Sunshine Energy Project groundbreaking ceremony.

The Sunshine Energy project in south east Queensland had its groundbreaking ceremony last week. Not everybody’s happy about it, though. Let’s take a look at the plans for the farm and its opposition.

Sunshine Energy Project groundbreaking ceremony.

Sunshine Energy Project groundbreaking ceremony.
Sunshine Energy Project groundbreaking ceremony. (source: Twitter @GlennButcherMP)

The Sunshine Energy project is a 1500MW solar energy facility with 500MW storage planned. There is a provision to extend the farm to 200MW so we will see what happens after the farm is launched and its output measured. It’ll be built by Sunshine Energy Australia Pty Ltd who will invest ~$2.5m USD in the project. 

Glenn Butcher, member for Gladstone and Assistant Minister for Treasury, posted up a picture of the groundbreaking ceremony on his Twitter account, saying “Queensland is continuing to lead the country with solar projects. Early ground breaking ceremony today for Sunshine Energy Australia’s $2 billion 1500 megawatt (MW) solar farm, with a 500 MW battery storage.”

However there has been some solar farm oppositionaccording to Solar Quotes, local resident Anthony Crombie has launched legal action to try and retract the Sunshine Energy Project’s approval. Mr. Crombie will see Somerset Council and Sunshine Energy Australia in the Planning and Environment Court this year. If you’d like to see his Change.org petition (currently supported by 241 people) please click here. It looks like the usual issues with residents and nearby solar farms are being cited. The usage of ‘prime beef cattle grazing land’ for a solar farm is also disputed. 

As per his petition, Mr Crombie is worried that the solar farm will ruin the scenic D’Aguilar Highway and be an eyesore: “(the) size and scale of the development will render the rural landscape unrecognizable.” He’s also concerned about 80 heavy vehicles driving on the highway, as there are few passing lanes and it has already been acknowledged as being ‘dangerous and problematic’ according to an RACQ survey.

Supporter comment on the petition: “These disgraceful things are heavily subsidised and cannot compete with Coal or Gas..If we export Coal and other countries use it efficiently why can’t we.?”

Any thoughts on that one? Sound off in the comments. You can also follow the case as it goes through the courts by clicking on this link.

 

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SRES – Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity?

Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity? Yesterday The Australian newspaper published an article titled ‘Households’ $2bn solar hit’ which hypothesises that every Australian household will have to stump up $195 to help subsidise the subsidies. Is this rubbish? What impact does the SRES really have on electricity prices? Let’s read on…

SRES – Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity?

Ketan Joshi via Renew Economy wrote a great article titled “How a ridiculous falsehood about solar power self-replicated in media”. You can read it on Ketan’s blog (ketanjoshi85) by clicking here. The “$2b solar hit” is a sum which has been basically made up through some extremely shoddy extrapolations.

The article in the Australian was run with by a number of Australia’s most trusted media outlets – News.com.au, 7 News, Sky News, the Today Show, and the consistently atrocious Daily Mail – who titled their article about the rebates thusly: 

“Climate change farce: How every Australian household contributes $200 a year to those lucky enough to be able to afford to put solar panels on their roof”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor decided to blame the big electricity retailers:

‘The big cost is the profits being taken by the big energy companies in the wholesale market, without innovation or new products, and it is time for them to deliver a fairer deal for their customers,’ he said.

‘According to the Australian Energy Market Commission, the small-scale technology certificate cost is less than three per cent of the bill, whereas 46 per cent is going to the big generator retailers.’

The Renew Economy article notes that, for FY18 and FY19 respectively, Australians paid/will pay $19 / $32 towards the scheme. This is a stark contrast to the $134 / $195 which was reported. It appears that the figures are so badly skewed for a number of different reasons including the assumption that 100% of electricity costs are passed on from businesses to households. They also haven’t factored in the Small-scale Technology Percentage, which will be set by the Energy Minister in March – and the effect this will have on STCs is quite marked. Installing solar power systems becomes cheaper if the STCs are higher, so you can see how this would have an impact which could be measured erroneously. It’ll be interesting to see how this impacts on solar grants moving forwards. 

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (aka SRES) is scheduled to run until 2030. If you’d like to read more about it please visit the Clean Energy Regulator’s website – where they have plenty of information about the scheme. 

We’d also recommend Ketan’s article for a more in depth exploration of the issue.

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Scientia Professor Martin Green | The ‘father of photovoltaics’

Scientia Professor Martin Green, the inventor of PERC solar cells also known as the ‘father of photovoltaics’, has been awarded the Global Energy Prize for his research; the first Australian to win the prestigious award.

