Ross River Solar Farm (Kelso, Townsville)

The $202 million, 148MW Ross River Solar Farm in Kelso, near Townsville in North Queensland is currently under construction. It’s the largest operating single stage solar farm in Australia and will comprise of 413,000 solar panels on single axis tracking systems.

Ross River solar farm

Ross River Solar Farm
Ross River solar farm (source: rossriversolarfarm.com.au)

The solar farm reached a financial close last May under Palisade Investment Partners and ESCO Pacific. Built on a disused mango farm over 202 hectares in a rural residential area near Ross Dam, it received DA (Development Approval) from the Townsville City Council in June 2016 (you can see the Town Planning Report they submitted by clicking here). They’ve signed a 13-year power purchase agreement with EnergyAustralia – with a new buried cable 132kV transmission line to connect the project to the Ross River Bulk Supply Substation being run to help facilitate the PPA. 

The project is funded via equity from the Palisade Renewable Energy Fund and three of Palisade’s clients, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), VicSuper and HESTA.

Palisade Managing Director and CEO, Roger Lloyd, said: “We are excited about this investment which further diversifies Palisade’s renewables portfolio. Palisade’s hands-on approach to taking greenfield projects through the development phase to financial close allows us to shape our investments in a way that minimises risk and maximises returns.”

According to an article from the Toowomba Chronicle, up to 250 North Queensland solar jobs are being created through this project. Downer Utilities, part of the listed Downer Group, is the lead construction contractor and you can click here to see their current solar job listings if you’re interested in joining the project.

The Ross River solar farm is set for completion later this year and is expected to operate for up to 40 years. We’ll keep you updated with any interesting developments we hear about it. 

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Solar battery database in Queensland – Reg for $50!

Queenslanders that have a solar battery (AKA energy storage) powered by PV solar panels on their roof can earn $50 by registering it on the Queensland solar battery database which was announced last Wednesday, ahead of a national database which is currently being discussed.

Solar battery database in Queensland

Queensland Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham announced the database which will work in tandem with the Australian Energy Market Commission, who are currently working on national rules for a register of battery storage systems and distributed energy devices.  

“Households with solar panels are starting to install batteries to store their solar power to use during peak periods,” Lynham said on a press release entitled ‘Queensland leads the way on energy storage‘ hosted on the Queensland Government website.

“Energex and Ergon Energy need to know where those batteries are in an emergency, but also because those batteries can help better manage the electricity network and supply during peak demand.

“This is part of our plan to use network energy assets to further lower wholesale prices, minimise price spikes and increase the resilience of the power networks,” he said. 

“For example, households with batteries, and the service providers operating the equipment on their behalf, will be able to respond to possible peak load events by optimising the use of their battery stored power.”

The register will be to help improve safety during emergencies as emergency service responders can attend fire scenes and if they aren’t aware of energy storage at the premises, it can be an issue for obvious reasons.

Solar Battery Database
Solar Battery Database to assist in safety for grid employees. (source: energex.com.au)

Energy Queensland Chief Executive Officer David Smales discussed the safety concerns and why Queensland are jumping ahead to establish this database:

“Capturing these details in a centralised register will help address these potential safety concerns. 

“It will also create opportunities for Ergon Energy and Energex to potentially work with customers to use these installed battery systems to more broadly contribute to addressing demand and voltage issues in the electricity grid.”

If you want more information about the project or how to redeem your $50 please visit www.energex.com.au or www.ergon.com.au.

Queensland’s solar future is looking bright, with the Palaszczuk Government’s “Powering Queensland’s Future” plan, solar power on over a third of homes, and renewable energy jobs in Queensland more than doubling late last year. 

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Redback Technologies receive $4m grant from QLD

The Queensland government has given Redback Technologies a $4m grant to continue its work on developing a smart energy monitoring platform. The grant has been awarded through the Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program. 

