Aldoga Solar Farm | Construction & Energy Submission

The Aldoga solar farm in Gladstone has lodged documents with the Federal Government and is one step closer to wards commencing the construction phase. 

Aldoga solar farm

Aldoga Solar Farm Gladstone Aerial Shot
Aldoga Solar Farm Gladstone Aerial Shot (source: dsdmip.qld.gov.au)

The Aldoga solar farm is to be designed, built and operated by global energy giant Acciona Energy, who have been in Australia since 2002 and certainly know the lay of the land. It will be a 265MW farm and Acciona have already signed a 30 year lease with the State Government. It will be located at Aldoga over 1,250 hectares and is hoped to act as a “precedent for the delivery of further economic opportunities offered from a growing renewable energy sector.”

State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick announced in April that Acciona Energy was chosen out of 16 applicants to build the solar farm in Gladstone.

“Combined with the renewable energy that will be generated, and the lease payments that will be made to the state, this project represents a major boost to the local community – economically, environmentally and socially,” Mr Dick said.

According to the report Acciona provided to the Department of Environment and Energy on July 6 (you can click here to view it), the farm will use solar panels with single axis tracking so that harvested sunlight can be maximised. 

“There is an alternative option to install a fixed-tilt mounting structure; however, preliminary studies suggest that the single-axis tracker will be more desirable from an energy production perspective,” the report said.

At maximum capacity (265MW AC), the project is estimated to supply up to 122,000 households (or 5x the amount of households in all of Gladstone). It will have a massive amount of solar panels to reach the 265MW – over one million!

It’s estimated that around 240 solar jobs will be created – with Acciona Energy adopting Buy Queensland and Gladstone Buy Local procurement policies, giving preference to local sub-contractors and manufacturers.

According to the Gladstone Observer, construction is set to run between October next year and November 2020, with the farm operating from Nov 2020 – Dec 2050. Wonder what a solar farm will look like then? 

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Darling Downs Solar Update | Jobs, Farms & More

Darling Downs solar is helping the area by providing jobs to locals and kickstarting the economy – with one council already approving $6b worth of wind and solar projects. There’s now a ‘buzz’ around the Darling Downs and renewable energy – let’s take a look at what they have in the pipeline!

Darling Downs Solar 

Darling Downs Solar Farm
Darling Downs Solar Farm (source: Origin Energy)

“We’ve got $1.2 billion of that under construction now, and that’s the exciting thing, this isn’t just about approvals, this is about action to deliver renewable energies to this region,” Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said in comments to the ABC

“And we know there are another three [solar farms] in the pipeline.”

In Warwick, the 154,000 megawatt-hour generating UQ / Warwick Solar Farm is to be installed on ‘good agricultural land’ has had to wage a battle against NIMBY detractors. Mayor Tracy Dobie defended her decision (she had the deciding vote to allow the farm DA):

“This region is about growth and development and we can sit here and go poor slowly or we can progress our region and the more development we can get in our region the more jobs,” Ms Dobie said.

“The more progress we can make, the better off we are.”

Mayor Dobie continued to discuss the project and what she sees the future of renewable energy in the Darling Downs as looking like:

“This is a turning point in our region to show we are moving forward, that we are looking to the future, and there is nothing more evident than that than renewable energy.

“There’s a buzz about the Darling Downs, this is a great place to be and great time to be here.”

Toowoomba Solar

There’s been an amazing amount of renewable energy movement in Toowoomba – with the billion dollar project at Bulli Creek approved by the Tooowoomba Council. This will be built by Solar Choice over a 10 year staggered period. 

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio spoke about the concerns some residents may have and why he’s happy to continue approving solar farms:

“I guess we have to be a bit cautious of the type of land we put it on, but in saying that, the land is restorable, its not going to be destroyed in any mining effort or anything like that, and in 20, 30, 40 years’ time that land will be back to full production.”

Have a look at the short video below from ABC Landline which was part of an article about using ‘good farmland’ for solar farms. 

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Logan solar trial to go ahead for low-income households.

Logan solar power has received a boost as Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s state government offer a solar trial for low-income families, following the success of similar schemes in Cairns and Rockhampton. 

Logan Solar Systems for low-income households

Logan Solar Systems for low-income househoulds
Logan Solar Systems for low-income househoulds (source: AFR.com)

According to Yahoo, the solar panels will be installed on selected state-owned homes in the Waterford, Coomera, Woodridge, Logan, Algester and Springwood electorates. It appears that a discounted per kilowatt-hour price will be offered to those who join the scheme. 

