Solar in Esperance – Micro Power Systems Coming.

Solar in Esperance – Micro Power Systems will be installed across 14 properties this year to help stabilise their grid and offer access to renewable energy.

Solar in Esperance

Solar in Esperance, WA has been an issue for a while as the existing powerlines are easily downed – winds, trees, or lightning strikes can make for some very expensive repairs. 

Esperance its a town on the south coast of Western Australia. The McGowan Government in Western Australia has proposed that 13 Micro Power Systems (MPS) be installed in the area, in order to deliver a “safer, more cost efficient and reliable power supply to remote customers in the Esperance region”, according to the official media statement on the Government of Western Australia website.

Rural solar is a big issue in Australia so it’s fantastic to see governments working on combating this by offering modern solutions. The MPS’ will be supplied by state-owned corporation Horizon Power who are currently tasked with supplying energy to 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses over a whopping 2.3 million square kilometres, according to Solar Quotes. The MPS devices include solar panels, battery storage and a backup diesel generator in case the battery is empty and the sun’s not shining. 

Energy Minister Bill Johnston provided some quotes on his website with regards to the new plan:

“The MPS project for Esperance highlights the McGowan Government’s commitment to transitioning to renewable energy technologies at the lowest cost possible to taxpayers.

“These farmers are at the fringe of the power grid, east of Esperance and the Condingup area, where reliability isn’t as good and power outages take longer to restore” Minister Johnston said.

“The MPS will provide the farmers with more reliable and safe power that will cost the State less to provide.”

Solar in Esperance - Energy Minister Bill Johnston
Solar in Esperance – Energy Minister Bill Johnston

CPS National, an Australian company with over 20 years of experience in critical power and remote area power solutions, will deliver and install the systems.

Construction the on micro power systems will begin in April and is expected to be completed, with the systems fully operational, by the end of this year. 

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the company installing these MPS’, I have embedded a video about CPS below.

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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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Approved Solar Retailer | Clean Energy Council Program

Approved Solar Retailer – the Clean Energy Council’s program is over five years old now – the voluntary scheme authorised by the ACCC in 2013 has had its ups and downs. Is it worth it? Let’s take a look. 

Approved Solar Retailer | Clean Energy Council Program

The Approved Solar Retail program has grown to over 200 companies in January 2019, according to EcoGeneration. A hundred of these have been added since September 2018, which makes you wonder what the program was like for the previous five years (there are around 4,000 solar companies Australia wide). Is it worth joining the CEC or are they a toothless tiger (or a cash cow)? How does the CEC deal with complaints about members? Does this represent a glorified rubber stamp and is self-regulation something we can trust industries to work on? That’s something worth discussing with other solar owners who have had experience with the program.

Here’s their code of conduct: 

“This non-prescribed voluntary code of conduct (the Code) aims to promote best practice measures and activities for retail businesses selling solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. This Code is for retail businesses that want to demonstrate the commitment they have to promoting responsible activity and development in the renewable energy sector across Australia. This Code is not intended to replace existing consumer, energy or environmental planning legislation, policy or regulations at local, state or federal government levels, but to bring about increased accountability within the PV retail industry”

The program’s recent growth appears to be directly tied to schemes like the South Australian Government’s Home Battery Scheme and the Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Package – it appears that the ACCC isn’t ‘enough’ to regulate the industry. 

One important thing to note – being an Approved Solar Retailer is different to being a Clean Energy Council member. You can find a list of members on the Clean Energy Council members page.

If you’re having problems with an accredited solar company please fill out a solar accreditation dispute form

If you’d like to check whether an installer is accredited with the Clean Energy Council please click here.

If you’re a solar company hoping to get accredited please click here to learn more about the process and what you can expect. Membership is on a sliding scale and starts from $600 p.a. depending on the size of your company.

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Battery Energy Storage System in Alice Springs

Battery Energy Storage System – Alice Springs is set to receive its first grid-scale battery as solar power in the Northern Territory heats up.

Alice Springs Battery Energy Storage System

Battery Energy Storage System Alice Springs
Battery Energy Storage System discussion at Alice Springs (source: territorygeneration.com.au)

The $8.3M, 5MW/2.5MWh grid-scale battery storage facility in Alice Springs was announced last year and has been completed this week. It was built by New Zealand solar company Vector using LG grid-scale solar batteries.  

