AGL Solar – Company quits rooftop solar business.

AGL solar – the company announced on Tuesday that they will record a $47m loss from their residential rooftop solar installation business. 

AGL solar installation business to shut down.

AGL Solar Installations
AGL Solar Installations (source: aglsolar.com.au)

AGL bought the Rezeko brand around seven years ago and used its systems to install “proprietary residential solar”. They’ve now put out a press release advising that they will write down the company’s residential solar arm. 

With the imminent (2022) closure of their Liddell coal generator, it makes sense that the company are trying to diversify with regards to methods of energy generation. It’s a shame that this hasn’t worked out, and we’ll be interested to see how it affects AGL’s vision of renewable energy moving forwards. 

“We decided to withdraw from the direct installation of residential solar hardware after completing a comprehensive review of the business,” AGL Chief Customer Officer Melissa Reynolds was quoted as saying in an email to Renew Economy

“The review determined that the interests of our customers would be better served by moving to a different business model. Under this model we forward enquiries for residential solar hardware installation to our third-party partners which are experts in the installation of PV solar.

“AGL will continue to provide advice to customers on solar energy and energy plans.”

AGL was one of the country’s top 10 residential solar installers, and in the top five of commercial solar installers. It remains to be seen what the ramifications of this writedown are, but we’ll keep you updated with how things are going. What we do know is that their commercial solar installation arm will remain unchanged as it’s presumably much more profitable than the ‘race to the bottom’ we’re seeing domestic solar installers engaged in.

The company says its plans for virtual power plants in Adelaide and elsewhere will not be affected. 

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Euroa microgrid: community solar to avoid summer blackouts.

The Euroa Environment Group is leading a $6 million grassroots project which will see 589 kW of new solar panels and up to 400 kW of energy storage installed to create a local Euroa microgrid. This will help avoid the summer blackouts which have plagued the small north-east Victoria city in recent years. 

Euroa Microgrid in combination with Mondo Power and Globird Energy

Euroa Microgrid
Euroa Microgrid Diagram (source: Mondo Power via abc.net.au)Mon

The EEG (Euroa Environment Group) is a local collective formed to help the issue of constant blackouts in the small city. They’ve now got a huge $6m project which will see the EEG partner with Mondo Power, Globird Energy, and 14 local businesses in Euroa who will install the technology, creating a microgrid in the city which means the town will have greater electricity supply reliability, and will also reduce local demand for electricity during peak times.

The Andrews Labor Government has also given a $600,000 solar grant towards the project, which is currently underway.

Shirley Saywell, president of the EEG and local business owner, has discussed the reasons they’ve taken this path:

“We believe that unfortunately we’re not getting good leadership from our Federal politicians, and I believe it’s up to grassroots organisations to drive the renewables charge,” she said.

“There’s no one simple answer to coal, and I think that’s not well understood.”

“Leadership is coming from groups like ours because we understand there is a range of solutions, and there’s not one simple solution. It’s about being clever about what’s available to us.”

 This sort of community solar is also a hot topic of discussion for Australia’s politicians:

Jaclyn Symes, Member for Northern Victoria, discussed how this could impact future decisions for other towns suffering from unreliable power supply:

“Everyone is becoming more educated around the opportunities and the options for reducing reliance on coal,” Ms Symes said.

“I expect that lots of people will be watching with interest about how this works and what savings people will see, and what types of reliability of power improvements can be generated as well.”

We’ll keep you updated with any news from this microgrid and how it helps Euroa traverse the 18/19 summer. 

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Vicinity Centres To Install $75m of shopping centre solar.

Vicinity Centres revealed today that they will spend $75m to install solar at seventeen (instead of five) shopping centres in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, after previously indicating that thy would ‘only’ be spending $28m to roll our commercial solar across five of their shopping centres. This is being touted as ”Australia’s largest-ever property solar program”.

Vicinity Centres and Commercial Solar for Shopping Centres

Vicinity Centres Shopping Centre Solar
Vicinity Centres Shopping Centre Solar – Vicinity CEO/MD Grant Kelley and Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall.

