Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria | Solar Homes Program

Solar battery rebates in Victoria will be rolled out as part of the Andrews’ government’s $1.34b Solar Homes program. The program also includes half price solar panels for 650,000 households and a $1,000 discount on solar hot water installation for 60,000 households. 

Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria – Solar Homes Program

Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria
Solar Battery Rebates in Victoria (source: solar.vic.gov.au)

Victorian home owners who fit the criteria (it’s means tested) will get a 50% rebate to install battery storage. The rebate will be capped at $4838 in the first year and will slowly decrease to $3714 by 2026, factoring in the inevitability that prices will decrease and energy storage technology will improve. The Age are reporting that this policy will cost an estimated $40m, with around 10,000 Victorian households expected to take advantage of the fantastic subsidy offer. 

According to the SBS, it’s part of Labor’s wider plan to increase renewable energy use and decrease the cost of living – with the plan being to work with energy distributors and invest $10m to help ‘renewable-proof’ the state grid over the next ten years. 

“This is a game changer for Victorian families fed up with big corporations that have been price gouging and ripping consumers off,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Only Labor will put solar panels, solar hot water or solar batteries on 720,000 homes – saving Victorians thousands of dollars on their electricity bills with renewable energy.”

Solar Homes Victoria Subsidy Breakdown

We’ve previously written about Labor’s half price solar for Victorians scheme- looks like there are some great plans coming to fruition for the state. 

Solar Panels – $1.2b for 50% of solar system installation costs for 650,000 homes.

Solar Hot Water – $60m for $1000 subsiddies to install solar hot water.

Solar Batteries – $40m for 50% of solar battery installation costs for ~10,000 homes.

It’ll be very interesting to see how these solar battery rebates work in Victoria and if the other states (especially the ones with a high solar panel update) follow suit. Watch this space – we’ll keep you updated! 

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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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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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Green Power Solar Blockchain ICO

Green Power Exchange (GPX) is a startup which is hoping to create a global platform for peer-to-peer renewable energy trading – with the goal of making renewable energy trading simple and convenient – resulting in a lower price because the energy is being sent directly from producer to consumer, cutting out the usual middlemen.

Green Power Exchange 

GPX’s solution is to eliminate intermediaries and launch a simple, easy to use peer-to-peer platform to buy and sell renewable energy. The local distributor will still need to be paid for line rental, but apart from that this eschews the traditional energy supply chain which consists of 1) Generation, 2) Transmission, 3) Distribution and 4) Retail. Obviously all steps in the supply chain result in a higher cost per kilowatt so it’s great to see some options where someone can buy directly from the producer. 

Crypto Reporting have done some research about Green Power Exchange, how it works, and how much you could save – offering up the example of a producer usually receiving $0.06 USD / kWh from a wholesaler or retailer while the end user is still paying around $0.20 USD / kWh. This is over 300% more than the producer receives – and as the energy goes from transmission to distribution to retail everybody adds on a clip. Not very efficient, and since the producer and end buyer are artificially separated like this, it’s difficult for them to meet and reach an agreement on a price. Enter GPX!

With direct trading, a cost per kWh could be $.1 USD which benefits both parties (the customer would still have to pay line rental to the local distributor which would be around $0.02). In this case the producer receives $.1 USD instead of $0.06 and the customer pays $0.12 instead of $0.20 per kWh. 

For GPX to work, you’ll need a smart meter which will be checked and then energy distributed through smart purchase power agreements posted on the blockchain. Given that PPAs will have to differ depending on the jurisdiction, Green Power have set up standard templates for everywhere the platform operates. There’s also the option to upload your own PPA which will then be vetted by the team to ensure it conforms with their standards. 

Christian Wentzel - Co-founder, Head of Energy - Green Power Exchange
Christian Wentzel – Co-founder, Head of Energy – Green Power Exchange (source: gpx.energy)

The Pre-ICO for Accredited Investors starts in 98 days as of 05.06.2018, so now’s a great time to start researching the company if it looks interesting to you. 

Are you thinking about investing in Green Power Exchange? Have you got any thoughts on this sort of model for the electricity market? Please let us know in the comments! 

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Solar Gardens – ‘ground solar’ – ARENA funding.

