New England Solar Farm

UPC Renewables Australia is developing the New England Solar Farm, a major grid-connected solar farm in the Uralla Shire. Let’s take a look at the project and some of the opposition it’s currently up against.

New England Solar Farm

New England Solar Farm (source:newenglandsolarfarm.com.au)
New England Solar Farm Proposed Location (source:newenglandsolarfarm.com.au)

The 2700ha project will be 600-800MW depending on what approval UPC are able to get from the Uralla Shire Council. They’ve promised $150,000 – $200,000 a year for 25 years for the local community to go towards funding, partnerships, education, tourism and more. 

According to the official website, up to 500 jobs will be made during the construction of the solar farm (around 36 months) and if the New England Solar Farm ends up with battery storage (which is looking very possible), more jobs will be created. 

The farm is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power around 250,000 homes in New South Wales.

New England Solar Farm Opposition

We’ve seen a bit of solar farm opposition lately – it’s good to see companies being held to account, but the legitimacy of the claims seem to vary quite widely. The proposed New England Solar Farm has resulted in the creation of The Uralla, Walcha Community Action Group for Responsible Solar and Wind Development, a group of residents who would like the southern side of the project to be cancelled, citing social, economic and environmental impacts.

“It’s obvious that the north west more than anywhere else in the state has more at risk,” the group’s advisor Mark Fogarty said in comments repeated by the Northern Daily Leader.

“Therefore it’s imperative that the community entrust with the councils the right planning authority to ensure the balance between development and community interest.”

In response, UPC Renewables have reduced the project’s southern area by 50%, according to Killian Wentrup from UPC. 

“Landowners across the proposed site and many others in the wider community support our plans and the benefits it can bring to Uralla,” he said. 

As another example, the Bookaar solar farm was rejected last year. There’s no news on reapplying on their website, with a news article on their site noting that the Corangamite Shire will ‘miss out on local jobs and $150m of investment’. It’s a bit of a touchy subject as there are certainly some farms which need to go back to the drawing board before they’re approved, but there is also a surfeit of NIMBYs with some…interesting ideas as to what people should be able to do with their own property. 

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Solar in Esperance – Micro Power Systems Coming.

Solar in Esperance – Micro Power Systems will be installed across 14 properties this year to help stabilise their grid and offer access to renewable energy.

Solar in Esperance

Solar in Esperance, WA has been an issue for a while as the existing powerlines are easily downed – winds, trees, or lightning strikes can make for some very expensive repairs. 

Esperance its a town on the south coast of Western Australia. The McGowan Government in Western Australia has proposed that 13 Micro Power Systems (MPS) be installed in the area, in order to deliver a “safer, more cost efficient and reliable power supply to remote customers in the Esperance region”, according to the official media statement on the Government of Western Australia website.

Rural solar is a big issue in Australia so it’s fantastic to see governments working on combating this by offering modern solutions. The MPS’ will be supplied by state-owned corporation Horizon Power who are currently tasked with supplying energy to 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses over a whopping 2.3 million square kilometres, according to Solar Quotes. The MPS devices include solar panels, battery storage and a backup diesel generator in case the battery is empty and the sun’s not shining. 

Energy Minister Bill Johnston provided some quotes on his website with regards to the new plan:

“The MPS project for Esperance highlights the McGowan Government’s commitment to transitioning to renewable energy technologies at the lowest cost possible to taxpayers.

“These farmers are at the fringe of the power grid, east of Esperance and the Condingup area, where reliability isn’t as good and power outages take longer to restore” Minister Johnston said.

“The MPS will provide the farmers with more reliable and safe power that will cost the State less to provide.”

Solar in Esperance - Energy Minister Bill Johnston
Solar in Esperance – Energy Minister Bill Johnston

CPS National, an Australian company with over 20 years of experience in critical power and remote area power solutions, will deliver and install the systems.

Construction the on micro power systems will begin in April and is expected to be completed, with the systems fully operational, by the end of this year. 

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the company installing these MPS’, I have embedded a video about CPS below.

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Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications.

Tesla in 2019 – As the company rockets towards uncharted waters it’s very difficult to predict what Tesla will do in 2019. 

Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications?

Tesla in 2019 - Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)
Tesla in 2019 – Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)

Electrek are reporting that Tesla announced they are unveiling the Model Y solar car on March 14 – an ‘all-electric crossover based on the Model 3’. It’ll be announced in Los Angeles at Tesla Design Studio in Hawthrone, California. 

A shareholder’s letter released last month for Q4 2018 notes that ‘volume production’ of the Model Y should commence by the end of next year (and it’ll probably be done at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada).

“Additionally, this year we will start tooling for Model Y to achieve volume production by the end of 2020, most likely at Gigafactory 1.”

Tesla confirmed their plans for Model Y production at Gigafactory 3 in China at a ground-breaking ceremony back in February.