Redback Technologies

Redback Technologies - Redback Smart Hybrid Inverter
Redback Technologies – Redback Smart Hybrid Inverter (source: redbacktech.com)

The Brisbane based Redback Technologies advertise themselves as creators of “Advanced hybrid technology with battery manages and stores solar energy, which you can save for your own personal use or sell back to grid.”

The Fifth Estate is reporting that this could result in Redback hiring up to 109 new staff to help the development and manufacture of their ‘smart energy monitoring platform’ – a system which is able to deliver real-time power generation/usage information via apps or the internet and is also able to automate smart (IOT) appliances. It also manages solar and battery energy use depending on the weather, usage patterns, current tariffs the customer has, and so on. Obviously the project is not complete yet so we don’t have a full feature set but it’s really exciting to see something like this developed so close to home, and being helped by the government. 

Innovation Minister Kate Jones told a press conference:

“Redback Technologies is at the forefront of moves to make battery storage technology more affordable, with a system that will enable a reduction in energy costs for consumers and help to pump renewable energy into the grid.

“The $4 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program grant will lead to the development of a smart energy monitoring platform that will give customers the ability to instantly analyse and control energy consumption.” Ms. Jones continued.

Philip Livingston, the managing director of Redback, said that there will be macro as well as end user benefits as the business grows – pointing out that the more data they’re able to get on usage patterns, we will see a commensurate increase in efficiency of their systems: 

“The support of the Queensland government will enable Redback and our partners to create a platform ecosystem, using big data to drive better outcomes for energy users and energy businesses,” he said.

“This technology will benefit industries beyond energy.”

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ALDI Solar System installed at Brendale, QLD

A press release by Epho Commercial Solar Energy this morning announced that they have completed installation of a 1MW PV solar system on top of ALDI’s distribution centre at Brendale, QLD. The ALDI solar system is now live and is expected to offset the equivalent amount of carbon to planting 30,000 trees or taking 422 cars off the road each year. 

ALDI Solar System at Brendale

1MW Aldi Solar System at Brendale Distribution Centre
1MW Aldi Solar System at Brendale Distribution Centre (source: app.com.au)

The 1MW PV solar rooftop at the ALDI Brendale Distribution centre will generate 1.45 million kwH (1,454Mwh) and was installed by Epho, using over 20km of cabling and 3,400 solar panels. It was installed while the distribution centre was in use – making the installation a bit tricky and requiring expert installers. Epho has previously worked with ALDI via a commercial solar pilot program in 2016, where stores in NSW and VIC had smaller solar systems installed. 

Epho Operations Manager Luke Butterworth expounded further on the install in the media release: “To meet ALDI’s stringent requirements and maintain its award-winning customer experience, each ALDI installation needed to happen in a ‘ghost-like’ manner with minimal disturbance to the normal operation to ALDI’s business,” said Mr Butterworth. “The 1MW project allowed Epho to demonstrate every facet of our turnkey solar power solution to our customer, from project management, to stakeholder management, engineering and operations as well as work health and safety.”

Dr Oliver Hartley, Epho’s MD, was similarly excited, noting in the press release that “Solar power is a perfect fit for supermarkets and these large commercial solar systems can supply a significant chunk of the electricity needs for stores and distribution centres with free and clean renewable energy for years to come.”

It’s estimated that the system will fully cover the facility’s power requirements on a sunny day (and there are plenty of those in Queensland!)

Commercial Solar in Australia

Back in September, we reported on the growing trend of private businesses installing solar power on their premises, noting that commercial solar installs are up 60% in the last year and a half. 

Installs such as the Brisbane Aiport Solar System,  Complete Office Supplies’ private solar investment, and the Mitani Group’s commercial solar installation in South Australia are becoming commonplace as commercial solar grows as a financially viable option to protect against rapidly rising electricity costs. Great to see ALDI following suit and we’re sure there will be many more to come as Australia continues its renewable energy revolution. 