Those unable to get traditional solar systems installed on their roof may wish to take a look at the upcoming solar gardens scheme we will see in Australia. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) are funding a trial of the ‘ground solar’ in (mostly) regional areas of NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

Solar Gardens – Alternatives to Roof Solar

Solar Gardens in Australia
Solar Gardens in Australia (source: ARENA)

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, those without a rooftop who still want to invest in solar power will be in luck if they’re based in Blacktown, Shoalhaven, Byron Bay, Townsville, or Swan Hill – ARENA and ‘other participants’ are providing around $550,000 in funding to assist the trial.

Dr Liz Develin, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s deputy secretary of energy, water and portfolio strategy (wonder if she has to buy extra long business cards?) discussed how the department are hoping to achieve with the rollout:

“We are trialling solar gardens with the aim of helping renters, low-income households and those living in apartments save on their energy bills,” she said.

“Blacktown is a hotspot for rooftop solar and we are really excited to see how this trial goes. The average Western Sydney household with a 4-kilowatt solar system on their roof could already be saving up to $900 a year.”

Specifics on the scheme are still a little thin on the ground (sorry…) but the solar gardens are ‘generally’ under 100kW so as to keep the STCs (small-scale renewable energy generation certificates). The University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures and the Community Power Agency will lead this project.

Solar gardens are growing faster than any other segment of solar power in the US (200MW of new capacity was rolled out in 2016) – so perhaps this is the start of a revolution where the word ‘solar’ doesn’t necessarily conjure up the image of panels on a roof. I have no doubt we’ll see blockchain technology integrated or, for the bigger gardens such as those at mid-large size apartment blocks, some microgrids available to help balance demand.

Are you interested in applying to join the solar garden trial? Watch this space. More info to come as we have it!

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Bruny Island solar trial – ANU

Bruny Island solar trial – the tiny island off Tasmania is the site of a new smart solar and battery trial which may be helping shape Australia’s energy future. The combination of solar and battery installations work in conjunction to remove Bruny Island’s traditional reliance on diesel generators. 

Bruny Island solar trial

Bruny Island solar trial
Bruny Island solar trial (source: wikipedia.org)

The trial was done with Australian National University’s battery storage and grid integration program who worked with 40 households (around 3.5% of the amount of homes on Bruny Island) on the island to create a ‘microcosm of a future Australian electricity grid’. This was done by using the Network Aware Coordination (NAC) platform. The NAC consists of a series of ‘smart’ algorithms which can decide how to manage solar+storage (i.e. when to feed back into the grid or charge the battery based on myriad factors such as weather, usage patterns, and what other households’ energy draw/storage is). 

The Bruny Island solar trial wasn’t about fully replacing the diesel generators, but more about supplementing their usage and minimising reliance on diesel during peak times such as summer or a heatwave. 

“In the same way that traffic lights coordinate the flow of cars and trucks on the road, the Network-Aware Coordination platform coordinates the flow of energy from residential solar and batteries to networks and markets to ensure the efficient and reliable operation of the electricity grid,” the ANU said.

Lachlan Blackhall from the ANU discussed the goals of the project:

“The trial of the NAC is about better understanding how to use solar and battery to make the grid more efficient,” Mr. Blackhall was quoted in the Canberra Times. “During Easter, Bruny Island actually required more power than could be supplied by the undersea cable to the island.

“Typically they would use diesel but this program – even with only 3.5 per cent of homes on the island participating – reduced diesel usage by 30 per cent.”

The great results bode well for the future in Australia and also for people wanting to create a microgrid – the software and learnings headed up by the NAC will help ensure the whole grid remains healthy, rather than the more ‘selfish’ policies which we’ve seen other systems use. Looking at the grid as a whole rather than a household means we have a lot more control to share power as evenly as possible and try to minimise reliance on diesel. 

Even though it was a small trial it could scale up quickly without too much effort so the good result of the trial is very heartening. It’ll be interesting to see which size ‘microgrid’ they try and integrate NAC to next! 

