Newcastle solar farm to go ahead – Carnegie

Carnegie Clean Energy, who last week announced they will be building both the Kalbarri microgrid and the Kalgoorlie solar farm, have had another win today as their fully owned subsidiary Energy Made Clean won a tender to build and operate a $7m, 5MW Newcastle solar farm. 

Newcastle Solar Farm

Newcastle Solar Farm
Newcastle Solar Farm (source: Carnegie Clean Energy)

According to a press released they issued yesterday, Carnegie Clean Energy won the tender to install the PV solar + storage facility on a capped, former landfill site at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre in Newcastle. The project forms part of Newcastle Council’s plan to cut emissions by 30% by 2020 as part of the Renewable Energy Target. 

Carnegie’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Ottaviano (feels like we’ve been quoting him every day lately!) said, “We are delighted to have won our first utility scale solar farm project in NSW and our first to be connected in the National Electricity Market. This project brings the value of new contracted work for our joint venture to over $30m over the past 2 months.”

The Newcastle solar farm will be installed as a ground mounted fixed tilt system. It’ll have an optimised piling system so as to benefit as much as possible from the site topology and it’ll be modular – they are preparing for the future addition of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Carnegie have stated that the design phase has already commenced and plant commissioning is expected at the end of Q3 this year. 

Energy Made Clean “specialises in the delivery of mixed renewable energy microgrid projects to islands and remote and fringe of grid communities” and Carnegie is the “only company in the world to offer a combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids” – so it’ll be really interesting to see what their future plans are now that they have some big projects to work on! 

Australia’s largest solar plant built in NSW in 2018

Australia’s largest solar plant will be built in NSW early next year. It will be a 250MW DC solar photovoltaic power plant with energy storage and installed in NSW’s Sunraysia region. The plant will be built by Decmil on behalf of Chinese company Maoneng Australia, who already have a solar farm in the ACT and are looking to create a second. The Sunraysia solar farm was being discussed back in June (click to view our article about it) and has changed from 200MW to 250MW but will still be located on 1000 hectares of private freehold land 17km south of Balranald centre – approximately 140km south-east of Mildura.

Australia’s largest solar plant

Australia's largest solar plant - Sunraysia Solar Farm
Australia’s largest solar plant – Sunraysia Solar Farm artist’s rendition (source: sunraysiasolarfarm.com.au)

According to Maoneng vice-president Qiao Han, Maoeng Australia and Decmil signed an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) on Tuesday. They plan to construct the plant as soon as April or May in 2018 – with the construction contract valued at approximately $275 million. 

The plant is expected to generate at least 530,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, and will power houses in both NSW and Victoria. Maoneng’s previous Australian solar investment, the 13MW Mugga Lane solar park in the ACT, generates around 24,500 megawatt hours – so this is a big step up. 

There’s talk of the plant also using batteries to store excess power making it one of the first solar farms in New South Wales to do so. According to a statement from Decmil, “This will provide greater energy reliability and allow the solar farm to produce electricity during periods of peak demand rather than only during sunlight hours.”

Large-Scale Solar Farm Competitors

Although this will be Australia’s largest solar plant for a while, there are currently three projects which will be larger when they are completed: 

No doubt before those three are finished we’ll have even bigger plants on the horizon – it’s great watching the neverending race of large-scale solar! 

 

 

 

Floating Solar Farm in Lismore – Australia’s First

A floating solar farm has been installed in Lismore, northern New South Wales – it’s Australia’s first foray into floating solar and the Lismore City Council are hoping to have construction completed today. It should be fully functional by mid-December.

Floating Solar Farm

Floating Solar Farm in Lismore
Floating Solar Farm in Lismore (source: farmingthesun.net)

The 100kw floating solar farm, located at the Lismore City Council sewage plant, will be constructed by Suntrix and will be capable of generating around 12% of the power required by the sewage plant. 

“This particular pontoon will be floating by tomorrow, which is really exciting but the aim is to have it all connected and up and running by mid-December,” Lismore City Council’s Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett said. Ms. Hunnisett also noted that this is merely the first step in Lismore City Council’s plan to power their sewage plant via renewable energy – telling the Northern Star that they are hoping to upgrade and expand the plant over the next six months. 

“We will have to do our calculations but we are hoping a minimum of 400kw in the future,” Ms. Hunnisett said.