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Solar thermal power station in Queensland planned.

Australian company CWP Renewables has proposed to build a 250MW, $1.3 billion solar thermal power station in Townsville. The station, similar to one already built in Nevada and one planned for South Australia, will be a huge economic and employment boon to the area. 

About the Solar Thermal Power Station

Solar Thermal Power Station Khi Solar One, South Africa
Solar Thermal Power Station Khi Solar One, South Africa (source: wikipedia.org)

We reported in August that South Australia will have a solar thermal power station installed in 2018 (Aurora, to be built by SolarReserve). Their station is slated to cost around $650 m so if CWP’s proposal goes ahead it will be the largest solar thermal structure in the country. Privately held SolarReserve was also responsible for the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada near Las Vegas. No word on CWP’s track record with solar thermal (or who they’ll choose to partner with for the tech), but they will be bidding against SolarReserve who told RenewEconomy they are also planning to develop up to six solar thermal facilities in Queensland over the next decade. 

“This Concentrated Solar Thermal project can deliver dispatchable, emissions-free power to North Queensland, together with thousands of high value jobs which utilise the existing skills of the North Queensland workforce, ” CWP Renewables managing director Alex Hewitt told the Townsville Bulletin yesterday.  Hewitt advised that the project is being called “Freedom Energy One” and will include solar + storage, noting that it could represent a cost effective and eco-friendly alternative to a new coal generator.

We reported yesterday that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor party’s “Powering Queensland’s Future” proposal will include a $50 million “down payment” for a solar thermal power plant in Queensland, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the money will go towards CWP’s plant – along with SolarReserve and CWP there are a few companies looking to tender for a plant right now. 

According to CWP, if approval was reached then project construction would commence in 2019. The two-year construction phase would result in the creation of more than 2,000 jobs – with employment for civil works, tracking mirror installation, thermal receiver tower installation, storage tank and piping creation, and the construction of a brand new electrical substation which would be used for the plant. 

It looks like there’s a pretty good chance Queensland will see the construction of a solar thermal power station at some point, and it’s just a matter of time! 

If you want to learn more about the tech please click here to read the Wikipedia article about concentrated solar thermal. 

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Gladstone Solar Power – Installers, Plants, and more.

Gladstone solar – Gladstone has been experiencing a massive amount of interest in solar power over the last 18 months – both for residents and as a potential hotspot for solar farms. 

For a town that’s traditionally been ‘coal-based’, they’ve been very quick and forward thinking to jump on the renewables train (North Queensland solar has been growing exponentially for all of 2017)  – so if you’re looking for solar installers in Gladstone or just want to read about our projections for renewable energy in the region, please read on!

Gladstone Solar Power Installers
Gladstone Solar Power Installers (source: statedevelopment.qld.gov.au)

Solar Installers in Gladstone

Residential solar in Gladstone has been growing rapidly and there are a number of reliable installers in the local area – if you want to get a 5kw system installed, a Tesla Powerwall (or any other type of solar battery), please contact one of the installers below (and let us know how you get on!):

Do you install solar in Gladstone and would like to be included on this page? Please email us

Gladstone Solar Farms

As of October 2017 the Gladstone Observer noted that Mayor Matt Burnett has discussed their desire to become a “renewable hub” and that “numerous” companies had been courting the city in the hopes of being approved to install solar/wind farms in Gladstone. Cr Burnett noted that this doesn’t necessarily represent a ‘change’ from coal to solar, more so a diversification. 

“I believe one of these projects will start in the next 18 months, if not in the next 12 months,” Cr Burnett told the Observer – and it certainly seems that way. 

Eco Energy World has submitted a DA to build the Raglan Solar Farm at 75 and 199 Epala Road, and there is a shortlist of five companies looking to build at the Gladstone State Development Area. There’s also talk of a 450MW renewable hub at Aldoga. We’ll keep you updated with any news with regards to solar in Gladstone, watch this space! 

