Gladstone solar farm – manufacturing contract signed.

The $500m Gladstone solar farm will be built at Aldoga later this year as the Queensland Government chose to award the contract to Spanish renewable energy giant Acciona Energy who will build the 265MW farm and establish a community benefits fund. It will hope to gain development approval over the next few months. 

Gladstone Solar Farm

Gladstone Solar Farm - Acciona
Gladstone Solar Farm – Acciona (source:acciona.com)

Around 1250 hectares of state owned land at Aldoga will be used to create the solar farm, which is slated to create hundreds of jobs and also provide plenty to the local area as part of the contract:

“As part of the lease agreements, Acciona Energy will also establish a community benefits fund of between $50,000 to $120,000 per year, representing between $1.5 million to $3.6 million over the 30-year lease, to be provided to local clubs, associations and community groups in the region.” Cameron Dick, Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, said.

“Acciona Energy will develop, finance, construct and operate a $500 million solar farm through a 30-year lease with the Queensland Government and they are committed to Buy Queensland and Gladstone Buy Local procurement strategies,” Mr Dick continued.

They’re currently undertaking a ‘detailed feasibility study’ before development approvals are sought, and after that they’ll commence construction:

“This could take around 12 months, meaning construction may begin in the second half of next year, and electricity generation in the second half of 2020,” Acciona Energy Australia Managing Director Brett Wickham said.

We’ve written about solar power in Gladstone before and mentioned this project (where it was proposed as a 450MW renewable hub), so it’s great to see this project finally off the ground and gaining some traction. 

No word on whether Acciona will be thinking about adding energy storage to this solar farm, but with the price sinking rapidly we’ll see how their plans change after they have a go at the DA process and start working on construction! 

 

Cannington Mine Solar System Installation

Cannington, in North West Queensland, hosts the Cannington mine on an old sheep and cattle station – and it’s going to get a 3MW solar farm! The Cannington Mine solar system has been ordered by South32 and will be built later this year. 

Cannington Mine Solar Farm

Cannington Mine solar farm
Cannington Mine solar farm (source: south32.net)

The Cannington mine is the world’s largest producer of silver and lead. The underground mine was opened in 1997 and is owned by South32, a mining and metals company with its HQ in Perth. The deposit was discovered by BHP Minerals (South32 was spun out of BHP Billiton in 2015) in 1990 and the mine was commissioned in 1997, with the cost of opening around US$450m. 

According to the North West Star, the solar photovoltaic (PV) farm will be installed across six hectares. It’ll generate electricity to supply the accommodation village of the mine and also its airport. Any leftover electricity will prop up the mining and processing operations of the Cannington mine. 

Energy Developments Pty Limited and SunSHIFT has won the tender to deliver the solar PV farm to Cannington – the installation of which is expected to result in 4000-6000 tonnes of greenhouse gases not being released into the atmosphere. Energy Developments currently own and operate over 980MW (almost there!) of energy generators – they focus on landfill gas (LFG) power generation and abatement, waste coal mine gas (WCMG) power generation and abatement, solar, wind, remote energy, and liquefied natural gas. 

Chief Sustainability Officer at South32 Rowena Smith said that she and everyone involved in the Cannington Mine solar farm were excited about the constructions:

“It’s an exciting time in the industry when renewable energy technology and innovation is applied to deliver power to our world-class remote mining operations.” Ms. Smith said. 

 Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources, which is really benefiting from the plummeting cost of installing solar power. It’ll be interesting to see how much money South32 are able to save by installing the Cannington Mine solar farm. We’ll keep you posted! 

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. 

Llewellyn Motors install 332kw solar system in Ipswich.

Llewellyn Motors in Ipswich have installed a 1232-panel, 332-kilowatt solar system on the roof of their car dealership, creating Australia’s largest privately-owned solar power station. 

Llewellyn Motors’ Solar System

The Ipswich car dealership worked in conjunction with Planet Ark Power to install the solar system, and according to Llewellyn’s general manager James Sturgess it has already saved the company approximately $7,000 in power costs since it was turned on in October.