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General Motors Holden Site – 2MW, 500kWh BESS

Carnegie Clean Energy reported earlier this week that they have secured $3 million in government funding to build a 2MW, 500 kWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at the General Motors Holden site in Elizabeth, South Australia. The funding will come from the Renewable Technology Fund, part of the South Australian Government’s Energy Plan.

Solar microgrid at the General Motors Holden Site 

General Motors Holden Site - Carnegie Battery Energy Storage System Example
General Motors Holden Site – Carnegie Battery Energy Storage System Example (source: carnegiece.com)

The site will provide grid-support services during peak times and, according to Infrastructure Magazine, will operate in tandem with the existing diesel backup generators at Elizabeth. 

Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill said “This solar and battery project by Carnegie is part of a wave of new investment in South Australia we have leveraged through the $150 million Renewable Technology Fund announced as part of our energy plan.

“Renewable energy projects like this also reduce demand on the grid during peak times, which puts downward pressure on power prices for all South Australians. This project is symbolic of the broader transition we are seeing in our economy away from traditional manufacturing towards high-tech industries creating jobs of the future for South Australians” Weatherill added.

Carnegie’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Ottaviano, said, “We are fielding an increasing number of opportunities that historically were performed by diesel or gas turbines, for which battery systems are now increasingly competitive. The CCE battery solution offers faster response time, lower operating cost, no greenhouse gas pollution, and silent operation. This is Carnegie’s first project in South Australia and means we are now delivering projects right across Australia.”

According to Dr Ottoviano the company will cover approximately 20% of the plant’s roof space initially, but there is no reason they couldn’t end up using the other 80% as well: 

“It’s a way of looking at what formerly would have been just a roof and turning it into an energy production asset,” he said in news.com.au

South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis discussed the effect it and other renewable investments are having on the job market: 

“Jobs are our number one priority and this solar battery project by Carnegie is part of a wave of new investment,” he said.

There have been many exciting developments for South Australian solar over the past 12 months and it’s great to see them keep coming. 

The microgrid is expected to commence operation by December. 

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Kalbarri microgrid: Carnegie to build.

The long awaited Kalbarri microgrid will be built this year and launched in 2019, as Renewable energy developer Carnegie Clean Energy have signed a $6.8 million contract with state-owned Western Power to build a 5MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in the area. 

Kalbarri Microgrid

Kalbarri Microgrid Details
Kalbarri Microgrid Details (source: Western Power)

According to the contract, Carnegie’s subsidiary Energy Made Clean will be teaming up with JV partner Lendlease services to build the sustainable energy storage system. It will be able to generate 4.5MWh and a minimum of 2MWh will always be accessible for backup services. 

The BESS facility will have two different modes – “Island Mode”, and “Grid Mode”, with the former allowing operation independent of the electricity grid. Grid mode will do what it says on the tin – helping provide network stabilisation for voltage and frequency to other generation sources. 

Carnegie Clean Energy CEO Dr Michael Ottaviano was ecstatic about winning the contract: 

“We’re excited to have won an extremely competitive, global tender using the latest in storage and control technologies. This reinforces Carnegie’s leadership in the design and delivery of innovative energy solutions in Australia,” he said. 

“(this) contract award comes just over 12 months after the establishment of the EMC/Lendlease JV which has secured $25m in orders in the last 4 weeks with Kalbarri and our Northam Solar Farm. With tender cycles running in excess of 12 months, and a clear focus on delivery of high-value projects for utility grade customers, we are just starting to see the results of our hard work over the past year.” Mr Ottaviano continued. 

West Australian Energy Minister Ben Wyatt also spoke of the BESS microgrid in Kalbarri and how it is a “game changer” for communities “…subject to environmental factors that can cause outages. The improved reliability for the region will boost the local tourism and retail operations, as well as enhance the lifestyle of residents.”

 

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Microgrid in Puerto Rico? Tesla Steps In.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s landing on Puerto Rico on September 20, the country has been almost completely without power and a majority of the 3.4million residents aren’t able to use fridges, air conditioning, or pump potable water. Enter the possibility of a Microgrid in Puerto Rico – Elon Musk’s Tesla have offered their support to the country by sending hundreds of their Powerwall energy storage batteries – with many already on the ground and more to come. They’re initially being sent to high priority locations such as hospitals which are currently using expensive and hefty gas-powered generators. 

