Gladstone solar farm – manufacturing contract signed.

The $500m Gladstone solar farm will be built at Aldoga later this year as the Queensland Government chose to award the contract to Spanish renewable energy giant Acciona Energy who will build the 265MW farm and establish a community benefits fund. It will hope to gain development approval over the next few months. 

Gladstone Solar Farm

Gladstone Solar Farm - Acciona
Gladstone Solar Farm – Acciona (source:acciona.com)

Around 1250 hectares of state owned land at Aldoga will be used to create the solar farm, which is slated to create hundreds of jobs and also provide plenty to the local area as part of the contract:

“As part of the lease agreements, Acciona Energy will also establish a community benefits fund of between $50,000 to $120,000 per year, representing between $1.5 million to $3.6 million over the 30-year lease, to be provided to local clubs, associations and community groups in the region.” Cameron Dick, Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, said.

“Acciona Energy will develop, finance, construct and operate a $500 million solar farm through a 30-year lease with the Queensland Government and they are committed to Buy Queensland and Gladstone Buy Local procurement strategies,” Mr Dick continued.

They’re currently undertaking a ‘detailed feasibility study’ before development approvals are sought, and after that they’ll commence construction:

“This could take around 12 months, meaning construction may begin in the second half of next year, and electricity generation in the second half of 2020,” Acciona Energy Australia Managing Director Brett Wickham said.

We’ve written about solar power in Gladstone before and mentioned this project (where it was proposed as a 450MW renewable hub), so it’s great to see this project finally off the ground and gaining some traction. 

No word on whether Acciona will be thinking about adding energy storage to this solar farm, but with the price sinking rapidly we’ll see how their plans change after they have a go at the DA process and start working on construction! 

 

Wesley Vale Solar Farm – Latrobe.

Epuron Projects Pty Ltd have a proposed solar farm, to be known as the Wesley Vale Solar Farm, which will supply energy to Latrobe and the national grid. It will be able to produce up to 25,600MWh of electricity per annum, which is the equivalent of 2900 households. 

Wesley Vale Solar Farm

Wesley Vale Solar Farm
Wesley Vale Solar Farm (source: epuron.com.au/solar/wesley-vale-solar)

The Wesley Vale Solar Farm is still in the planning stages, but it will be located at 213 Mill Road and, according to The Advocate, is going to be the biggest solar farm in the state. 

According to Epuron project manager Shane Bartel via the application the farm hasn’t decided on fixed or tracking arrays for the panels, which will be located on the 35 hectare property.  They’re currently waiting on TasNetworks who are upgrading the local network to see if they’re able to connect directly to the Wesley Vale substation. 

If the application is approved, the Wesley Vale solar farm will commence construction this year and will be built over multiple stages, which may include energy storage in the future. 

Powercom’s Application – Latrobe solar farm

Powercom, according to their general manager Rohan Windsor, are applying to build a smaller fixed array PV system for the landowner of 32 Cherry Hill Road. It’s understood that this is a farmer looking to insulate themselves from the rapidly rising cost of electricity. Windsor discussed this further and was quoted by the Advocate thusly:

“The main factor in all this is the cost of energy is more than doubling. Usually you can off-set 30 to 40 per cent of your bill.

“The larger (farms) may have costs of $500,000, so then there’s a big saving. In agriculture, if you can reduce ongoing costs by 30 per cent, that’s a big saving.

“Since the introduction of the energy price increase recently, and as peoples’ (power) contracts came up for negotiation, we’re seeing more interest in solar.”

According to their website Powercom have created the largest solar installation in Tasmania to date:  1200 solar panels and 317kw at a commercial premises.

You can watch a video about the installation here:

Solar Farms in Tasmania

We don’t get to write that much about solar farms in Tasmania so it’s great to see some news. Renewable energy in Tasmania has been a hot button issue lately, as the state announced plans to be totally self-sufficient by 2022. The vast majority of renewables are generated by hydropower and wind farms. 

Metz Solar Farm sold to Clenergy

New South Wales based 120MW PV solar farm Metz Solar Farm, previously owned by a consortium of buyers, has been sold by Pinsent Masons to Clenergy, a major renewable company from China.

Metz Solar Farm

Metz Solar Farm
Metz Solar Farm (source: metzsolarfarm.com.au)

The consortium, which included Infinergey and other unnamed investors (we wrote about the Metz farm in August last year), used Pinsent Masons to advise all aspects of the sale, which was the group’s first major project in Australia. Financial specifics are confidential – we reported last year the farm was bought for around $130m so it’d be interesting to see what it was worth to a buyer right now – unfortunately we’ll probably never know. Keep in mind it hasn’t even started construction yet – that will be around Spring of this year – the solar farm is expected to reach completion early 2019. 