Llewellyn Motors Solar System - Planet Ark Power
Llewellyn Motors Solar System – Planet Ark Power (source: Planet Ark Facebook)

“Basically this takes care of half our energy needs,” Mr Sturgess told QT.

“The model we’ve put together is for this system to be cash flow positive from day one. We’ve been able to achieve 90% of our target straight away, and that’s taking into account a few rainy days.”

They are still in negotiations with Energex and the State Government with regards to feeding power back into the grid. In either case, the Llewellyn Motors solar set up is unique in that includes a special type of battery storage which uses data projections and previous information to decide when it should switch on and off. This battery will help reduce peaks in consumption and cut their solar bill further. 

According to the executive director of Planet Ark Power, Richard Romanowski, their proprietary dSTATCOM software is a key driver of the ‘smart battery’ that helps the company save so much money and decide which to charge/discharge:

“This system is going to save them thousands of dollars a month,” Mr Romanowski said.

“The key is in the way the smart battery reduces the customer’s demand charges; it’s a battery plus software.”

This is another example of commercial solar continuing to gain ground in Australia – last week we reported on Stockland shopping centres rolling out 12.3MW of solar across 10 of their venues. We’ve also seen Aldi installing solar systems at their distribution centres, Office supply company Complete Office Supplies’ private solar investment in June this year was a massive $1m in rooftop PV solar at their Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne warehouse locations. No doubt there’s plenty more to come. 

Stockland Solar Power Rollout – 12.3MW

Stockland Solar installs – Australia’s biggest diversified property company have announced that they will partner with Todae solar to roll out Australia’s largest ever property solar project at 10 of Stockland’s shopping centres.

Stockland Solar Shopping Centres

Their September press release noted that the $23.5 million investment will see Stockland install more than 39,000 PV panels, on roof space on retail centres in areas such as Merrylands, Burleigh Heads, Point Cook and Wendouree in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. They are aiming to install 12.3MW across 10 shopping centres, at a cost of $23m a year. This will generate around 17GWh of solar per annum. 

Mark Steinert, Managing Director and CEO of Stockland discussed their plan in the release, saying:

“We are 100% committed to investing in sustainable energy. We’re extremely proud to be setting a new standard in solar for Australian property which will help create clean, green energy for our retailers, our customers and the communities we operate in.

“We’ve already invested more than $4.5 million in successful solar projects at four of our shopping centres in NSW and this project will extend our reach across 10 of our centres on the east coast.”

Stockland Solar Powered Shopping Centres
Stockland Solar Powered Shopping Centres (source: stockland.com.au)

Combined, the project is expected to produce 17.2 GWh of energy every year, the equivalent to driving an electric car around the world 2,381 times.

Todae will help Stockland install solar at Stockland Shellharbour, Stockland Wetherill Park and Stockland Nowra shopping centres in NSW. They’ll also expand an installation at Stockland Green Hills. To date, Stockland solar have generated over 2.3 million kWh of energy – the company owns and operates the most green star rated shopping centres in Australia.

“Investing in technology like solar energy is not only environmentally sustainable, it also makes good business sense. Our forecast average yield over a 10 year period is 11.6 per cent on capital invested, generating strong shared value for both our investors and our communities,” Mr Steinert said.

This solar installation will bring the company closer to its target for a 60% carbon intensity reduction for its office and retail assets over the FY06-FY25 period.

Last year Stockland was recognised as the most sustainable real estate company in the world in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and achieved Global Sector and Regional Sector Leader status in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey in the category Diversified – Retail/Office. 

Stockland is also going to spend $200,00 on installing Tesla Destination Chargers across 31 Stockland shopping centres, according to One Step Off The Grid

Stockland’s shopping centre solar rollout will be across the following centres:

  • Stockland Caloundra, Qld
  • Stockland Merrylands, NSW
  • Stockland Hervey Bay, Qld
  • Stockland Bundaberg , Qld
  • Stockland Traralgon, Vic
  • Stockland Burleigh Heads, Qld
  • Stockland Point Cook, Vic
  • Stockland Cairns, Qld
  • Stockland Green Hills, NSW
  • Stockland Wendouree, Vic

This represents another massive step forwards for commercial solar and we are sure we’ll see many other companies follow Stockland’s lead and start generating as much of their own power as they can. 

