Darling Downs Solar Update | Jobs, Farms & More

Darling Downs solar is helping the area by providing jobs to locals and kickstarting the economy – with one council already approving $6b worth of wind and solar projects. There’s now a ‘buzz’ around the Darling Downs and renewable energy – let’s take a look at what they have in the pipeline!

Darling Downs Solar 

Darling Downs Solar Farm
Darling Downs Solar Farm (source: Origin Energy)

“We’ve got $1.2 billion of that under construction now, and that’s the exciting thing, this isn’t just about approvals, this is about action to deliver renewable energies to this region,” Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said in comments to the ABC

“And we know there are another three [solar farms] in the pipeline.”

In Warwick, the 154,000 megawatt UQ / Warwick Solar Farm to be installed on ‘good agricultural land’ has had to wage a battle against NIMBY detractors. Mayor Tracy Dobie defended her decision (she had the deciding vote to allow the farm DA):

“This region is about growth and development and we can sit here and go poor slowly or we can progress our region and the more development we can get in our region the more jobs,” Ms Dobie said.

“The more progress we can make, the better off we are.”

Mayor Dobie continued to discuss the project and what she sees the future of renewable energy in the Darling Downs as looking like:

“This is a turning point in our region to show we are moving forward, that we are looking to the future, and there is nothing more evident than that than renewable energy.

“There’s a buzz about the Darling Downs, this is a great place to be and great time to be here.”

Toowoomba Solar

There’s been an amazing amount of renewable energy movement in Toowoomba – with the billion dollar project at Bulli Creek approved by the Tooowoomba Council. This will be built by Solar Choice over a 10 year staggered period. 

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio spoke about the concerns some residents may have and why he’s happy to continue approving solar farms:

“I guess we have to be a bit cautious of the type of land we put it on, but in saying that, the land is restorable, its not going to be destroyed in any mining effort or anything like that, and in 20, 30, 40 years’ time that land will be back to full production.”

Have a look at the short video below from ABC Landline which was part of an article about using ‘good farmland’ for solar farms. 

Read More Solar News:

Half price solar for Victorians in $1.2b plan.

Half price solar in conjunction with solar loans will be available to Victorians under a $1.2b plan announced by the state government over the weekend.

Half price solar for Victorians

Half Price Solar for Victorians
Half Price Solar for Victorians (source: premier.vic.gov.au)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $1.24 billion solar plan yesterday. According to the press release the Labor Government released on their website, Victorians will save around $890 / year if they are interested in being part of the half price solar scheme – which involves 50% off solar panels and no upfront cost. The second 50% will be in the form of a solar loan from the government – but to get this loan the Andrews Government will need to be re-elected and implement it from July 2019. 

Premier Andrews has an ongoing argument with the federal government over the National Energy Guarantee – so this is a shot across the bow of Malcolm Turnbull who has recently decided to abolish all energy targets inside the NEG. 

“I can’t give you an answer on the NEG because I don’t know what the NEG actually means, this thing is changing every 24 hours,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

 
Not wanting to see a repeat of the pink batts insulation fiasco, an independent agency named Solar Victoria will work with the industry, regulators, and training organisations to ensure the quality of installs is high. Around $9m will be spent to support accreditation of up to 4,500 electricians. Looks like there will be plenty of solar jobs in Victoria if they’re able to get this project over the line.
 
The Victorian Government are hoping to bring solar power to 650,000 households over the next ten years with the Solar Homes program, which they are investing $68m in to launch immediately.
 
Click here to view the Media Release, entitled ‘Cutting power bills with solar panels for 650,000 homes’. 
 
 

Read More Solar News:

Susan River Solar Farm Construction Commences

The up-to 100MW and $175m Susan River Solar Farm located between Hervey Bay and Maryborough in Queensland is commencing construction this month after being granted DA in 2016.

Susan River Solar Farm

Susan River Solar Farm
Susan River Solar Farm Mockup (source: http://susanriversolarfarm.com.au/)

The Susan River Solar Farm was granted DA (development approval) by the Fraser Coast Regional Council in December 2016 and is now commencing its construction, with roadworks already underway to ensure the infrastructure is set up correctly before building commences. The project is being developed by one of Australia’s biggest renewable energy developers – ESCO Pacific Pty Ltd. They currently have nine solar farms in various stages of completion – with three under construction (The Ross River Solar Farm, Childers Solar Farm, and Susan River Solar Farms) and six with planning secured. These six are in Rollingstone, Dino, Horsham, Koberinga, Moura, and Finley.