Although the Tesla electric cars aren’t necessarily to do with solar power per se, Tesla’s impending success or lack thereof relies fairly heavily on these devices. CEO Elon Musk needs the electric cars to succeed to ensure the company has enough money to work on its myriad other projects. They have a lot of competition from other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi who will likely announce their electric automobiles this month.

Some concerns are the Model Y totally cannibalising the Model 3 sales – with the $35,000 Model 3 and the Model X now only available online to lower costs for the financially embattled company. Their shares fell almost 10% last Friday amidst the slew of announcements. 

With regards to solar, Tesla’s main projects are the Powerwall 2, the Tesla solar roof, the commercial scale solar battery storage Tesla Powerpack 2, and potentially the announcement of a Tesla Powerwall 3 release date. To be frank it’s a bit concerning to see all the blood in the water around Tesla right now – let’s cross our fingers for some great results in 2019 for the company. 

 

 

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Cape York Battery Power Plant

The $150m Cape York Battery Power Plant is being developed by solar battery developer Lyon Group and will include Australia’s first large dispatchable solar generator.

Cape York Battery Power Plant 

Cape York Battery Power Plant
Cape York Battery Power Plant Team – David Green, Chairman, Lyon Group. Hendrik Gordenker, Chairman, JERA. Jan Teichmann, Vice President, Global Markets, Fluence. (source: lyoninfrastructure.com.au)

The Cape York Battery Power Plant will be the first large scale dispatchable solar energy generator in Australia’s national energy market. 

It will be built by Lyon Group in conjunction with Japanese energy company JERA. JERA have an astounding 74GW of solar on their portfolio, so there will be a very experienced team working on the project. 

“The Cape York Battery Power Plant will be the first fully integrated grid-connected large dispatchable solar peaker in Australia if not the world,” said Lyon Group chair David Green. 

“It is a $150 million commitment to new peaking generation and a stronger grid in north Queensland.

“The 20MW/80MWh Fluence battery-based energy storage system plus 55MWac solar generation will dispatch firm clean energy through a single connection point, using a single power plant controller.” he continued.

The Cape York Battery Power Plant will also include Australia’s first four-hour duration battery system, which makes it the first large scale dispatchable solar energy generator in Australia’s national energy market. 

Satoshi Yajima, Senior Vice President of Power Generation Business, JERA had some interesting things to say with regards to the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy: 

“JERA’s global generation fleet is mostly fossil fuel powered at present, but the company believes that Australia and most other countries will rapidly move beyond 50 percent renewable energy.

A very large volume of utility-scale battery storage will be required to achieve and move beyond 50 per cent renewable energy.

The Cape York Battery Power Plant is a small power plant within JERA’s portfolio, but we see this project as lighting the way to expand our renewables portfolio.”

Construction on the generator will start early this year after it secured its generator performance standard this week. This is one of the first projects to pass the new, more stringent grid connection requirements implemented in 2018. Can’t wait to see what this looks like when it’s complete and investigate some of the savings it brings. 

 

 

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Solar Investment in India – 1.25GW in tenders.

Solar Investment in India – some Indian states have issued tenders for renewable energy (wind and solar) – these tenders total 1.25 gigawatts and promise to be a huge step in the right direction for the country. 

Solar Investment in India – 1.25 gigawatt solar/wind tenders

Solar Investment in India
Solar Investment in India (source: @naveedahmed via Unsplash)

Solar Investment in India continues to grow – with three Indian states announcing 1.5 gigawatt in renewable tenders this week. 

According to a post on Clean Technica, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh have invited developers to set up hybrid projects (solar/wind) with energy storage as well. Under the tender terms, each company can bid to install 60-200 megawatts of power. 

In Maharashtra, they are pushing hard to get some big new solar numbers – the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has recommended an installed capacity target of 800 megawatts for the state by March 2022. The state already has 1.3 gigawatts of solar power capacity and plans are in motion to add another 3.2 GW in the next 2 years, so there’s still a ways to go. They have recently put out a separate tender for another gigawatt of solar power – with bidders offering up to 1.9 gigawatts for the 1 gigawatt price. Companies bidding for this tender include Avaada Energy and Adani Green Energy (bid to set up 500 MW each), Acme Solar and ReNew Power (bid to set up 300 MW each), Tata Power (150 MW), and Orange Renewables (100MW). 

As for India as a whole, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will also launch separate tenders for 60 gigawatts of capacity by March 2020. According to data from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India currently has 25 gigawatts of solar, with another 36.6 under construction or auctioned. There are also 35 gigawatts of wind energy commissioned, and 9.4 gigawatts under construction.

It’s an exciting time for solar and renewable energy in India – we’ll be pleased to keep reporting on this massive country going green and some of the statistics that come from that. 

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