Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Solar Council launches campaign againstQueensland’s Liberal National Party

Solar industry launches big campaign in Queensland poll against LNP By Giles Parkinson on 17 November 2017  The Australian Solar Council – the peak body for the country’s solar industry – has announced a major advertising campaign against the Liberal National Party coalition in the Queensland election campaign, saying the future of the industry is at stake.

The ASC says it is spending “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in the first stage of its campaign, which will include TV, designed to highlight the implications for the solar industry if the LNP win power.

“It is a huge step for the Australian Solar Council to do political advertising, but solar companies are concerned,” says John Grimes, the chief executive of the ASC.

Liberal National Party policies present a direct threat to profits in Queensland’s renewables industry.”

 Grimes told Reneweconomy that campaign was launched because it was felt that the issue – essentially one of solar versus coal – had not got the prominence it deserved.

“The reality of what’s at stake is not well understood, we have got to shake people up,” Grimes said.

“The implications of a Queensland LNP government that abolishes the renewable target, abolishes the RET in Queensland and signs up to new coal fired power station is completely untenable. That’s why we are taking this action.”

The LNP has made clear it will remove all subsidies for renewable energy in the state, and focus instead on building a new coal fired power station in north Queensland – an idea that even other coal generation companies say is ridiculous.

Labor, on the other hand, has promised to reach “at least” 50 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and promised more funding for a first solar thermal plant with storage, more solar for schools, initiatives for renters and low income households, and a 400MW tender for solar and storage.

The result, however, is in the balance, with One Nation polling strongly enough to possibly win some seats, and provide the numbers to support the LNP in a minority government.

Grimes noted that there were more than 24 large scale solar projects under development, or committed, in Queensland, and a pipeline of at least double that.

“We right on the cusp of an energy transformation,” he said. “There is a whole lot of investment that will fall by the wayside if we get a change in government.

The ASC is also concerned about the LNP’s declared support for the proposed National Energy Guarantee, which critics say will end up supporting existing fossil fuel generators and effectively penalise and put a halt to renewable energy development. The National Energy Guarantee is really a guarantee for coal,” Grimes says. “It means delay, inaction and confusion for renewable energy. That’s untenable for Queensland’s solar industry.

“When the National Energy Guarantee was announced, the Australian Solar Council promised a pointed political campaign against it. We are making good on that promise through newspaper, radio and digital advertising in key marginal seats in Queensland.

“Thousands of regional jobs have been created by the solar boom, and billions of dollars are being invested in regional communities but the solar boom could turn to bust in the Sunshine State,” said Mr Grimes.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Record low electricity demand in South Australia, due to rooftop solar

Rooftop solar pushes South Australia to record low demand (again) Giles Parkinson on 6 November 2017

The combination of growing rooftop solar installations, mild temperatures and sunny weather has pushed South Australia’s grid demand to yet another record low, this time shaving around 6 per cent off the previous low set just six weeks ago.

The new low was set just before 1.30pm in South Australia (just before 2pm on National Electricity Market time) when the minimum grid demand hit 554MW.

This shaved some 33MW off the previous low of 587MW set on September 17,which itself was nearly 200MW or 25 per cent the previous record low demand of 786MW set just a week earlier.

For six hours, according to the APVI solar map, rooftop solar PV provided more than 30 per cent of the state’s demand. For nearly three hours, rooftop solar provided more than 40 per cent of the state’s demand.  As we explore in this article here, rooftop solar provided 9.2 per cent of the state’s local generation in 2016/17 and would likely be more than 10 per cent if larger rooftop solar installations were included.

Within a decade, that share is expected to double to more than 20 per cent, at which times on days like this Sunday, minimum demand may actually fall to zero because of the amount of solar being generated.

The Australian Energy Market Operator, which includes these forecasts in a new report into the South Australia grid, suggests that by that time it will be necessary to store some of that excess solar for use later in the day.

The same situation may occur in West Australia, too, because of the amount of rooftop solar being installed in a small grid. The uptake of rooftop solar is accelerating because of high grid prices and the falling cost of solar technology, and grid demand fell in W.A. to an 8-year low last week.

“At these times, South Australia could store or export its excess generation to the rest of the NEM via the interconnectors, provided they are in service,” AEMO notes in its report.

“This, in turn, will provide market participants with greater opportunity to manage their energy use.”

AEMO noted, as it has previously, that South Australia is the first region in the NEM in which high rooftop PV penetration has caused minimum demand to shift from overnight to near midday – a transition that occurred five years ago.

Many argue this is a good reason to shift the “controlled load” of electric hot water systems from the night-time to the mid-day hours, particularly since the closure of the coal fired generators which could not be switched off at night and needed something to power during the night time.

