Institutional Investors in Solar – NAB’s $200m Portfolio

Institutional Investors in solar have had some great news this week as NAB’s Low Carbon Shared Portfolio represents a $200m pool of loans to renewable projects – so it’s a fantastic way to invest in clean energy in Australia. The portfolio allows the public to support large-scale solar and wind farms which they weren’t previously able to do.

Institutional Investors in Solar

NAB Institutional Investors in Solar
NAB Institutional Investors in Solar (source: NAB.com.au)

Institutional Investors in Solar will be able to invest in the $200m facility which has seven ‘senior loans’ to wind and large scale solar farms financed by NAB.  The CEFC has also chipped in a $90m cornerstone investment:

“The Low Carbon Shared Portfolio creates an opportunity for institutional investors to participate in the renewable energy sector even though they may not be able to enter into individual project financing transactions,” Richard Lovell from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation said. 

“This offering is unique in giving investors credit exposure to the underlying projects, a significant innovation in the market.”

NAB have advised that the seven projects in the Low Carbon Shared Portfolio represent 2.5 million tonnes of displaced CO2 emissions – the equivalent to 350,000 Australian households (i.e. a very significant amount). 

Former NSW Premier Mike Baird is now the head of customer relations for corporate and institutional banking at NAB. Mr Baird spoke of the project and NAB’s goals:

“We’re responding by providing ways for institutional investors to back major renewable energy projects alongside NAB, while releasing capital for NAB to continue to reinvest in the renewables sector.”

According to the Fifth Estate, all seven loans in the Low Carbon Shared Portfolio are in Australian dollars and all have a remaining tenor of at least 15 months. The loan portfolio has an expected weighted average life of 3.2 years. NAB will retain at least 25 per cent of each low carbon loan on its own balance sheet and will manage the loans for the shared portfolio. If NAB exits a particular loan, the shared portfolio will also divest.  

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Enova’s Community Solar Garden Signups

We wrote last year about the Byron Bay based community solar company Enova who became a generator and a reseller of renewable energy. They’re now launching a community solar garden which is an amazing idea for people who aren’t able to reduce their electricity bill by installing solar power. Let’s learn more about the Enova and their plan to revolutionise solar for people in apartments, renters, and many more…

Enova and the Community Solar Garden

Enova Solar Garden
Enova Solar Garden (source: Enova.com.au)

The official Enova website is currently accepting applications from both ‘hosts’ and ‘members’ – that is to say that if you have plenty of free space on your rooftop you could sign up as a host, or if you’re a renter or live in an apartment or can’t get solar for any other reason becoming a member is a great idea. According to the website, “Enova is set to build a 99kW solar system and “sell” the panels to customers who can’t have solar at home”

For the most part it won’t be a ‘solar garden’ per se – most of the power looks like it’ll be generated from rooftop solar. 

According to Echo Net Daily, a Byron Bay based newspaper, a visit from Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler met with a great response for the Enova team. Mr Butler visited Enova HQ last Tuesday (June 12) and had some positive things to say about the plan:

Mr Butler said he was ‘excited to support innovative projects like Enova’s Solar gardens’.

The gardens will  ‘make an important contribution towards reducing carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy future, in addition to allowing access to the benefits of solar for renters.’ Mr Butler added. 

With regards to the concept of a ‘solar garden’, the more literal of us are in luck. A feasibility study in Eastern Australia is currently doing research into solar gardens for renters and how viable the concept is. According to EnergyMatters, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has given $240,000 to the $555,00 project – which will be undertaken by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney.

We’ll be sure to keep you posted on how Enova’s community solar garden goes and also keep an eye on the feasibility study into the ‘real’ solar gardens. Some more great news for community solar!

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Solar Highways in China

There’s been a lot of information in the news lately about solar highways and we’re please to report on how one of the trials is going over in China. Solar roads are growing in popularity and we are seeing more trials pop up as the technology improves and becomes cheaper to implement. The myriad uses of solar roads (electric heating strips could melt snow, LEDs could warn drivers of any impending issues up ahead, or the roads could even charge electric vehicles down the track) mean there is a lot of research going on to try and make the tech tenable. Let’s look into it some more! 

Solar Highways in China and worldwide.

Solar Highways in China (source: YouTube)
Solar Highways in China (source: YouTube)

We wrote about solar roads in China last year and are pleased to report that we have an update on how the solar panel trial on a major highway in the city of Jinan has gone. The trial was lead by Pavenergy and Qilu Transportation with Pavenergy making the solar panels for Qilu, which is a state-owned company who operates the highway the solar road section is installed on.

