Susan River solar farm opened by Elliott Green Power.

US Hedge Fund backed Elliott Green Power have successfully opened the Susan River solar farm. The 95MW farm adds to their current portfolio and is another great step in the right direction for solar farms in Australia and Esco Pacific.

Susan River solar farm

Construction on the Susan River solar farm commenced in mid-January last year and about 150 workers helped finish the farm, which occupies 176 hectares and has 350,000 solar panels. Construction was handled by Esco Pacific, who have plenty of experience in the field, being responsible for projects such as the Finley Solar Farm.

Esco chief executive Steve Rademaker said the project has created five to ten full-time jobs post-construction.

“Choosing a location came down to the suitable size identification and proximity to the electrical grid, among other factors,” Mr Rademaker said.

“The Fraser Coast ticked all these boxes. It’s a good location to build a project like this.”

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham attended the opening of the Susan River solar farm and didn’t miss the opportunity to play politics:

“Elliot Green Power’s $175 million investment is another demonstration of industry’s confidence in the sector and further evidence that consistent energy policy from this Palaszczuk government drives generation investment,” Lynham said in a statement.

“That’s in stark contrast to what the Morrison government’s policies are doing to investment in new generation.”

RenewEconomy are reporting that another of Elliot Green Power’s farms is almost complete (Teebar Solar Farm), and a third (North Aramara Solar Farm) which will be finished later this year.

They also report that Elliot Green Power’s Childers Solar Farm and Susan Rivers Solar Farm were the two first farms to sign up for a ‘proxy revenue swap’. This is a hedging product Nephila Holdings Ltd provided, which protects both farms from varations in output (click here to read more) 

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Tesla in Townsville – Bohle Plains’ 4MW solar battery.

Tesla in Townsville – Solar giant Tesla will install a 4MW/8MWh solar battery in Townsville, North Queensland to help manage renewable energy within the community. The battery is expected to be operational by the end of 2019.

Tesla in Townsville – Bohle Plains’ 4MW solar battery.

A community-scale battery will be installed in Townsville to help store excess energy, provide backup power to the community, and assist in providing support to Ergon’s virtual power plant, which draws electricity or reduces load from customers Queensland wide. This helps shore up any supply issues to the National Energy Market (NEM), especially during peak times such as during a heatwave.

Publicly owned Yurika manage the plant and it’ll be fascinating to see some statistics as to how this Tesla Powerpack helps QLD – with the South Australian Tesla Battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve saving $25m in its first year of operation, we expect the result to be similarly impressive. 

Tesla in Townsville (Powerpack) (source: Tesla.com)
Tesla in Townsville (Powerpack) (source: Tesla.com)

“This is a small but significant addition to Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity system, a system which is delivering cheaper prices on average compared to other mainland states in the National Energy Market,” said Acting Energy Minister Mark Furner.

“Battery storage technology is the next stage in steady progress to enabling a renewable energy future and reaching our target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.”

“With around 20,000 residential rooftop solar systems in Townsville, battery storage technology will help ensure power quality and reliability in the local network.” he continued in quotes repeated in Clean Technica

Design work has already started on the battery and Tesla in Townsville is closer than you may think – the battery is scheduled to be fully operational in late 2019. Given that Townsville and its surrounding areas have seen a significant amount of investment in solar over the past few years, it’s going to be fantastic to have this battery to help stabilise the grid and provide cheaper power.

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Approved Solar Retailer | Clean Energy Council Program

Approved Solar Retailer – the Clean Energy Council’s program is over five years old now – the voluntary scheme authorised by the ACCC in 2013 has had its ups and downs. Is it worth it? Let’s take a look. 

Approved Solar Retailer | Clean Energy Council Program

The Approved Solar Retail program has grown to over 200 companies in January 2019, according to EcoGeneration. A hundred of these have been added since September 2018, which makes you wonder what the program was like for the previous five years (there are around 4,000 solar companies Australia wide). Is it worth joining the CEC or are they a toothless tiger (or a cash cow)? How does the CEC deal with complaints about members? Does this represent a glorified rubber stamp and is self-regulation something we can trust industries to work on? That’s something worth discussing with other solar owners who have had experience with the program.