However, problems with the nature of the metering, and the potential expense of the shift, are barriers to the migration of hot water systems to the day-time hours.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Whyalla to become a booming renewable energy hub

Whyalla steel city goes green with 1GW of solar and storage, UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has made good on his commitment to transform his newly acquired Australian steel business into a renewable energy powerhouses, announcing massive investments in solar and storage that will knock 40 per cent off his electricity costs.

Gupta said on Monday that he would build 1 gigawatt (1,000MW) of dispatchable renewables in and around Whyalla, where his major steel plant is located. This would comprise huge investments in solar, battery storage, pumped hydro and demand management.

He won’t stop there. Gupta is looking to repeat the dose – although with varying mixes and scale of renewables and storage – to power the company’s steel operations in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle. He said on Tuesday he wanted these bigger plants to be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy.

The initial development will see a proposed 80MW solar farm at Whyalla expanded to 200MW and completed by the first quarter of 2019.

 This will be accompanied by:

Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Solar energy: from day one Australian business solar projects pay for themselves

Our Future | Business solar projects pay for themselves from day one,Nathan Henkes   22 Oct 17 Right now, you’re paying more money than you need to be for energy. Why? Because of the widely-held misconception that traditional energy is still cheaper than solar.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, solar | 1 Comment

A futuristic family car at the World Solar Challenge

Guardian 15th Oct 2017, A futuristic family car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies
energy back to the grid has been hailed as “the future” as the annual
World Solar Challenge wrapped up in Australia. The innovative bi-annual
contest, first run in 1987, began in Darwin a week ago with 41 vehicles
setting off on a 3,000km (1,860-mile) trip through the heart of Australia
to Adelaide. A Dutch car, Nuna 9, won the race for the third-straight time,
crossing the finish line on Thursday after travelling at an average speed
of 81.2kmh (55.5 mph).

October 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Small-scale solar cutting $billions from electricity bills, Cole Latimer, 14 Oct 17,

Small-scale solar systems have cut wholesale electricity costs by up to half in the past 12 months, a study has shown.

The report by consulting firm Energy Synapse, commissioned by a community-based organisation Solar Citizens Australia, found solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in NSW had saved consumers up to $2.2 billion from May 2016 to April 2017

During this period, small solar PV systems are estimated to have generated 1540 gigawatt hours of power within the state.

The report says the volume-weighted average price of wholesale electricity would have been between $29 and $44 per megawatt hour higher than the actual average price for the period of $88 per megawatt hour.

The study found that small-scale solar had the largest impact during February, when record heatwaves were experienced, reducing the volume-weighted average price of wholesale electricity by between $119 and $258 per megawatt hour.

There has been a massive increase in renewable energy investment and construction this year. New solar energy generation has grown by 50 per cent globally, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. The IEA’s Renewables 2017 report says 165 gigawatts of new energy came online from renewables as a whole – including solar, wind and hydro power.

“We see renewables growing by about 1000 GW by 2022, which equals about half of the current global capacity in coal power, which took 80 years to build,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said.

“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”

In Australia, there are more than 40 large-scale renewable energy projects that have either started, or will start, construction this year.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thorton said this represented an investment of more than $8 billion.

“These 41 projects will deliver over 4330MW of new capacity, which is crucial to increasing supply in the energy market, replacing old coal-fired generation that continues to close, and ensuring downward pressure on power prices,” Mr Thornton said.

There are 26 projects being built, and another 14 projects that have secured finance with the expectation that construction will start before the end of the year.

“We have already seen six times the investment value in 2017 of what we saw in 2016, and the new capacity will also help with energy security,” Mr Thornton said.

“In 2016, the combined capacity from all projects completed stood at 264.1 MW. This year 2210.2 MW of projects have been committed and 1881.2 MW are in construction with a whole financial quarter still to go.”

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

Solar power juggernaut is catching Australia by surprise

Australia’s solar juggernaut is coming – quicker than anyone thinks, [excellent diagrams and graphs] REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson on 13 October 2017 It is perhaps not surprising that the fossil fuel industry has hit the panic button and is pushing hard for the Turnbull/Abbott Coalition government to dump the proposed clean energy target and replace it with something that might be called a coal energy target.

They can see what’s coming – and there is probably no better way to describe it than a solar juggernaut.

The fact that solar will become the dominant energy source appears to be under no doubt, even the International Energy Agency admits it. And the CSIRO and AEMO appear to be in agreement that even behind the meter solar will account for around half of all demand by the 2040s or 2050s.

But what if it happened a lot quicker than that? Australia’s grid prices have jumped again to absurdly high levels, and this has lit a fire under the rooftop solar market, which will be followed by a major push by corporate buyers into the large-scale market. The solar sector could boom in ways not previously imagined.