We wrote about Vicinity’s initial shopping centre solar plan back in May, when the initial figure was $28m. The scope of what Vicinity are hoping to do have changed drastically over the last few months – and they have decided to throw almost 300% more money at the project and expand it to more states. 

Stage 1 will still involve 11MW of commercial solar across five shopping centres and is already underway.

The second stage is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. It involves extending the program to Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – generating over 31,000MWh of solar energy each year. 

“We know our centres have a considerable footprint in our communities which is why we’ve committed more than $75 million towards stage one and stage two of our solar project,” said Vicinity’s head of shopping centre management, Justin Mills, in comments on the project repeated in One Step Off the Grid.

“This investment will generate clean power for our centres for the long term, make a positive environmental impact and deliver shared value for our customers, retailers and investors,” he said.

“As technology advances so does the business case for solar. We anticipate strong investment returns with the project to generate an internal rate of return of approximately 12 per cent, while also reducing our consumption from the national electricity grid by up to 40 per cent.”

Vicinity Solar Project Information and Timeline
Vicinity Solar Project Information and Timeline

The second stage rollout will also create over 300 solar jobs during the construction phase and 40 permanent roles once it’s completed.

Read the original press release by clicking here

 

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Ovida Community Energy Hub | Victorian Solar Grant

A generous grant for the $2m Melbourne based Ovida Community Energy Hub was announced by the Victorian state government this week. It’s been given a grant to help deliver affordable, dispatchable and reliable energy for occupants of apartment and commercial buildings.

Ovida Community Energy Hub

Ovida Community Energy Hub installers Jemena (source: jemena.com.au)
Ovida Community Energy Hub installers Jemena

The Ovida Community Energy Hub has been awarded a $980m grant from the Victorian government to install shared solar and battery storage systems in three as yet unchosen multi-tenanted buildings. 

It’ll be done in conjunction with a group of solar companies – the consortium behind the $2 million Ovida project includes Ovida themselves, shared/community solar company Allume Energy, distribution company Jemena, RMIT and the Moreland Energy Foundation.

“Microgrid projects are part of our plan to drive down energy prices, reduce emissions and create a pipeline of investment in renewable energy,” Victorian energy minister Lily D”Ambrosio said in a statement reported by One Step Off The Grid

“This initiative will allow more households and businesses in multi-tenanted buildings to take control of their energy bills.”

The project will generate 5000kWh of renewable energy and will also support 11,000kWh of energy storage when it’s complete 

“Traditionally solar arrangements in multi-tenanted apartment blocks have been all or nothing – meaning all residents had to invest in and use the system for it to work,” said Ovida’s Paul Adams while discussing the project. 

“We know this can be a challenge because apartment blocks often include long-term residents, owners, and short-term occupants who each have different energy needs and expectations.

Along with apartment solar, this is another great step for commercial solar in Australia – watching the government get involved like this bodes well for the future of these sorts of projects. As the price of electricity continues to rise more and more businesses will be looking to insure themselves against further rises and look at buying their energy from alternative sources.

 

 

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RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedowns

Australian solar contracting company RCR Tomlinson has taken a $57m write down on the Daydream solar farm and the Hayman solar farm, which are owned by Edify Energy and to be installed in North Queensland.

RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedown

We reported earlieir this year on the Hayman and Daydream solar farms and how First Solar will be handling the installation for Edify – at that time everything looked rosy but it appears that a couple of major factors have led to cost and time delays. Edify have cited “external” delays, bad weather, and local issues like poor ground quality.  Also being blamed are the increasingly stricter requirements being imposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator which are affecting solar farms Australia-wide. 

RCR Tomlinison Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland.
RCR Tomlinson -Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland. (source: thewest.com.au)

As of last year, RCR have over half a Gigawatt of large-scale solar projects in their order book and over a Gigawatt currently being developed or progressed under early contractor involvement processes, according RCR Managing Director & CEO, Dr Paul Dalgleish (who has since left RCR). As a result of the writedown RCR are now attempting to raise $100m from investors and have had to offer a significant discount on RCR shares on a one-for-1.65 basis at $1 each. This represents a ~65% discount on the stock’s last trade price ($2.80).

