is expected to be running late next year.

The project is one of the finalists in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding round for large scale solar, which is expected to allocate monies to 10 or more projects when decisions are announced next month.

Green says the company – which has previously invested in coal, gas and wind projects, but is now specialising in solar and storage – is looking to be a global industry leader in solar plus storage.

“The genie is out of the bottle. There will be a burst of activity now in large scale solar + battery projects. This is the real battery storage story coming out of Australia – batteries used to convert large scale solar to effectively baseload, or peaking plant.”

The combination of solar and storage means the facilities can compete on two levels – providing clean energy and dispatchable power, either to household or large energy users, and also re-enforcing the edge the grid, in some cases avoiding the costs of grid upgrades. Continue reading

July 20, 2016 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Greening of south-east Queensland – City of Logan leads

map-solar-QueenslandLogan becoming south-east Queensland’s greenest city , Brisbane Times, July 17 2016 The greener side of Logan is starting to show through, with the south-east Queensland city embracing solar energy, recycling initiatives, DIY kits and sustainable living workshops.

Energex statistics from June revealed Logan was ahead of nearby cities when it came to solar power, with more than a quarter of all properties having solar panels on their roofs.

This was compared to 17 per cent in Brisbane and 18 per cent on the Gold Coast.

The city of more 308,000 residents is 70 per cent rural or semi-rural, an appealing factor for those in the area who enjoy their open spaces…….




“A lot of schools are becoming a lot more sustainable, Calvary Christian College at Springwood have their own chickens and sell their eggs, the children involved in gardening, selling produce, checking the eggs,” ………..

July 18, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland: Catholic schools recognised by Vatican for solar energy success

church green 1Vatican praise for Townsville Catholic diocese solar scheme By Ben Millington Catholic schools in north Queensland have caught the eye of the Vatican with a solar project that is cutting carbon emissions and saving millions of dollars.

The Diocese of Townsville, which stretches from the coast to Mt Isa in the state’s north-west, has installed solar panels on roofs of all its eligible schools. The diocese has invested $6 million in one megawatt of solar panels, but diocese director of education Dr Cathy Day said this could deliver a much higher return. “The best figures that I like to think is a saving of $40 million over 25 years,” she said.

“Now when you turn that into teachers that we can pay for, or resources for students, that’s quite a substantial amount of money and I think it’s a great investment.”

In combination with the use of low-energy LED lighting, she said, the diocese had cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent, which is equivalent to taking 40,000 cars off the road. Dr Day said her main motivation had been to set a positive example for students and the broader community. “We’ve all got to start investing in technology and energy efficiency,” she said. “This is the way of the future. Our students are going to be in these industries. Nobody’s going to be working in a coal-fired power station in years to come.”

Emissions will eventually be cut by 80 per cent With further investment, Dr Day said they expect to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in emissions through installing more solar and energy-efficient air conditioning, as well as using batteries to store the power generated.

She returned last week from a visit to Rome, where she presented the project to Vatican officials in meetings led by former deputy prime minister and onetime ambassador to the holy see, Tim Fischer, who has become a spokesman for the project. Mr Fischer said the scheme was well received in Rome and he would like to see it rolled out in schools across the world. “What has happened in Townsville is mildly revolutionary and is extremely positive in terms of energy savings because it works and it can be monitored in real time,” he said.

“That’s what caused positive ripples in Rome. They saw in this sustainable, cut-through, realistic energy savings created without massive capital expenditure.”

The project is already being replicated in other Catholic schools in Cairns and the Northern Territory.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, religion and ethics, solar | 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

Australians Saving $1 Billion Per Year through Solar Energy

graph solar saves Aust
Solar In Australia Saving $1 Billion Per Year 
June 28th, 2016 by  Australia can now boast of over 23.2 million solar PV panels saving citizens $1 billion on their power bills each year.

According to a new report from Solar Citizens, “an logo-Solar-Citizens-independent community based organisation,” Australia reached 23.2 million solar PV panels installed earlier this year — the equivalent of one per person in the country.

Solar Citizens also calculated the savings currently being made by solar owners on their regular electricity bills, analysing average electricity retail rates across all State and Territories over the past 8 financial years, revealing that solar households have saved $4.4 billion on their power bills since FY 2007–2008, and have been saving around $1 billion every year over the past three years.

“The pace of rooftop solar installation in Australia has been nothing short of phenomenal in recent years,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens. “Solar panels are now a regular and normalised part of Australian life. In fact, Australians spend as much on their solar as they do on tea and coffee.”