 Huon Hoogesteger heads Smart Commercial Solar, a company specialising in rooftop solar for businesses that has experienced a doubling in demand in the last year or so, and a three-fold increase in the current year. He can’t see it slowing down.

At this week’s All-Energy Australia conference he was asked to speak about the implications of a continued solar boom in the Australian energy market, and what it means for incumbent fossil fuel generators, and others – particularly the storage industry. It was a fascinating insight.

First of all, it should be noted that Hoogesteger focused only on solar – so his observations take no account of the 4.5GW of wind energy already in the market, and the likely doubling of that capacity in coming years (particularly as it defies doubters and matches the falling cost of solar)………

Hoogesteger says most forecasts are based around a continued linear uptake of solar, that puts the country’s capacity at about 21GW in the mid 2030s……… Base on his experience, with a near doubling of just rooftop installations, the massive investment in large-scale solar, and the technology’s falling costs, along with high grid prices, he says it could happen a lot quicker than that……

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

New $400 million solar farm for Port Augusta.

European energy giant Enel to build $400m solar plant in Port Augusta Adam Langenberg, Political reporter, The Advertiser, October 9, 2017 EUROPEAN energy giant Enel has received final approval for a $400 million solar farm on the outskirts of Port Augusta.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 2 Comments

Australia’s rooftop solar boom now taking to business buildings

Above: Broadway shopping centre in Perth

The solar boom started in our suburbs, but now it’s moved out of home, ABC News, By Kathryn Diss, 28 Sept 17, Australian households have led the world in installing rooftop solar panels and now businesses are following suit as energy prices start to bite.

Nearly a quarter of the nation’s households have installed rooftop solar panels in recent years as consumers have looked for ways to offset their ever-increasing power bills.

But new research by consultancy firm SunWiz has found business solar installations have jumped 60 per cent during the past 18 months to 40,736 systems.

“It’s accelerated significantly in recent years and continues to be a popular investment for businesses wanting to take care of their electricity prices,” the company’s managing director Warwick Johnston said…….

Business backs renewables as politicians bicker

The research comes as federal politicians argue over what fuel source should be used to guarantee the nation’s future energy supply, with the east coast facing looming gas shortages……..

September 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Australia’s top 10 solar postcodes, and the top solar locations by state

We know Australia is leading the world in per capita uptake of rooftop solar, with total installed capacity on homes and businesses this year soaring past the 6GW mark.

But which parts of Australia are leading the country? New data from the Clean Energy Regulator has revealed the latest ranking of Australia’s top 10 postcodes for small-scale solar installation (up to 100kW), with some interesting new additions.

As you can see below, the list this year features a few new entries, and a more diverse spread across the states, instead of being dominated by Queensland and Western Australia locales.

Both the new entries and the old stagers on the list span the suburban, regional and rural areas of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, with no entries this year from South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT or the Northern Territory.

In order from the top, the Queensland town of Bundaberg has again secured the number one spot, followed by new entries on the list, the Victorian suburbs of Werribee and Hoppers Crossing. Last year, no Victorian postcodes made the top 10.

According to the CER data, these three postcodes have accumulated the highest number of small-scale renewable energy installations since the small-scale renewable energy scheme began in 2001, each reaching around 17 000 installations as at 1 September 2017.

In fourth place, down from second place last year, is the WA suburb of Mandurah, where the local council is also pushing hard to install PV on government buildings – and just last week agreed to install a 200kW (not a part of the SRES) system at the local pool and sports centre.

The Queensland suburb of Hervey Bay follows, moving to fifth place from third last year. And another Victorian new entry, the semi-rural south-eastern suburb of Cranbourne, is in sixth place.

Bringing up the rear are regular place holders Caloundra and Toowoomba in Queensland, and new entries Wangara (WA) and Lismore (NSW), the latter of which makes the list probably due to the May switching-on of a 99kW rooftop PV system at the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre, as part of a major community-based and funded renewables campaign.

Despite some bigger commercial installations coming into play, the CER says the average size of the solar postcode installations is 5kW – which is also the average size, now, of a household rooftop solar system. This indicates the dominance, still, of residential uptake in these numbers, considering the SRES encourages commercial systems, too – up to 100kW in size.

“Over the last 10 years, 23 per cent more Australians have embraced rooftop solar,” the CER said in a release on Monday. “That’s one in five homes and businesses now generating their own renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions through rooftop solar.

As we reported here, Australia hit a milestone of 6000 megawatt (6GW) capacity across 2.8 million small-scale installations of renewable energy systems such as solar PV, solar water heaters and air source heat pumps. Nearly 100MW was installed in August, alone.