Chief Project Officer, Geoff Fussell from Suntrix, said that the solar farm could power around 20 homes and will consist of 280 solar panels. He also told the ABC about the importance of building the farm so that it’s able to mitigate floods – “The panel island will float at the level of the water table but allows for 12 metres height expansion in heavy rains,” he said. “The solar panel anchors can withstand floods.”

The Lismore floating solar farm is one of many measures the Lismore City Council has put in place as per its Renewable Energy Master Plan. They have set themselves the ambitious and admirable target of generating all required electricity via renewable sources by 2023. This makes them the first regional council in Australia to commit to making its electricity supply 100% renewable. 

Solar power in Lismore is gaining a lot of traction recently, with Farming the Sun and Lismore City Council working in tandem on the floating solar farm, and also the construction of a 99kW rooftop PV solar system on top of the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre. The Rainbow Power Company, based in Nimbin, was responsible for the build at the Aquatic Centre. 

 

 

 

Sydney Metro Solar Powered Facility

The $8.3 billion Sydney Metro train network will include a solar project on the roof of a maintenance building at Rouse Hill to help power its facility. The Sydney Metro Solar project will generate around 1.5 million kWh (kilowatt hours) per year – enough to power 270 homes. 

This is a relatively small scale project (given the scope of the main network), but it’s a fantastic first step, and we hope just the start of a long and prosperous relationship between Sydney Metro and renewable energy.

Sydney Metro Solar at Rouse Hill

NSW Transport told the Rouse Hill Times that the solar facility at Rouse Hill will consist of 3,287 solar panels. They’ll be installed on the roof of the maintenance building on Cudgegong Road – this will be one of the largest solar power systems installed on a building in Australia – it’ll cover more than 6,500 square metres.

The renewable energy generated by this solar system will be used to power some of the Sydney Metro railway stations, and also the maintenance facility, where the new metro trains will be washed, inspected, repaired, and serviced. According to the official website, in keeping with the eco-friendly theme of the facility, Sydney Metro trains will be washed in an automated train wash, at least twice a week – and up to 95% of the water used to wash a train will be recycled. 

The trains also use regenerative braking – which means extra energy generated by a slowing train can be pushed back into their local grid and used by nearby trains. 

Sydney Metro Solar Rouse Hill
The Sydney Metro Solar Facility will be installed at Rouse Hill HQ (pictured) (source: sydneymetro.info)

NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance told the Daily Telegraph “This is one of the biggest solar power systems mounted on a building in Australia — another milestone that shows the sheer scale of the city-shaping Sydney Metro project,”

Constance noted that “Sydney Metro is the biggest urban rail infrastructure investment in the nation’s history and we’re building it for the long term” – so it’ll be great to see how they couple this with renewable energy and eco-friendly developments during its lifetime. 

Community Solar: Clean Energy 4 Goulburn

A group of residents in Goulburn have joined together to create a community solar farm. The 1.2MW AC output Clean Energy 4 Goulburn solar farm will have 4000 non-reflective PV solar panels and the capacity to power between 350 and 500 houses in the region. It will be completed in 2018. 

Clean Energy 4 Goulburn

Clean Energy 4 Goulburn Team
Clean Energy 4 Goulburn Team (source: ce4g.org.au)

After a lack of interest in renewable energy for Goulburn, a group of seven locals led by group president Ed Suttle, formed Clean Energy 4 Goulburn in 2014.  They were hoping to raise $2m to finance their project, with around 50% coming from the local community, as the group made a commitment that they will be majority community owned. 

Following a viable feasibility study in 2015/16, a DA was made to the Goulburn Mulwaree Council for their solar farm to be built on a 2.5-hectare site east of Goulburn owned by Divall’s Haulage. After a protracted approval process, CE4G are partnering with Essential Energy (which in itself took 5 months to be approved), who own the power infrastructure in Goulburn, to get permission to use their poles and wires to transport the energy.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the GE4G team are hoping to sell 50% of its eventual renewable output to one major end users (e.g. local government or a large institution), and the remaining 50% can be sold (via an electricity retailer) to the greater Goulburn community. 

Click here to visit the Clean Energy 4 Goulburn site and learn more about their plans.

The $380m Gunning Solar Farm is about 50km west of Goulburn (and is still in early development stages) but other than that there aren’t any other solar farms in Goulburn right now. 

