Stucco students install one of Australia’s first shared solar and battery systems for apartment block, 702 ABC Sydney ,By Amanda Hoh, 8 Dec 16, After 18 months of “bureaucracy” and jumping through regulatory hoops, the students of Sydney’s Stucco apartments have finally achieved their goal of spearheading a “solar revolution”.
The social housing apartment block in Newtown has become one of the first multi-dwelling buildings in Australia to install a shared solar and battery storage system.
Last week 30 kilowatts of solar panels were placed on the roofs and 36 batteries set up in the building totalling 42.3kW storage capacity. The solar system will now provide 80 per cent of the residents’ energy needs, with the remainder of electricity drawn from the grid. Each student is expected to save up to $35 a month on their electricity bill. “As poor uni students, that difference in a bill makes a huge difference,” Sarah King, Stucco committee president, resident and social work student, said.
“There’s also the great feeling of using green clean energy as opposed to dirty coal.
“As a cooperative, it’s quite empowering to have your own locally sourced power system, otherwise you’re quite vulnerable to what electricity companies are going to charge you. Stucco is a cooperative, not-for-profit housing complex for low-income students from Sydney University. There are 40 residents in the eight units who each pay about $90 in weekly rent. As a cooperative, the students self-manage the property, which is part-owned by the university and the Department of Housing.
How do students pay for solar? A software system was put in place to manage and analyse the energy output from each unit, meaning the Stucco committee now acts as its own energy retailer and issues electricity bills to the residents. For the energy consumption that is provided by solar, the students are charged a maximum of 10 cents during off-peak times and up to 40 cents during peak use.
They are currently in pricing talks with various commercial energy retailers for when the building draws from the grid.
The cost of the project totalled $130,000, with the solar technology costing $97,000……..The students received an $80,000 grant from the City of Sydney.
The remainder of the cost was made up from 25 years’ worth of sinking funds and “grassroots community efforts” of voluntary contributions and pro-bono work……The solar and battery system is expected to take about six to seven years to pay for itself, although Mr Janse Van Rensburg said the long-term gain and savings far outweighed the cost of the system…..The students have started a crowdfunding campaignto help rebuild the administration and sinking funds.
Calls for more solar as household tariffs dumped There are 1.6 million solar systems installed across the country; mainly in free-standing owner-occupied homes and in lower to medium income suburbs.
According to Claire O’Rourke from community-based organisation Solar Citizens, Stucco is “a pioneering project”, particularly as it was conceived by a housing cooperative.
“We’ve had a lot of anecdotal reports from apartment owners who have tried to get this [a multi-apartment dwelling solar and battery system] in place but have failed,” Ms O’Rourke said……..
“The real opportunity is in cities where there are more apartments and renters…….
The Solar Bonus Scheme in New South Wales ends on December 31, which means solar households will no longer receive a feed-in tariff when they redirect energy back into the electricity network. Solar Citizens is lobbying the Government for a mandated minimum tariff to pay solar owners.”Going solar now is the best way to save for the long term, because solar panels will last 20 to 25 years, batteries will last for a decade,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“Landlords and renters everywhere should be inspired by this project [Stucco] and look at starting up similar projects that help them save money and spearhead that revolution we want to see.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-08/stucco-student-housing-installs-shared-solar-battery-system/8103298
Households to power up to half Australia, zero emissions within reach: CSIRO, The Age, Adam Morton , 6 Dec 16
As the Coalition backs away from a pledge to consider a climate change policy that the energy industry says it needs, a new study is projecting a rapidly growing mass electricity generator for Australia in the decades ahead: the public.
Consumers using rooftop solar panels and batteries will produce between a third and half of Australia’s electricity by mid-century if the right policies are introduced, according to a roadmap from the CSIRO and power and gas transmission body Energy Networks Australia.