Interestingly, while no South Australian suburbs on their own make the list, the entire state is setting all sorts of solar records, including a new record low for minimum demand – barely a week after the previous benchmark was set – with a fall to just 587MW on Sunday afternoon.

As Giles Parkinson notes, the record eclipsed the previous mark by nearly 200MW – with AEMO data showing minimum demand at 1.30pm of exactly 587.8MW, compared with the previous low mark of 786.42MW posted last Sunday – thanks to moderate spring temperatures, combined with the state’s more than 700MW of rooftop solar producing 538.54MW at the time of minimum demand.

“That is a phenomenal share of 47.8 per cent of the state’s electricity demand being met by rooftop solar (compares with 36 per cent in the previous record last week) and is clearly a record for South Australia, and for that matter in any large grid anywhere in the world,” Parkinson says.

Below [on original] is the list of last year’s Top 10 solar postcodes:

September 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Massive jump in solar energy roll-out means scarcity fears unfounded: council

Official estimates of the risk of an electricity shortfall this summer are exaggerated because much more solar energy – as much as six times current large-scale capacity – is ready to be built, the Australian Solar Council says…….

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

Australia eclipsed in commercial solar uptake  Reece Turner, 27 Aug 2017, Australia is seeing a new boom in solar energy generation powered by nose-bleeding electricity and gas price rises. In fact, Australian households are approaching 25 per cent solar uptake, which is the highest in the world by a large margin.

In Illawarra, there are 11,259 households powered by the sun and, according to advocacy group Solar Citizens, this saves residents $5.4 million every year. This is great for job creation and the environment.

However, when it comes to businesses installing solar power, Australia’s doing far worse. Estimates are we’re not even in the top 20 countries for commercial solar.

Community energy group Repower and solar engineering company Planet Ark Power hope to change that by helping more companies in Illawarra to take up solar.

This month, at the Wollongong Tennis Club, we’ll be launching “Repower Wollongong”. This follows successful launches of Repower Shoalhaven and Repower Southern Highlands. Indeed, this model of community energy group is one of the most successful in the country, assisting 17 businesses save thousands on their bills.

Many businesses are interested in going solar, but there are some hurdles. One of them can be the upfront costs. A commercial solar system generates free energy for 25 or 30 years, but the initial investment can be anything from $20,000 upwards.

The Repower community energy model removes this hurdle by collecting community investment that pays for the system upfront and then sells the clean energy back to the business at a rate cheaper than grid electricity and with a degree of certainty against rising energy hikes.

It’s a brilliant model delivering returns to the community, helping save on business costs and supporting local jobs. Find out more at

Reece Turner is business development manager at Planet Ark Power.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, solar | Leave a comment

Energy Minister Frydenberg stalling on decision about $110m Port Augusta solar thermal funds?

Frydenberg calls for advice on $110m Port Augusta solar thermal funds, REneweconomy

August 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia calls for Federal Govt loan for Port Augusta solar plant

Premier Jay Weatherill calls on Federal Government to provide $110m loan for $650m Port Augusta solar plant, Adam Langenberg, Luke Griffiths, The AdvertiserAugust 23, 2017  PREMIER Jay Weatherill has dared the Federal Government to block a $110 million loan banked on to finance Port Augusta’s $650 million solar thermal plant……

Mr Frydenberg was in Whyalla on Wednesday as he launched a $30 million battery storage facility on the Yorke Peninsula, as revealed by The Advertiser yesterday.

He said it would play an important role in securing South Australia’s electricity network.

Less than two months after the State Government announced its deal with US billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla, Mr Frydenberg unveiled plans that would see the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency fund up to 40 per cent of a 30MW, 8MW/h battery.

Electranet will design and build the battery before leasing out its commercial operation to a yet-to-be-decided energy retailer.

To be located at Dalrymple — one of the electricity network’s “weak points”, according to Mr Frydenberg — it is expected to be connected to the grid by February 2018.

The Tesla battery, to be located in Jamestown, will be 100MW, 129MW/h.

“We don’t claim to have the biggest battery or the biggest system, what we do claim is to be putting in place practical, cost-effective, needed policy solutions and practical solutions to the challenges SA faces,” Mr Frydenberg said prior to presenting at the Global Maintenance Upper Spencer Gulf conference in Whyalla…….

In his speech, Mr Koutsantonis declared the Upper Spencer Gulf an economic participation region under the State Government’s industry participation policy.

Local businesses will now be given a 20 per cent weighting when vying for public project work.

“We have seen how successful this policy has been since it was implemented in northern Adelaide and now we want to replicate those achievements in the Upper Spencer Gulf,” he said.


August 25, 2017 Posted by | politics, solar, South Australia | 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