According to RenewEconomy, Tomlinson has written down $57 million on the $315 million contract values for both the 150MW Daydream and the 50MW Hayman solar farms owned by Edify Energy. They’re both located in North Queensland and both nearing completion.

A statement to shareholders noted that: 

“These project-specific issues required the Company to continuously revise its execution methodologies to mitigate delays, leading to increases in subcontractor costs (both people and plant) and logistics cost overruns.

“As a result of these cost overruns that arose over the life of the Project, RCR has realised cumulative write- downs of $57 million from the tendered margin on the Project.”

Some bad news for solar farms in Australia but we have no doubt that these projects will end up completed and can start making their investments back. We’ll be watching closely how the AEMO’s ongoing changes to legislation affects the many other solar farms currently in various stages of completion/operation. 

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Pilbara Solar Farm | Alinta Planning Off Grid Solar Farm

Alinta Energy have applied to the Western Australia Department of Water and Resources to clear 160 hectares at the proposed site of its Pilbara solar farm. 

Pilbara Solar Farm | Alinta Energy

Pilbara Solar Farm Alinta
Pilbara Solar Farm by Alinta Energy (source: AlintaEnergy.com.au)

The planning application send through to the department is for permission to clear the 160 hectares of the site and also lays out a planning application for the Pilbara solar farm. 

“The clearing will be required so that Alinta Energy Transmission (Chichester) Pty Ltd (Alinta) can build, own and operate a solar field located adjacent to Fortescue Metals Group’s (FMG’s) Christmas Creek Substation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (the Project),” the application says, according to RenewEconomy, who have quoted ‘solar industry insiders’ who estimate the size of the solar farm to be around 60MW (Alinta haven’t announced the size of the proposed farm yet).  

“The Project will supply FMG’s Christmas Creek mine site with power to support ongoing mining operations” the report continues.

It’s understood that the project will probably use single axis tracking and hopefully usurp the current energy for the Christmas Creek mine – an expensive and ecologically unfriendly 58MW diesel plant. This goes to show how important renewable energy in resources is – especially when you’re dealing with a site far from the grid. Some of these mines use an astronomical amount of power and having as much as possible of that power requirement coming from renewable energy is a fantastic step in the right direction for the resources industry in Australia. 

Last month Alinta made a development application for the 65km energy transmission line which would link the Christmas Creek mine with the Cloudbreak mine – so this gives us a bit of an idea as to what they are hoping to achieve in the future. Don’t be surprised if you hear more about this solar farm and a whopping great battery to go with it! Watch this space. 

 

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Bookaar Solar Farm | Timeline, Opposition & More

The $150m, 200MW Bookaar Solar Farm in Victoria is set to start construction in July next year, if local residents trying to scupper the plans don’t have their way.

Bookaar Solar Farm

Bookaar Solar Farm Location
Bookaar Solar Farm Location (source: Google Maps)

The 200MW Bookaar Solar Farm will feature around 700,000 solar panels, according to the ABC. It is located 10 km to the north of Camperdown, in South West Victoria. It’s being developed by Bookaar Renewables Pty Ltd (a partnership between the landowners and Infinergy Pacific)

According to the official website, there are six main reasons they chose that particular location:

  • Good degree of flat land within the land holding.
  • Good solar resource.
  • Simple grid connection options onsite, with capacity on the lines for the required generation size.
  • Extensive farming land.
  • Good transportation links and site access.
  • Low visual impact – they are hoping to add to existing screening by planting a vegetation screen around the perimeter of the solar farm so neighbour views aren’t as obstructed.

During the construction period it is estimated that the project could provide jobs for up to 150 workers over the course of a year and more.  Following this, 12 full time local jobs will be created over the 30 year operational period of the project. 