The two-year analysis also found an emissions intensity scheme for the electricity sector – a form of carbon trading that was to be considered by a government climate policy review until that plan was abandoned on Tuesday afternoon – would be the cheapest way to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
It suggests it could save customers $200 a year by 2030, while helping create a reliable electricity grid with zero emissions by 2050. Energy Networks chief John Bradley said a low-cost shift to zero emissions would depend on a national climate and energy plan with bipartisan support.
“By contrast, carbon policy which could change dramatically at every election, or differs in every state, is a recipe for a high-cost and less secure electricity service,” Mr Bradley said.
His call for the Coalition and Labor to come together on climate policy echoes that made by bodies representing energy generators and major industrial companies.
The Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap forecasts that up to 10 million households and small businesses would have solar panels, battery storage, smart homes and electric vehicles if pricing and incentives were changed to better reflect demand. This would “transform the grid into a platform more like the internet, where customers can trade and share energy”.
It recommends an emissions intensity scheme for power stations be introduced by 2020, following a similar call by the Climate Change Authority, now dominated by Coalition-appointed board members.
On Tuesday, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg backed away from saying the government would consider this sort of scheme as part of a wide-ranging departmental review of climate policy next year. A handful of Coalition backbenchers, including Cory Bernardi and Craig Kelly, had called for any form of carbon pricing to be rejected…….
The report found thermal plants, including coal and gas fossil fuels, would be critical in balancing intermittent renewable energy in the years ahead, but would eventually be replaced by technologies using battery storage and biomass.
Getting there would present significant technical, economic and regulatory challenges. It would transform the system away from its original design – large centralised power stations – to a much more decentralised network.
It said a coordinated plan for 2050 could:
- Make average annual household bills $414 less than they otherwise would have been.
- Cut network costs to consumers by 30 per cent.
- Avoid $16 billion in spending on poles and wires.
- Lead to customers with solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicles earning $2.5 billion a year from network businesses.
The roadmap comes ahead of the Friday release of an interim report into electricity reliability led by chief scientist Alan Finkel, commissioned after South Australia suffered a statewide blackout in September. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/households-to-power-up-to-half-australia-zero-emissions-within-reach-csiro-20161206-gt4ztf.html
there are companies out there using the rebate wind-down as a “scare tactic” to convince people to invest now. And a lot of these companies, Morris warns, will be pedalling poor quality and “dumb” solar.
The CEC, meanwhile, launched a new campaign “advising people buying solar panels to look for an Approved Solar Retailer to make sure they get the best possible quality and service – and avoid getting a bad deal.”
Another rooftop solar boom – this time with warnings http://reneweconomy.com.au/another-rooftop-solar-boom-time-warnings-35846/By Sophie Vorrath on 1 December 2016 Record low solar panel prices, combined with the ratcheting-down or removal of federal and state policy levers, are sparking a boom in Australia’s residential and commercial solar markets, while also prompting warnings to consumers to avoid the lure of cheap and nasty solar products – and installers. Retailers and wholesalers in the solar PV market have reported experiencing “unprecedented demand” in the month of November, which looks set to continue into December, the first month of the Australian summer. Continue reading
CSIRO sells concentrated solar power technology to China, The Age, Marcus Strom , 28 Nov 16 The CSIRO on Tuesday will sign a technology licensing agreement with a Chinese solar company that could reap millions of dollars in royalties for the national science and industry organisation. The deal with Beijing-based Thermal Focus will allow the company to bid for business in the burgeoning Chinese market for concentrated solar power using Australian-designed technology.
China aims to build infrastructure that produces 1.4 gigawatts of concentrated solar power by 2018, increasing this to 5GW by 2020.
“To put that into perspective, Australia has 50GW capacity in all its power stations,” said Wes Stein, CSIRO’s chief energy research scientist. John Grimes, of the Australian Solar Council, said: “This is a significant commercial opportunity, perhaps worth hundreds of millions.” CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said: “This partnership takes our climate mitigation focus to a global stage.”
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt said: “Australia is a leader in clean energy technology and this partnership is an important step in realising this advantage.”
