Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill is on the campaign trail at the moment – promising to introduce Australia’s first renewable energy storage target (which the state will subsidise) and also upping the current state-based 2025 renewable energy target from 50% to 75% (given they’re already at 48.9%).

Renewable Energy Storage Target

Jay Weatherill - Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia
Jay Weatherill – Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia (source: @jayweatherill on Twitter)

Weatherill was at an election forum which was about the environment on Tuesday (the 20th) and said the South Australian state election to be held on March 17 will be primarily focused on renewable energy – a ‘referendum on renewables’ of sorts: 

“If we go down, they will be wagging their fingers at everybody around the nation, to say that’s what happens if you push too hard into renewable energy,” Weatherill said. “That’s what the prime minister is trying to do and that’s what is going to happen.”

He has promised to lift the renewable energy target to 75% and implement a renewable energy storage target which would be 25% of SA’s peak demand – approximately 750MW of storage. The government would help the private sector meet this target through subsidy arrangements. 

Weatherill discussed his party’s policy further with Guardian Australia, noting that South Australia are happy to continue ‘going it alone’ if they’re not going to get any help from the Turnbull government:

“It’s a rejection of the federal government’s approach – and the state Liberal party’s approach,” Weatherill said. “We’re not interested in putting our leadership in renewable energy in the hands of people that don’t believe in a renewable energy future.”

Carnegie Clean Energy reported yesterday that they have secured $3 million in government funding to build a 2MW, 500 kWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at the General Motors Holden site in Elizabeth, South Australia. With the rapidly decreasing cost of large-scale energy storage, it seems that the Renewable Energy Storage target shouldn’t be too much of a problem and will be a massive help to baseline power and will also assist in reducing the blackouts which plagued the country in 2016.

“This solar and battery project by Carnegie is part of a wave of new investment in South Australia we have leveraged through the $150m Renewable Technology Fund announced as part of our energy plan,” Weatherill said at the time.

In further news, Weatherill has today announced that South Australian households will be able to apply for a $10,000 loan to cover the cost of installing solar panels and battery storage – which we’ll cover tomorrow. 

 

Power Ledger Partnerships + Future Updates

We wrote late last year about blockchain based renewable energy fintech Power Ledger partnerships, which has been an astounding success and continues to move along in leaps and bounds despite the extreme volatility of the cryptocurrency market. They’ve landed a partnership with an American NFP called Helpanswers to bring their service to hundreds of sites across the United States of America.

Power Ledger Partnerships – Updates

Power Ledger Partnerships - The Team
Power Ledger Partnerships – The Team (source: https://powerledger.io/)

According to Smart Company, the partnership will stretch all over the USA – from the west (California), the south (Texas), the midwest (Chicago), and also Washington and New England. It’ll cover 50MW of PV solar storage and will be able to offer 50MWh. 

Power Ledger is a blockchain powered peer-to-peer (p2p) marketplace for producers and consumers to buy and sell renewable energy.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Helpanswers to grow our technology and platform footprint in North America and bring Power Ledger a step closer to our goal of democratising power,” Power Ledger managing director David Martin was quoted in a statement released on the Power Ledger website. 

“Power Ledger is focussed on creating the right economic and investment platform for consumer-owned, low-cost, low-carbon energy systems to transform the electricity industry.”

There have been quite a few news articles about Power Ledger since its successful ICO, which will see them pitching their ‘smart project’ to Richard Branson, among others…

If you want to learn more, co-founder David Martin had a video call with BlockchainBrad (BCB) that you might find interesting and is embedded below. A great project which certainly has a lot of potential and shows how the blockchain and renewable energy can work well in tandem! Check out our article on the WePower ICO (which has reached its goal and we’ll write about over the next week) if you’re interested in other fintech solutions for green/renewable energy. 

Power Ledger (POWR) are currently trading at $0.781389 USD according to Coin Market Cap

Coal-fired power stations in France to be shut by 2021

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that all coal-fired power stations in France will be shut by 2021. Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande, had planned to shut down the plants by 2023 but President Macron has decided to move that date forward in an ambitious timeline to help France lead the EU (and the world) on climate issues.