Microgrid in Puerto Rico - Tesla
Tesla Microgrid in Puerto Rico? Electric use in PR before / after Hurricane Maria (source: Inhabitat.com)

Tesla Powerwalls and Puerto Rico

According to news sources such as Bloomberg and Engadget, Tesla is sending hundreds of the Powerwalls to Puerto Rico in an attempt to help shore up its shattered energy infrastructure. The Powerwalls will be paired with solar panels to generate energy while the country works on restoring its main grids. Some of the Powerwalls have already arrived in Puerto Rico and Tesla employees are on the ground assisting in the installation of required infrastructure. According to some sources, grid power won’t return to the entire island for another six months so they’re going to have to look at some options – which may include the full scale renewables – with small grids far more resilient than transmission lines and central grids. These microgrids could be connected to a central grid but also isolated if required. 

Renewable energy expert Tom Rogers told The Washington Post “You look at islands like Dominica, Anguilla, and other islands affected by the recent hurricanes, I’ve spoken to a couple of the utilities, and they say they would prefer to rebuild using distributed generation with storage, and just trying to reduce the amount of transmission lines. Because that’s where their energy systems fail. It’s having these overhead cables.”

Tesla Microgrid in Puerto Rico

After the initial Powerwalls being sent, there have been others talking about the much larger, industrial-size Tesla Powerpack grid scale storage solution and whether this could be an option for the commonwealth moving forwards. Clean Technica report that the island’s utility company, PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority), has a massive $9 billion USD in debt to Wall Street and Puerto Rico itself is in debt to the tune of $123 billion (and $74b of them are in defaulted bonds currently in bankruptcy court). In short, the country is in serious financial strife and its grid is virtually worthless. Ricardo Ramos, the CE of PREPA, told CNN the island’s power infrastructure had been basically “destroyed”. 

There’s a possibility of just handing the grid over to its creditors and ‘start again’ – and this could perhaps be the impetus for Tesla to create microgrids across the country with its Powerpack batteries (they scale from 50kW up to 100MWh) – certainly a herculean task but who other than Elon Musk would take something like this on? 

Musk’s team are currently installing Tesla Powerpacks in South Australia under less critical circumstances but it’ll be an interesting litmus test to see if Tesla could roll something out on such a massive scale. 

 

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Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid starts construction.

Carnegie Clean Energy, whose solar, battery, wave and desalination microgrid plans have been the topic of much discussion since they was announced earlier this year, have commenced construction on their 2MW Perth solar PV / battery energy storage microgrid. Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid (GIMG) project will be the largest embedded, grid-connected solar and battery microgrid in Australia.

About the Garden Island Microgrid

According to Carnegie’s website, Carnegie Clean Energy Limited (formerly Carnegie Wave Energy) is an “Australian, ASX-listed (ASX: CCE) developer of utility scale solar, battery, wave and hybrid energy projects.” The website notes that Carnegie is the only company in the world which has a  combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids.

Carnegie Clean Energy - Garden Island Microgrid
Carnegie Clean Energy – Garden Island Microgrid (source: carnegiece.com)

Using microgrid technology means the project will be able to function independently from the main power grid, and using hybrid sources of energy generation along with storage means they won’t run out of energy if the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. The system will have 3MW of solar PV panels and a 2MW battery energy storage system.

Carnegie’s chief exec Michael Ottaviano was quoted earlier this year (at an energy storage conference in Sydney) discussing stand alone power systems (microgrids) – after having installed over a dozen for both Western Power and Horizon Energy. “It is just a cheaper, cleaner more secure solution than the alternative,” Ottaviano said. “The cost of technology is coming down. What was an economic driver for remotes systems, is now true for the fringe of grid and on the main grid too.”

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Defence Minister Marise Payne released a joint statement which lauded the work done by Carnegie:  “The Government continues to support the work of Carnegie and we look forward to seeing how this project will inform Carnegie’s ability to provide energy security solutions at island locations in the future”.

Carnegie have inked supply agreements with the Department of Defense (in order to supply power and water (via the desalination plant) to HMAS Stirling – Australia’s biggest naval base in Perth, which is home to more than 2,300 service personnel.

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