The panels are made up of a complex polymer not unlike plastic – which means they have slightly more friction than normal roads – but this can be adjusted during the manufacturing profess to ensure it’s the right surface for cars. According to Today Online, normal asphalt (aka bitumen) roads cost around USD $120 per square metre each 10 years to resurface and repair. The solar road companies Pavenergy and Colas are hoping to reach USD $310 – $460 per square metre to install the solar roads – with around USD $15 of electricity being produced by each square meter of solar road each year. This means they could pay for themselves in comparison with conventional roads over a 15 year period. The problem now is the longevity of the panels – can they withstand big trucks driving over them every hour for 10 years? 

“If it can pass this test, it can fit all conditions,” said Mr Li Wu, the chairman of Shandong Pavenergy. 

Professor Zhang Hongchao, an engineering expert at Tongji University in Shanghai is helping Pavenergy with their research, which they expect to have further information on within the next 6-12 months. 

If you’re interested in reading more about solar roads then try our article about solar roads in Tokyo which are currently being installed for the upcoming Olympics in 2020. Another company rivalling Pavenergy and Qilu is a French company named Colas which has already developed 25 solar roads and solar parking lots in France, Canada and the USA. 

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Solar Battery Storage could rise 10x – AEMO

The latest Electricity Statement of Opportunities by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecasts a potential 10x increase in solar battery storage uptake. The statement of operations is produced annually by AEMO and helps them plan for projected installation of solar panels, batteries, and their capacity as the technology increases and Australia continues its march towards our Renewable Energy Target for 2030.

Solar Battery Storage and the AEMO

Solar Battery Storage (source: AEMO/RenewEconomy)
Solar Battery Storage (source: AEMO/RenewEconomy)

AEMO’s 2017 Electricity Statement of Opportunities helps us project the next 10 years of energy generation and runs simulations for different scenarios (changes in solar battery technology or peak demand, for example). It’s worth reading the whole thing but here are some interesting tidbits we picked up around the place:

An interesting note that Renew Economy picked up on is that peak demand (with an average of around 3,700MW for the last ten years) was at its second lowest level since 2009 in 2017 – largely in thanks to the high numbers of rooftop solar systems installed throughout the country. Being able to manage peak demand means that infrastructure won’t be as expensive and we simply don’t need as much energy – so it’s a great result!

Cameron Parrotte, the boss of AEMO in Western Australia, discussed the situation and what it means for Aussies:

“While there have been recent retirements of some fossil-fueled generators, new renewable generation capacity is enabling the RCT to be met within the defined reliability standard, and with significantly lower excess capacity than historically recorded”

There’s also some great news for Western Australian solar power, where the grid includes a ‘capacity market’ – making it a bit different than the other states. The report projects that the current amount of live and committed generation resources will meet forecast peak demand in the state’s South West interconnected system (SWIS), despite around 400MW of coal, gas and diesel being replaced by approximately the same amount of rooftop solar, large-scale wind and large-scale solar. If you want to read more about the Wholesale Electricity Market in Western Australia please click here.

Some great news for Australia’s energy future. There’s no doubt that we’ll see more and higher capacity solar batteries installed in houses over the next ten years, let’s see how accurate those projections are!

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Community solar in Mayo | Solar Communities Program

The Turnbull Government’s $5 million Solar Communities Program will help community solar in Mayo – a rural electorate in South Australia. Four grants have been provided to local community groups to help install solar/energy storage systems and reduce their electricity bills. 

Community Solar in Mayo

Community Solar in Mayo
Community Solar in Mayo (source: Wikipedia)

According to energy minister Josh Frydenberg, there are four community groups in mayo which will receive grants through the Solar Communities Program, of which round 2 closed on June 7 and allows application for grants of up to $12,500 for rural solar projects: 

  1. Strathalbyn Woolshed received $8,897 to buy and install a 13.11kW solar pv system in order to help minimise their electricity bill.
  2. Nairne Oval Committee received $11,590 for an energy storage system to complement the existing 15kW solar system at the Nairne and District Sporting Complex.
  3. Macclesfield Recreation Grounds Committee received $9,790 to buy and install a 13.11kW solar system. This will supply ~75% of the ground’s energy requirements.
  4. Hill Radio received $10,249 to buy and install a 6.27kW solar system with battery storage to help minimise their electricity bill.

The Solar Communities Program is being delivered by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science in conjunction with the Department of the Environment and Energy. The initial round of funding saw more than $2.8m delivered to 218 community groups. 150 groups are expected to be helped throughout round 2 of the Program.

The Solar Communities Program

According to a press release by Josh Frydenberg and reposted on the Renew Economy site, the program “provides funding for community groups in selected regions across Australia to install rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV), solar hot water and solar-connected battery systems to reduce their electricity costs.”