The partnership will be signed at the Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference at the Australian National University. Phil Hearne
Concentrated solar power, or solar thermal, uses mirrors to focus the sun’s energy into a collector. At collected temperatures of 560 degrees, that energy is then stored in molten nitrate salts in large thermal tanks. This can then generate superheated steam to drive turbines for electricity generation for weeks.
CSIRO’s patented technology uses smaller mirrors of about five square metres, known as heliostats, and field-control software to direct the solar energy. The technology was pioneered at the CSIRO’s energy centre in Newcastle. The solar thermal team has grown to more than 30 scientists and engineers.
Mr Stein said: “The big difference with photovoltaic cells is that our technology has storage embedded at a lower cost than batteries.”
A CSIRO spokesman said the licensing agreement covered a technology transfer payment with recurring royalties for the number of heliostats installed……
John Grimes at the Australian Solar Council said: “CSP with storage is the missing link in China’s renewable energy market.” Mr Grimes said what gave this deal credibility was that the Chinese had delivered on their plans in renewables. “Already China has installed 120GW of solar photovoltaic cells,” he said. “It really is a world leader in this field.” Its commitment was partly due to a combination of environmental concerns, cost effectiveness and air-quality pressures in cities, Mr Grimes said.
There are no commercial plants operating concentrated solar thermal technology in Australia. He said this was because government leadership in Australia had been lacking.
SolarStor plans to build a concentrated thermal plant near Port Augusta, South Australia, as does US firm SolarReserve.
The solar deal comes a day after an interim report by a Senate committee recommended all Australian coal mines close by 2030.
The retirement of coal-fired power stations report committee is chaired by Greens senator Larissa Waters. Its final report will be handed down on February 1. http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/csiro-sells-concentrated-solar-power-technology-to-china-20161128-gsz8gh.html
Kalbarri to host what could be Australia’s largest renewable energy grid http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/kalbarri-to-host-what-could-be-australias-largest-renewable-energy-grid-20161128-gsz4n5.html A $10 million renewable energy-powered microgrid which has the potential to be the largest in the country will be developed in Western Australia’s Midwest.
The coastal town of Kalbarri is currently supplied by a 140 kilometre long rural feeder line, which experiences outages due to environmental factors.
The microgrid will combine wind and solar power with a large-scale battery and Energy Minister Mike Nahan said the project will be closely looked at to see how the technology could benefit other towns in WA.
“This is a game changer for regional communities who rely on power from a long feeder line, which is subject to environmental factors that can cause outages,” Dr Nahan said.
“The project, which has the potential to be Australia’s biggest renewable microgrid, will consider all generation options and take into account the community’s desire for a renewable solution.””
Western Power will seek expressions of interest from next month with construction expected to begin in 2017.
Port Augusta can show the world what just transition for workers looks like https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/21/port-augusta-can-show-the-world-what-just-transition-for-workers-looks-like Sharan Burrow
A solar thermal plant in Port Augusta is the best fit for providing both jobs and clean energy. It only needs political will to work Port Augusta, a country town of 14,000 people in South Australia, could have been a perfect example. For 68 years, coal-fired power stations and the local mines generated jobs for 400 workers and provided power for South Australia.
This is the story of a community, its power station workers and their union taking their plan for jobs and solar thermal power to state and federal government, and to global energy giants in France and the United States, demanding a just transition for the people of Port Augusta, demanding a zero carbon future for people everywhere.
The coal-fired power station was on borrowed time. Worried about air quality and environmental health, the community looked for alternative plans for energy, industry and jobs.
Five years of work – during which all options were considered – resulted in a decision that a solar thermal plant was the best fit for both a clean energy base and for skills transfer for existing energy workers.
A feasibility study and three companies interested in constructing this renewable alternative added further cause for optimism.
Even the political support appeared to line up, a promise of funding support before a national election, state government support, and a local mayor backing in his community and workers and their unions with environmental activists singing in tune.
For a moment, Port Augusta held its breath. The plan was in place. A source of energy that would allow workers to transfer from the defunct coal-fired power station. A company willing to build, the community behind it, the workers having hope for a future.