Here’s their code of conduct: 

“This non-prescribed voluntary code of conduct (the Code) aims to promote best practice measures and activities for retail businesses selling solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. This Code is for retail businesses that want to demonstrate the commitment they have to promoting responsible activity and development in the renewable energy sector across Australia. This Code is not intended to replace existing consumer, energy or environmental planning legislation, policy or regulations at local, state or federal government levels, but to bring about increased accountability within the PV retail industry”

The program’s recent growth appears to be directly tied to schemes like the South Australian Government’s Home Battery Scheme and the Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Package – it appears that the ACCC isn’t ‘enough’ to regulate the industry. 

One important thing to note – being an Approved Solar Retailer is different to being a Clean Energy Council member. You can find a list of members on the Clean Energy Council members page.

If you’re having problems with an accredited solar company please fill out a solar accreditation dispute form

If you’d like to check whether an installer is accredited with the Clean Energy Council please click here.

If you’re a solar company hoping to get accredited please click here to learn more about the process and what you can expect. Membership is on a sliding scale and starts from $600 p.a. depending on the size of your company.

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CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation

CSIRO’s Black Mountain facility is set to have a further 2,900 solar panels installed in a plan to save around $900,000 a year. They’ve called for tenders this month and hope to have a decision made this week.

CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation

Black Mountain Solar
CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation (source: CSIRO)

Federal government agency CSIRO are doubling down on their previous solar investment – with an existing 380 solar panels at Black Mountain set to be increased by around 700%. The first 480 panels were installed earlier this year, and according to the Canberra Times, over 880kW of solar systems have been rolled out at other CSIRO sites since 2016 – including Black Mountain, Armidale in NSW, Werribee in Victoria, Kensington in Western Australia and Darwin. 

According to a CSIRO spokesman, 1.2MW of solar will also be installed in Pullenvale (QLD) and Waite (SA) – with a further 4.2MW planned for the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

“Once installed, these [photovoltaic] systems will deliver more than $900,000 [in] annual savings on energy bills, save close to 8000 megawatt hours of energy and reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by about 7400 tonnes each year,” the spokesman said.

All together, the plans are to install five megawatts of grid-connected, on-site renewable energy across its building portfolio by 2020.

“A key opportunity exists for CSIRO to hedge against the predicted upward price trend in electricity prices by investing today in alternative renewable energy sources to power their sites,” the CSIRO tender document says.

“The installation of large scale on-site renewable energy generation is a key mechanism to reduce CSIRO’s carbon footprint.”

The CSIRO have called for tenders for the Black Mountain solar upgraded and have advised that they will sign a contract this week, before deciding on a timeline to complete the upgrade. Some more fantastic news for government-installed solar and another step in the right direction for Australia’s renewable energy future. 

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Redback Technologies’ Smart Hybrid System Launch

Brisbane-based Redback Technologies will launch their new Smart Hybrid System this week, which is a brand new all-in-one system to simplify solar energy for installers and homeowners while still generating maximum ROI on your solar investment!

Redback Technologies and the next generation Smart Hybrid System

Redback Smart Hybrid System Inverter SH5000
Redback Smart Hybrid System Inverter SH5000 (source: redbacktech.com)

Redback launched the Smart Hybrid System Sh5000 today at the 2018 All-Energy Conference – it has an abundance of features which are perfect for the house looking to maximise their ROI from installing solar:

  • 5kW inverter
  • New modular (expandable) battery cabinet. It can holdup to 14kWh of energy storage
  • All-in-one design outdoor rated for Australian weather conditions.
  • Inbuilt UPS, pre-wired with integrated DC isolators for an easy install. 

The Redback Technologies Smart Hybrid System uses the newly designed Redback Smart Energy Manager app, which makes installation a breeze. When you conneect the inverter to the web portal, you can monitor the performance of your inverter in real time, making sure it’s working as expected! 

Redback MD Patrick Matweew said in a press release delivered by email: “We’re all looking for ways to save money and reduce stress when it comes to our household energy bills. That’s why now is the right time for homeowners to consider a solar and storage system as it not only reduces household costs, but it also gives consumers the power to control their energy future.

“With the cost of small-scale renewable installations continuing to fall, there’s never been a better time to consider solar and battery storage.”

The Redback Smart Energy Manager app is now available to download from Google Play (Android) or the App Store (Apple).

If you’re interested in buying one of these Smart Hybrid Systems or would like to learn more about them then please give the friendly team at Redback a call on 1300 240 182 or click here to visit their page for homeowners/small business proprietors. 

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