Community Solar Farms

Earlier this year investors sunk over $3m into Australia’s largest community solar project in Canberra – the Majura Solar Farm. This is expected to be completed in 2018 also and, with 533 backers, certainly won’t be the last time we see community solar farms being built in Australia. Bringing the power back to the people, especially in rural areas, is going to get a lot larger over the coming years. 

See a video about the Goulburn community solar farm below! 

Ausgrid to buy solar power from Syd businesses.

Electricity network operator Ausgrid has reacted to ballooning infrastructure maintenance and repair costs by investing in a pilot trial for solar power. They’re offering to buy solar from local Sydney businesses in a trial area to see how renewables can help move a company, which has been called “possibly the least efficient network in Australia” (via Hugh Grant (no, not that one!) from the Australian Energy Regulator) into the future.

Ausgrid’s Solar Trial

Ausgrid Solar
Ausgrid’s $2m Solar Pitch (source: ausgrid.com.au)

Ausgrid, Australia’s biggest network operator, was privatized and sold to two Australian super fund managers late last year. Technically the deal was a 99-year lease of their assets, while the New South Wales government holds 49.6% and a consortium of IFM Investors and AustralianSuper holds the other 50.4% interest.

With electricity networks now utilising PV solar to cut costs and future-proof their businesses, it’s clear the cat is well out of the bag in terms of Australia’s energy future. 

Via a $2 million trial investment, Ausgrid is offering $250 per kilowatt for companies in certain Sydney suburbs (Auburn, Erskineville, Alexandria, Redfern, Randwick, Waterloo and Kingsford Smith, according to RenewEconomy) to install solar panels on the top of warehouses and industrial facilities.

A tender document noted: “We consider solar power systems and energy efficiency retrofit activities would offer permanent demand reductions over the typical network need period once installed.”

They hope to reduce grid demand and subsequently lessen the amount required to fix existing infrastructure – and if this pilot is successful Ausgrid could potentially roll the offering across their entire network, which spans Sydney metro, the Central Coast, and the Hunter Valley.

The future for Ausgrid and Solar Power

Now that they’re starting to realise the inexorable march towards renewable energy means adapt or perish, there are myriad pathways Ausgrid could take from here.

Assuming their trial project is successful, they could roll the entire 1.6 million customers into a bunch of microgrids, implement local energy trading, and they could also consider looking at further decentralising their grid – they could offer incentives for energy storage, not just solar panels. 

Whatever ends up happening, Australia’s solar power future is clearly starting to shine brightly when companies like Ausgrid start to turn to renewables to save money! 

 

$380m Gunning Solar Farm proposed for NSW

Photon Energy are proposing to build a $380 million, 316MW PV Gunning solar farm – about 75km north of Canberra and 50km west of Goulburn.

Gunning Solar Farm Development

The ABC are reporting that Photo Energy have already lodged their initial plans with the NSW Department of Planning. The plans are set on 590 hectares and will encompass ‘hundreds of thousands’ of solar panels. It’s currently going through permit approvals and grid connection processes – according to RenewEconomy they are in discussions with Transgrid with regards to the construction of a 300MW (AC) substation to connect to their (Transgrid’s) network (which is 330KV).

The current largest operating solar PV setup in the southern hemisphere is the Nyngan Solar Plant in western NSW – it is able to generate 104MW. The Sunraysia Solar Farm, currently in pre-development stage as it was approved last month, is slated to generate 200MW – so the Gunning Solar Farm is a huge proposition and we hope that Photon Energy are able to get it over the line.

Photon Energy - Gunning Solar Farm
Photon Energy Logo (source:photonenergy.com.au)

Photon Energy’s MD, Michael Gartner, was quoted in the ABC discussing Australia’s transition to renewables and the Gunning Solar Farm’s role to play in all this: “The reason we’ve gone to that scale is because we see the need to build very large-scale solar generation systems to supplement the energy requirements of the power grid, as we’ve moved forward to the energy transformation away from coal to renewable energy.”

Photon Energy, founded in Prague in 2008 and publicly listed in Poland since 2013,  are hoping to begin construction of the solar farm in 2019, pending DA approval. They’re currently developing multiple solar projects in NSW, have approximately 50MWp of PV plants commissioned in five different countries, and have their own portfolio of 26MWp in three countries. Having operated in Australia for several years already and with successful developments under their belt, it’ll be exciting to see how the Gunning solar farm development goes.