In terms of investment, the report shows that 1.5 million Australian households and small businesses have invested more than $8 billion into rooftop solar PV. In fact, the investment figures reported in The State of Solar: Australia’s Solar Rooftop Boom are the highlight of the Solar Citizen’s research. During the 2014–2015 financial year, Australians invested $1.23 billion in rooftop solar — compared to only $118 millioninvested in large-scale solar projects in the calendar year 2014. So far, it is the hard-earned cash of Australian homeowners and small business owners that is driving the renewable energy transformation in Australia.

“Australians are leading the renewables charge and this new set of data plainly reveals that investment in solar PV has been the backbone of the renewables revolution in Australia,” said O’Rourke.

So far in 2016, Australia’s rooftop solar PV installation base has generated over 6.5 TWh, preventing 6.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

And with Australia about to go to the polls this weekend in the country’s federal election, this goes a long way to showing what Australians want from their politicians.

“Australian political leaders need to understand just how much the average Australian themselves have committed of their own money to play a part in the transition of our power system,” added O’Rourke. “With 5 million Australians (or 1 in 5 voters) living under a solar roof, this is potent political constituency.”

July 1, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

A solar energy revolution in mining

The next solar revolution could replace fossil fuels in mining, The Conversation,  Pro-Vice Chancellor (Future Manufacturing), Swinburne University of Technology, June 29, 2016  Recently Sandfire Resources, a gold and copper producer based in Western Australia, announced its new solar power plant will soon start powering its DeGrussa mine. By replacing diesel power, the 10-megawatt power station, with 34,000 panels and lithium storage batteries, is expected to reduce the mine’s carbon emissions by 15%.

This is an exciting development because it realises an important potential that has long been recognised but not exploited. Two of Australia’s greatest resources – solar energy and minerals – are, as luck would have it, both highly concentrated in the same parts of Australia.

In this case, solar energy is being used to power the mine, but there is also great potential for solar energy to be used to convert the minerals to chemicals and metals……..

The next revolution

Currently, Australia’s use of solar energy is largely limited to homes, for hot water and solar-powered electricity. But solar energy has great potential for regional Australia too.

Mines are often isolated. There is typically limited natural gas and electricity supply, and in remote areas energy supply is limited to liquid fossil fuels. This is exactly the potential being exploited by Sandfire Resources at its mine facility 900km north of Perth.

Recent studies by CSIRO have identified the potential to use solar in high-temperature processing of ores such as bauxite, copper and iron ore. This process would use concentrated solar thermal (CST) energy as a heat supply. This heat can also be converted to electricity, known as concentrated solar power (CSP).

This is different to the solar photovoltaic technology used in Sandfire’s solar power plant (and rooftop solar panels), which converts sunlight directly to electricity……..

Concentrated solar energy is still relatively expensive. The Australian Solar Institute estimated in 2012 that the cost of electricity from concentrated solar was approximately double the current cost for conventional energy, reflecting largely the high capital cost of solar systems.

This gap can reasonably be expected to close with increases in the scale of operations (lowering manufacturing costs) and in regulatory pressure on conventional power sources.

It may be a way off, but the small step by Sandfire Resources could be the start of a revolution in the Australian minerals industry.

June 30, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Canberra’s community- owned solar farm to be largest in Australia

text-community-energy‘Largest community-owned’ solar farm in Australia taking root in Canberra vineyard June 28, 2016  Canberra Times reporter There are two reasons Canberra’s David Osmond puts his money into solar panels rather than stockpiling it in the bank.

“The returns are better plus it’s going towards a cause I’m very passionate about,” he said.

The latest solar project Mr Osmond will invest in will be the largest community-owned solar farm in Australia – and it will be right here in Canberra.

Mr Osmond is one of the first investors in the SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm, a $3 million solar plant that, when built, will generate enough electricity to power 250 Canberra homes.

SolarShare project leader Lawrence McIntosh said more than 5000 solar panels will be mounted on three hectares leased from the Mount Majura Vineyard, producing 1.9GWh of electricity each year.

“Wine grapes are best grown on slopes, which leaves the flatter land at the bottom of the valley with not much interest for grape growing but great for a solar project,” he said.

While only 5 per cent of the size of the Royalla Solar Farm south of Canberra, this one will be owned by the community, investors pledging $50 to $10,000 each towards its construction and maintenance.

About 400 people have registered as investors so far and more are being welcomed, Mr McIntosh said.

The flagship farm is predicted to earn more than $360,000 a year in revenue from selling electricity to the energy networks, its profits shared among the project’s investors…….