The project’s Planning Application and Assessments will be submitted to the Corangamite Shire Council in May 2018.  If approved, construction will begin in late 2019 and be completed by late 2019 or early 2020. 

“The development would be operational for 30 years, after which it would be decommissioned and the site returned to its pre-development status,” the application to council states.

With that said, there is still some solar farm opposition due to its planned size.

Bookaar Solar Farm Opposition

The farm is estimated to be around 6 square kilometres in size, in comparison to Camperdown (where the farm will be built near) which is only 4 square kilometres. As a result, some of the residents are a little uneasy about the impact this farm may have on their investments/lives.

Over 30 people turned up to a meeting a fortnight ago where the Boookaar Community Action Group discussed the ‘immense’ size of the project. 

“The clincher is that it’s 605 hectares, over 1500 acres, just by sheer size it’s an immense problem,” Chair of the group Andrew Duynhoven told the meeting.

“The actual solar farm is the size of Camperdown, plus a quarter.

“It’s massive. It’ll probably be the biggest solar farm application in Australia at the moment.”

Dynhoven elaborated that he is pro-solar but the ‘sheer scale’ of the farm is making them nervous:

“I’m not against solar. I’d love to have solar on the dairy, and in the near future that will occur, but I’m against the sheer scale of this.”

Given the small size of Camperdown and the big solar farm, it is more understandable than most solar farm NIMBY opposition. The residents are also concerned about glint, glare, and the classic: using ‘prime agricultural land’ to build a solar farm. 

A public information meeting will be held at the Camperdown botanic gardens at 1pm on Sunday for anyone interested in following this along. Further discussion about the farm can be found on The Standard‘s website. 

 

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Darling Downs Solar Update | Jobs, Farms & More

Darling Downs solar is helping the area by providing jobs to locals and kickstarting the economy – with one council already approving $6b worth of wind and solar projects. There’s now a ‘buzz’ around the Darling Downs and renewable energy – let’s take a look at what they have in the pipeline!

Darling Downs Solar 

Darling Downs Solar Farm
Darling Downs Solar Farm (source: Origin Energy)

“We’ve got $1.2 billion of that under construction now, and that’s the exciting thing, this isn’t just about approvals, this is about action to deliver renewable energies to this region,” Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said in comments to the ABC

“And we know there are another three [solar farms] in the pipeline.”

In Warwick, the 154,000 megawatt-hour generating UQ / Warwick Solar Farm is to be installed on ‘good agricultural land’ has had to wage a battle against NIMBY detractors. Mayor Tracy Dobie defended her decision (she had the deciding vote to allow the farm DA):

“This region is about growth and development and we can sit here and go poor slowly or we can progress our region and the more development we can get in our region the more jobs,” Ms Dobie said.

“The more progress we can make, the better off we are.”

Mayor Dobie continued to discuss the project and what she sees the future of renewable energy in the Darling Downs as looking like:

“This is a turning point in our region to show we are moving forward, that we are looking to the future, and there is nothing more evident than that than renewable energy.

“There’s a buzz about the Darling Downs, this is a great place to be and great time to be here.”

Toowoomba Solar

There’s been an amazing amount of renewable energy movement in Toowoomba – with the billion dollar project at Bulli Creek approved by the Tooowoomba Council. This will be built by Solar Choice over a 10 year staggered period. 

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio spoke about the concerns some residents may have and why he’s happy to continue approving solar farms:

“I guess we have to be a bit cautious of the type of land we put it on, but in saying that, the land is restorable, its not going to be destroyed in any mining effort or anything like that, and in 20, 30, 40 years’ time that land will be back to full production.”

Have a look at the short video below from ABC Landline which was part of an article about using ‘good farmland’ for solar farms. 

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Global wind and solar statistics – 1 Terawatt reached!

Global wind and solar statistics – Bloomberg New Energy Finance are reporting that global wind and solar energy capacity reached the 1TW milestone at the end of June this year.

