Solar Homes policy – NSW Solar grant

Solar Homes policy – the NSW Labor party have announced a huge solar rebate they will implement if they win the upcoming state election. Let’s learn more about how many households could be helped and what the particulars of the scheme are. 

Solar Homes policy

Michael Daley - Solar Homes Policy (source: michaeldaley.com.au)
Labor leader Michael Daley – announcing the Solar Homes Policy (source: michaeldaley.com.au)

The Solar Homes policy was announced by NSW Labor leader Michael Daley on his official website this week:

“This program will take NSW to over a million solar homes. Based on current take up rates for household solar, the program could help add solar to an additional 1 million homes over the next decade.” the website states. Further reading into the document shows that 500,000 households will benefit from the solar scheme. 

Under the Solar Homes policy, owner-occupied households in New South Wales are eligible for a rebate of up to $2,200, as long as their combined annual income is less than $180,000. 

Deputy Leader and Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said, “Under this plan, everyone wins. Families get help with their electricity bills and we are taking real action on climate change and giving NSW a cleaner, greener future.”

NSW Labor’s Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Adam Searle said, “Solar Homes is just one aspect of Labor’s plan for cheaper and cleaner energy across NSW. Our policies will cut both electricity bills and carbon emissions. We look forward to providing more in the lead up to the election.”

If Labor do win the state election (which will be held on March 23) and the Solar Homes policy goes ahead, it will commence in the 19-20 financial year (“to ensure an orderly rollout”), and follow other states with their own initiatives:

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Susan River solar farm opened by Elliott Green Power.

US Hedge Fund backed Elliott Green Power have successfully opened the Susan River solar farm. The 95MW farm adds to their current portfolio and is another great step in the right direction for solar farms in Australia and Esco Pacific.

Susan River solar farm

Construction on the Susan River solar farm commenced in mid-January last year and about 150 workers helped finish the farm, which occupies 176 hectares and has 350,000 solar panels. Construction was handled by Esco Pacific, who have plenty of experience in the field, being responsible for projects such as the Finley Solar Farm.

Esco chief executive Steve Rademaker said the project has created five to ten full-time jobs post-construction.

“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.”

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham attended the opening of the Susan River solar farm and didn’t miss the opportunity to play politics:

“Elliot Green Power’s $175 million investment is another demonstration of industry’s confidence in the sector and further evidence that consistent energy policy from this Palaszczuk government drives generation investment,” Lynham said in a statement.

“That’s in stark contrast to what the Morrison government’s policies are doing to investment in new generation.”

RenewEconomy are reporting that another of Elliot Green Power’s farms is almost complete (Teebar Solar Farm), and a third (North Aramara Solar Farm) which will be finished later this year.

They also report that Elliot Green Power’s Childers Solar Farm and Susan Rivers Solar Farm were the two first farms to sign up for a ‘proxy revenue swap’. This is a hedging product Nephila Holdings Ltd provided, which protects both farms from varations in output (click here to read more) 

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Tesla in Townsville – Bohle Plains’ 4MW solar battery.

Tesla in Townsville – Solar giant Tesla will install a 4MW/8MWh solar battery in Townsville, North Queensland to help manage renewable energy within the community. The battery is expected to be operational by the end of 2019.

Tesla in Townsville – Bohle Plains’ 4MW solar battery.

A community-scale battery will be installed in Townsville to help store excess energy, provide backup power to the community, and assist in providing support to Ergon’s virtual power plant, which draws electricity or reduces load from customers Queensland wide. This helps shore up any supply issues to the National Energy Market (NEM), especially during peak times such as during a heatwave.

Publicly owned Yurika manage the plant and it’ll be fascinating to see some statistics as to how this Tesla Powerpack helps QLD – with the South Australian Tesla Battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve saving $25m in its first year of operation, we expect the result to be similarly impressive. 

Tesla in Townsville (Powerpack) (source: Tesla.com)
Tesla in Townsville (Powerpack) (source: Tesla.com)

“This is a small but significant addition to Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity system, a system which is delivering cheaper prices on average compared to other mainland states in the National Energy Market,” said Acting Energy Minister Mark Furner.

“Battery storage technology is the next stage in steady progress to enabling a renewable energy future and reaching our target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.”

“With around 20,000 residential rooftop solar systems in Townsville, battery storage technology will help ensure power quality and reliability in the local network.” he continued in quotes repeated in Clean Technica

Design work has already started on the battery and Tesla in Townsville is closer than you may think – the battery is scheduled to be fully operational in late 2019. Given that Townsville and its surrounding areas have seen a significant amount of investment in solar over the past few years, it’s going to be fantastic to have this battery to help stabilise the grid and provide cheaper power.

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Bright Acre Energy – Solar IPO, 2019 Plans

European solar project developer Wirsol Energy have an Australian arm known as Bright Acre Energy. The company has been working on a $500m IPO of their Aussie solar portfolio, but news is thin on the ground lately. Let’s take a look at what to expect from BAE in 2019.

Bright Acre Energy $500m Australian Solar IPO

Bright Acre Energy Gannawarra Solar Farm
Bright Acre Energy Gannawarra Solar Farm (source: brightacreenergy.com.au)

Bright Acre Energy have ten projects in various stages of completion, situated in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. According to the Australian Financial Review, the projects are set to fully connect to the national power grid by the end of 2019. These five projects will total over 1100MW, which is enough electricity to power 350,000+ houses. The official site names the farms as currently having 397MWp of nameplate capacity, with half of this commercially operational and the other half ‘almost there’. 

Former Australian rugby union player Bill Calcraft was the CEO last year, and along with Gerard Dover the site has them listed as ‘Proposed Management’ – so not sure what this means for 2019 – and there hasn’t been any specific news on their potential IPO. We’ve reached out to the team and will keep you updated if we find out anything about Bright Acre’s plans for the rest of the year. 

Bright Acre Energy are currently responsible for the following projects, as per their website:

  • Hamilton Solar Farm (Collinsville, QLD) (Operational) (69MWp)
  • Whitsunday Solar Farm (Collinsville, QLD) (Operational) (69MWp)
  • Clermont Solar Farm (Clermont, QLD) (Near-term Operational) (89MWp)
  • Springdale Solar Farm (Springdale, NSW) (Pipeline) (120MWp)
  • Bomen Solar Farm (Bomen, NSW) (Pipeline) (120MWp)
  • Hay Solar Farm (Hay, NSW) (Pipeline) (140 MWp)
  • Buronga Energy Station (Buronga, NSW) (Pipeline) (400MWp)
  • Wemen Solar Farm aka Wemen Sun Farm (Wemen, NSW) (Near-term Operational) (110MWp)
  • Gannawarra Energy Storage System (Kerang, VIC) (25MW/50MWh)
  • Gannawarra Solar Farm (Kerang, VIC) (60MWp)

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GAF Energy to sell residential solar.

Standard Industries has announced it will launch a rooftop solar company named GAF Energy in the US – they are already the world’s largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer.

GAF Energy Rooftop Solar

GAF Energy Decotech Rooftop Solar
GAF Energy Decotech Rooftop Solar (source: standardindustries.com/solar)

As per a post on the Standard Industries website, the new company, GAF Energy, will work together with GAF to offer their DecoTech® solar roofing solution to “everyday consumers”

It’s an interesting niche to walk into – GAF’s new product offering has some competitors in the PV integrated roof tiling space, such as the Tesla Solar Roof, Tractile Solar Roof Tiles, Monier Solartileor Sonnen/Bristile’s Solartile  These are all fantastic products but fairly expensive at this point in time – hopefully having more competition in the market leads to more competitive prices and more powerful roofs.

“GAF Energy capitalizes on the historic challenges facing the rooftop solar industry – acquisition and installation costs – and turns them into demonstrable strengths – making it easy for customers to say ‘yes’ to solar rooftops,” said Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy. “Our product is smart, integrated and economical, and we hope it will mark a fundamental shift in rooftop solar adoption around the world.”

Rooftop solar in America is a lot less developed than in Australia – according to Renew Economy, only 3% of USA homes had solar panels installed in 2017 – in stark comparison to Australia’s 30%. As such there’s plenty of opportunity if the product and price is right, and the governments get on board to help. Will integrated solar roof tiles be the way forwards in the future for domestic solar? We’ll soon find out. In any case, it’s exciting to see 

For more information about GAF, visit www.gaf.energy. If you’d like to read the press release about launch of the company and new DecoTech solar roof, please click here

It shouldn’t be long before we have some more information about how these solar roofs are performing, and as the results trickle in we will be creating a solar roof tile comparison document for anyone interested in integrating solar panels into their roof. Please watch this space! Exciting days ahead for rooftop solar.

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