June 29, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Australians have saved $4.4bn in a few years, with solar rooftops

the report estimated solar owners will avoid 6.3m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2016 – which they found is equivalent to taking a third of all trucks off Australian roads.

logo-Solar-Citizens-Solar Citizens found 80% of federal electorates have more voters with rooftop solar USA election 2016than would be required to change their sitting members. And of the electorates with the highest numbers of solar owners, seven out of the top 10 were now held by Coalition MPs.

Australians have spent almost $8bn on rooftop solar since 2007, says report Solar Citizens says since the 2012-13 financial year, rooftop solar owners have saved about $1bn on their household bills each year, Guardian, , 22 June 16, Australian households and small businesses have invested more than $1bn a year in rooftop solar over the past five years, spending a total of almost $8bn since 2007, new calculations show.


In its latest State of Solar report, Solar Citizens – which campaigns for, and represents the interests of, solar owners – has for the first time estimated Australian’s out-of-pocket investment in rooftop solar, how much money it has saved consumers, and how much carbon it has abated. Continue reading

June 24, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

New South Wales leading the nation with large scale solar farms

solar PV nyngan NSWNSW to double existing solar farm capacity with four new plants approved, SMH,  ENVIRONMENT EDITOR, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD  23 JUNE 16 The Baird government has granted planning approval for four new large-scale solar plants, potentially more than doubling the existing capacity in the state.

The four plants approved for construction have a combined capacity of 175 megawatts (MW), and would generate another electricity for 56,000 homes if built. “NSW is Australia’s large-scale solar leader, with the country’s three largest solar farms and hundreds of megawatts of solar electricity capacity online and in the pipeline,” planning minister Rob Stokes said. Continue reading

June 24, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Australian Greens plan for a solar South Australia

greensSmAustralian Greens announce plan to fund solar panels for 48,000 SA homes map solar south-australiaJune 16, 2016 Political Editor Tory Shepherd, Advertiser MORE than 48,000 South Australian homes would get solar panels and energy efficient measures under an Australian Greens plan to reduce electricity costs and reduce emissions.

Deputy Leader Larissa Waters and SA Senator Robert Simms has announced in Adelaide today a plan to spend $2000 on each public and community housing home, which they say could save renters as much as $1075 a year.

The plan would cost $60 million a year, and would not be finished until 2030. By that point homes would be retrofitted with energy-saving and water efficient devices, with solar on every roof.

Senator Simms said it would also boost jobs, employing thousands of South Australians.

“This initiative would not only provide South Australians with more jobs in the renewable energy and green housing sector, but it would save the average household $780 per year in electricity bills from installing solar alone,” he said.

 “When people in our community are risking their health because they can’t afford to run a heater in the middle of winter, we know there is a problem.”

Senator Waters said nationally it would help about 800,000 people. More than 2400 deaths a year are associated with cold weather, she said.

“We have an unequal system where our lowest earners are paying the highest price for power, many in ageing houses that are inefficient to run, hot in summer and freezing in winter,” she said.

The Greens will not be able to form Government but they may share the balance of power in the Senate after the July 2 election, which could give them leverage over the major parties.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | election 2016, politics, solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Ever-growing boom in rooftop solar energy in New South Wales

community solarSolar usage through the roof in South West Daniel Mercer – The West Australian on June 16, 2016, 

Almost one-quarter of households in WA’s biggest power grid have rooftop solar panels, according to a report that predicts production from the systems will more than double within 10 years.

In its first snapshot of the South West electricity market since getting responsibility for it last year, the Australian Energy Market Operator will today report that the number of solar panels had trebled in six years.

AEMO said there were 180,000 customers with solar panels across the network from Kalbarri to Kalgoorlie and south to Albany, compared with 165,000 a year ago and just 60,000 in 2011.

Though the latest figure represents more than 18 per cent of State-owned power provider Synergy’s entire customer base, the percentage of households with solar cells is even bigger.

AEMO says 22.5 per cent of South West network households have a system, making WA third for solar panels behind Queensland and South Australia.

The Melbourne-based body also found households and businesses were using bigger systems with the average size of new installations doubling over five years to 4.5kW.

AEMO said the growth rate in solar panel installations in WA was unlikely to slow as prices fell, electricity tariffs rose and subsidies continued. It said the amount of electricity solar panels generated would almost treble between 2016-17 and 2025-26.

One consequence would be flatter demand from the grid as more people generated electricity. With battery storage developing rapidly, the shift from grid power could accelerate with cost implications for customers unable or unwilling to use solar.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment


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