With regards to solar employment at the Susan River Solar Farm, Esco chief executive Steve Rademaker said the project will create up to 300 jobs during its inception and five to ten full-time jobs after the plant’s construction is complete. He went on to explain why the Fraser Coast location was ideal for their solar farm:

“Choosing a location came down to the suitable size identification and proximity to the electrical grid, among other factors,” Mr Rademaker said.

“The Fraser Coast ticked all these boxes. It’s a good location to build a project like this.”

According to the Fraser Coast Chronicle, the project will occupy 176 hectares and will involve the installation of 350,000 PV solar panels. 

Fraser Coast infrastructure councillor Denis Chapman called it a “jewel in the crown” of the Fraser Coast. 

The project doesn’t have a PPA (Purchase Power Agreement) signed yet, which means the farm will sell its output on the spot market once launched (unless they sign one first!).

The utility scale renewable energy project is expected to finish completion next year. 

Read More Solar News:

Solar Panel Recycling | ELSi Project in Germany

Solar panel recycling – German engineering company Geltz Umwelt-Technologie has successfully developed an advanced recycling plant for obsolete or ageing solar panels. This has been funded by the EU and is known as the ELSi project. 

Solar Panel Recycling and Geltz

Solar Panel Recycling - Geltz
Solar Panel Recycling – Geltz (source: geltz.de)

Phys.Org have been reporting an interview with Fabian Geltz from Geltz Umwelt-Technologie:

“Solar module layers are bonded together with polymers that make mechanical separation and treatment of solar module components almost impossible,” said Geltz.

Exploring ways to ensure that valuable components do not end up in landfills was at the heart of ELSi’s mission. “Up until now, there has not been any technical solution to recycle and separate the valuable materials from the mixed scrap. The critical step in the recycling process is therefore the destruction of the polymer layers,” Geltz noted.

The main issue is deciding which parts of the panel are good to recycle, and how to salvage the used panels without too much energy/cost. 

ELSi came up with a very clever idea to solve this problem. Using an energy-efficient pyrolysis process (which involves decomposition brought about by high temperatures), fellow research partners were able to to dissolve the unwanted polymer layers and detach the glass inside the solar panels. This process allowed ELSi to separate and recover aluminium, glass, silver, copper, tin and silicon in their pure forms.

“Thanks to the successful recovery of materials and components, the unusable solar module can become a valuable source of raw materials for the future,” the company advised.

According to Phys.Org, the new facility could process around 50,000 solar modules every year. As solar power technology increases and we start seeing more used old solar panels, it’s fantastic there’s a way we can work on salvage and reclamation so we don’t just needlessly waste the materials. 

Solar recycling is only going to get bigger as the industry grows – so it’s super important to improve this technology before we end up with a surfeit of old solar panels causing damage to the environment.

Read More Solar News:

National Energy Guarantee approved by Coalition party room

The NEG (National Energy Guarantee) has been passed by the Coalition party room after a strenuous morning of debate – let’s take a look at what happens next. 

Next Steps For National Energy Guarantee

NEG - National Energy Guarantee
NEG – National Energy Guarantee (source: ABC News: Matt Roberts)

We wrote earlier this week about the NEG approval and how Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has a very hard road ahead if he’s to push this policy through parliament:

“The Labor Party has to decide whether they want to support cheaper and more reliability electricity,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We have got to bring an end to the years of ideology and idiocy which have been a curse on energy policy for too long and that is why industry – whether you’re talking about big industrial consumers or small business, consumer groups  – are calling on government, governments, and oppositions to get behind this policy.”

The four issues which we discussed earlier this week are still in a state of flux:

  1. The emission reduction targets can only ever increase and must not decrease.
  2. Targets need to be set in regulation (Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has already rejected it).
  3. Emission reduction targets must be set every three years, three years in advance.
  4. Creation of a registry which is transparent and accessible by regulators and governments.

The opposition (federal Labor) are also in favour of the NEG but they want the 2030 emissions reduction target increased from 26% to 45%:

“We are still very keen on trying to find a bipartisan way through the deep energy crisis that has emerged under this Prime Minister,” shadow energy and climate change minister Mark Butler said.

“We will continue to fight for a much more ambitious investment setting for this sector so you do see new renewable energy jobs and investment and you do see downward pressure on power prices.”

According to former PM Tony Abbot, the NEG still needs a lot of work as most of its support is currently ‘conditional’ and at least a dozen members of the Coalition had expressed concern about the NEG. Abbot said that the provided explanations of how the NEG “might theoretically get prices down” sounded “like merchant bankers’ gobbledegook”:

‘We’ve got to be loyal to our electorates and to party members too and not show the unity of lemmings.’,” Mr Abbott continued.