Coal-fired power stations in France

Coal-fired power stations in France to close in 2021- President Emmanuel Macron
Coal-fired power stations in France to close in 2021- President Emmanuel Macron

Although France only produces around 1% of its energy from coal-fired power stations in favour of using nuclear power, President Macron’s commitment to shutting them all down is a great step forward for climate change. In 1960 France had 36.5% of their power generated from dirty coal power stations. They currently generate around 75% of their electricity using nuclear energy due to a long-held policy on energy security, but they have a goal to reduce this percentage to 50% by 2025, with one of the main problems what to do with the radioactive waste. In the Champagne-Ardenne region of eastern France, near the village of Bure, they are talking about storing it deep below ground while the radiation slowly reduces. 

Regardless of the fact that it only represents a very small decrease in coal generated power, Mr Macron called the decision “a huge advantage in terms of attractiveness and competitiveness” in a speech discussing France’s view towards climate change: 

“We should stop opposing on one side productivity, on the other side climate change issues,” he said.

Liddell Power Station To Close in 2022 – AGL Energy

AGL Energy will be closing the Liddell coal-fired power station in 2022, resulting in a 1000MW shortfall of energy. AGL has an exciting plan to cover this missing amount by using a mix of solar power, wind power, pumped hydro, battery storage, and gas peaking plants over a three-stage period leading up to 2022. 

The Closure of Liddell and its implications

The Turnbull government had asked AGL Energy to consider extending the life of the Liddell power station or selling it to someone else, but it doesn’t seem like that plan is on AGL’s radar. According to the SBS, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has asked the AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) have a look at AGL’s idea, advising that it is best to “leave the judgement of (the plan’s) merits to the experts”. 

AGL’s plan for solar/wind/pumped hydro/storage and gas peaking plants will cost $1.3b and is expected to provide electricity at $83/MWh for up to 30 years, in contrast to the much higher cost for Liddell. By keeping it open for just an extra five years the cost would be $920 million and it would cost $106/MWh, according to figures stated on the SBS

“Obviously it’s a significant proposal, there is a host of new technologies and new investments as part of it,” Mr Frydenberg was quoted in Melbourne on Sunday.

“You need all forms of energy in Australia’s future energy mix, there’s a role for coal there’s a role for gas, there is increasingly a role for wind and solar and for battery storage,” he added.

Liddell Power Station - AGL Energy to close it in 2022
Liddell Power Station – AGL Energy to close it in 2022 (source: wikipedia.org)

This news comes hot on the heels of the closing of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria in March this year. Numerous other coal-fired power stations across New South Wales and Victoria are nearing the end of their 50 year lifespans – with two of Victoria’s three coal-fired plants having outages during last February’s hot weather. 

Federal opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler was complimentary of the plan – whether 

Solar Grid Parity in Australia – By 2020?

According to power and utility leader EY Global Advisory, Australia may reach solar grid parity by 2020 – a point where it costs less to produce renewable energy than fossil fuels. This would make Australia one of the first nations to reach this stable grid party point, according to EY’s Serge Colle.

Solar Grid Parity – An Overview

The 2020 parity target was forecast by the EY team by modelling solar panel and battery storage installation uptake in Australia – which will result in a reduction in renewable costs. The rapid expansion of commercial solar is also helping grow Australia towards solar grid parity. 

Solar Grid Parity in Australia By 2030 According to EY Global Advisory
Solar Grid Parity in Australia By 2030 According to EY Global Advisory (source: wikimedia.org)

Serge Colle, head of EY Global’s power and utility section, told the Sydney Morning Herald  “For those in the industry that still believe that [the renewable technologies] we see now will never be technically and economically equal to traditional energy solutions they should reconsider their thinking.”

The information is supported by a study from the Australian National University (ANU), which forecasts that new-build large-scale renewable energy generators will cost as low as $50 AUD per megawatt hour within the next 10 years. 