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! 

 

 

 

Mackay Council Solar Tender – 20 Sites

Mackay Council solar sites – the Mackay Regional Council has voted to invite tenders from 16 shortlisted respondents for the installation of solar systems at 20 council sites. 

Mackay Council Solar 

Mackay Council Solar Tender
Mackay Council Solar Tender (source: mackay.qld.gov.au)

An ordinary meeting held by the Mackay Regional Council yesterday voted to ask for tenders from shortlisted Expressions of Interest (EOI) respondents – a pool of 16.  They’re hoping to install solar systems at 20 sites around Mackay, according to the council website. These sites are:

  • Mackay Civic Precinct ArtSpace
  • Mackay Civic Precinct Administration Building
  • Mackay Civic Precinct Entertainment Centre and Convention Centre (MECC)
  • Wellington St Administration Building
  • The Dome – Dudley Denny City Library
  • Gordon White Library
  • Bluewater Lagoon
  • Paget Depot
  • Nebo Road Water Treatment Plant
  • Mt Bassett Sewer Pump Station
  • Mirani Depot Site
  • Paget Waste Transfer Station
  • Sarina Administration Centre including Bob Wood Hall and Library
  • Sarina Sewerage Treatment Plant
  • Mackay South Sewerage Treatment Plant
  • Mackay North Sewerage Treatment Plant
  • Dumbleton Weir
  • Mirani Sewerage Treatment Plant
  • Pioneer Swim Centre
  • Sydney St SPS

According to the Daily Mercury, the council’s yearly electricity bill is around $7 million – with $3 million of that from street lights and $2 million to power the city centre. Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said that every $1 million the council saves could lead to a 1% reduction in rates bills. 

According to Mackay Regional Council CEO Craig Doyle they an assortment of options including a large-scale solar farm, waste-to-energy and a hydro turbine,  but ended up deciding on small-scale solar on specific sites instead: 

“We called for EOIs in September last year to investigate options around renewable energy and explored both site-specific and large-scale options,” Mr Doyle said. “It was decided that small-scale, site-specific solar systems would suit council’s needs best.”

Mr Doyle elaborated on the council’s ultimate aims: “This renewable energy program aligns with our Environmental Sustainability Strategy with one of the aims being to become a ‘low-carbon, resource-efficient and productive organisation’.

This news follows an encouraging trend of councils looking to minimise their ecological footprint – for example, Lismore City Council’s 100kw floating solar farm has recently been completed. This will help them reach the target of generating all required electricity via renewable sources by 2023 and we’d love to see other councils following suit.

 

 

 

Renewable energy jobs in Queensland double.

In the last four months, renewable energy jobs in Queensland have doubled to over 7,000 – in the wake of rapidly rising electricity prices and a ballooning interest in solar power.   

Green Energy Markets have published the latest Renewable Energy Index for October, which has some amazing statistics for Queensland – showing that renewable energy is having a marked effect on the economy in myriad ways. 

Renewable Energy Jobs in Queensland

According to the Renewable Energy Index, total jobs created by both domestic and commercial solar in Queensland doubled in the last four months – rising from 3,643 in June to 7,194 in October.

Projects commenced included phase one of the Kennedy wind, solar and battery park in north Queensland and the Emerald Solar Farm.

“Queensland has 300 sunny days a year. It needs a government that’s willing to embrace this abundant natural resource and drive the transition to cheaper, clean energy for all,” she said. Lyons also spoke about the LNP’s plan to scrap the Renewable Energy Target and contrasted it with Labor’s “Powering Queensland’s Future” Plan – advising that the LNP’s plan puts the entire industry at risk. 

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. 

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.