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Brisbane Solar Installers: Compare prices, panels, quotes!

Brisbane receives almost 6 hours of ‘peak sun’ per day. According to the Clean Energy Regulator and the APVI, Queensland leads the charge of percentage of dwellings with a PV system – at around 32% – with over 1600MW in installed PV generation and almost the same again in the pipeline. Brisbane solar, especially for residential homes, plays a major part in this.

As such, many Brisbane and Queensland citizens have taken advantage of the power of solar, but haven’t taken a look at solar batteries. Whether you are looking to upgrade your panels, put in a new system, or add solar battery storage to your place, Saving With Solar can help. Read on below to learn more about our list of Brisbane solar companies and which steps you should be taking to ensure you get the maximum result to save the most money with your solar installation!

Brisbane Solar Installers
Brisbane Solar (source: visitbrisbane.com.au)

Best Solar Installers in Brisbane

There are many solar companies in Brisbane and we’ve come up with some below.

In terms of the best products, warranty and quality workmanship, we recommend SolarKraft – give them a call on 1300 985 363 or click to visit their website and learn more about how the friendly Solarkraft team can save you money on solar.

Brisbane Solar Power with Solarkraft
Brisbane Solar Power with Solarkraft

Some other Brisbane solar quotes are available from:

Brisbane Solar Battery Quotes

As we noted before, over 30% of the households in Brisbane already have solar panels on them. If you’re not on one of the 44c/kWh grandfathered tariff plans, you can often save money but installing a solar battery and changing to a peak/off peak tariff with your solar provider.

Although the Tesla Powerwall 2 is all the rage and some people are even waiting for the Powerwall 3 release date, there are a range of options that are just as functional with less of a price tag:

Solar Battery Comparison

How much money can I save?

This is quite difficult to answer without looking at your specific circumstances, but we can give you a rough idea before handing you over to one of our qualified installers. First of all, ideally you would like your panels to be facing north on an angle around 20-40′ from horizontal to receive maximum efficiency from your panels. In a perfect world this isn’t always possible but as long as you sit down with your installer and conduct a thorough analysis of your roof you’ll be able to maximise your result. Sometimes even if you’re not able to achieve optimum conditions due to trees, roof sloping or location, simply adding an extra solar panel can be enough to make up the shortfall.

In short, although not all houses will be able to get the ‘optimum’ orientation – it’s important that you use a trusted solar installer who will sit down with you and use the latest technology to offer you the best result for your circumstances.

Brisbane Solar Output (assuming ~85% efficiency)
System Size
Averaged (over a year) daily output
1.5kW 5.7kWh
2kW 9kWh
3kW 13.5kWh
4kW 19kWh
5kW 23kWh
10kW 46kWh

Brisbane Solar Uptake – Suburb by Suburb

Which suburbs in Brisbane have the most solar power installed? Have a look at this data from the Energex website, current as of September 2017:

Suburb Postcode Count Installed Solar PV Capacity (kW)
VALDORA 4561 87 15380.25
BUDERIM 4556 3616 12458.64
CABOOLTURE 4510 2643 10172.896
NARANGBA 4504 2572 9799.02
FOREST LAKE 4078 2725 9046.67
MORAYFIELD 4506 2342 8865.87
HELENSVALE 4212 2384 8740.6
UPPER COOMERA 4209 2241 8622.13
NORTH LAKES 4509 2168 8201.44
CAPALABA 4157 2231 8039.74
JIMBOOMBA 4280 1966 7738.79
DECEPTION BAY 4508 2093 7557.52
ALBANY CREEK 4035 2089 7556.24
SUNNYBANK HILLS 4109 2293 7546.04
BURPENGARY 4505 1970 7455.79
REDLAND BAY 4165 2040 7444.71
BRACKEN RIDGE 4017 2164 7375.96
KALLANGUR 4503 2108 7346.11
ROBINA 4226 2078 7299.9
ALEXANDRA HILLS 4161 2129 7293.86
CARINDALE 4152 1991 7285.67
THORNLANDS 4164 1892 7026.035
NERANG 4211 1725 6795.19
VICTORIA POINT 4165 2054 6717.71
BIRKDALE 4159 1960 6674.81
THE GAP 4061 1773 6341.795
CALAMVALE 4116 1971 6326.41
ORMEAU 4208 1572 6011.09
EIGHT MILE PLAINS 4113 1708 5946.45

