Australian news, and some related international items

Australian politics in 2017 – allout war over renewable energy?

text-relevantEarly skirmishes point to a war over renewable energy lasting well into 2017, The Age, Peter Hannam, 15 Jan 17   “……Trenches are now being dug for what looms as a political battle that will probably last through 2017. On one side lie the Turnbull government, fossil fuel suppliers and right-wing pundits, who say the priority has to be affordable and reliable power.
Turnbull destroys renewables 

logo Paris climate1On the other, Labor and the Greens and clean-energy backers who argue ageing coal-fired power stations need to prepare for an orderly if not accelerated exit to meet Australia’s commitments agreed in the Paris climate treaty.

Josh Frydenberg, environment and energy minister, ended holidays early on Thursday to rail against states for curbing unconventional gas exploration, which also feeds into higher Frydenberg, Josh climateelectricity prices. That’s especially true in SA where gas provides all the power that’s not from wind or the sun.

He took particular aim at Queensland, where the Labor government under map-solar-QueenslandAnnastacia Palaszczuk is aiming for a 50 per cent share of renewable by 2030, up from 4.4 per cent in 2015………

Frydenberg’s Labor counterpart, Mark Butler, though, says the Coalition’s energy policy was “being dictated by the hard right of the party with the likes of Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi”.

“The culture-war element starts to blind people to pretty clear policy,” he says, noting three-quarters of Australia’s fleet of power stations were operating beyond the end of their design life and needed to be replaced.

“The Turnbull government leaves a policy vacuum at the federal level, the states will fill the void,” he says.

Federal Labor remains committed to a 50 per cent renewable share by 2030, he said, noting the Turnbull government has no target beyond 2020 nor is a target among the terms of reference for its 2017 climate policy review. NSW Labor shares the party’s national goal……

Abbott, as if on cue, weighed into the renewables debate on Saturday……

What is certain is that energy bills are on the rise – although the causes are highly debated…….

Bruce Mountain, an energy economist with CME Australia, says rising energy prices will prompt more people to add solar panels and also batteries as prices continue to tumble – much faster than regulators predict.

Tesla’s new 13.5-kilowatt-hour Powerwall 2, costing about $8800 before installation, already offers a lower battery price than AEMO had predicted for 2040, he says

An average household in Adelaide, where power prices have doubled in the past eight years to be among the highest in Australia, would now be better off with panels and storage.

While panels alone typically slash demand for electricity from the grid by a third, adding a battery will reduce grid purchases by about 95 per cent, he said.

‘Existential threat’

Dylan McConnell, a research fellow at the Melbourne Energy Institute, notes AEMO is predicting 15.5 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants  will be shut by 2030. That’s about half of such stations and equivalent to 10 Hazelwoods.

Importantly, AEMO is betting 12GW of new gas-fired power will come on stream “assuming no alternative technologies come to fruition”, Mr McConnell said.

However, the open-cycle gas plants that can provide peaking power to complement variable suppliers such as wind and solar farms “face an existential threat from batteries”, he said……..

Without clear signals, investors won’t have the confidence to invest the billions needed to bring new, more efficient capacity online.

RET challenges

Bloomberg New Energy Finance underscored the scale of the challenge even meeting the 2020 Renewable Energy Target of supplying 33,000 gigawatt-hours from clean energy annually from 2020.

Last year, investment in large scale renewables under the RET bounced back from a meagre $US10 million in 2014 and 2015 after the Abbott government’s review of the sector threw it into a panic. In 2016, it recovered to $US1.1 billion ($1.45 billion).

“However it is still well below the $US2.9 billion per annum now needed to satisfy the notional 20 per cent target by 2020,” Bloomberg said.

Greens energy spokesman Adam Bandt says the Coalition will be tempted to stir up fears of rising electricity prices “in the hope that they can repeat 2013”, when Tony Abbott swept to power in part because of the carbon tax issue.

“They’ll try to beat the electricity bill drums but the prices are going up on their watch,” he says………

January 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics, solar, storage | Leave a comment

Giles Parkinson exposes misinformation on rooftop solar and battery storage

Parkinson-Report-Some analysts kid themselves about future of solar + storage, REneweconomy, By  on 19 December 2016

We’ve read and reported on some remarkably misinformed analysis in recent weeks, including from the country’s principal energy rule maker and the government’s favourite energy consultant. But this one just about takes the biscuit.

It is an analysis by investment bank CLSA – partly informed by Frontier Economics, the consultancy behind the other notable analyses we reported on last week, here and here – and argues why rooftop solar and battery storage will never take off in Australia and why no one in their right mind would ever leave the grid. Or even install solar modules.

We wouldn’t normally bother with it, but it got some serious air-time in the AFR, and in other Fairfax media, and may just be cited by others.

So it’s worth looking at and pointing out that it is based on some extraordinary assumptions – not just about the cost of solar and storage, but also about the way people would use the technology.

Let’s take its assumptions on going off-grid for instance. It cites as an example an energy hungry, four-bedroom house, the sort of consumer that would likely be the last to choose to go off grid.

No matter. It assumes that such households would want to use all of their appliances at the same time (the oven, the microwave, the dishwasher, the washing machine, the iron, the kettle, the air-con, the drier, the TV, and every light in the house as well as laptops) and would therefore need 19kW of continuous power to supply all that. [good table here on original]

This, concludes analyst Baden Moore, would require 3 Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries or three Redflow ZCells, just to manage two hours of that demand – not to mention the 3-7 days of backup. Just the cost of meeting this peak, he says, would be prohibitive and cost more than $50,000 for the battery storage alone.

There are myriad problems with this calculation. The first is that many houses simply can’t download that amount of power anyway even from the coal-powered grid. In Victoria, for instance, new households have a “capacity” limit of around 10kW.

And then there is something called the “diversity factor,” which, as SolarQuip’s Glen Morris – a leading authority on solar and storage – explains, means it is almost impossible to reach such peak demand at the same time.

One appliance might go for a few seconds at maximum demand then ease off. “I’ve got 10kW (of maximum demand) just in my kitchen but I’ve never been able to turn them on all at the same time and trip the 5kW inverter,” says Morris, who lives off grid.

If a household was going to consider going off grid, would they choose to pay more than $50,000 for batteries that would not be needed most of the time, or would they pay $1,000 or less for smart controls to ensure that most of these appliances are used in off-peak?

The other issue is the sort of thinking that the CLSA report represents. It’s the same dumb attitude – based on visions of soaring peak demand – that was used to over-build and gold plate the country’s electricity network, such that Australian consumers are now paying through the teeth for their grid supply; the very cost that is making rooftop solar and battery storage so attractive to consumers.

But Moore doesn’t seem to see a problem here. He argues that the grid has been built and paid for, and that the energy networks should use any means possible to recover their costs.

“The Australian Energy Markets Commission (AEMC), the key regulator of Australian energy markets, highlights the networks will be allowed to vary the price of grid connection to ensure the cost of capital on the network is recovered,” Moore writes.

“On this basis, the cost of the network will be recovered from all consumers regardless of their usage of battery and solar energy.”

Even the networks know how crazy this attitude is. In the report they prepared with the CSIRO, and in their advice to the Finkel report, they say that millions of households will be driven, economically, to take up solar and storage.

And unless the industry gets its act together and offers them a decent and competitive service, then many will choose to leave the grid, leaving the economics of the industry in a complete mess.

Part of the problem is what Moore and Frontier Economics are comparing the price of solar and storage to. Instead of the full grid price, Moore and Frontier compare solar and storage to the retail and wholesale component of people’s bills. But then they come up with some extraordinary estimates of those prices……

[good charts on original] ….The CLSA report even highlight an analysis on South Australia’s recent blackout by Russell Skelton, a former head of the two biggest coal generators in NSW. Needless to say, Skelton says the high level of wind energy was at fault for the blackout and will cause similar problems elsewhere.

This is in direct contrast to the AEMO report, which said that the nature of wind energy had nothing to do with the outage, and of the Finkel review, which pointed out there are plenty of technology alternatives to coal and gas to ensure grid security and reliability as renewables grow.

It also contradicts the CSIRO and the network owners, who see no problem incorporating more than 90 per cent wind and solar over time, and more than 80 per cent in South Australia in the same time frame that other states are aiming for 50 per cent.

CLSA’s principal point out of all this is to argue that the incumbent utilities are in the box seat when it comes to (slowly) migrating the energy system from black to green.

It is true that these utilities, and the networks, wield enormous influence at political and regulatory level on policies. But simply wishing away the cost competitiveness of new technologies is no strategy to protect the incumbents, or the consumer.

December 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar, storage | Leave a comment

Sydney students pioneer a shared solar and battery system for apartment block

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.”

December 9, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar, storage | Leave a comment

South Australia’s home solar batteries- electricity provided throughout recent blackout

Market for solar storage batteries growing and competitive Craig Cook, The Advertiser October 16, 2016 

October 16, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, storage | 1 Comment

South Australia: Future Business Council calls for National smart energy grid

highly-recommendedTom Quinn: South Australian business is paying high price for ‘dumb’ national electricity grid
Tom Quinn, The Advertiser August 25, 2016 SOUTH Australian businesses will continue to pay the price for a dumb electricity grid that’s no longer fit for purpose until all governments take decisive action to modernise our energy system.

Last week’s meeting of energy ministers fumbled their first chance to do so, leaving business hamstrung. Nowhere is that as painfully clear than in South Australia.

The state has led the country in tapping into rich, renewable resources but when it comes to accessing the benefits business is still missing out. The problem? South Australia must operate within a larger national system that’s designed for a different age.

The wholesale electricity price spikes seen in July, claims of gas market manipulation and barriers preventing the rapid shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity have highlighted the many systematic flaws. At the heart of all this, though, sits an outdated grid that is based on last century’s centralised generation model.

This obsolete system has served us well but is now holding back the state and business community.

The sand is rapidly shifting under the traditional energy market’s feet driven by households and businesses that are no longer just consumers of energy but also producers, particularly through domestic solar panels Continue reading

August 26, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Western Australian farmers see solar off-grid savings opportunity

Solar off grid systemSolar could be game changer for rural communities going off the grid, ABC News By Kathryn Diss , 7 Aug 16 For decades, farmers in Western Australia’s south have put up with the most unreliable electricity supply in the state, now they are about to find out if they can live off-grid, surviving on solar power instead.

Key points:

  • Farmers in Western Australia are investigating using stand-alone solar power systems
  • Solar battery technology is making this more easily achieved, and the State Government will pay for it
  • Power-supply to south west WA has been unreliable, a problem in other regional areas

Ros and Bernie Giles are part of a handful of farming families giving the technology a crack after living through years of frustration at their farm in West River, 500 kilometres south of Perth.

“Summer is our worst time, we seem to have more fluctuations then,” Ms Giles said……

Power problems span farmland across nation

WA’s south west grid spans more than 250,000 square kilometres, an area the size of the United Kingdom, yet it only services a 50th of the population, making it unreliable and expensive to maintain.

But the power problems faced by the people of West River are hardly unique.

Matthew Warren heads up the Australian Energy Council, which formed earlier this year to respond to the world’s rapidly changing energy market.

He said most edge-of-grid communities around the nation suffered the same problems……….

Renewable energy reaches tipping point

The move by WA’s Liberal-National Government to invest in the technology is seen as a step towards a greener future.

It is not just environmental goals driving the innovation but the financial realities of providing an expensive poles and wires network versus the improving economics of renewables……..

August 8, 2016 Posted by | solar, storage, Western Australia | Leave a comment

World’s largest ‘virtual power plant’- 1000 battery systems for solar energy in Adelaide

solar citiy Frieburg GermanyAdelaide charges ahead with world’s largest ‘virtual power plant’ AGL project to roll out 1,000 battery systems to homes and businesses will operate like a 5MW plant, and optimise energy produced from solar panels, Guardian, , 5 Aug 16Adelaide will be home to the world’s largest “virtual power plant” – AGL is rolling out 1,000 battery systems to homes and businesses, with backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena).

AGL and Arena say the project will improve network security and dampen a volatile wholesale electricity price in South Australia. However, an energy expert says that at the current size, the system will have a minimal impact on network security or wholesale prices, but might pose a challenge to the revenues of companies that own the poles and wires.

Offered to homes and businesses with solar systems, the $20m AGL project, backed with $5m from Arena, will operate like a 5MW peaking power plant, providing power to homes and businesses during periods at optimal times.

The chief executive of AGL, Andy Vesey, told Guardian Australia: “The beauty of the project is it’s being done over 1,000 batteries, and that’s how we deliver an aggregate benefit to the grid itself.

“But for the consumer, it will have the value of the battery. And it’s being priced at a way that a good investment decision could be made. We’re viewing that the average savings for someone who has rooftop solar right now would be $500 a year. It’s really a way of optimising the energy produced out of their solar panel.”

The system will cost $3,500, and AGL estimates it will take about seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.

Arena’s chief executive, Ivor Frischknecht, said the project would boost grid stability, reduce power price volatility and support the expansion of renewable energy……..

As a demonstration of something that could be bigger, McConnell said one of the biggest impacts of the business model could be on how the networks recover the costs of the poles and wires.

About half the cost of a home energy bill is linked to the network’s cost recovery of its poles and wires. McConnell said that meant a lot of the money being saved by consumers was actually done by avoiding paying the network costs. And that’s what AGL is relying on for its business model.

But this “virtual power plant” isn’t moving people off the grid. Instead, it’s relying on the grid, while avoiding the charges the distributors use to pay for the grid…….

August 6, 2016 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | 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

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 | 2 Comments

A solar world first for Perth: solar panels and battery storage on apartment buildings

Apartments set for solar world first  Daniel Mercer – The West Australian on April 13, 2016 Dozens of apartments will be able to use, store and trade power under a world-first trial of micro-grid technology to be unveiled in Perth’s south.

solar on apartment building

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt will today announce the Commonwealth’s green energy fund ARENA has tipped $1 million into a micro-grid project in White Gum Valley.

The $3 million project will have solar panels and batteries installed across four separate apartment developments. It would be up to the strata companies managing the apartment buildings to on-sell the electricity to tenants, rather than State-owned power provider Synergy. The strata companies could sell the electricity cheaper than Synergy or at the same price, currently set at 25.7¢ for every unit of electricity sold. Homes owners and tenants would also be able to trade power to other apartments within the complex during the day and night.

Headed by Curtin University and backed by Western Power, LandCorp, the City of Fremantle and Balance Services Group, the project aims to establish a viable model for the uptake of solar panels on apartment buildings.

Demand for solar panels has exploded across Perth, with more than 170,000 homes installing the systems on their roofs. Apartments, which make up a third of Perth’s housing stock, have been much slower on the uptake.

Curtin University’s Jemma Green said that with battery systems rapidly becoming commercially viable, there was an unprecedented opportunity for apartments to get in on the act.

And she said the implications could be huge, with micro-grids such as White Gum Valley popping up everywhere and transforming the way electricity was generated, transported and sold.

“These kinds of innovations are not only making solar power a viable option for everyone, but potentially reflect the future of power utilities,” Ms Green said.

April 13, 2016 Posted by | solar, storage, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory funding battery storage in homes

sunbattery storage in homes  A new ACT Government renewable energy auction will help pay for battery storage in thousands of Canberra homes.

The auction for 109 megawatts of renewable energy feed-in tariff capacity begins today.

Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Simon Corbell said it would complete the Territory’s investment to meet its commitment of using renewable sources to supply 90 per cent of Canberra’s electricity needs by 2020.

He said successful bidders would provide the money needed to establish a photovoltaic battery storage program in the ACT.

“We expect up to $25 million to be available to support about 26MW of battery storage to be rolled out in more than 5,000 Canberra homes and businesses over the next four years,” Mr Corbell said.

“This will represent the largest deployment outside of Germany.”

Mr Corbell said photovoltaic battery storage would put renewable energy on demand when it was needed and reduce the need for network investment.

“It is exciting to see the 90 per cent renewable energy target on track to be completed on time and with minimal flow-on cost for the Canberra community,” he said.

Mr Corbell said the request for proposals would close in May.

April 1, 2016 Posted by | ACT, storage | Leave a comment

Australia’s home solar battery company launches new product

Australian company launches home solar storage battery to take on electronics giant Tesla With the number of depleted home solar batteries being thrown away tipped to rise over the coming years, one Australian company is taking on electronic giants such as Tesla and Panasonic with the launch of an easily recyclable power source.

 Australian designed ZCell home battery storage system to be available by midyear
AN Australian-designed battery system partly built in Adelaide will allow householders to use stored solar power during the night. But it will cost you.

April 1, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, storage | 1 Comment

Telstra to rollout solar and battery storage technologies

Aust-sunTelstra takes on energy utilities with home solar and storage plan, Independent Australia Giles Parkinson 11 February 2016  Telstra’s rollout of solar and battery storage looks to be a game-changer in the home energy market. RenewEconomy‘sGiles Parkinson reports. 

AUSTRALIA TELECOMMUNICATIONS giant Telstra plans to accelerate the rollout of solar and battery storage technologies, and is looking to offer home energy services to millions of consumers in the first sign it will take on the major energy utilities.

