National Energy Guarantee Approval – Next Steps

National Energy Guarantee Approval – the NEG has been approved by the states and territories of Australia ‘in principle’ – allowing it to move to the next step. There’s still plenty of discussion to go before we see anything signed off, but it’s a step in the right direction for those who believe in the NEG and its ostensible goal of cheaper, more reliable power with less carbon emissions.

National Energy Guarantee Approval

National Energy Guarantee Approval - Malcolm Turnbull
National Energy Guarantee Approval – Malcolm Turnbull (source: yourlifechoices.com.au)

As with most political decisions in this country, there is a lot of posturing and point scoring going on – depending on who you ask, it’s either a ‘great step forward’ or the governments ‘withholding support’. Regardless of the case, the Federal Government has now released a draft of the energy bill which will be taken to next week’s party room meeting for approval. If you want to learn more about what happened with the NEG during the week, please click here

The states want to see detailed legislation and some of them have ‘red line’ conditions which must be met before they fit in to the National Energy Guarantee – there’s still a long way before any of this becomes law in Australia.

Victoria were especially strident in their remarks about the NEG. Victoria’s Energy Minister, Labor’s Lily D’Ambrosio, said agreeing to the plan today would be like signing “with a blindfold on”. advising that they won’t support it unless the following four demands are met:

  1. The emission reduction targets can only ever increase and must not decrease.
  2. Targets need to be set in regulation (this one’s going to be a bit of a problem as Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has already rejected it).
  3. Emission reduction targets must be set every three years, three years in advance.
  4. Creation of a registry which is transparent and accessible by regulators and governments.

The emissions reduction target in the NEG is to bring down emissions in the electricity sector by 26 per cent by 2030.

COAG Energy Ministers will have another discussion after the Coalition Party Room meeting on Tuesday. Watch this space! We’ll keep you posted.

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Global wind and solar statistics – 1 Terawatt reached!

Global wind and solar statistics – Bloomberg New Energy Finance are reporting that global wind and solar energy capacity reached the 1TW milestone at the end of June this year.

Global wind and solar statistics

Global wind and solar statistics - Wikipedia
Global wind and solar statistics (source: wikipedia.org) (By Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1372121)

According to Wikipedia, renewable energy contributed 19.3% to global energy consumption and 24.5% to the generation of electricity in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This has risen sharply in the past couple of years and research indicates that we will continue to speed above and beyond the trillion watts – which is 1 million MW, or a billion kW, if that makes it easier to understand!

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) release a report this week which is based on their comprehensive and up-to-date database of renewable energy projects. The report notes that 54% of the renewable energy generated was from wind, and 46% represents solar power. This is interesting as it shows how quickly solar is reaching wind power – in 2007 we had 8GW of capacity (around 8% of the world’s renewable energy) – in comparison to wind power which had 89GW.  According to Renew Economy this represents a gigantic increase of 57x of solar’s 2007 statistics. 

With one terawatt out of the way, Business Green have been crunching the numbers with regards to the second one, which will undoubtedly be far faster and far cheaper than the first:

“The BNEF analysts predict that the pace of renewables rollout will accelerate even more in the coming years, with the second terawatt expected to arrive by mid-2023.”

It looks like wind and solar will produce more power than coal in America within the next 10 years. How will the figures be for the rest of the world? How will Australia go given the future of our National Energy Guarantee is shaky at best (not to mention it’s receiving plenty of criticism in either case). How will solar battery storage affect these figures? Will the huge influx of commercial solar system installations help us reach the next terawatt much faster? Watch this space. It’s going to be an exciting few years for renewable energy! 

 

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Sanjeev Gupta: The ‘saviour of Whyalla’

Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance have some lofty goals to help move Australia’s energy future in the right direction. A recent presentation has revealed more about the company’s plans and some of its revised energy targets. 

Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance

Sanjeev Gupta - CEO of GFG Alliance (source: whyallanewsonline.com.au)
Sanjeev Gupta – CEO of GFG Alliance (source: whyallanewsonline.com.au)

Mr Gupta was due to speak in Australia this week but a late change saw a colleague discuss GFG Alliance‘s plans to help shape Australia’s solar future

Presenting at the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition in Adelaide,Liam Reid, the head of power business development at GFG Alliance, said the company’s initial plan for 1 gigawatt of power supplies has been upgraded 10x – to 10GW.