The Armidale-based farm was 100MW when we looked at it last year, but with the application of Clenergy’s push-pull centralized single-axis tracking architecture, it’s now able to generate 120MW. 

Infinergy, who are more known for wind power according to PV Magazine, have put themselves “on the map” with this project – they are now looking to get development and grid connection approvals for 300MW by the end of the year, with a focus on utility scale solar in NSW and Victoria. 

Pinsent Masons partner Ewan Robertson, who, along with associate Lucy Carter, advised on the sale of the project, was bullish about the state of large-scale renewables in Australia: 

“The sale of the Metz solar farm is significant as it not only marks the sellers’ first project sale in the Australian market, it also represents the buyers’ first acquisition in Australia. Further, the speed at which the sale was initiated and completed is a ringing endorsement of the current appetite for renewable energy in Australia,” Robertson said.

“We are delighted to have achieved the successful development and the subsequent sale of Metz Solar Farm, all within a timeframe of 18 months,” said Infinergy CEO Esbjorn Wilmar in a statement.

Shepparton solar: council to install

Shepparton Solar Farm Proposals / Council Solar

Shepparton solar – the regional Victoria town is going to follow the trend of councils going renewable and install solar power at some of their local facilities, the Greater Shepparton City Council voted this week. The jury’s still out on a number proposed solar farms in Shepparton which are being opposed by some.

Shepparton solar – council investment.

Council solar has been a hot topic over the past 12 months and it’s fantastic to see the Greater Shepparton City Council following suit – Renew Economy are reporting that at a council meeting last week a $225,500 contract to install solar panels on multiple council buildings had been awarded to True Value Solar from Melbourne. 

Cr Bruce Giovanetti made a statement about how important councils doing their part in utilising renewable energy is:

‘‘It’s great to see council is taking a proactive approach to ensuring we can reduce energy consumption costs as much as we can,’’ he said.

Shepparton Solar Farms

Shepparton Solar Farm Proposals / Council Solar
Shepparton Solar Farm (source: greatershepparton.com.au)

The Shepparton News are reporting that five solar farms in Shepparton have been proposed:

  • Tatura East solar farm (45MW)
  • Tallygaroopna solar farm (30MW)
  • Lemnos solar farm (100MW)
  • Congupna solar farm (68MW)
  • Mooroopna solar farm (12MW)

These five farms total more than $300m of investment and will produce over 250MW of power for the area – but not everybody is happy about it. 

According to Greater Shepparton Councillor Chris Hazelman:

‘We’ve heard the relevant objections from people nearby, which indicates concerns about the science, about amenity, about the alienation of agricultural land,”

Hazelman elaborated on how he thinks the dispute will end up in the courts: 

‘‘And in the absence of (state government) guidelines, it would appear that regardless of what decision council makes, either for or against … it will inevitably end up in VCAT. It’s going to make it difficult.’’

We’ve heard the NIMBY argument about ‘prime agricultural land’ from ‘concerned residents’ before (remember Photon Energy’s Brewongle solar farm?) – so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in court. 

A spokesperson for Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning had prepared advice for the minister to consider, and he would make his ruling in due course.

You can read more detailed information about the solar farm planning permit applications by clicking here

Newcastle solar farm to go ahead – Carnegie

Carnegie Clean Energy, who last week announced they will be building both the Kalbarri microgrid and the Kalgoorlie solar farm, have had another win today as their fully owned subsidiary Energy Made Clean won a tender to build and operate a $7m, 5MW Newcastle solar farm. 

Newcastle Solar Farm

Newcastle Solar Farm
Newcastle Solar Farm (source: Carnegie Clean Energy)

According to a press released they issued yesterday, Carnegie Clean Energy won the tender to install the PV solar + storage facility on a capped, former landfill site at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre in Newcastle. The project forms part of Newcastle Council’s plan to cut emissions by 30% by 2020 as part of the Renewable Energy Target. 

Carnegie’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Ottaviano (feels like we’ve been quoting him every day lately!) said, “We are delighted to have won our first utility scale solar farm project in NSW and our first to be connected in the National Electricity Market. This project brings the value of new contracted work for our joint venture to over $30m over the past 2 months.”

The Newcastle solar farm will be installed as a ground mounted fixed tilt system. It’ll have an optimised piling system so as to benefit as much as possible from the site topology and it’ll be modular – they are preparing for the future addition of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Carnegie have stated that the design phase has already commenced and plant commissioning is expected at the end of Q3 this year. 