Here are some other examples of community solar in Australia:

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Lightsource BP offering residential PPAs

Lightsource BP, a UK based solar and smart energy solutions company, is preparing to move into the Australian market where they will offer residential rooftop PV solar power at no upfront cost – instead using the PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) model usually reserved for large-scale solar installs. 

Lightsource BP Solar in Australia

Lightsource BP in Australia
Lightsource BP in Australia (source: bp.com)

Lightsource Labs Australia Pty Ltd (LS Labs) have applied to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to launch their product, asking for an individual exemption to hold a retailer authorisation. The application says that LS Labs could launch their product in NSW, SA, QLD, and VIC within a couple of weeks, so all eyes on the regulator to see if they’re happy to grant the exemption.

The way LS Lab’s product will work is that they will supply, install, operate and maintain a solar array, batter and smart metering system to homes, and then sell the renewable power to the client at a fixed price under a PPA model. According to Renewables Now, the period of PPA could be up to 20 years and price per kWh will depend on the terms of each individual contract (i.e. it’ll be cheaper depending on how long the contract is). They also note that customers will be offered the opportunity to buy the system at any time after the second year of the PPA.

RenewEconomy is reporting that Lightsource BP partnered with French company Edf in the UK – using LG Chem batteries as part of the ‘Sunplug’ program. These PPAs were around 9.9p/kWh (~$0.18 AUD) so it’ll be interesting to see how this fares in the Australian market. 

Last month, Lightsource BP acquired Ubiworx Systems to help support a plan for the global launch of a smart-home solution. Kareen Boutonnat, COO of Lightsource BP, said at the time that the “power of the home” will be very important with regards to shaping the world’s “new energy future” – a situation where the energy market transcends monitoring and controlling of consumption, turning ‘smart homes’ into ‘genius homes’ (as we call them). Will be exciting to see where this goes over the next few years! 

 

 

 

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Solar roads in Tokyo for 2020 Olympics

The Tokyo metropolitan government have announced that they’ll build solar roads in Tokyo which will help Japan promote itself as an eco-friendly nation ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Let’s take a closer look at solar road technology and see how it’s working in other countries as well.

Solar roads in Tokyo

The country has already made some inroads with regards to trialling the solar road technology – in May a car park at a 7-11 in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. It consists of solar panels installed on the road, with a covering of a special resin which enhances durability and allows cars/bikes to drive over the panels without damaging them. 

A manager at the 7-11 store was quoted in the Independent as saying: “The solar road system can generate 16,145 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, covering about nine per cent of the entire electricity that the store consumes.”

Tokyo’s government has set a goal for 2030 – that renewable energy should represent at least 30% of power consumption in the city (up from 12% in 2016).  We’re not sure where the solar roads in Tokyo will go, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have any information.

Business Times reports that it cost around 5 million euro per KM of solar road for the roads already installed in France – so it’s still very expensive and we have a ways to go before solar roads are everywhere.

We reported last year on solar roads in China, which are strong enough for medium-sized trucks to drive over. No news yet on how that is going but we’ve got trials in the Netherlands on cycling roads and also on French motorways so there should be more information on solar road performance soon.

More Solar Roads

Solar roads in Tokyo
Solar roads in Tokyo (artist’s impression) (source: news.com.au)

If you’re interested in reading more about solar highways, here are some other articles which may be of interest – the tech is still very much so in its nascent stages so keep your eyes posted and we’ll keep you updated on everything solar road related!

SONOB Installation on Dutch Highways (IIPV) – solar panel sound barriers (SONOB) as part of a project replacing currently installed sound barriers. 

The ACT has a ‘solar highway’ which isn’t exactly a solar road per se, but a step in the right direction.

recent report by US firm IDTechEX advises that they think “electrically smart roads” can be a $23 billion industry in 10 years, according to an article from news.com.au. 

 

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UNSW’s Martin Green wins Global Energy Prize

Sydney professor Martin Green from UNSW has beaten out Tesla Musk to win the $820,000 Global Energy Prize for his work in the field of photovoltaics. Green will share the prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, who is an expert in the field of thermal power engineering.

Martin Green and the Global Energy Prize

Martin Green of UNSW
Martin Green of UNSW (source: Wikipedia)

Professor Green is Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW. According to the ABC he’s a leading specialist in both mono and polycrystalline ilicone sole cells, having invented the PERC solar cell (PERC cells represent just under a quarter of the world’s silicon cell manufacturing capacity (as of end of 2017)).