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Redback Technologies Product Range

One of the most exciting solar companies in Queensland is Redback Technologies, based in Indooroopilly. They’ve got a great product and have been moving in very exciting directions over the last 18 months – we’re looking to seeing what the future brings for this young company.

About Redback Technologies

Have a look at the video below which introduces Redback Technologies, their founder and MD Philip Livingston, and explains more about their partnership with EnergyAustralia.

Redback Technologies were founded in 2015 and are, according to their LinkedIn profile, ‘a technology company focused on the development of advanced, low cost solar solutions for residential and commercial users’. They offer market leading integrated hardware and software technologies.

Redback were recently in the news for being granted $1.96 million by the QLD Government as they inked an MoU to bring their tech to Dubai. You can read our report on that by clicking here. Livingston was also ‘bullish’ on the recent Tesla South Australia deal – being quoted as saying “More storage rather than less is a good thing. Having storage in the grid as a buffer is good for consumers. Mr Musk is a role model for many of us in the way he approaches things.”.

Redback Technologies Product Range

Redback are currently offering their Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter System with Battery Enclosure.

It consists of:

  • 6kW Solar Panel Input
  • 4.6kW inverter
  • UPS and backup power included
  • Compatible with ‘a variety of batteries’
  • Able to install inside or outside, floor or wall mounted.
  • Constructed from ‘high grade aluminium’.
  • Inverter is IP65 rated.

It’s different from standard solar + storage systems in that they use Redback’s proprietary software and don’t lock you into using a specific battery – there are a number of popular 2.4kWh storage options you can slot into the enclosure.

Learn more about the Generation II Hybrid by visiting the Redback Website.

The Smart Hybrid Battery Enclosure is also well constructed and fits a number of energy storage batteries – it consists of:

  • 4 x 19″ 2 rack mountable battery packs
  • Up to 9.6kWh storage capacity (4 x 2.4kWh batteries)
  • Passive and active cooling
  • Smart temperature control
  • IP54 rated environmental protection rating
  • <25dB noise emissions
  • Prewired – easy installation.

Perhaps the ‘jewel’ in the crown of Redback’s offerings is their advanced solar power management software – entitled ‘Ouija Board’ – which you can learn about in the video above.

With Ouija Board you can remotely control inverters from an app or a web portal – and it’s upgradeable for both software and hardware (firmware) via wi-fi or 4g (optional). It has relay support for pool pumps and water heaters, smart load scheduling, supports IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and is customisable for peak time tariff support. The Ouija board provides some amazing ‘intelligent technology’ to help store, monitor and manage your home’s solar energy. We’re working on getting some screenshots and sample reports from Redback – some of the insight they offer into your power usage can save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

Redback Technologies Product Range
Redback Technologies Product Range

Buy Redback Technologies Solar

If you’re interested in purchasing anything from the Redback range please fill out the form to the right of this article and we’ll be in touch with some ways we can help you invest in solar while using a quality local company with great products and a local warranty.

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2 North Queensland Solar farms approved

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) has been approved to build two North Queensland solar farms in Clare and Tieri – to bring another 141MW of solar power to the sunshine state.

FRV and North Queensland Solar

FRV Logo - North Queensland Solar Farms
FRV Logo (source:claresolarfarm.com.au)

According to the Daily Mercury, the Tieri project will create 200-250 jobs during its development. It is a 96MW DC solar farm and will join another FRV farm in the same region – the 125MW Lilyvale Solar Farm.