The report, titled “Meeting Australia’s Paris greenhouse commitment at zero net cost” and written by Andrew Blakers, Matt Stocks and Bin Lu last month, posits that Australia’s current renewable energy install rate of 3GW / year, if continued until 2030, will mean that we will then meet the Paris greenhouse emissions reduction target. At that point, half of Australia’s electricity consumption would be generated by renewable energy. 

The report also takes into account the need for baseline power and the sometimes unreliable nature of renewables (i.e. the sun’s not always out and the wind’s not always blowing), saying: 

“The cost of renewables includes the cost of hourly balancing of the grid to retain the same reliability as at present. Hourly balancing comprises pumped hydro energy storage, stronger interstate high voltage power lines and the cost of PV and wind spillage on windy, sunny days when the energy stores are full.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Australia goes with its Renewable Energy Target and also meeting the Paris emissions reduction target given how quickly renewables have been growing in the country, especially in the last 12-18 months. 2018 is shaping up to be a massive year for wind and solar energy in Australia – strap yourselves in. 

Power Ledger Renewable Energy Blockchain ICO

Power Ledger is a leading peer-to-peer (p2p) marketplace for prosumers and consumers to buy and sell renewable energy. It’s powered by the blockchain and has a token generation event coming soon. We’re super excited about this ICO and think it’s going to be a massive step forward for Australia, the blockchain, renewable energy, and especially energy tech in countries with emerging markets which could benefit greatly from this technology. With electricity prices surging over the past few years the market is ripe for energy sector disruption.

About Power Ledger

The platform is developed and working successfully in commercial settings in the Australian market (supported by “leading energy providers” such as Vector NZ, Western Power WA and TAS Networks)- a significant amount of investment has been placed in building relationships with market leaders in the Australasian energy and property sectors. Money raised in this ICO will be used to further expansion in Australia and abroad in emerging markets such as India.

Individuals and institutions will be able to participate in Power Ledger’s blockchain energy ecosystem by investing in POWR tokens, which will be tradeable on Ethereum and can also be converted to SPARKZ – which are unique tokens you can trade for units of electricity on the private blockchain Power Ledger will run.

David Martin, the managing director, discussed their plans for the future on the PL website: “We have been and remain the global leader in this technology space, and our platform is already changing the face of renewable energy trading in a number of communities,” said Martin. “We see our Token Generation Event as an exciting opportunity to bring democratic, peer-to-peer renewable energy marketplaces to many more countries across the globe.”

Power Ledger Token Generation Event

On August 25 Power Ledger announced that a heavy interest in their token generation event means that the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) – Australia’s first on the blockchain – could raise a total valuation of around $100m. The POWR tokens were offered at a pre-sale on August 27 with the first 100M offered to the public at a set price and another 90 million at a private discounted pre sale. The pre-sale ended up raising $17 million and was sold out within 72 hours. with Martin advising SmartCompany that the next  round could bring the funds raised by their ICO to between $20 – $30m.

Up to 250m more POWR tokens will be released in September -this will be an uncapped event (i.e. the market will determine the sale end price). There’s also a bounty campaign if you’re interested in spreading the word about Power Ledger and gaining some POWR (ERC20) tokens for helping.

Power Ledger Renewable Energy Blockchain ICO
Power Ledger (source: tge.powerledger.io)

For further information on the planned Token Generation Event, visit https://powerledger.io/ or join the Telegram group here. We’ll be posting an update as soon as the next POWR token sale date is announced!

Musk slams SA energy security target.

Despite the Tesla South Australia battery partnership currently being undertaken, Elon Musk’s Tesla has rubbished the South Australian government’s planned SA energy security target, saying it will “hold back technology innovation whilst incentivising incumbent technology … imposing barriers on innovation by excluding rapidly evolving fast response technologies”.

Tesla’s Mark Twidell wrote a submission to the government where Tesla expressed their dissatisfaction with the target, saying “We do not feel that the draft regulations and supporting consultation paper are representative of the current South Australian position as leaders and innovators in the renewable energy space”.