Global wind and solar statistics

Global wind and solar statistics - Wikipedia
Global wind and solar statistics (source: wikipedia.org) (By Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1372121)

According to Wikipedia, renewable energy contributed 19.3% to global energy consumption and 24.5% to the generation of electricity in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This has risen sharply in the past couple of years and research indicates that we will continue to speed above and beyond the trillion watts – which is 1 million MW, or a billion kW, if that makes it easier to understand!

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) release a report this week which is based on their comprehensive and up-to-date database of renewable energy projects. The report notes that 54% of the renewable energy generated was from wind, and 46% represents solar power. This is interesting as it shows how quickly solar is reaching wind power – in 2007 we had 8GW of capacity (around 8% of the world’s renewable energy) – in comparison to wind power which had 89GW.  According to Renew Economy this represents a gigantic increase of 57x of solar’s 2007 statistics. 

With one terawatt out of the way, Business Green have been crunching the numbers with regards to the second one, which will undoubtedly be far faster and far cheaper than the first:

“The BNEF analysts predict that the pace of renewables rollout will accelerate even more in the coming years, with the second terawatt expected to arrive by mid-2023.”

It looks like wind and solar will produce more power than coal in America within the next 10 years. How will the figures be for the rest of the world? How will Australia go given the future of our National Energy Guarantee is shaky at best (not to mention it’s receiving plenty of criticism in either case). How will solar battery storage affect these figures? Will the huge influx of commercial solar system installations help us reach the next terawatt much faster? Watch this space. It’s going to be an exciting few years for renewable energy! 

 

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Primo Smallgoods Solar – Company to install 3.2MW

Primo Smallgoods are set to install Australia’s biggest commercial solar rooftop PV system with 3.2MW to go up at their Wacol, Brisbane plant in August. 

Primo Smallgoods Solar – Commercial Solar

Primo Smallgoods Solar Installation`
Primo Smallgoods Solar Installation (source: primo.com.au)

The installation will cut Primo Smallgoods’ reliance on the grid by 19 percent, according to chief operating officer Bruce Sabatta:

“JBS globally has set sustainability targets to achieve by 2020. These targets cover water, gas, electricity and greenhouse gas emissions amongst others,” he said.

“As part of the JBS business, Primo has a part to play in the reduction of our environmental impact in Australia,” Sabatta was quoting as saying back in June.

“With our new solar panel installation in place, we will use the power generated from the solar panels instead of solely relying on power from the electricity grid.

“We are making significant investments in energy efficiency to lower our carbon footprint and to continue to improve our efficiency leadership position in the industry,” Sabatta continued.

The solar array will be installed by CleanPeak Energy and Todae Solar, following a tendering process by Solar Choice in 2016. Todae are also responsible for the Brisbane Markets’ solar installation and the 12.3MW solar system Stockland are currently rolling out, so they have a lot of experience in these large-scale commercial solar installs. CleanPeak Energy was started by Philip Graham and Jonathan Hare, previously of Citigroup and Origin Energy, in order to work solely on commercial solar – so this job looks like a perfect fit.

“Our model is to effectively work with a customer to deliver a power solution that is renewable and cheaper than their current offer,” Mr Graham was quoted in the AFR.

One Step Off The Grid are reporting that the Primo solar system will generate 4,869MWh of power in its first year – the equivalent of powering 20,032 homes for one year.

This comes at a time where private/commercial investment in large-scale solar is at an all-time high with companies like Hunter Douglas investing in 800Kw earlier this month. 

“This installation is notable for the cutting edge technology that we have chosen, and its cost effectiveness which will see it pay back the investment in a little over four years,” said Tony Politis, Hunter Douglas MD for Australia/NZ.

There are many other commercial solar installs on the books all across Australia, including:

Brisbane Airport are installing a huge 6MW solar array at multiple locations which they are hoping to have complete by the end of 2018. 

BlueScope Steel will buy 200 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year from the Finley solar farm.

Cannington Mine‘s owner, South32, will install a 3MW solar farm across six hectares – to supply the mine’s accommodation village and airport. 

 

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