RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedowns

Australian solar contracting company RCR Tomlinson has taken a $57m write down on the Daydream solar farm and the Hayman solar farm, which are owned by Edify Energy and to be installed in North Queensland.

RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedown

We reported earlieir this year on the Hayman and Daydream solar farms and how First Solar will be handling the installation for Edify – at that time everything looked rosy but it appears that a couple of major factors have led to cost and time delays. Edify have cited “external” delays, bad weather, and local issues like poor ground quality.  Also being blamed are the increasingly stricter requirements being imposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator which are affecting solar farms Australia-wide. 

RCR Tomlinison Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland.
RCR Tomlinson -Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland. (source: thewest.com.au)

As of last year, RCR have over half a Gigawatt of large-scale solar projects in their order book and over a Gigawatt currently being developed or progressed under early contractor involvement processes, according RCR Managing Director & CEO, Dr Paul Dalgleish (who has since left RCR). As a result of the writedown RCR are now attempting to raise $100m from investors and have had to offer a significant discount on RCR shares on a one-for-1.65 basis at $1 each. This represents a ~65% discount on the stock’s last trade price ($2.80).

According to RenewEconomy, Tomlinson has written down $57 million on the $315 million contract values for both the 150MW Daydream and the 50MW Hayman solar farms owned by Edify Energy. They’re both located in North Queensland and both nearing completion.

A statement to shareholders noted that: 

“These project-specific issues required the Company to continuously revise its execution methodologies to mitigate delays, leading to increases in subcontractor costs (both people and plant) and logistics cost overruns.

“As a result of these cost overruns that arose over the life of the Project, RCR has realised cumulative write- downs of $57 million from the tendered margin on the Project.”

Some bad news for solar farms in Australia but we have no doubt that these projects will end up completed and can start making their investments back. We’ll be watching closely how the AEMO’s ongoing changes to legislation affects the many other solar farms currently in various stages of completion/operation. 

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Bookaar Solar Farm | Timeline, Opposition & More

The $150m, 200MW Bookaar Solar Farm in Victoria is set to start construction in July next year, if local residents trying to scupper the plans don’t have their way.

Bookaar Solar Farm

Bookaar Solar Farm Location
Bookaar Solar Farm Location (source: Google Maps)

The 200MW Bookaar Solar Farm will feature around 700,000 solar panels, according to the ABC. It is located 10 km to the north of Camperdown, in South West Victoria. It’s being developed by Bookaar Renewables Pty Ltd (a partnership between the landowners and Infinergy Pacific)

According to the official website, there are six main reasons they chose that particular location:

  • Good degree of flat land within the land holding.
  • Good solar resource.
  • Simple grid connection options onsite, with capacity on the lines for the required generation size.
  • Extensive farming land.
  • Good transportation links and site access.
  • Low visual impact – they are hoping to add to existing screening by planting a vegetation screen around the perimeter of the solar farm so neighbour views aren’t as obstructed.

During the construction period it is estimated that the project could provide jobs for up to 150 workers over the course of a year and more.  Following this, 12 full time local jobs will be created over the 30 year operational period of the project. 

The project’s Planning Application and Assessments will be submitted to the Corangamite Shire Council in May 2018.  If approved, construction will begin in late 2019 and be completed by late 2019 or early 2020. 

“The development would be operational for 30 years, after which it would be decommissioned and the site returned to its pre-development status,” the application to council states.

With that said, there is still some solar farm opposition due to its planned size.

Bookaar Solar Farm Opposition

The farm is estimated to be around 6 square kilometres in size, in comparison to Camperdown (where the farm will be built near) which is only 4 square kilometres. As a result, some of the residents are a little uneasy about the impact this farm may have on their investments/lives.

Over 30 people turned up to a meeting a fortnight ago where the Boookaar Community Action Group discussed the ‘immense’ size of the project. 

“The clincher is that it’s 605 hectares, over 1500 acres, just by sheer size it’s an immense problem,” Chair of the group Andrew Duynhoven told the meeting.

“The actual solar farm is the size of Camperdown, plus a quarter.

“It’s massive. It’ll probably be the biggest solar farm application in Australia at the moment.”

Dynhoven elaborated that he is pro-solar but the ‘sheer scale’ of the farm is making them nervous:

“I’m not against solar. I’d love to have solar on the dairy, and in the near future that will occur, but I’m against the sheer scale of this.”

Given the small size of Camperdown and the big solar farm, it is more understandable than most solar farm NIMBY opposition. The residents are also concerned about glint, glare, and the classic: using ‘prime agricultural land’ to build a solar farm. 

A public information meeting will be held at the Camperdown botanic gardens at 1pm on Sunday for anyone interested in following this along. Further discussion about the farm can be found on The Standard‘s website. 

 

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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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Fremantle solar farm faces NIMBY opposition.

The proposed Fremantle solar farm, which is going to be the first major (industrial scale) solar farm in urban surroundings and is being championed by a Greens-led council, has been experiencing pushback from local residents. Myriad complaints, most of them vexatious at best, have been put forward and about 350 people have signed a petition calling for the project to face an audit by the Western Australian EPA (Environmental Protection Authority).  