SA Energy Security Target Musk Weatherill
Happier times: Jay Weatherill and Elon Musk before the SA Energy Security Target was announced.(source:theadvertiser.com.au)

SA Energy Security Target

Multiple major organisations have harshly lambasted the SA energy security target, which is planned to commence on January 1 and will require retailers to buy 36% of their power from South Australian sources. This number will rise to 50% by 2025 and, according to Nyrstar, who made a submission to the government about the target, “given the generation market structure and in particular the high concentration of generation in South Australia and the high underlying cost of the predominant fuel (gas), it is debatable whether the scheme will be effective at reducing pricing due to these factors”.

As per an article from the ABC, other submissions range from urging caution because it may not lower wholesale prices, to killing off plans for a new interconnector which was slated to feed power into the state. Momentum Energy said implementation of this energy security target is “unlikely to have any downward pressure on prices, and will instead become a pure pass-through to customers”. Origin Energy called the legislation “unclear”, and Alinta Energy posited that such a scheme could add $100 to an average bill.

For their part, the government stood by the legislation, with the Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis advising in parliament on Tuesday that it will lead to “lower wholesale electricity prices”, and will in turn “incentivise more generation”. No word on how exactly that will happen but we’ll undoubtedly hear more from all sides in the coming months. Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan noted that “even” the Greens were critical of the plan, labelled the government’s energy policy as “chaotic” and called for independent economic modelling before “inflicting further pain on long suffering South Australian businesses”.

Apple Solar – Looking to expand into Australia

Tech giant Apple have advised that they are investigating a possible expansion into Australia’s energy market – what will ‘Apple solar’ mean for their presence in Australia and how will it help mitigate the myriad renewable energy challenges companies wanting to be eco-friendly face?

Apple Solar – Where to from here?

According to the Financial Review, the senior vice-president of environment, policy, and social iniatives Lisa Jackson, said that although the company is already 100% renewable in Australia (they purchase renewable energy from retailers), Apple are planning to “move closer to the supply of electricity” in Australia.

“So we’re scouting, so we’re looking for more opportunities. I think there’s always a way to change the way we lower our carbon footprint in Australia, whether it be solar or wind,” Ms Jackson said in an interview at Apple HQ in California.

In the USA Apple created its own company (Apple Energy) and entered into a power purchase agreement with the 280MW California Flats solar project – with this they were able to power Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino and also look for opportunities from both the generation and purchasing side of renewable energy.

The Norman Foster designed Apple Park Mark II, which is estimated to cost around $5 billion USD and will house 12,000 employees, will also be 100% renewable. 75% of the energy it’ll require will be created from solar panels on the roofs of buildings and the carpark, and biogas fuel cells will also be installed at the Cupertino ‘campus’.

Apple Solar Apple Park
Apple Solar at Apple Park (source: dezeen.com)

If you want to learn more about ‘the best office building in the world’ click the video below to see a drone tour in 4k of the Apple Campus 2 / Apple Park under construction (the footage was filmed in July 2017 and the park, while opened in April this year, is still a few months away from completion). Alternatively if you’re interested in Apple’s environmental efforts you can click here and view their 2017 ‘Environmental Responsibility Progress Report’.

We’re eagerly awaiting to see what Apple decide to do in Australia! Assumably it won’t be on the same scale as their California ventures but they’ve done a great job so far in working with renewables and we’re excited to see what the future brings.

Small scale renewable energy certificates

A sharp drop in the price of small scale renewable energy certificates (STCs) has led to a sudden and (for many) unexpected rise in the cost of household solar installations – which is estimated to be approximately 10%. This will have major ramifications for installers as well.

Small scale renewable energy certificates
Small scale renewable energy certificates price history (source: greenmarkets.com.au)

STC Prices – How and Why?