With the additional approval of the 45MW Clare II Solar Farm in Burdekin (which will be constructed next to the Clare I solar farm) these two projects (Clare II and Tieri) will add 141MW to FRV’s current 281MW portfolio of solar farms in the approved, but planning stages. It’s going to be a big 12 months for solar farms Australia wide, but especially in Queensland where there has been a flurry of recent approvals (e.g. the mega solar farm at Bouldercomb, an smaller Longreach Solar Farm and many more). RenewEconomy data shows that there are 17 solar farms currently being built (or having reached financial close) in Queensland alone – and there are at least another 34 currently being planned.

FRV Australia Managing Director Cameron Garnsworthy said: “These recent planning approvals build on FRV’s track record of successfully working with local communities to achieve positive regulatory endorsement for its utility-scale solar projects”. They’ve previously been responsible for the succesful design and development of the Moree solar farm, the Royalla solar farm (both in New South Wales), and, as previously mentioned, the original Clare solar farm which is currently being upgraded. They have a proven track record overseas as well – FRV is a global developer of solar projects who have built utility-scale plants in locations as diverse as Jordan, Uruguay, India and Italy.

You can click here to read more about the existing 125MW Clare Solar farm which will potentially reach 150MW in its final design (On May 31 FRV sold it to Lighthouse Infrastructure and DIF who acquired a 50% equity interest each in the project).

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Queensland solar tariff buyout scheme vetoed, altered.

Back in the days of solar power’s infancy, the QLD government (most states in Australia also ran their own separately) ran a plan where users feeding solar power back into the grid could receive a ‘premium’ feed-in tariff of $0.44/kWh. With the growing technology behind battery storage and solar panel technology, the 238,000 customers that will remain on the grandfathered premium Queensland solar tariff plan until 2028 pose a threat to the budget and the government have decided to try and figure out a way to ensure it doesn’t become a problem in the future – and they’ve decided to do this via a crackdown on excess battery storage.

Queensland Solar Tariff History

Customers who applied for the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme before 10 July 2012 and maintain their eligibility can continue to receive a feed-in tariff of 44 cents. Be aware these grandfathered plans are at least 400% more generous than anything you’ll get in 2017 so check before making any changes that may affect your 0.44c! This feed-in tariff is closed to new solar customers and will expire in on July 1, 2028.

With battery storage becoming the norm, there was a push last year (championed by Ergon Energy) to buyout the users of this this tariff or include a ‘voluntary swap’ with battery storage – unsurprisingly this was met warmly by the battery storage industry and the solar industry. It was, however, quashed by the Queensland Productivity Commission in late 2016 as the cost (~$9,000 per household) was deemed too high.

Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey introduced a bill on June 15 to limit the amount of energy solar power consumers can feed into the main grid, telling the Courier Mail that it was necessary to stop customers ‘gaming the system’. This is due to projections showing the cost of the scheme could have grown by 25% by 2028 – which would, according to Bailey, raise the cost from $4.1 billion to $5.1 billion. As per the ABC, as part of the new bill those under the Solar Bonus Scheme would no longer be able to feed energy into the grid while taking power from their battery.

Bailey was quoted as saying: “You can either use your solar PV to generate power for your property, or you can use the power coming from your battery,”and “When the Solar Bonus Scheme was first established, new technologies like batteries were not a consideration.”

Mark Bailey Energy Minister - Queensland Solar Tariff Crackdown
Mark Bailey MP on Queensland Solar Tariff Crackdown (source abc.net.au / Patrick Williams)

Further Reading – Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme

The Electricity Act 1994 and the Electricity Regulation 2006 set out many of the rules that apply to the 44 cent premium feed-in tariffBailey’s bill is due to be debated later this year and we’ll keep you posted on its progress.

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