“Sanjeev has asked us to go hard on solar,” Reid said. “We want to make more that what we can possibly consume, and share elsewhere.”

The basis of this program is up to 1GW of solar to be constructed in and around Whyalla, so more great news for South Australian  solar. Reid told the solar conference that the first step is an 80MW solar farm “behind the meter” near the Whyalla Steelworks, and after this they will install 200MW of grid connected solar on property owned by GFG Alliance.

According to the Whyalla News Online, GFG Alliance will also be investigating the installation of a pumped hydro energy storage plant with an approximate size of 90MW / 390MWh (for the first project – presumably subsequent pumped hydro could store even more).

GFG plan on utilising depleted mine pits to “unlock a legacy of past activity for the benefit of future generations”

A 120MW / 140MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility will also be installed in Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Lastly, GFG are also hard at work trying to offer solar and energy storage solutions for GFG employees, and have also got their eye set on solar projects at many industrial and distribution sites in Australia.

We look forward to seeing what GFG come up with over the next 18 months and applaud their hard work in spreading the renewable message to Australia.

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Numurkah solar farm to supply Laverton steelworks.

Neoen’s 100MW Numurkah solar farm in north west Victoria will supply energy to the  GFG Laverton steelworks (part of GFG’s LibertyOneSteel, and GFG’s SIMEC ZEN Energy) as part of a 15 year deal which has been called a part of the ‘revolution of the century’, according to the Neoen chief executive.

Numurkah solar farm and the Laverton steelworks

Numurkah Solar Farm Neoen
Numurkah Solar Farm – Neoen’s previous solar farm in Lannion (source: numurkahsolarfarm.com.au)

The deal is between GFG Alliance (Sanjeev Gupta’s company) and Neoen Australia (French renewables giant responsible for many recent Australian solar projects) to supply power to the Laverton steelworks via the Numurkah solar farm, which consists of 500 hectares of ground mounted solar panels

 
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told the Energy Users Association of Australia 2018 conference it looks like things are heading in the right direction with regards to wholesale prices:
 
“We are seeing the wholesale price of power come down. For the last six weeks the wholesale price has averaged $79 a MWh. For the same six weeks last year the wholesale price was $116 a MWh,”
 
GFG Alliance owner Sanjeev Gupta discussed how important renewable energy is to their overarching stratgies for long-term growth: 
 
 “Renewable energy is at the heart of our Greensteel  and Greenaluminium strategies, designed to make metal production and engineering competitive again in developed countries,” Mr Gupta said.

“We see Australia – with its incomparable energy resources – as the natural home for expansion of energy-intensive industry, with renewables to play an integral role.”

Xavier Barbaro, Neoen’s chief executive. wasn’t afraid to think big when discussing the current state of energy in the world:

“The switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the revolution of this century,” he said. 

 

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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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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! 

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Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm Tender

Hot of the heels of their success last week after signing a contract with Western Power to construct a microgrid in Kalbarri, Carnegie Clean Energy look set to build a Kalgoorlie Solar Farm after winning a tender for the lease of 250 hectares of land within the Buffer Zone of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area.

The Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm

Kalgoorlie Solar Farm - Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie
Kalgoorlie Solar Farm – Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie (source: carnegiece.com)

According to SmallCaps, Carnegie (ASX: CCE) plan to construct and operate a solar farm which is capable of supplying large amounts of electricity into Western Australia’s main power grid. It’ll be known as the Mungari Solar Farm and will have a capacity of up to 100MW. This will result in the farm being able to generate 20MWh of battery-storage each year. The farm will be located 6km south-west of Kalgoorlie – where it will be able to supply electricity to Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources – they’ll have access to clean, stable energy and be able to lock in price points without having to worry about the volatility currently plaguing Western Australia. It’ll also help them move towards reaching their RET (Renewable Energy Target) – which is currently 24% of electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020. 

“Carnegie has a strong track record of developing greenfield sites into shovel-ready renewable projects rapidly and responsibly, most recently with its Northam Solar Farm,” said Dr Michael Ottaviano (Carnegie Clean Energy‘s Managing Director).