Energy Made Clean “specialises in the delivery of mixed renewable energy microgrid projects to islands and remote and fringe of grid communities” and Carnegie is the “only company in the world to offer a combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids” – so it’ll be really interesting to see what their future plans are now that they have some big projects to work on! 

Tailem Bend solar farm reaches financial close.

The 127MW Tailem Bend solar project will begin construction later this month. A financial close has been achieved by Singapore energy company Equis Energy and a 22 year purchase power agreement (PPA) has already been signed with Snowy Hydro. There are now plans in the pipeline to create Tailem Bend 2.

Tailem Bend Solar Project

Tailem Bend Solar Farm
Tailem Bend Solar Farm (source: http://equisenergy.com/newsroom/)

The $200m project is 100km south-east of Adelaide and will begin construction in February, according to Equis.

The Australian Financial Review noted that there were initial plans for a 28.8MW diesel generator to support the solar farm, but these were scuppered by the Australian Energy Market Operator who placed “unreasonable technical demands” on the project.  

Equis, who are also planning on building a 1000MW project in Queensland’s part of the Surat Basin (the Wandoan solar farm), said they have a huge amount of projects in the pipeline:

“Australia represents one of the most exciting solar power generation markets globally and Equis expects to build over $1 billion of new projects over the next 24-36 months,” director David Russell said in the press release. 

“As Asia’s largest renewable energy developer, Equis is able to leverage its economies of scale to deliver large scale, low-cost, reliable renewable energy, which Australia needs, as well as providing employment opportunities and supporting economic growth in local communities.” Mr Russell continued. 

According to Deal Street Asia, the project is expected to start generating power and feeding it to the grid in the first quarter of next year. 

The Tailem Bend solar projects will generate around 413,000MWh/year, which is equivalent to 82,600 homes and will save over 200,000 tonnes of CO2 annually compared to the same generation from South Australia’s current non-renewable power plants. 

Equis Energy are also building a  250MW DC solar photovoltaic power plant with energy storage installed in NSW’s Sunraysia region (the Sunraysia solar farm)

Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm Tender

Hot of the heels of their success last week after signing a contract with Western Power to construct a microgrid in Kalbarri, Carnegie Clean Energy look set to build a Kalgoorlie Solar Farm after winning a tender for the lease of 250 hectares of land within the Buffer Zone of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area.

The Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm

Kalgoorlie Solar Farm - Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie
Kalgoorlie Solar Farm – Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie (source: carnegiece.com)

According to SmallCaps, Carnegie (ASX: CCE) plan to construct and operate a solar farm which is capable of supplying large amounts of electricity into Western Australia’s main power grid. It’ll be known as the Mungari Solar Farm and will have a capacity of up to 100MW. This will result in the farm being able to generate 20MWh of battery-storage each year. The farm will be located 6km south-west of Kalgoorlie – where it will be able to supply electricity to Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources – they’ll have access to clean, stable energy and be able to lock in price points without having to worry about the volatility currently plaguing Western Australia. It’ll also help them move towards reaching their RET (Renewable Energy Target) – which is currently 24% of electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020. 

“Carnegie has a strong track record of developing greenfield sites into shovel-ready renewable projects rapidly and responsibly, most recently with its Northam Solar Farm,” said Dr Michael Ottaviano (Carnegie Clean Energy‘s Managing Director).

“We are excited to play a role in the development of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area, which has an important role in the future economic prosperity of the Eastern Goldfields and look forward to working closely with local industries seeking sources of clean power generation, the State Government, local governments and other key stakeholders in bringing this project to fruition,” said Dr Ottaviano.

Bulgana Green Power Hub to add 20MW Tesla Battery

French renewable energy company Neoen has purchased the Bulgana Green Power Hub, a huge wind+battery storage facility in western Victoria. It will be receiving a Tesla battery similar to the one in South Australia, but just on a smaller scale (20MW vs 100MW). 

Bulgana Green Power Hub

According to the AFR, the 204MW wind farm and 20MW accompanying Tesla battery will entirely power the Nectar Farms crop at Stawell, in Western Victoria. The majority of energy it generates will be fed into the local grid. The Nectar Farms crop is a new 30HA high tech glasshouse facility which will supply tomatoes and other produce for import and export, contributing more than 600 jobs to the Stawell region. 

The Bulgana Green Power Hub will be Neoen’s largest Australian-based project and will create 1300 jobs during construction and 270 ongoing jobs. Neoen are joint owners of the existing 100MW Tesla South Australia solar battery. They are also the developer of the Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia (where the battery is located)

“The performance of the South Australian battery is outstanding,” according to Franck Woitiez, Neoen’s managing director. “The Bulgana battery is primarily going to provide energy to Nectar Farms and may support the grid in the future.”