Government owned Territory Generation (The Northern Territory’s major electricity producer) have advised that they’re hoping this battery will facilitate greater uptake of solar in the NT:

“The Battery Energy Storage System is an important milestone in the Northern Territory’s transition to renewable energy and a critical piece of infrastructure to support the Northern Territory Government’s Roadmap to Renewables strategy,” Territory Generation Chief Executive Officer Tim Duignan said.

“Reliability and stability of the power system is a critical barrier in the uptake of renewable energy across Australia, and I am pleased that we are at the forefront of tackling this issue right here in Alice Springs,” he continued.

The BESS should have quite a big impact on base-load power as well, so let’s see how it fares during summer 2018/19. Previously a very conservative approach to local grid management (read more in RenewEconomy) means this battery should help quite a lot: with half an hour storage capability, and can supply 8MW for 6 seconds, or 7.5MW for 60 seconds – suitable for the moments everyone decides their air conditioners need to be turned on at the same time!  

Mr. Duignan also discussed the plans for Darwin solar in the future: “The cutting-edge technology in our Battery Energy Storage System will reinforce Alice Springs as the solar capital of Australia by enabling greater solar penetration whilst maintaining grid stability.”

We wrote about the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) last June as it was unveiled in an attempt to compete with the other states, where the Northern Territory was lagging behind considerably (January 2017 PV output was 4,049MWh vs Queensland’s 126,629MWh). 

The Northern Territory is in a very unique position compared to its neighbour states – the state hosts a mere one percent of the total population but it represents approximately 15% of Australia’s land mass. However, installs are more expensive over there due to less competition and higher cyclone ratings required on solar panels. This dearth of Darwin solar is starting to change and there are a raft of high quality solar installers working hard in Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs, and more. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly they can catch up to the other states. 

Darwin Solar Farms

There are plenty of farms and solar projects in various stages of completion in the Northern Territory and this is growing rapidly:

  • GPT Group have 1.25 MW at Casuarina Square shopping Centre
  • Darwin International Airport’s 4MW.
  • Epuron are working on a 25MW Solar plant at Katherine.
  • The Australian Defence Force have tendered for a 12MW of solar (combined) at their Darwin and Robertson Barracks.
  • Rim Fire Energy Retail’s 10MW Batchelor solar farm.
  • Infigen Energy are building a 12MW solar farm at Manton Dam and 10MW at Batchelor.
  • Community solar project “Repower Alice Springs” is planning for a 10MW community solar farm.

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Melbourne Water Solar Tenders

Melbourne Water has announced a tender for two solar systems so they’re able to power to water treatment plans. Expressions of interest are now welcome.

Melbourne Water Solar Tenders

Melbourne Water Solar Tender
Melbourne Water Solar Tender

State-owned Melbourne Water have announced that they want to be carbon neutral by 2030,so this is a step in the right direction. The expressions of interest are for design, construction, and operation of two solar facilities at the Eastern Treatment Plant (ETP) in Carrum Downs, and also the Winneke Water Treatment Plant in the Yarra Valley. 

This is a “practical way for Melbourne Water to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, and tackle climate change”, according to the utility. 

According to the tender, the systems will need >30 gigawatt-hours per year for the ETP, and 12GWh from Winneke. The ETP treats approximately 330 million litres of sewage a day – which is 40% of Melbourne’s total sewage. This is an extremely energy intensive task so it’s fantastic to see the utility come up with a plan to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2030. Australia’s solar power future is looking bright!

The official website has a link to the Expression of Interest with some interesting quotes:

“Melbourne Water is committed to reducing its net carbon emissions to zero by 2030.

The proposed solar farms are one initiative designed to help meet this ambitious goal and will play a role alongside other projects including hydro-power stations and the transition of Melbourne Water’s car fleet to zero emissions vehicles” the tender reads.

We’ve seen plenty of council solar over the last year and it’s fantastic to see state governments also working hard on minimising Australia’s carbon footprint.

Expressions of interest to provide solar power to Melbourne Water will close on November 27. The company are hoping to make their choice by May of 2019.

For further information please call 1800 931 978 or email via [email protected]

 

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