ACT’s Next Generation Energy Storage Program

The ACT’s Next Generation Energy Storage Program will provide solar batteries to over 5,000 homes and businesses by 2020, offering $25m of funding so ACT residents are able to take advantage of rapidly evolving solar battery technology at a subsidised price. 

Next Generation Energy Storage Program

Next Generation Energy Storage Program in the ACT (source: actsmart.act.gov.au)
Subsidised Solar Batteries – Next Generation Energy Storage Program in the ACT (source: actsmart.act.gov.au)

According to ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury there are plans to increase the current amount of storage by up to 36x by 2020: 

“We’ve already had around 400 batteries installed across the city. It’s providing over a megawatt of storage which is both helping households cut their energy bills, manage their own energy usage, but also provide backup for the grid here in the Territory,” he said.

“The battery storage roll-out program is building on Canberra’s reputation as a globally-recognised hub for the renewable energy industry,” Mr Rattenbury was quoted as saying – noting that the program will offer support of up to $825 for each kilowatt of sustained peak output for homes and businesses who install a battery (it can be connected to a new or existing PV solar system). The government estimates that this will represent a subsidy of approximately $4,000 for an average household solar system. 

Six partners have been awarded $3m in grants to help fund the project: ActewAGL Retail, Energy Matters, EPC Solar, Evergen, ITP Renewables, Origin Energy, Power Saving Centre, and Solar Hub. EPC Solar and Evergen were already in the project, the rest are new additions. 

Mr Rattenbury also noted that this project will also help expand the virtual power plant Reposit Power and EvoEnergy are currently trialling: 

“The batteries are also contributing to the world’s largest residential virtual power plant being trialled by Reposit Power and EvoEnergy (formerly ActewAGL Distribution), which allows battery owners to sell their energy to the grid to help support the electricity network.”

For more information and how to apply, click here to download the actsmart battery storage fact sheet

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Williamsdale Solar Farm, ACT ‘Solar Highway’ ready.

The 11MW Williamsdale Solar Farm in the ACT, 20km south of Canberra, has been completed and the ACT government’s impressive “solar highway” project is now completed. What’s next for solar energy in the ACT? 

About the Williamsdale Solar Farm

Williamsdale Solar Farm ACT
Williamsdale Solar Farm, ACT (source: diamondenergy.com.au)

The Williamsdale Solar Farm consists of 36,000 solar panels and is able to generate enough electricity to power 3,000 homes. Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury was quoted in the Canberra Times as saying: “The clean power generated by the Williamsdale Solar Farm takes us another significant step towards achieving our target of 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 in the ACT.” Rattenbury also noted that the future is here and it is “clean, green, and renewable,” and that renewable energy is responsible for around $500 million in investment into the local ACT economy. 

Forecasts by the ACT Government have shown that the solar farms will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million tonnes over the coming two decades. 

Elementus Energy started work on the Williamsdale Solar Farm in 2013 at its initial location near Uriarra Village – this was eventually moved to Williamsdale after fierce local opposition and the project was then taken over by the Impact Investment Group in 2016. The Impact Investment Group agreed to purchase the project “as-is” and develop it further with the price tag being quoted as “up to $35 million.” 

About the ACT’s “Solar Highway”

With the SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm, the Mugga Lane solar farm, and the Royalla solar farm already completed, the ACT now has a combined 177,000 solar PV panels along a 50 kilometre stretch, which is being called the ACT’s “Solar Highway”. The highway runs from the Monaro Highway in the south to the Majura Parkway heading north, and, according to Minister Rattenbury, will create 85,500 mWh per year of renewable electricity – enough to power 11,700 homes. 

Next year, the Sapphire, Hornsdale Stage 2, and Crookwell 2 wind farms will begin generation. The ACT continues to have some of the lowest electricity prices in Australia

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Community Solar in Canberra – Majura Solar Farm

Investors in the Australian Capital Territory have put $3.07 million into Australia’s largest community solar project – which will be built on a vineyard in Canberra. Community solar isn’t a new thing in Australia – but it’s certainly gathering steam (or sunlight) as rising energy prices and rapidly improving solar power technology is encouraging people to invest in renewable energy.

Community Solar – The SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm

Community Solar - Majura Solar Farm
Community Solar – Majura Solar Farm (source: serree.org.au)

The $3m solar plant is going to be built at the flat land at the bottom of the valley at Mount Majura Vineyard (since wine grapes are best grown on slopes this is currently unused land) and will consist of 5,000 solar panels. The Majura Solar Farm will be built over approximately three hectares and is expected to produce 1.9GWh of electricity per year, which it is planning on selling directly to the ACT government.

Lawrence McIntosh from SolarShare said that, pending approval, they are hoping to have the farm built in 2018.  The ‘SolarShare Community’ applied to sell the energy at a fixed price to the ACT government –  for $200/Mwh ($0.20 / kWh) over a 20 year period. No word on whether this is a bit hopeful but we’ll see (click here for the annual volume weighted average spot prices) how they go, given that this is the largest community owned solar plant in Australia, in terms of output. According to the Canberra Times, the feed-in tariff (FIT) amount is still under consideration. A spokeswoman from the ACT Environment and Planning and Sustainable Development was quoted as saying “The Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability will make the final decision regarding the outcome of the process”.

533 backers are part of the community solar project which comes hot on the heels of private solar investment in Australia growing exponentially over the past few months.

 

 

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