“We are excited to play a role in the development of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area, which has an important role in the future economic prosperity of the Eastern Goldfields and look forward to working closely with local industries seeking sources of clean power generation, the State Government, local governments and other key stakeholders in bringing this project to fruition,” said Dr Ottaviano.

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$100m Adani Solar Farm Planned

The Indian energy company Adani Group (yes, the same company trying to build Australia’s biggest ever coal mine) have announced plans to develop a $100m Adani solar farm in Moranbah. Work will commence on the 175MW solar farm as soon as they get DA from the Isaac Regional Council.

Adani Solar Farm

Adani Solar Farm Moranbah Rugby Run
Adani Solar Farm at Rugby Run, Moranbah (source: adanirenewables.com)

Adani announced on Tuesday that the Moranbah solar farm will go ahead as soon as DA is received – according to the Mackay Daily Mercury cultural heritage surveys and engineering design has already commenced. Adani Renewables CEO Dr. Jennifer Purdie announced that stage 1 will commence in 2017 – “This is an exciting project in terms of its size, location, and the technology we are using,” Dr. Purdie said. “This will be Adani Renewables’ first project – the first of many – and we thank the Isaac Regional Council, in particular Mayor Anne Baker and her officers for their assistance and encouragement.”

The $100m first stage of the project, built on 600 hectares at the Rugby Run grazing property, will use single axis tracking systems to maximise efficiency and energy output. According to RenewEconomy, further stages will increase the generation capacity to 170MW. 

“We are excited to welcome Rugby Run Solar Farm as the first renewable energy project in the region,” Mayor of Isaac, Anne Baker was quoted as saying. “This project continues to diversify our local economy, and will contribute towards a sustainable future for both Isaac and the state. The project is expected to create 150 jobs during construction. 

Renewable Energy in Resources

Renewable energy in resources has become a hot topic lately, with the Korean zinc refiner Sun Metals solar farm currently under construction in Townsville. The 125MW, $199m solar farm will provide baseline power for around 1/3 of Sun Metals’ energy needs. 

Advanced Energy Resources are also building an $8m wind and solar farm at Port Gregory for GMA Garnet’s mine – it will provide baseline power for almost 70% of the mine’s needs. 

We expect to see the trend of resource companies building ‘companion’ renewable energy farms continue. They have myriad benefits – including reducing exposure to price fluctuations, increasing public goodwill, increasing site stability, and the obvious environmental factors. 

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SMC / Sun Metals Solar Farm Project

Korean owned North Queensland zinc refiner Sun Metals has begun building a 125MW, $199m solar farm to underpin its refinery in Townsville. The Sun Metals solar farm will be completed next year and is another of many massive ongoing solar projects in North Queensland

Sun Metals Solar Farm

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

Construction on the solar farm began in May – it’s expected to be completed early next year, and fully commissioned (providing renewable energy to the refinery) by April. The project will include 1.3 million solar panels and, according to a release by the Queensland Government, will create 210 solar powered jobs.  Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey praised the project, saying “Use of renewable energy in this way not only demonstrates it as a reliable energy source for large-scale industry, but that Korea Zinc is committed to the people of North Queensland, to minimising carbon emissions and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.”

First Solar have been chosen to undertake the project. They have over 500MW in the pipeline for the next 12 months, including the Hayman and Daydream solar farms

About Sun Metals

Sun Metals is a subsidiary of Korea Zinc – they’ve already spent around $1b on the Townsville zinc refinery and, according to the Courier Mail, the 116MW the Sun Metals solar farm provides will account for around 1/3 of their energy needs – so there’s plenty of room to expand. PV Magazine said Sun Metals produce 225,000 tonnes of zinc p.a. and that requires over 900,000 mWh of electricity. 

Sun Metals CEO Yun Choi said in May that “The SMC Solar Farm investment of $199 million is the first step in Korea Zinc ensuring the long term viability of the existing refinery and also underpinning the potential for its expansion using world class new technology, with an investment decision due in late 2017,”

Jack Curtis of First Solar was quoted as saying that “This project represents the viability of the commercial and industrial solar market in Australia and the growing trend of major energy consumers owning and operating renewable energy assets.”

Whilst far from being the first example of renewable energy in resources, it’s great to see these big companies work at reducing their carbon footprint as the benefits (e.g. cost, price fluctuation protection, environmentally friendly nature) of solar becomes more and more attractive. 

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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”.

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