Australian news, and some related international items

CSIRO report dispels negative myths about solar power for Australia

Solar power has bright future – CSIRO, SMH, Ben Cubby, Environment Editor, June 15, 2012  THE myth that solar power is unreliable because clouds sometimes cover the sun has been dispelled by a world-first report produced by the CSIRO. While clouds or rainy weather drastically reduce the amount of electricity produced by solar panels, intelligent management of the power grid means panels and mirrors should still supply 40 per cent of
the nation’s energy in the future, the report said.
“People are worried about the reliability with little evidence, and that is limiting solar,” said Glenn Platt, a senior researcher in local energy systems at the CSIRO. “Solar intermittency is not an issue at the moment, but when it does become an issue there are solutions available to deal with it.” Continue reading

June 15, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Demand for solar PV can only grow in Australia: get used to it!

An increase in electricity costs will increase demand for PV. Reading through AEMO’s report again (which we helped model), they define their “rapid uptake scenario” as being driven by “relatively large” increases in electricity price, “rapid system price reductions” and a “clear incentive” from Government. Under this scenario, they predict 18GW of rooftop PV by 2030.

We now have two out of three and arguably, the Carbon tax is the clear incentive.

get on board with PV or get out of the way. Its coming whether you like it or not. 

NSW power price rises underscore case for solar REneweconomy, By    13 June 2012, The Independent Regulatory and Pricing Tribunal (IPART) today released its final price determination for 2012-2013 electricity prices. Continue reading

June 14, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Big Solar is NOT more beautiful than Small Solar energy

“Solar Flagships is an idea full of good intentions, but it is grandiose and cumbersome,” says Giles Parkinson, pointing out the project won’t be up and running until 2015; whereas the ACT Solar Auction will have projects up and running well before then.”

 the Australian solar PV industry installed over 800 megawatts in the prior calendar year alone using a market-based policy mechanism which entirely avoided the need for government to get involved in picking a winning project

Solar Flagships – ‘Grandiose And Cumbersome’  by Energy Matters, 14 June 12,   Seeing large scale solar getting a bit of a helping hand in Australia certainly isn’t a bad thing per se; but just how good a deal is it for the battling Aussie taxpayer?

AGL Energy and USA-based First Solar were recently announced the successful grantees in the Australian Government’s troubled Solar Flagships Program.

The $450 million project will see two solar panel based facilities established – one in Broken Hill and another in Nyngan. Together, the facilities will boast 159 megawatts capacity, enough to supply the electricity needs of approximately 30,000 homes. The Federal government is kicking in $129.7 million and the NSW Government has committed to provide $64.9 million to the projects; totalling $194.6 million in grants – or  $1.22 per watt of capacity.

While AGL (and its shareholders), First Solar (and its shareholders) and Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson may be rejoicing, some industry commentators haven’t shared the exuberance. Continue reading

June 14, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Australia’s electricity networks can cope with plenty more Solar PV power

Networks Should Have Nothing To Fear From Solar PV, Energy Matters, by Giles Parkinson, editor of, 14 June 12A new study led by the CSIRO has questioned the validity of fears that widespread deployment of solar PV could not be supported by the electricity grid, and says Australia could support a lot more solar PV with minimum fuss.
The integration of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar has been a major issue in discussions about the deployment of clean energy, but the CSIRO study says fears about solar have been overblown, in much the same way as they were about wind energy.

Glenn Platt, the head of CSIRO’s local energy systems division, who oversaw the team that wrote the detailed report, says it was commonly thought that the maximum amount of solar PV that could be supported by the grid without significant upgrades was 20 per cent.

“That’s a very common statement, but I’m not sure we have found much evidence to support that. The analysis shows we can have a heck of a lot more than 20 per cent,” Platt told RenewEconomy .

Indeed, modeling done by the study over four scenarios showed that there was negligible impact on either strong urban or weak remote grids at 10 per cent penetration, and even at 40 per cent penetration there was hardly any impact on strong urban grids – variations in voltage at that level were minimal and would most likely go un-noticed by consumers……..
The important issue for Australia, the CSIRO said, was the need for a highly flexible electricity grid, and one that is designed or adapted for renewable energy sources – a conclusion that will no doubt reinforce fears that much of the current build out of $45 billion of additional grid infrastructure is ill-suited to meeting the challenges ahead, as well as imposing a massive cost on consumers.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