So why are they still waiting?
The missing ingredient is a shared sense of urgency to get the job done, leaving the community and governments out-manoeuvred by corporate greed.
The power station owner, Alinta, deserted its workers and the community in a shocking decision to close years ahead of public commitments. More than 250 workers are potentially stranded.
A dishonest company is nothing new; a company that takes no responsibility for the community from which they have drawn a loyal workforce that made their profits for them is sadly a global tale but where is the rescue team?
A standoff on what comes first, a contract or investment security, seems to be the villain. A standoff between layers of government with a missing procurement contract for purchasing energy from the company willing to invest in the solar thermal plant and a start-up clean tech grant.
Solar energy: Sunny western Queensland to become a hub for power farms, ABC News, 6 Nov 16 By Lucy Murray Western Queensland is becoming a major hub for solar energy, with the state’s largest solar power farm soon to go online near Barcaldine and construction of another major project about to get underway in Longreach.
Six solar projects partially funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) were either recently completed or being built across Queensland.
Construction is expected to begin on another six projects next year.
With construction of the 25 megawatt (MW) Barcaldine solar farm now finished, work is underway to connect the 79,000 panels to the state’s electricity grid with about 580 kilometres of cable.
It will feed the grid with the capacity to power more than 8,000 homes once finished by mid-December, enough to light up Barcaldine 11 times over.
A short distance away, work will soon begin on the 15MW Longreach Solar Farm.
Canadian Solar was successful in the last round of ARENA funding and will begin construction on the project early next year……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-06/queensland-biggest-solar-farm-set-to-go-online/7975060
Households face steep hike in power charges as solar subsidies end, The Age, 28 Oct 16 Brian Robins Tens of thousands of households are facing a surge in their electricity bills from the start of the new year as the NSW government’s subsidy for rooftop solar panels expires.
This could add more than $1600 to the annual electricity bill as the so-called ‘feed-in tariff’, the price received for surplus electricity sold into the electricity grid, is slashed by as much as 90 per cent in some cases.
Under the original government program, households which installed solar systems received as much as 60¢ a kilowatt hour for surplus electricity sold into the grid. This will fall to 6¢, or possibly less, depending on the deals done with your electricity retailer. The state government’s pricing regulator IPART, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, has recommended electricity companies pay 5.5-7.2¢ per kilowatt hour for electricity bought from households with solar systems…….http://www.theage.com.au/business/households-face-steep-hike-in-power-charges-as-solar-subsidies-end-20161028-gscu4s.html
Solar energy developers attracted to Port Augusta after power station’s closure, ABC, The World Today 25 Oct 16 By Khama Reid Solar energy developers are honing their attention on the South Australian city of Port Augusta after the community’s economy took a hit when its largest employer, Alinta Energy, closed its coal-fired power station.
For the past five years, the community has been pushing for a transition from coal to renewable energy, which is now steps closer to becoming reality.
Residents and those in the neighbouring city of Whyalla brag the region gets “300 days of sunshine” a year.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said the tagline had become more than just a tourism slogan with solar companies getting serious about development in the region.
“Reach Solar have made an application to the State Government as recent as only a few weeks ago for a very real project here at Port Augusta using solar PV [photovoltaic],” Mr Johnson said.
Mr Johnson said one of the further progressed proposals was for the DP Energy Renewable Energy Park to the south of the city.
“DP Energy actually has planning approval and will be the largest wind and solar PV farm in Australia and actually the first to have not just wind but solar PV technology as well.”
Queensland and SA ‘real hot markets’ for solar
Renew Economy editor Giles Parkinson said the spike in interest was not surprising. “There’s two real hot markets for solar at the moment, that’s Queensland and South Australia and in South Australia around the Port Augusta/Whyalla area and that comes from two things,” Mr Parkinson said.
“One is the excellent sunshine, but also the high wholesale electricity prices.
“They rely so much on gas to set the price of generation, and the price of gas has gone up, so the wholesale price has gone up as well.”