Fremantle solar farm

The farm, which is to be located over 8 hectares and will be built and operated by Epuron, will produce around 4.9MW and can help Fremantle reach its goal of being 100% renewable powered by 2025. 

The problem lies in the fact that it’s going to be built on the site of a former rubbish dump (which is presumably preferable to the farm’s detractors) and, according to the Australian, the “heavily contaminated site contains ash, tyres, car bodies, marine bilge oil, hydrocarbons, ­asbestos, batteries, chemical drums, mercury and lead”. Sounds like a solar farm would be a better alternative, right? Well, some of the residents complaining are concerned about airborne contaminants during the initial land clearing phase, which could be exacerbated by strong beachside winds. There’s also anxiety about the ‘glare’ and even ‘electromagnetic radiation’. It makes sense that residents, especially those with children, want to keep them safe – but their concerns seem a little far-fetched.

Fremantle Solar Farm - Dr Brad Pettitt
Fremantle Solar Farm – Dr Brad Pettitt (source: fremantle.wa.gov.au)

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt is happy with the farm’s initial DA and advised that a site management plan will be prepared by an independent consultant, which they’ll have to strictly adhere to. 

According to The Australian, The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation said it would review an updated site management plan in response to the concerns. 

“We will only do the project if it can be done safely,” Dr Pettitt said.

Solar Farm Opposition

This is far from the first time we’ve seen this sort of reaction from people in proximity to solar farms – however they generally have to lean back on arguments about ‘agricultural land’ being misused. In lieu of this given that the Fremantle solar farm will be urban, they’ve come up with some interesting new reasons to ‘support solar, just not in my backyard’. Here are some of the other solar farms currently facing opposition from residents, if you’re interested in reading more:

  • Shepparton Solar Farm –  “…concerns about the science, about amenity, about the alienation of agricultural land”
  • UQ Solar Farm – it represents “environmental vandalism” to put install solar panels on “good agricultural land”
  • Brewongle Solar Farm – “…people coming into Bathurst will see it from the railway line”
  • The Collie Solar Farm – “eye sore” (sic) which will lead to a “disastrous situation” if the farm is approved.

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UQ solar farm to go ahead despite complaints.

Construction of the $125 million 64MW UQ solar farm will go ahead although there have been myriad complaints from local NIMBYs in the Warwick area – the farm has received development approval from the Southern Downs Council this week.

UQ solar farm

UQ Solar Farm
UQ Solar Farm (source: www.warwicksolarfarm.com.au)

Terrain Solar were responsible for submitting the DA for the 154-hectare project at Freestone Valley – but UQ will take over when construction begins later this year. Southern Downs Council approved the DA yesterday with Mayor Tracy Dobie casting the deciding vote.  

Some local residents aren’t as chuffed, arguing that it represents “environmental vandalism” to put install solar panels on “good agricultural land”. We rolled our eyes too. The solar farm opposition hasn’t managed to make much of a difference, with the majority of residents still happy for the project to go ahead.

“We are already the largest solar generator among Australian universities, and this initiative will complement the 50,000 existing solar panels on our campuses,” vice-chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said in a statement.

“This project makes a clear and bold statement about UQ’s commitment to leadership in renewables and demonstrates UQ is prepared to make a meaningful investment in creating a sustainable future,” vice-chancellor Høj continued.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the solar farm would be a “phenomenal project” and said it was possible to utilise the land for agricultural and energy generation purposes at the same time:

“It is the intention to graze sheep on that land and it will continue to be productive land throughout the life of the solar farm,” Cr Dobie said.

“Myself and councillors understand all of the concerns but there are many, many residents who are very supportive of the solar farm.

“I understand why those individuals and those families have concerns and we have tried as best as we can to condition this proposal to ensure that we can go as far as we can to meet the concerns of those residents.”

In approving the farm, the council imposed 37 discrete conditions such as the planting of natural vegetation to try and protect local views. 

This will make UQ the first major university in the world to offset 100% of its energy usage with renewables. The UQ solar farm will generate around 154,000 megawatt hours per year – the equivalent of offsetting around 27,000 homes. It’ll join UNSW who also committed to going 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

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Pallamana solar plant and battery in the works.

Pallamana solar plant – the suburb in South Australia will receive a 176MW PV solar plant and a battery storage system as part of plans released by renewable energy company RES. It gained “Crown sponsorship” in February and is one of two Murraylands solar projects (The other is Vena Energy’s $200m solar farm at Tailem Bend) currently in progress.

Pallamana Solar+Storage Facility

Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery
Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery (source: RES)

A 730 hectare site, which is currently used for cropping, could generate enough electricity to power 82,000 homes. This would result in co2 emissions decreasing by more than 140,000 tonnes per year. RES are planning to apply for DA (development approval) within the next month and then begin construction Q2 next year. 

The site is located in between Hillview Road and Monarto Road, just south of the Pallamana airfield and approximately four kilometres from Murray Bridge. It’s also adjacent to a power substation, (which you can see in orange on the picture above). 