We’ve written plenty of articles about UNSW solar – they’re involved in general solar power research, have launched the SunSPoT solar potential tool, and they have also recently signed a 15-year corporate PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to become 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

In 1989, Professor Green and his team were responsible for the solar cells in the first photovoltaic system. In 2014 he was able to double 1989’s energy conversion efficiency of 20% to 40%. 

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs told the ABC that Professor Green had “delivered truly transformational outcomes in renewable energy for more than three decades”.

“Martin is a highly deserving recipient of this global prize and we warmly congratulate him,” he said.

“His fundamental and applied research has transformed the global energy sector and will continue to produce major economic and social benefits, both in Australia and worldwide.” Professor Jacobs continued. 

Professor Green said receiving the award was “a great honour”.

“The efficiency of solar modules is an area whose progress has been faster than many experts expected, and this is good news,” he said.

“We need to maintain the pace of research in Australia, not only to keep our international lead, but also to benefit society by providing a cheap, low carbon source of electricity.”

This is a fantastic reward for one of Australia’s solar stalwarts and we salute Professor Green for his ongoing work with solar power technology.

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Australia’s largest hospital solar power system at Port Macquarie

Australia’s largest hospital solar power system will be built at Port Macquarie Base Hospital as part of a $900,000 investment via the Mid North Coast Local Health District project. The hospital solar farm is projected to save the Port Macquarie Base Hospital around $130,000 in energy bills each year.

Australia’s largest hospital solar power system

The ABC is reporting that the hospital solar power system will generate 609kW and “significantly” reduce the site’s dependency on the grid. The project will involve installing more than 2,000 photovoltaic panels to cover most of the available roof space at the hospital. Queensland commercial solar power installer Solgen will be responsible for installing the panels, according to Port News

Hospital Solar - Solgen
Hospital Solar – Solgen (source: solgen.com.au)

Project manager for environmental sustainability for the Mid North Coast Local Health District, Danny Saunders, said that he expected other hospitals in a similar situation could follow suit with regards to installing solar on top of their roofs:

“They have large roofs and consumption day and night. It’s really the perfect storm for installing solar,” Mr Saunders said. He discussed how installing a large-scale solar project on top of a hospital is certainly not a new idea, and that he’s aware of a few others in various stages of completion:

“I know Canberra recently put in a very large system, and Adelaide and Bankstown is going through the process as well now.” 

“We just happen to have the largest one at the moment,” Mr Saunders said.

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams also weighed in on the project, with some effusive words:

“It makes perfect sense in an area like Port Macquarie, where we have one of the highest uptakes of rooftop solar, that we can do the same on our government facilities including our health facilities,” she said.

“Obviously hospitals have a huge expanse of rooftop available, and some 2030 panels will go up there, making a significant saving for the local health district that can be invested back into frontline services.”

The solar system is expected to be built by mid-July and will also include energy performance monitoring – with over 9,000 lights replaced with high efficiency LED lights. A great step into the future and we look forward to seeing more hospitals installing solar systems on the top. 

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Sanjeev Gupta: The ‘saviour of Whyalla’

Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance have some lofty goals to help move Australia’s energy future in the right direction. A recent presentation has revealed more about the company’s plans and some of its revised energy targets. 

Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance

Sanjeev Gupta - CEO of GFG Alliance (source: whyallanewsonline.com.au)
Sanjeev Gupta – CEO of GFG Alliance (source: whyallanewsonline.com.au)

Mr Gupta was due to speak in Australia this week but a late change saw a colleague discuss GFG Alliance‘s plans to help shape Australia’s solar future

Presenting at the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition in Adelaide,Liam Reid, the head of power business development at GFG Alliance, said the company’s initial plan for 1 gigawatt of power supplies has been upgraded 10x – to 10GW.

“Sanjeev has asked us to go hard on solar,” Reid said. “We want to make more that what we can possibly consume, and share elsewhere.”

The basis of this program is up to 1GW of solar to be constructed in and around Whyalla, so more great news for South Australian  solar. Reid told the solar conference that the first step is an 80MW solar farm “behind the meter” near the Whyalla Steelworks, and after this they will install 200MW of grid connected solar on property owned by GFG Alliance.

According to the Whyalla News Online, GFG Alliance will also be investigating the installation of a pumped hydro energy storage plant with an approximate size of 90MW / 390MWh (for the first project – presumably subsequent pumped hydro could store even more).

GFG plan on utilising depleted mine pits to “unlock a legacy of past activity for the benefit of future generations”

A 120MW / 140MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility will also be installed in Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Lastly, GFG are also hard at work trying to offer solar and energy storage solutions for GFG employees, and have also got their eye set on solar projects at many industrial and distribution sites in Australia.

We look forward to seeing what GFG come up with over the next 18 months and applaud their hard work in spreading the renewable message to Australia.

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