Mr Parkinson said solar was becoming a more affordable investment option.
“I guess the overwhelming driver is the reduction in costs of solar PV, it’s actually falling to a point where it can actually compete with wind energy.”
He said the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) previously funded wind farm developments, but in its latest round awarded more than $91 million to solar photovoltaic projects across the country……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-25/solar-energy-developers-flock-to-port-augusta/7962306
Farms that grow food in arid deserts, without groundwater or fossil fuels, could be the future of agriculture. BRYAN NELSON October 10, 2016, No soil, no pesticides, no fossil fuels, and no groundwater. And yet, a thriving farm in the heart of the arid Australian desert. How is this possible?
“The Palaszczuk Government is currently investigating the use of solar PV on state-owned buildings,” Mr Bailey said. Report author and investment banker Colin Mugglestone led a team of researchers who spent seven months analysing how Queensland should reach a position where 50 per cent of its energy is provided by renewable energy by 2030.
The state government now has 9 megawatts of solar panels on government buildings and hopes to generate 2000 megawatts of solar energy from government property by 2030, the report says…….
What could a renewable energy push to 50 per cent by 2030 provide? “It is projected that Queensland could reach 2200 MW of wind, 5200 MW of large-scale solar PV, and 4900 MW rooftop PV by 2030, including 5500 MW of new large scale capacity built after 2020.”
It could provide between around 6400-6700 extra full-time jobs, mainly in the construction of large scale renewable energy plants.
Last month the federal government’s renewable energy body ARENA agreed to fund $51.4 million to seed six new large-scale solar plants in Queensland. That will help potential big solar plants in Dalby, Oakey, Longreach and Kidston west of Townsville and two in Collinsville……..
What do The Greens say?“The Greens welcome this draft report, which confirms that clean energy is good for jobs,” Mr Bartlett said.”But we are dismayed at the years of delay, lack of ambition, and no transition plan for coal power workers.” http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/solar-should-power-government-schools-tafe-hospitals-report-20161012-gs112t.html
The solar industry already employs more people than coal-fired generation across the country. In 2014 the solar industry employed more than 13,000 people and even with the uncertainty and watering down of the renewable energy target this is likely to have grown. By comparison, according to the 2011 census 8,000 people worked in fossil fuel electricity generation.
A clean energy transition is already happening, but it is at risk, Guardian, Alexander White, 11 Oct 16 The transition to a low carbon economy is already happening, but is at risk when residents of Australia’s capital go to the polls in local elections.
The transition to a low carbon economy is already happening … in theAustralian Capital Territory, where the local Labor government has legislated for a 100% renewable energy target by the year 2020.
Trading solar power: Retirees test way to beat shrinking feed-in tariffs http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-08/trading-solar-power:-retirees-‘plan-for-the-future’/7914736?section=environment By Kathryn Diss Retirees in the West Australian town of Busselton are trialling a new system which allows them to sell excess energy they have generated from their solar panels direct to their neighbours.
The system bypasses the state’s energy utility Synergy, saving consumers money and increasing returns for solar adopters. Continue reading
Majura solar farm set to power more than 600 homes after four years of planning, The Age, Clare Sibthorpe, 6 Oct 16, Hundreds of Canberra homes are set to be powered by one of Australia’s first sun-tracking solar farms which opened in Majura on Thursday.The 2.3MW solar farm adjacent to the Mount Majura winery will generate 4,300 MW per hour within a year, which equals about 600 houses.
The farm has one of the first self-powered and single axis tracking technology to be used in Australia, which increases output by up to 40 per cent…..
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the completion of Canberra’s fourth solar farm – with the others in Mugga Lane, Williamsdale and Royalla – helped ensure Canberra’s future renewable power supply was guaranteed…….
He said the ACT government had contracted 640 megawatts of power which exceeded the amount needed to make the territory entirely renewable by 2020.http://www.theage.com.au/business/energy/majura-solar-farm-set-to-power-more-than-600-homes-after-four-years-of-planning-20161006-grw501.html