The Australian Financial Review has the numbers at 26 MPs supporting the policy and around 10 yet to be convinced. 

For the next steps, the state ministers will be asked to support a month long public consultation on laws which will affect their constituents. The state legislation should then be finalised by the end of October and we’ll see what sort of shape (if any) the NEG is at that point. Federal legislation tied to the NEG will be introduced within the next 10 days. 

 

 

Read More Solar News:

Cubbie Solar Farm | Solar Power in Resources

Cubbie Solar Farm – Nasdaw listed company VivoPower said this Monday that its wholly owned Australia subsidiary, Aevitas, has been chosen to build the solar project at Cubbie Station in South West Queensland.

Cubbie Solar Farm

Cubbie Solar Farm
Cubbie Solar Farm (source: cubbie.com.au)

Cubbie Station, located in Dirranbandi in South West Queensland, is the largest irrigation property in the southern hemisphere and as such has very significant power and water requirements. Since January 2013, the Cubbie Ag property group is owned by CS Agriculture Pty Ltd. The major stakeholder of this company is Ruyi Australia Group, who manage Australian operations on behalf of Ruyi Group, a Chinese multinational company.  They’ve been spending this year working on getting a solar farm up which will be able to supply around 40% of the station’s power requirements during its peak season (April to September). 

Stage 1 of the project will involve the creation of  3.5MWDC Solar Farm Non-export generation – to do this ~9,800 solar panels will need to be mounted onto a fixed structure and wired through to the inverter. Aevitas Group Limited was awarded the EPC (Engineering design, Procurement and Construction) contract last week, as per a press release posted on the Nasdaq website

Cubbie Ag have a plan for the future as well – they are aiming to provide power to Dirranbandi and St George as the project grows and generates more renewable energy. According to One Step Off The Grid, their goal is to expand the solar farm to 7.2MW and also add battery storage to it.

Solar power in resources and commercial solar have both been growing in leaps and bounds (and often in conjunction) so it’s exciting to see more of these projects coming to fruition. Solar power for farms and business are popping up very frequently. 

The Cubbie Solar Farm is expected to commence construction in October and will be operable by the end of the year.

Read More Solar News:

National Energy Guarantee Approval – Next Steps

National Energy Guarantee Approval – the NEG has been approved by the states and territories of Australia ‘in principle’ – allowing it to move to the next step. There’s still plenty of discussion to go before we see anything signed off, but it’s a step in the right direction for those who believe in the NEG and its ostensible goal of cheaper, more reliable power with less carbon emissions.

National Energy Guarantee Approval

National Energy Guarantee Approval - Malcolm Turnbull
National Energy Guarantee Approval – Malcolm Turnbull (source: yourlifechoices.com.au)

As with most political decisions in this country, there is a lot of posturing and point scoring going on – depending on who you ask, it’s either a ‘great step forward’ or the governments ‘withholding support’. Regardless of the case, the Federal Government has now released a draft of the energy bill which will be taken to next week’s party room meeting for approval. If you want to learn more about what happened with the NEG during the week, please click here

The states want to see detailed legislation and some of them have ‘red line’ conditions which must be met before they fit in to the National Energy Guarantee – there’s still a long way before any of this becomes law in Australia.

Victoria were especially strident in their remarks about the NEG. Victoria’s Energy Minister, Labor’s Lily D’Ambrosio, said agreeing to the plan today would be like signing “with a blindfold on”. advising that they won’t support it unless the following four demands are met:

  1. The emission reduction targets can only ever increase and must not decrease.
  2. Targets need to be set in regulation (this one’s going to be a bit of a problem as Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has already rejected it).
  3. Emission reduction targets must be set every three years, three years in advance.
  4. Creation of a registry which is transparent and accessible by regulators and governments.

The emissions reduction target in the NEG is to bring down emissions in the electricity sector by 26 per cent by 2030.

COAG Energy Ministers will have another discussion after the Coalition Party Room meeting on Tuesday. Watch this space! We’ll keep you posted.

Read More Solar News:

Parker Solar Probe to launch tomorrow!

The Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s new spacecraft designed to “touch the sun” will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at some point tomorrow.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe Orbital Trajectory
Parker Solar Probe Orbital Trajectory (source: NASA)

Whilst this isn’t as solar power focused our usual articles, the Parker Solar Probe is interesting for a number of reasons – it’s going to get closer to the sun than ever before and will teach us things we never knew about it. What will the ramifications be for us, trying to harvest energy from this gigantic star? Will we learn more about solar panel technology? We probably won’t have an answer for that for a while, but read on if you feel like a bit more info on this exciting project:

The $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe will be the first NASA science mission to launch aboard one of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rockets. If they manage to launch successfully tomorrow, that will represent the 10th launch using the Delta IV, according to Scott Messer, NASA’s program manager for ULA launches.