The South Australian battery was tested late last month and performed admirably, delivering 100MW of power to the grid in 140 milliseconds as the Loy Yang Power station tripped and went offline

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy minister, called the agreement “a major step forward for communities, businesses and the renewable energy industry”.

“This project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while helping meet Victoria’s renewable energy generation targets,” Ms D’Ambrosio said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Bulgana Tesla solar battery is not expected to come online until mid-2019 but we expect to see similar agreements put in place over the coming year. Read more about the Bulgana project by clicking here to visit their website. 

Bulgana Green Power Hub Location
Bulgana Green Power Hub Location (source: bulganawindfarm.com.au)

Australia’s largest solar plant built in NSW in 2018

Australia’s largest solar plant will be built in NSW early next year. It will be a 250MW DC solar photovoltaic power plant with energy storage and installed in NSW’s Sunraysia region. The plant will be built by Decmil on behalf of Chinese company Maoneng Australia, who already have a solar farm in the ACT and are looking to create a second. The Sunraysia solar farm was being discussed back in June (click to view our article about it) and has changed from 200MW to 250MW but will still be located on 1000 hectares of private freehold land 17km south of Balranald centre – approximately 140km south-east of Mildura.

Australia’s largest solar plant

Australia's largest solar plant - Sunraysia Solar Farm
Australia’s largest solar plant – Sunraysia Solar Farm artist’s rendition (source: sunraysiasolarfarm.com.au)

According to Maoneng vice-president Qiao Han, Maoeng Australia and Decmil signed an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) on Tuesday. They plan to construct the plant as soon as April or May in 2018 – with the construction contract valued at approximately $275 million. 

The plant is expected to generate at least 530,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, and will power houses in both NSW and Victoria. Maoneng’s previous Australian solar investment, the 13MW Mugga Lane solar park in the ACT, generates around 24,500 megawatt hours – so this is a big step up. 

There’s talk of the plant also using batteries to store excess power making it one of the first solar farms in New South Wales to do so. According to a statement from Decmil, “This will provide greater energy reliability and allow the solar farm to produce electricity during periods of peak demand rather than only during sunlight hours.”

Large-Scale Solar Farm Competitors

Although this will be Australia’s largest solar plant for a while, there are currently three projects which will be larger when they are completed: 

No doubt before those three are finished we’ll have even bigger plants on the horizon – it’s great watching the neverending race of large-scale solar! 

 

 

 

Solar thermal power station in Queensland planned.

Australian company CWP Renewables has proposed to build a 250MW, $1.3 billion solar thermal power station in Townsville. The station, similar to one already built in Nevada and one planned for South Australia, will be a huge economic and employment boon to the area. 

About the Solar Thermal Power Station

Solar Thermal Power Station Khi Solar One, South Africa
Solar Thermal Power Station Khi Solar One, South Africa (source: wikipedia.org)

We reported in August that South Australia will have a solar thermal power station installed in 2018 (Aurora, to be built by SolarReserve). Their station is slated to cost around $650 m so if CWP’s proposal goes ahead it will be the largest solar thermal structure in the country. Privately held SolarReserve was also responsible for the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada near Las Vegas. No word on CWP’s track record with solar thermal (or who they’ll choose to partner with for the tech), but they will be bidding against SolarReserve who told RenewEconomy they are also planning to develop up to six solar thermal facilities in Queensland over the next decade. 

“This Concentrated Solar Thermal project can deliver dispatchable, emissions-free power to North Queensland, together with thousands of high value jobs which utilise the existing skills of the North Queensland workforce, ” CWP Renewables managing director Alex Hewitt told the Townsville Bulletin yesterday.  Hewitt advised that the project is being called “Freedom Energy One” and will include solar + storage, noting that it could represent a cost effective and eco-friendly alternative to a new coal generator.

We reported yesterday that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor party’s “Powering Queensland’s Future” proposal will include a $50 million “down payment” for a solar thermal power plant in Queensland, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the money will go towards CWP’s plant – along with SolarReserve and CWP there are a few companies looking to tender for a plant right now. 

According to CWP, if approval was reached then project construction would commence in 2019. The two-year construction phase would result in the creation of more than 2,000 jobs – with employment for civil works, tracking mirror installation, thermal receiver tower installation, storage tank and piping creation, and the construction of a brand new electrical substation which would be used for the plant. 

It looks like there’s a pretty good chance Queensland will see the construction of a solar thermal power station at some point, and it’s just a matter of time! 

If you want to learn more about the tech please click here to read the Wikipedia article about concentrated solar thermal.