Click here to view the statement on the Queensland government’s website about expressions of interest to find an energy partner for the Logan solar trial. 

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham spoke about the savings that can be had for families undertaking this scheme:

“The Queensland Government is committed to increasing the uptake of renewable energy to drive jobs and investment and reduce emissions.

“In Cairns and Rockhampton we are expecting to see savings of up to $250 per year on electricity bills and we want to bring savings to tenants in Logan as well,” Dr Lynham said.

According to the press release, more than 800 solar panel systems have been installed in Cairns and Rockhampton as part of the scheme; and now it’s greater Brisbane’s turn. 

The possibility of solar job creation through this scheme is something the government is also carefully considering: 

“One aspect we will look at is whether the successful tenderer will employ local tradies, including electricians and suppliers,” State Development Minister Cameron Dick said on Monday.

“Logan households will then be invited to participate in the program.”

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to helping Queenslanders with their cost of living pressures and this will help some of our most vulnerable people,” Mr Dick continued.

Click here to view the statement on the Queensland government’s website about expressions of interest to find an energy partner for the Logan solar trial.  It’s also on the QTenders website from 9 July 2018 – https://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/qtenders/

Great news for those following Annastacia Palaszczuk’s environmental policies after also announcing no-interest solar loans in QLD earlier this year under their ‘Powering Queensland’s Future’ plan.

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Western Downs green power hub council approval.

The Western Downs green power hub planned by French renewable giant Neoen has received council approval for a solar farm of size up to 500MW. This impressive project promises to bring  North Queensland solar jobs and continue the large-scale solar revolution in Queensland and Australia.

The Western Downs green power hub

The Western Downs green power hub
The Western Downs green power hub proposed location (source: westerndownsgreenpowerhub.com.au)

The Western Downs green power hub will be located 22km south of Chinchilla and 62km north west of Dalby, according to RenewEconomy. No word on the specifics of the gear they will use, but a huge 1500 hectares of ground mounted solar panels will feed two hectares of battery energy storage. This is going to be a gigantic undertaking.

According to the website for the green power hub, they’ll produce around 1.05MWh (million megawatt hours) per year.

“A combination of an ambitious Queensland Renewable Energy Target and a proactive government to meet those targets provide highly favourable conditions for renewable energy projects in the State,” Neoen says on the website.

“Consequently, the company will expedite the development of Western Downs Green Power Hub, as well as several other projects in Queensland.”

Construction was initially slated to commence in Q3 this year but it now looks like mid a 2019 start date will be more likely, according to the website.

“Construction is expected to start mid 2019 providing employment opportunities for the region.”

An article from the Chronicle in September last year (when it was being touted as a 250MW solar plant) noted that the consturction phase of the project will generate up to 300 solar jobs and between two to four during regular usage.

Neoen have been responsible for a number of huge projects across Australia recently:

 

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Mackay Solar Tender (Council): $2.1m from Akcome

Mackay Council have decided which company to go with after putting out a solar tender last year. The Mackay solar project will be built by a Brisbane-based company – Akcome Power – who offered a significantly lower price than their competitors. 

The Mackay Solar Tender Overview.

We wrote about the initial tender process last year – the initial pool of EOI respondents was 16 companies, which ended up being whittled down to four.

Akcome Power Pty Ltd won the tender with a price significantly lower than the other three remaining respondents. Personally I’d be a bit wary of such a major discrepancy between quotes, so let’s dig a little deeper. Akcome’s proposal involves the usage of Huawei and ABB inverters – with 10 year warranties – and ‘unspecified’ solar panels with 30-year warranties.

Nevertheless, consultancy Peak Services reviewed the proposal and Akcome as a company and came away satisfied. Have Mackay Council got a fantastic deal or will they end up paying the prices for not paying the price and end up with a system where performance doesn’t meet expectations or quality issues abound? Time will tell. There are certainly plenty of perturbed solar companies in North Queensland right now.

According to the council, the final price will be offset by a little over half a million in STCs (small-scale renewable energy certificates). This, in conjunction with other ‘council and contingency costs’, will bring the final price to around $1.97 million.

“Council, like households, has been hard hit by rising electricity prices,’’ Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said in a statement last Friday, according to One Step Off The Grid.

“This fairly modest initial outlay is an investment in the future which will provide ongoing cost savings.”