“This thing goes like nothing has ever gone before,” Messer said of the massive rocket.

The Parker Solar Probe, named for scientist Eugene Parker who came up with the concept of ‘solar wind’, will learn more about how the sun energises matter enough to escape its gravity and spread out into the atmosphere.

“The sun is a star, and it’s alive every second,” says Nour Raouafi, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab solar physicist who is the deputy project scientist for this mission, in comments to Vox.

“And we are sending a spacecraft that is going to fly in this very atmosphere. This is making history.”

If everything goes will with the launch tomorrow, Space.com have advised that the spacecraft will make its first ‘close’ pass above the sun this November. It’ll actually take around seven years to get a super close look at the solar atmosphere (aka ‘the corona’ – which sounds like something out of Westworld, but I digress…), so there’s still a bit of a wait!

Enjoy your weekend!

Read More Solar News:

Hornsdale Power Reserve saves $8.9m in 6months

Hornsdale Power Reserve – also known as the Tesla South Australia battery, the 129MWh solar/energy storage battery has saved the state $8.9m in six months, according to Renew Economy and their analysis of spot market pricing in 2018.

Hornsdale Power Reserve

Hornsdale Power Reserve
Hornsdale Power Reserve (source: hornsdalepowereserve.com.au)

The cost of the Hornsdale Power Reserve hasn’t been made public, but at ~$800 per installed kWh the cost comes out to around $100m (with around $50m paid by the government), which fits the whispers we’re hearing around the traps.

The partnership between Tesla and South Australia was inked in July last year as Elon Musk and then-Premier Jay Weatherill decided on Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm as an installation spot. The Tesla Battery was then completed on November 24, ahead of its December 1 operation deadline (Musk made a bet with Weatherill/South Australia that Tesla would install the Powerpack batteries by December 1 or the project would be free).

According to an analysis undertaken by RenewEconomy and investigated further by Clean Technica, The battery saved $5.7m in its second quarter of operation. It bought power at an average price of $79/MWh and sells it at $191/MWh (a figure somewhat distorted by a very power-hungry January – with that month removed the price goes down to $141/MWh). The estimated savings for the full 2018 are expected to be around $18m. 

It’s important to note that the battery is still trading 30MW (of its total 100MW) of capacity so there is space to expand operations should the government be so inclined. 

If you’d like to read a more detailed account of how much money the Hornsdale Power Reserve has saved South Australia in 2018 click here to read Stephen Parker and Bruce Mountain of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre investigate the economics of energy generation/storage.

If you’d like to see more stats on how the HPR is going, price-wise – there’s a rolling 72 hour graph of each battery charge/discharge with spot price data available via this link.

 

 

Read More Solar News:

Global wind and solar statistics – 1 Terawatt reached!

Global wind and solar statistics – Bloomberg New Energy Finance are reporting that global wind and solar energy capacity reached the 1TW milestone at the end of June this year.

Global wind and solar statistics

Global wind and solar statistics - Wikipedia
Global wind and solar statistics (source: wikipedia.org) (By Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1372121)

According to Wikipedia, renewable energy contributed 19.3% to global energy consumption and 24.5% to the generation of electricity in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This has risen sharply in the past couple of years and research indicates that we will continue to speed above and beyond the trillion watts – which is 1 million MW, or a billion kW, if that makes it easier to understand!

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) release a report this week which is based on their comprehensive and up-to-date database of renewable energy projects. The report notes that 54% of the renewable energy generated was from wind, and 46% represents solar power. This is interesting as it shows how quickly solar is reaching wind power – in 2007 we had 8GW of capacity (around 8% of the world’s renewable energy) – in comparison to wind power which had 89GW.  According to Renew Economy this represents a gigantic increase of 57x of solar’s 2007 statistics. 

With one terawatt out of the way, Business Green have been crunching the numbers with regards to the second one, which will undoubtedly be far faster and far cheaper than the first:

“The BNEF analysts predict that the pace of renewables rollout will accelerate even more in the coming years, with the second terawatt expected to arrive by mid-2023.”

It looks like wind and solar will produce more power than coal in America within the next 10 years. How will the figures be for the rest of the world? How will Australia go given the future of our National Energy Guarantee is shaky at best (not to mention it’s receiving plenty of criticism in either case). How will solar battery storage affect these figures? Will the huge influx of commercial solar system installations help us reach the next terawatt much faster? Watch this space. It’s going to be an exciting few years for renewable energy! 

 

Read More Solar News: