Scotch College Solar | Perth School Solar

Scotch College, a private school founded in 1897 in Perth, has installed 512kW of rooftop solar across multiple rooftops on its premises with the goal of saving around $235,000 a year on energy costs. Another great step in the right direction for solar schools! 

Scotch College Solar System| Perth School Solar

Scotch College Solar System
Scotch College Solar System (source: Verdia.com.au)

Scotch College installed a large-scale PV solar system at their school, with 1,280 photovoltaic solar panels (enough to cover 10 tennis courts) now currently generating 512kW of solar power. According to an article on One Step Off The Grid, this 512kW is expected to cover 26% of the school’s energy needs. 

It has been installed by Verdia , who were also responsible for financing a 1.7MW, $3.2 million PV solar system at the CSU Wagga Wagga campus late last year, and are helping Stockland Shopping Centres out with their gigantic commercial solar rollout (they’ve worked on Stockland Merrylands and Stockland Caloundra most recently). 

“It’s cheaper and cleaner than grid power and is a working example to students of a 21st century distributed power system,” said Verdia CEO Paul Peters.

“The 512-kilowatt rooftop solar system has been installed across multiple buildings within the senior, junior/middle and maintenance school areas. It will replace about 26% percent of grid electricity use on-site with emission free, renewable power.” he continued. 

According to an official post about the Scotch College Solar System on the Verdia website, the solar project is expected to pay for itself in just under five years and it will save the school $4m in reduced energy costs over the life of the assets. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the options for adding solar power to schools and classrooms, you can also read our article from earlier this year about the Hivvee solar powered school classrooms currently being trialled in NSW. 

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CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation

CSIRO’s Black Mountain facility is set to have a further 2,900 solar panels installed in a plan to save around $900,000 a year. They’ve called for tenders this month and hope to have a decision made this week.

CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation

Black Mountain Solar
CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation (source: CSIRO)

Federal government agency CSIRO are doubling down on their previous solar investment – with an existing 380 solar panels at Black Mountain set to be increased by around 700%. The first 480 panels were installed earlier this year, and according to the Canberra Times, over 880kW of solar systems have been rolled out at other CSIRO sites since 2016 – including Black Mountain, Armidale in NSW, Werribee in Victoria, Kensington in Western Australia and Darwin. 

According to a CSIRO spokesman, 1.2MW of solar will also be installed in Pullenvale (QLD) and Waite (SA) – with a further 4.2MW planned for the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

“Once installed, these [photovoltaic] systems will deliver more than $900,000 [in] annual savings on energy bills, save close to 8000 megawatt hours of energy and reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by about 7400 tonnes each year,” the spokesman said.

All together, the plans are to install five megawatts of grid-connected, on-site renewable energy across its building portfolio by 2020.

“A key opportunity exists for CSIRO to hedge against the predicted upward price trend in electricity prices by investing today in alternative renewable energy sources to power their sites,” the CSIRO tender document says.

“The installation of large scale on-site renewable energy generation is a key mechanism to reduce CSIRO’s carbon footprint.”

The CSIRO have called for tenders for the Black Mountain solar upgraded and have advised that they will sign a contract this week, before deciding on a timeline to complete the upgrade. Some more fantastic news for government-installed solar and another step in the right direction for Australia’s renewable energy future. 

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PowerBank trial for WA Homes | Tesla PowerPack

An official announcement by the Government of Western Australia on Wednesday notes that they will partner with Western Power and Synergy to offer a Tesla PowerBank trial via a 105kW (420kWh) Tesla PowerBank battery.

PowerBank trial for WA Homes.

 

PowerBank trial for WA Homes.
Tesla PowerPack Commercial Battery – PowerBank trial for WA Homes (source: Tesla)

The 24 month trial period means that customers participating will be able to ‘virtually’ store excess power they generate during the day (it’ll be fed into the utility-scale 105kW Tesla PowerPack Battery). They can then use 8kWhs of the PowerBank’s battery storage without needing to install their own power bank. According to the press release (and it’s true!), “8kWhs is enough to power the average suburban home for over one hour during peak time.”

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt discussed the Tesla PowerBank trial in a series of interesting quotes which explain how helpful this trial could be to Mandurah residents:

“PowerBank is an ‘in front of the meter’ storage trial which allows invited local customers to store excess electricity from already installed solar PV systems to then use it during peak times.

“This is another Australian milestone for the application of utility-scale batteries for the benefit for customers, drawing on the groundbreaking work by Synergy in its Alkimos Beach energy storage trial.

“For the first time in Australia, a utility-scale battery will be integrated into an established suburb’s network, like Meadow Springs, that has a high level of existing solar PV uptake.

“At the cost of one dollar a day, customers will have access to 8kWh of battery storage to use any time after 3pm each day.

“This trial shows that the WA Government is serious about working with renewables, delivering for taxpayers and planning for our energy future.”

Click here to view the media statement from the WA state government.

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Kiamal solar project launched, may add 194MW more.

The official launch of the Kiamal solar project was held in Victoria on Wednesday. The 265MW (DC) solar plant has plans to double its output by adding another 194MW in the future at some point.

Kiamal solar project

Kiamal Solar Project
Kiamal Solar Project (source: Total-Eren Press Release (LinkedIn))

The Kiamal solar project is owned and being run by Total Eren (formerly two separate companies), a renewable energy company based in France whose $300m investment in the project has raised the ire of the Australian Energy Market Operator, who have implemented tough new conditioned for those wanting to install wind and solar in Victoria’s ‘full’ grid (click here to read a great article from the AFR about it). They commented that Total Eren had ‘misjudged’ the system strength requirements and said there could be an issue with adding a farm this size to the noth-west Victorian grid.

Luckily the team at Total Eren (or Total-Eren, depending on how French you are) have agreed to add an expensive ‘synchronous condenser’ to help stabilise the grid. AFR report that the cost is estimated to be in the ‘tens of millions of dollars’ so this is certainly quite the olive branch. 

An official statement from the company noted that the company had acquiesced to AEMO’s requests “…in order to facilitate a timely connection … substantially strengthening the grid in the region and making it possible to connect even more renewables in north-west Victoria”.

The team are now looking into adding 380MWh of energy storage and 194MWh of solar in a second or third stage, as per executive vice-president Fabienne Demol. 

NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin spoke at the Financial Review National Energy Summit and explained the situation a little further:

“There are plenty of people who want to advance new renewable energy generation options here in NSW, but transmission is a huge constraint and that is why we are ahead of the game, out there with our own strategy, carefully reviewing all the work AEMO has done in the ISP to make sure it works for NSW consumers ,but whatever we do we will be doing it in a way to make sure it doesn’t lead to upward pressure on prices because that is our critical focus and that is the assurance that we will give.”

Click here to learn more about the PPA Kiamal solar farm signed with Flow Power earlier this year. 

They’ve also signed Alinta Energy and Mars Australia after losing Meridian Energy earlier this year due to construction delays. The Kiamal solar farm will be completed by the middle of 2019. 

 

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Dunsborough Community Energy Project – Virtual Power Plant

The  Dunsborough Community Energy Project is currently offering no upfront cost solar in Western Australia – all for the flat fee of $35/week – inviting south-west Western Australia residents to join their 6.5MW virtual power plant. 

Dunsborough Community Energy Project

Dunsborough Community Energy Project
Dunsborough Community Energy Project (source: dunsboroughcommunityenergyproject.com.au/)

This Dunsborough Community Energy Project has been established as a joint effort between Perth-based company Redback Energy, investment outfit SUSI Partners and Perth law firm Jackson Macdonald. It already has over 60 signups to their virtual power plant and hope to reach 1000 by the end of the year. The goal of their project is to allow all members to be 90% renewable inside their homes. It’s a realistic goal, and they have partnered with some fantastic companies to deliver a really powerful product offering:

According to a post on RenewEconomy, people who sign up to the Dunsborough Community Energy Project will receive:

  • 7kW of solar PV (Suntech panels)
  • Redback 5.5 KVA inverter
  • 9.6kWh Pylontech (LiFePo4) batteries

The community’s goal is to reach 1,000+ Redback solar and battery storage systems in the area (Dunsborough and Yallingup). Over the 10-20 year lifespan of the project ‘additional income and dividends’ are expected to raise up to $8m which can then be spent on lowering energy costs further or giving back to local community projects. 

The official website states that Redback Energy will give $250 towards a ‘community fund’ for each system sold. This fund will then be distributed “…to fund local community projects in schools, sporting clubs and or other projects such as a Dunsborough community pool.” A great idea and fantastic to see Redback supporting the local economy in more ways than one!

Click here to view the official website of the project and learn more about it. 

You can also learn more about Virtual Power Plants or Community Solar across Australia by clicking!

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Congupna solar farm / Design and Development Guidelines

The Congupna solar farm has been approved for the Shepparton area and will produce 30MW of energy – this is enough to power 10,000 homes in the region.

Congupna solar farm

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne announced the successful Congupna solar farm approval this morning. 

According to Minister Wynne the farm will create over 100 solar jobs for the region: 

“The Congupna solar farm will create more than 100 new jobs and produce 30 megawatts of new, clean energy – helping to drive down energy prices.”

 “We’re working with industry and community to make sure solar farm developments deliver the right outcomes for communities, the environment and jobs” he continued.

The Tallygaroopna, Lemnos and Tatura East solar farm applications has been deferred until further strategic work on Goulburn Murray Irrigation District is completed.

As per the official press release, the Labor Government in Victoria will invest over $1.3b to put solar panels, hot water, and batters in 720,000 homes, as part of their Solar Homes Program.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio was equally impressed by the project, discussing how they will be able to affect climate change and electricity prices:

“These new guidelines will provide more certainty to the community, and more confidence to invest in major solar farms like the one at Congupna.”

 “We’re creating jobs, driving down power prices and combatting climate change with the biggest investment in renewable energy in Victoria’s history” Minister D’Ambrosio said.

According to Shepparton News, Mr Wynne’s office stressed in a press release that the Congupna facility “will be built on non-irrigated agricultural land” and is projected to create almost $40 million in capital expenditure.

Solar Energy Facilities – Design and Development Guidelines

At the same time, Minister Wynne released a draft version of the design and development guidelines for solar energy facilities. They’ll help councils, developers, and communities ensure they build solar farms suitable for everybody. Although we’ve seen many successful large-scale solar farm rollouts in Australia, solar farm opposition is still a bit of an issue for some developments. Hopefully these guidelines help clear up what is and isn’t suitable for large-scale solar! 

 

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Redback Technologies’ Smart Hybrid System Launch

Brisbane-based Redback Technologies will launch their new Smart Hybrid System this week, which is a brand new all-in-one system to simplify solar energy for installers and homeowners while still generating maximum ROI on your solar investment!

Redback Technologies and the next generation Smart Hybrid System

Redback Smart Hybrid System Inverter SH5000
Redback Smart Hybrid System Inverter SH5000 (source: redbacktech.com)

Redback launched the Smart Hybrid System Sh5000 today at the 2018 All-Energy Conference – it has an abundance of features which are perfect for the house looking to maximise their ROI from installing solar:

  • 5kW inverter
  • New modular (expandable) battery cabinet. It can holdup to 14kWh of energy storage
  • All-in-one design outdoor rated for Australian weather conditions.
  • Inbuilt UPS, pre-wired with integrated DC isolators for an easy install. 

The Redback Technologies Smart Hybrid System uses the newly designed Redback Smart Energy Manager app, which makes installation a breeze. When you conneect the inverter to the web portal, you can monitor the performance of your inverter in real time, making sure it’s working as expected! 

Redback MD Patrick Matweew said in a press release delivered by email: “We’re all looking for ways to save money and reduce stress when it comes to our household energy bills. That’s why now is the right time for homeowners to consider a solar and storage system as it not only reduces household costs, but it also gives consumers the power to control their energy future.

“With the cost of small-scale renewable installations continuing to fall, there’s never been a better time to consider solar and battery storage.”

The Redback Smart Energy Manager app is now available to download from Google Play (Android) or the App Store (Apple).

If you’re interested in buying one of these Smart Hybrid Systems or would like to learn more about them then please give the friendly team at Redback a call on 1300 240 182 or click here to visit their page for homeowners/small business proprietors. 

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Solar powered abattoir to be constructed in Gladstone

Asia Pacific Agri-Corp have advised that they will spend $308m on a 78MW solar farm to create a solar powered abattoir in Gladstone, Queensland.

Solar powered abattoir

According to the manufacturer, Asia Pacific Agri-Corp, the project will cost $308m and will offset a significant proportion of the abattoir’s energy needs:

APAC managing director Daniel Daly was quoted by ABC News as explaining why Asia Pacific Agri-Corp decided this was the best option for their energy needs moving forwards:

“We have our own 78MW solar farm on the site, so we’re able to do behind the metre or through-the-fence power deals which keeps our costs controlled for the processing.

“There was also other costs associated with waste water and removal of waste water would be considerable … (so) we (will ) combine the surplus of power from the solar with the waste water into an onsite hydrogen plant.”

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, spoke about the project and how much of the abattoir’s electricity it’ll offset:

“Once fully operational this cutting-edge facility will be capable of processing 2,400 head of cattle per day ready to cater for growing demand for Australian beef,” Dick said in a statement.

“The development approval also provides for 95 hectares of solar panels, capable of generating 78 MW of electricity or almost one third of the sites total electricity needs. A further energy efficiency measure includes the development of an on-site 33MW hydrogen plant to service the abattoir’s boiler.”

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher was also optimistic about hte project, which will deliver 308 construction and 335 operation jobs:

“This development will open up massive job increases for labourers in the Gladstone region by providing employment to dozens of non-trade occupations such as cattle workers, forklift drivers, and other processing workers,” he said.

Construction of the farm is expected to begin next May and finish up in 2021. 

Solar Powered Abattoir
Solar Powered Abattoir Mockup (source: QLD Govt)

Commercial Solar Uptake

There’s been an abundance of commercial solar installations and uptake over the past 12 months – here are some of the most interesting ones:

-Nectar Farms’ new glasshouse will be powered by the Bulgana wind farm (190MW, with a 20MW/34MWh Tesla Powerpack battery)

-Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance’s Whyalla steelworks will be powered by solar – utilising depleted mine pits to “unlock a legacy of past activity for the benefit of future generations”

-Vicinity Centres revealed that they will spend $75m to install solar at seventeen Vicinity-owned shopping centres.

 

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Bookaar Solar Farm Rejected | Solar Farm Opposition

We wrote back in August about the opposition the Bookaar Solar Farm in Camperdown was experiencing from residents, and on Wednesday they were pleased to see the application for the farm rejected by the Corangamite Shire. Usually we’re pretty down on ostensible NIMBYism like people opposing solar farms, but this one needs a few adjustments before it’s suitable. 

Bookaar Solar Farm Rejected

Bookaar Solar Farm Rejected
Bookaar Solar Farm Application Rejected (source: bookaarsolarfarm.com)

The Bookaar Solar Farm was a joint project between Infinergy Pacific and the McArthur family who own the land. It was to feature 700,000 solar panels to generate 200MW – developed by Bookaar Renewables Pty Ltd.

After the meeting rejecting their proposal, a spokesperson said “We’ll take some time to review the decision” so we’ll have to wait and see what happens 

According to the ABC, the list of concerns the Bookaar Solar Farm opponents listed was many and varied:

  • Visual Amenity
  • Road use during construction.
  • Glint and flare
  • Firerisk and firefighting access concerns.
  • Night lighting effects
  • Wildlife impact
  • Drainage issues
  • Noise
  • Nearby property devaluations
  • Micro-climate changes

Councillor Simon Illingworth discussed the issues at a meeting of the Corangamite Shire on Tuesday to see if the farm should go ahead:

“(the solar farm is) not a bad proposal but it’s in an inappropriate locality”.

“There’s been a lot of emotion and finger-pointing in this, but strip that out and it’s a planning decision,” Cr Trotter said.

“In a planning sense, it’s a lineball call, but I will come down on the side of the community.”

Other councillors discussed how they have no guidance from the State Government – in stark opposition to wind farms, which require approval by the state planning minister. Solar farm approval falls to local government who are often….less knowledgeable than they could be about issues like this. 

Local dairy farmer in Bookaar, Andrew Dynhoven, had some interesting things to say from an opponent’s perspective:

“I’m not against solar,” he said.

“I’m investigating solar to go on my dairy because we are a big user of power.

“But it’s been indicated now by this decision that there’s not enough governance, or regulation, or information for us or for councils.”

We’ll keep an eye on this and let you know if Bookaar Renewables Pty Ltd decide to challenge this decision or put in a new application!

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Solar Panel Roads in Australia / Efficiency

Solar panel roads – today we’ll take a look at how research and trials for solar panel roads are going, and what the future looks like for solar highways. Will we ever see solar highways in Australia (or anywhere else, for that matter)? 

Solar Panel Roads

We’ve already written extensively about solar roads and the various trials they’re currently in the middle of:

However there are three main problems with solar roads at the moment – price, performance, and safety. It’s still exorbitantly expensive to come up (the price per kW of all the current solar roads is up to $~2000 per kilowatt) with these road solar cells which perform significantly worse than their roofed brethren. Since the panels don’t have a tilt and need to be housed underneath something strong and load-bearing, this cuts efficiency significantly. And if 5% of a panel is shaded, this can reduce power generation by up to 50%. It’s assumed that dirt, dust, and traffic will exacerbate this – so we need a way to make the initial panels cheaper and/or more effective if solar roads are ever going to be a real possibility. 

Solar Panel Roads in Australia

Solar Panel Roads in Australia
Solar Panel Roads in Australia? (source: solarroadways.com)

Would these solar panel roads work in Australia? News.com.au have a great article about solar road technology, where they  discuss how expensive the current trials are and what the future for this technology could be:

The article quotes Dr. Andrew Thomson, a solar researcher at Australian National University. 

“It’s a really attractive looking idea,” Dr Thomson said. But while “it’s technically feasible, it’s very expensive. I don’t really think there’s a market for it, the opportunity cost is very much against it”.

We’ll keep you updated with progress on how solar road resarch is going along – but perhaps it’s just not the best place to put solar panels as Dylan Ryan, lecturer in Mechanical & Energy Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University told news.com.au: “…solar roads on city streets are just not a great idea”

 

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