According to Greenmarkets.com.au, STCs trade on the wholesale market at minimum parcels of 5,000. As per the above image, their website shows the last 6 months of STC movement – it’s actually been stable for a couple of years before that as well. According to Tristan Edis via Renew Economy , this month the “supply of STCs is substantially outstripping power retailers’ obligations for this year as set by the Clean Energy Regulator”. Edis noted on Twitter this morning that he was incorrectly quoted in a section of that article – and that the Q4 forward prices for STCs are $30.50, not $37.85. This projects more pain to come for the industry (at their lowest on Wednesday the STCs were at $26). Edis said that this is as a result of the Clean Energy Regulator underestimating the amount of STCs that would come on the market this year – so they’ll need to account for that when setting 2018’s target in order to try and stabilise the cost and keep it around $40. The short term effect is a ~10% rise in the cost of installations, which will slow down installers and also could affect current install contracts they have.

Small scale renewable energy certificates – how will this affect the market?

The drop in STC price will have a significant effect on installers at the lower end of the market – many installs are quoted nett of STCs i.e. leaving the risk of STC price fluctuation in the hands of the installer.

The price of an STC refers to a rebate (per kW) of an installed solar system – calculating a drop from $40 to $32 means the price for a 5kW system will increase by around $600 (it varies from state to state). It’ll also mean any installers who have quoted nett of STC will be out of pocket by a similar amount – so any installers who have a lot of current installs on the books and a cash flow problem could find themselves in serious trouble over these drops.

It also means the end user will be paying ~10% more for their solar installs for the rest of 2017 – assuming projections from the forward market hold up. We’ll see how this impacts Australian solar power as a whole over the coming months.

Kogan Creek Solar Boost failure blamed on coal policy

The failure of the Kogan Creek Solar Boost, the Chinchilla solar project scrapped last year at a cost of at least $45m to taxpayers, has been blamed on former QLD Premier Campbell Newman and current Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ‘pro-coal’ policies, according to the project’s scientist inventor David Mills.

Kogan Creek Solar Boost Station
Kogan Creek Power Station (source: wikipedia.com)

Kogan Creek Solar Boost failed due to lack of PPAs

Australian Scientist Mills has invented a pioneering type of solar thermal technology which was slated to be used at Kogan Creek. The project was supposed to reduce carbon emissions and result in increased efficiency at the coal-fired Kogan Creek power station. Mills had a plan to use thousands of heliostat mirrors to focus solar energy and pre-heat steam, which would then drive turbines to generate power. This is a novel concept as it uses the sun’s heat to generate renewable energy, rather than its light. Run by French nuclear group Areva for Queensland state-owned power utility CS Energy, the project was scrapped by them in 2016 citing “technical and contractual problems”. CS Energy recorded a $70m ‘impairment’ in its accounts due to the failed scheme – and 50% of this amount was funded by the Queensland Government’s Carbon Reduction Program. Another $35m was supposed to come from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) but it ended up only paying $6.4m before the project was shelved for a multitude of reasons.

Mills said that when the project was in its inception then-Premier Anna Bligh was supporting the project, but Newman and Palaszczuk weren’t able to get state-owned power companies to buy the electricity produced under a power purchase agreement, effectively killing off the scheme. Queensland Solar has suffered a major setback as a result.

“It’s clear that there’s protection of existing companies going on here for the local industry,” Dr Mills said. He was also adamant about the efficacy of the tech, stating that “This is not a technology failure.” However, there were additional problems at Kogan Creek which helped scupper its chances of reaching completion.

“Fast Moving Clouds” – the failure of Kogan Creek

The Kogan Creek Solar Boost was supposed to supply energy for up to 5,000 Queensland homes – but today over 3,000 solar panels are sitting unused at the site and the $105m project appears doomed. CS Energy officially abandoned the project last year, citing “rapidly moving clouds” and the fact that their steam pipes were rusting in the Queensland climate.

The site’s manager from 2011-2013, Ian Canham from Areva Solar,  has publicly rubbished claims about the “rapidly moving clouds” and noted that the pipes rusted because they were left uncollected at the Port of Brisbane during the 2011 floods because of a pay dispute between Areva and DHL, subsequently rendering 80% of them unusable. Canham also said that “ARENA never came to the site” and neither did the state government, despite providing significant funding. Throughout this litany of errors Areva imported steel from China of such poor quality it was buried as scrap, and 40 Areva workers arrived from the US without adequate safety gear or training. Canham estimated that Areva lost nearly $50m on the project.