New solar project for Broken Hill will be operational by 2015

Silver city becomes solar city ABC Broken Hill, By Noah Schultz-Byard, June, 2012   Broken Hill will host one half of the largest solar energy project in the southern hemisphere, it was announced today. The $450 million project will have an ultimate output of 159 megawatts, enough to power 33,000 homes, and will be constructed across two sites; Broken Hill and Nyngan.
The Broken Hill site will consist of nearly a million solar photovoltaic (Solar PV) panels and will be built to the west of the
city. Construction is hoped to begin in 2014 and is expected to bring 150 jobs to Broken Hill and a further 300 to Nyngan.
The solar farm is expected to be operating by 2015 and is a joint venture between the Federal and State Governments and Australian energy company AGL…. Continue reading

June 11, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | | Leave a comment

Solar Dawn project- Concentrated Thermal Power (CSP) in the balance for Australia

as a new report points out, Australia has a unique opportunity to grab a significant share of the global supply chain for solar thermal, a technology recognised by the International Energy Agency, 

Industry awaits dawn of federal solar project BY  GILES PARKINSON   The Australian June 08, 2012  IN the next few weeks, the federal government will learn whether the $1.2 billion Solar Dawn project in Queensland has been able to meet its extended deadline to obtain finance for the 250 megawatt solar thermal project. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

New report on the prospects for solar thermal energy

CSP: It needs a new way of thinking about energy REneweconomy, By    6 June 2012 A new report outlining the prospects of solar thermal energy has underlined its enormous potential for Australia, saying it could provide between a third and even one half of the nation’s energy needs, but notes it may require a new of thinking about energy production and delivery. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

The true value of Concentrated Solar Power is underestimated

market mechanisms are a long way from recognising and rewarding the full value of CSP – 100 per cent renewable, zero carbon, zero waste, dispatchable power – as compared with incumbent coal, gas and diesel.

As Australia considers how to gain best advantage from the huge investment we will make in our electricity system in the coming 20 years, the evidence points to solar thermal power as having very significant value for Australia – value our markets are not currently reflecting….

Not all electrons are created equal REneweconomy, By  on 6 June 2012 All electrons look the same, so the saying goes. It only matters that the electricity comes out of the consumer’s power point when needed. Modern economies and consumers demand reliability of electricity supply. The question modern electricity markets need to answer is, what is the most economically efficient way to meet that expectation? And that question is about value, not cost.

The new report, Realising the Potential of Concentrating Solar Power in Australia, confirms that, as much as they may all look the same, not all electrons are created equal – some are indeed more valuable than others.

Commissioned by the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) and undertaken by international renewable energy consultancy IT Power, the report is the result of an extensive 12 month collaborative review involving Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association (AUSTELA), the Clean Energy Council, the Australian Solar Energy Society, CSIRO and Boston Consulting Group.

The report confirms that assessments of the costs of concentrating solar thermal power used in Australia for many years are well and truly outdated. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Australia’s politicians ignorant about the economic impact of solar photovoltaic energy

rooftop solar PV was about to play a significant role in the electricity market, so much so that rooftop solar alone could add 12,000 megawatts to 18,000MW to Australia’s electricity capacity by 2031

 the economics of solar PV has changed dramatically in recent years.

Politics must catch up with solar BY: GILES PARKINSON  The Australian June 01, 2012 IT is time politicians in state and federal parliaments had a look at what’s happening in the solar photovoltaic market. There is a revolution going on in the electricity industry and no one in politics seems to have noticed.

This was made clear this week by a report from the Australian Energy Market Operator, which supervises the operation of the electricity grid in the eastern states, and which for the first time has produced a separate report analysis the impact of rooftop solar PV. It came to conclusions that would appear remarkable to those not close to the solar industry. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Overwhelming majority of Australians support solar power

In the long run, big solar is also a big money-saver. Initial set up costs are high. But because the energy source is free, big solar will save many billions of dollars worth of coal and gas bills in coming decades.

The 100% renewables survey reported many of those polled said they supported big solar power because it would help boost employment. Unlike fossil fuels, solar power is a job-rich option.

Big solar power needs democracy to switch on, Green Left  June 2, 2012, By Simon Butler If Australia were a democracy and governments had no choice but to carry out the will of the majority, we’d be well on our way to a 100% renewable power grid.