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

This will be a great thing for solar jobs in Mackay – the 21 council facilities will require plenty of help getting the solar installed – and it seems like the majority of it will be going to local installers:

“Akcome has advised it will engage local Clean Energy Council of Australia-accredited electricians, as well as local non-accredited experienced electricians to work with them, plus local trades assistants,” Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said.

“They expect to use 60 to 70 per cent Mackay-area based tradespeople to complete the installation.”

You can read the minutes of the Mackay council meeting where they decided which company to use by clicking here

 

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Solar in Bundaberg leads Australia’s top suburbs.

Solar in Bundaberg leads Australian suburbs for PV solar update as aerial imagery company Nearmap are reporting that last year 1078MW of rooftop solar systems were installed across Australia. Seven of the top ten suburbs are in Queensland and the other three are in Western Australia – with a huge bump in the number of rural and coastal towns installing more solar power systems than ever before. 

Solar in Bundaberg

Solar in Bundaberg
Solar in Bundaberg 2017 (source: RealEstate.com.au via Nearmap)

We’ve seen quite a lot of work done in Bundaberg so it’s no surprise to see they are the biggest suburb in Australia with the highest solar power uptake. Walking around you can see systems on many roofs and Stockland are installing a solar system on top of their Bundaberg shopping centre.

Nearmap executive Shane Preston discussed how they were able to use their software to have a visual on how much the landscape has changed, and how we will see even more as the technology/price continues to move in the right direction. Mr. Preston noted that using technology like Nearmap allow you to have a clearer look on how much solar is actually being installed in households Australia wide:

“But when you look at it from the air, you can observe in incredible detail the renewable energy uptake occurring across our country,’’ he said.

“As the benefits of renewable energies like solar continue to surface, we can expect to see more demand for installations,’’ he continued, in comments made to news.com.au.

Nearmap (visit their website here) worked with the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) to come up with the statistics (in a sense – as per Your Mortgage, Nearmap flew over 88% of the population in urbanised areas six times in the last year to help document Australia’s solar revolution) – so even though the statistics come from the CER they’ve been helped along by Nearmap’s great service. 

Australia’s Biggest Solar Suburbs

Bundaberg North – 11,756
Erskine – 11,409
Nikenbah – 10,517
Caloundra – 9308
Toowoomba – 8580
Hocking – 8416
Pacific Pines – 7724
Mackay – 7263
Raceview – 7295
Canning Vale – 7116

 

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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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Sun Metals solar farm starts commissioning.

The 124MW Sun Metals solar farm near Townsville is about to start commissioning. The farm will be located at the Sun Metals zinc refinery which is about 15km south of Townsville and is currently Australia’s biggest solar farm. Not for long, but that’s the way things are going with large-scale solar in Australia! 

Sun Metals solar farm

Sun Metals
Sun Metals Solar Farm (source: sunmetals.com.au)

We wrote an article last September about the solar farm and how it was expected to be fully commissioned by April, so the project has kept to timeline very well. Sun Metals Chief executive Yun Choi was quoted in the Townsville Bulletin as saying that commissioning will commence in a ‘staged approach’ over the next fortnight – with the solar farm working at full capacity by the end of May. 

Sun Metals have built the solar farm so they’re able to insulate themselves from the rising costs of electricity – and it’s estimated that the 124MW project will be able to account for over 1/3 of the zinc refinery’s power requirements. 

“Once the solar farm is operational it will enable the refinery to be the largest single-site renewable consumer in Australia,” Choi says.

“The solar farm will be one of a kind in that it will directly power a large industrial user and export electricity into the National Electricity Market – so I think that makes it pretty innovative.”

According to Choi via RenewEconomy, Sun Metals need 900,000 MWh (megawatt hours) to facilitate the production of 225,000 tonnes of zinc each year. Around 300,000MWh will be created by the new solar farm and the lower electricity costs will result in savings which will then be funnelled into a potential $300m expansion of Sun Metals, which will also help a lot with solar jobs in the area. 

“If we go ahead, the expanded refinery would see an additional $300 million invested right here in Townsville and is expected to support up to 827 construction jobs during peak construction, also with significant increase in permanent workers at the refinery once operational,” he told the Townsville Bulletin.

Great news for solar jobs in Townsville and for solar fans in general! Renewable energy in resources is a spot where we will see a lot of growth over the next 24 months and it’s fantastic to see Sun Metals leading the way. 

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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! 

 

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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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