Scientia Professor Martin Green | The ‘father of photovoltaics’

Scientia Professor Martin Green is also known as the ‘father of photovoltaics’. In 2014 he was the head of the team who were able to crack the 40% barrier for energy efficiency conversion, and we wrote last year about his victory to win the prestigious Global Energy Prize worth more than $820,000.  According to the UNSW website, his research group is the largest and best-known university-based photovoltaic research group in the world.

As the inventor of the PERC solar cells, (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) Professor Green has a very impressive pedigree with regards to his solar research and knowledge. His official title is Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW – and he focused on inventing the widely used PERC solar cells.

“The PERC cells pioneered by UNSW now reflect 50% of world production. During that time, we’ve seen solar move from expensive energy to inexpensive energy.  Our work on PERC has driven that.” Professor Green said. 

A report on the UNSW website notes the large amount of PERC solar cells being sold is increasing year-on-year, and gave us some statistics on the future of these cells:

“PERC solar cells are now becoming a commercial standard throughout the world, with sales exceeding US$10 billion in 2017 and predicted to exceed US$1 trillion by 2040. Their use is predicted to save at least $750 million in power production costs in Australia alone over the next decade.” the article states.

UNSW and solar power have been synonymous over the past few years as they roll out such as a $29.2m grant for solar cell research

Professor Green will be speaking at the Research Excellence Summit: Asia-Pacific at UNSW Sydney on 19-21 February. 

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Shell buys Sonnen | Cheaper Solar Batteries?

Shell buys sonnen: German solar battery company Sonnen has been bought out by global giant Shell for an undisclosed sum. The purchase is still subject to regulatory approval but let’s take a look at what we can expect from this situation.

Shell buys Sonnen

sonnenProtect aka Sonnen Protect 1300/2500 (source: sonnen)
Shell Buys sonnen – sonnenProtect 1300/2500 (source: sonnen.com)

Mark Gainsborough, executive vice-president of Shell New Energies, discussed the purchase: “Sonnen is one of the global leaders in smart, distributed energy storage systems,” he said.

“Full ownership of Sonnen will allow us to offer more choice to customers seeking reliable, affordable and cleaner energy.”

Shell New Energies was founded in 2016 to ‘advance the company’s interests in electricity, as well as biofuel and hydrogen’.

According to the ABC, sonnen’s new location in Adelaide will reap benefits: the local workforce is expected to expand by 430 jobs this year. This is part of sonnen’s plan to build 50,000 battery systems over the next five years.

sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann said the investment will help the company scale faster and will also have a greater good in terms of energy tech:

“Shell will help drive the growth of Sonnen to a new level and help speed up the transformation of the energy system,” he said.

Ars Technica are reporting that the company have over 40,000 batteries installed worldwide – in Germany, the US, Australia, and more. 

Shell last week confirmed they will extend New Energies into the Australian domestic market – which includes the construction of a 120MW solar project in Queensland – so this is a great step forward for him. 

More News about sonnen in Australia

sonnen have quite a lot of history providing solar power in Australia – it remains to be seen what the Shell takeover will mean for the area, but in the meantime here are some other news articles about sonnen in Australia:

 

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Solar in Space – China’s Plans Revealed.

Chinese media are reporting that solar in space may not be as far off as we think – they’re revealed plans to build a power station orbiting the earth. Let’s take a look at the plans and see what other countries are also working on renewable energy in the solar system. 

Solar in Space – How does it work?

Solar in Space - Mars Rover (source: nasa.gov)
Solar in Space – Mars Rover (source: nasa.gov)

Chinese Media have made a statement about the solar space race – their idea is that a station could orbit the earth at 36,000 kilometres – enough to get the sun’s energy but not experience any atmosphere interference. Seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight will also be totally negated, so the station would be able to generate significantly more power than those on earth which are subject to the sun’s whims.

Chinese journal Science and Technology Daily has reported that the city of Chongqing is the host of construction of an early experimental space solar plant. 

Pang Zhihao, researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, said a space solar power station held the promise of providing “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The space solar station would be able to supply energy at 6x the power of solar farms on earth – reliably supplying energy “99%” of the time. 

The next plan for China is to build and launch a number of small/medium sized solar power stations which will be launched into the stratosphere between 2021 – 2025. 

According to the SMH Japanese, Indian and European scientists are also working on the best way to generate solar power in space. What impact could this unlimited power have on things like the Mars Rover which was ‘pronounced dead‘ over the last week? According to the researches, the energy would be converted to electricity and send to the earth via a microwave or laser beam – so they’ll need to work on ensuring this won’t have any bad effects on atmosphere or the earth in general before it goes ahead. 

 
 

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