Recent polling organised by climate action groups around the country found that 94% of 12,000 people polled said they wanted big solar power stations built in Australia . And 93% of those polled said the government should invest public money to make that happen. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Distributed energy, small scale solar, has taken off in Australia

Solar insights – Australia big in small solar REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson  28 May 2012 Germany may set most of the records for the amount of solar PV installed – 27GW and growing quickly – but it seems that Australia can claim a record of its own – it’s really big in small solar.

According to data drawn to our attention by Warwick Johnston of Sunwiz Consulting, Australia installed more small-scale solar than Germany in calendar 2011 – 795MW of rooftop systems of 10kW or less (the average size in Australia ranges from 1.5kW to 2.2kW) compared to 759MW in Germany….

June 1, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Queensland govt axes solar farm project

Queensland Government Bails On Solar Farm Project by Energy Matters, 25 May 12 The Queensland Government has withdrawn funding for Cloncurry Solar arm as part of a cost cutting campaign that may see other solar elated casualties. Continue reading

May 25, 2012 Posted by | Queensland, solar | | Leave a comment

Australia-based Barefoot Power provides small scale solar power to 10 million impoverished homes

The Australia-based social enterprise Barefoot Power aims to expand access to its high-quality, energy efficient, affordable light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, home lighting systems and phone chargers, to more off-grid communities with expansion in Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria and India as a focus by 2015. The company has already captured the majority market share in East Africa.

Solar energy enterprise to provide 10 million with access to renewable energy , PR Wire 24 May 12 The BCtA is a global initiative that encourages private sector efforts to fight poverty, supported by several international organizations including the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Ten million low-income people living in rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America
and the Caribbean, will gain access to low-cost solar energy by 2015, in part due to a commitment made by solar energy provider Barefoot Power   to the Business Call to Action  (BCtA).

The BCtA is a global initiative that encourages private sector efforts to fight poverty, supported by several international organizations including the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Continue reading

May 24, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, solar | | 1 Comment

Success of solar power is giving a shock to Australia’s utilities

Fear and loathing as utilities grasp impact of solar PV, REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson   21 May 2012 Australia’s power generators and electricity network operators are viewing the rapid falls in the cost of solar PV and an anticipated surge in installation with an increasing level of concern.

The potential of solar PV to deliver cost-effective options for home and commercial consumers has been apparent to many in the industry for some time.

The report delivered by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission into solar feed-in tariffs merely confirmed this, and offered it as a potential excuse for the utilities’ apparently lack of enthusiasm to ensure connections for solar PV and other forms of distributed energy.

While plunging costs are good news for consumers, who can turn to solar PV in increasing numbers with the emergence of innovative financing solutions, it is a massive headache for the incumbent generators and network operators, who are about to witness business models built up over decades being shredded by a technology that is as disruptive to the electricity industry as mobile phones were to telecoms…..

Australia has just over 1.5GW of solar PV installed on rooftops now – so there is little apparent impact on the NEM as it stands. By 2020, when the percentage of households with solar PV is expected to treble from around 7 per cent now to 19-20 per cent, the impact is significant.

By 2030 and 2035, it takes a large slice out of the generators’ earnings pie – an impact that has already been established in Germany, which has 25GW of solar PV and counting, and which we documented in our piece “Why generators are terrified of solar.”

It should be remembered that the profit projections – and the debt repayments – built into the Australian generators’ financing models depend almost entirely on the “super dividend” they receive when peak demand surges and the cost of wholesale electricity rises up to 10-fold for just a few hours of the year. A large deployment of solar PV will quite literally throw a spanner in those works……

May 21, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

In reality, Western Australia’s Solar Feed In Tariff is an economic boon

Western Australia’s Solar Feed In Tariff Ramifications Exaggerated, 17 May 12,  Professor Ray Wills of the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) has challenged the notion that spending more on renewables is somehow a bad thing and brought the situation regarding Western Australia’s solar feed in tariff into perspective.

Professor Wills points out while the media circus has focused on the “blowout” in Western Australia’s scheme; there has been no analysis of the benefits. “Energy Minister Peter Collier rightly points out that 76,000 WA homes now have solar panels on their roofs as “a terrific outcome”,’ says Professor Wills, who says the uptake hasn’t been confined to the wealthy, but spurred on by average households in Western Australia now slashing their electricity bills.

“We are yet to calculate the savings that this program has bought – savings that will amount to fewer upgrades to poles and wires, has in the vast majority of cases delivered improved electricity quality and reliability, and will avoid the need for investment in new fossil-fuel based generation.” Continue reading

May 17, 2012 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | | Leave a comment