Telstra has established a dedicated project team to be led by Ben Burge, the feisty CEO of Powershop and Meridian Energy Australia,which has made major inroads into the Australian energy oligopoly, and which has been a keen proponent of wireless technology and smart-phone apps.

The arrival of a giant corporation such as Telstra into the home energy market signals massive change in the industry, as new technologies such as solar and battery storage, and the “internet of things” offer new avenues to the consumer market.

Telstra is flagging the possibility of offering home energy services – including solar and battery storage – as part of its bundled services that includes internet and telephone.

Telstra’s head of new business, Cynthia Whelan says in her corporate blog:

We see energy as relevant to our Connected Home strategy, where more and more machines are connected in what is called the Internet of Things.

We are looking at the opportunities to help customers monitor and manage many different aspects of the home, including energy……..

Analysts have predicted for several years now that the traditional energy industry would come under attack from new players such as telcos, and IT giants such as Google.

Mark Coughlin, the head of utilities at PwC, says electricity utilities, are facing their “Kodak moment” as the emergence of rooftop solar, in combination with battery storage and smart software, shift the power from the utility to the customer.

And, he says, telcos such as Telstra are better at consumer service than energy utilities, which will struggle to maintain their right to survive. …….,8666

February 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, solar, storage | Leave a comment

In bushfire season, Solar microgrids and batteries are safer than conventional grid

heat_waveTurner says his company has been in productive talks with Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio over the prospect of subsidising Zen Energy systems capable of running as a localised backup for periods when the grid needs to be switched off

Solar microgrids and batteries could prevent another Black Saturday bushfire, Guardian,  9 Feb 16, The cause of the Kilmore East fires that contributed to Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires was found to be an ageing SP AusNet power line

Smaller sustainable energy systems are a better option than trying to maintain ageing Australian energy infrastructure, say experts  
On 7 February, Australia solemnly marked the anniversary of an electrical fault.It was on this date in 2009 that Melbourne endured its hottest conditions on record – a sweltering 46.4C.

To make matters worse, hot winds blasted through the region at speeds in excess of 100km/h. In Kilmore East, just north of Melbourne, a critical failure in a 43-year-old power line caused bursts of 5000C plasma to arc out and ignite the tinder-dry vegetation in the gully below.

Fanned by such extreme winds, the fast-growing inferno would by the end of the day be responsible for the majority of the 173 lives lost in the dozens of fires that engulfed Victoria on Black Saturday, Australia’s worst bushfire disaster.

Several of the other blazes that day were started by felled power poles and other electrical issues. This was also the case for many other fires before and since, including Australia’s previous-worst bushfire tragedy, the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, which claimed 75 lives.

Richard Turner, director of South Australian renewable energy powerhouse Zen Energy, has a plan to stop such a thing happening again. Continue reading

February 10, 2016 Posted by | solar, storage, Victoria | Leave a comment

Queensland launches solar storage battery trial

battey TeslaQueensland installs Australia’s first Powerwall battery for solar trial, map-solar-QueenslandGuardian, , 18 Jan 16 Energex, which is owned by the state government, launches a 12-month trial of solar batteries to investigate ways to integrate them into electricity supply

Queensland government-owned power company has installed the country’s first solar battery storage system from Tesla as it begins a year-long trial into how it can reward consumers who cut their reliance on the electricity grid.

Energex, which has installed a Tesla Powerwall and another storage system from Californian company Sunverge at its Brisbane training facility, will collect data to work out how to integrate solar batteries into the network with financial incentives for customers.

The trial, which will extend monitoring of systems in Energex employees’ homes to those in outside consumers’ in coming months, follows lobbying by the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, of Tesla executives in the US six months ago.

Queensland boasts one of the highest rates of household solar panel systems in the world, although uptake in recent years has been inhibited by a dramatic cut in the rate consumers are paid for power that they return to the grid.

The commercial release of the Powerwall this year is widely expected to drive popular take-up of a system that at best would supply about seven hours of nightly power for televisions, air-conditioning and other appliances……..

Terry Effeney, the chief executive of Energex, said information about the effect of solar batteries on peak demand could allow power network operators to defer costly infrastructure investments or reduce generation where possible.

Contrary to the idea of consumers being able to quit the grid, Effeney said the 12-month trial would “demonstrate that in fact the best way to use batteries and solar is to integrate them into the grid to deliver the best possible outcome to the customers”.

January 19, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, storage | 1 Comment