No word yet on the specifics of the project but we’ll be sure to update you as soon as we know what sort of equipment they’ll be using. Of particular interest is the solar battery which hasn’t even got a size yet – so we’re not sure exactly what they’ll end up doing with regards to energy storage. 

The project is expected to create 200 solar jobs during construction and around 320 down the supply chain (accommodation, hospitality, cleaning, and so on). Hopefully RES hire as many locals as possible – there is a lot of solar talent in South Australia!

It’s not all peaches and cream for everyone involved, however – local aviation students have been known to make (infrequent, but necessary) emergency landings in the field where the solar panels will be installed and local residents told a meeting the rows aren’t wide enough for a light aircraft and they were concerned about what would happen in an emergency. 

Councillor Fred Toogood said the proposal was ‘exciting’ and that ‘we’ve got to be open to this sort of thing’ so we’ll see how they resolve the aircraft issue over the next month or so.

As per the Murray Valley Standard, if you’re a local and would like more information about the proposed Pallamana solar project, please visit www.pallamana-solarfarm.com or call 1800 118 737.

 

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Shepparton solar: council to install

Shepparton Solar Farm Proposals / Council Solar

Shepparton solar – the regional Victoria town is going to follow the trend of councils going renewable and install solar power at some of their local facilities, the Greater Shepparton City Council voted this week. The jury’s still out on a number proposed solar farms in Shepparton which are being opposed by some.

Shepparton solar – council investment.

Council solar has been a hot topic over the past 12 months and it’s fantastic to see the Greater Shepparton City Council following suit – Renew Economy are reporting that at a council meeting last week a $225,500 contract to install solar panels on multiple council buildings had been awarded to True Value Solar from Melbourne. 

Cr Bruce Giovanetti made a statement about how important councils doing their part in utilising renewable energy is:

‘‘It’s great to see council is taking a proactive approach to ensuring we can reduce energy consumption costs as much as we can,’’ he said.

Shepparton Solar Farms

Shepparton Solar Farm Proposals / Council Solar
Shepparton Solar Farm (source: greatershepparton.com.au)

The Shepparton News are reporting that five solar farms in Shepparton have been proposed:

  • Tatura East solar farm (45MW)
  • Tallygaroopna solar farm (30MW)
  • Lemnos solar farm (100MW)
  • Congupna solar farm (68MW)
  • Mooroopna solar farm (12MW)

These five farms total more than $300m of investment and will produce over 250MW of power for the area – but not everybody is happy about it. 

According to Greater Shepparton Councillor Chris Hazelman:

‘We’ve heard the relevant objections from people nearby, which indicates concerns about the science, about amenity, about the alienation of agricultural land,”

Hazelman elaborated on how he thinks the dispute will end up in the courts: 

‘‘And in the absence of (state government) guidelines, it would appear that regardless of what decision council makes, either for or against … it will inevitably end up in VCAT. It’s going to make it difficult.’’

We’ve heard the NIMBY argument about ‘prime agricultural land’ from ‘concerned residents’ before (remember Photon Energy’s Brewongle solar farm?) – so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in court. 

A spokesperson for Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning had prepared advice for the minister to consider, and he would make his ruling in due course.

You can read more detailed information about the solar farm planning permit applications by clicking here

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Brewongle Solar Farm faces NIMBY opposition.

The Brewongle solar farm, set to be constructed on a 203 hectare parcel of land at Brewongle, is facing staunch opposition from local residents who are concerned they will have to look at it. It’s expected to result in almost 200,000 tonnes of co2 savings and will produce 240GWh of renewable energy per year. The proposed farm has also raised the ire of Brewongle locals who object to its installation on ‘prime agricultural land’. 

Brewongle Solar Farm Proposed Location
Brewongle Solar Farm Proposed Location (source: photonenergy.com.au)

Brewongle Solar Farm

Photon Energy are proposing to build the 146MW solar farm which will finish construction at the end of 2018. Photon have set up a community engagement page to interact with the residents of Brewongle while they try to get development approval for the project. In the meantime, around 80 residents attended a public meeting on Wednesday night to discuss their concerns. Journalist Nadine Morton was at the event and you can click here to view a video of it. 

The Western Advocate quotes a number of residents who ostensibly don’t want ‘prime agricultural land being used for a solar farm’ but seem more concerned with its aesthetic sensibilities (or lack thereof?) – with one saying ‘you will see it from the house’, and another ‘I’m going to see it, I have a vested interest in not seeing it’. No word on what that vested interest is, but presumably the implicit ignominy of renewable energy is particularly galling to Brewongle, given that new solar panels reflect as little as 2% of incoming sunlight and are okay to put on top of airports

Another resident thought it worth noting that ‘…people coming into Bathurst will see it from the railway line’ – perhaps they host the BHP Billiton Bathurst Birthday Bash and are concerned that this brazen display of the future may put off their open-cut coal mine overlords as they gaze out of the train window?

Lastly, the Western Advocate quotes another Brewongle resident who, in classic NIMBY fashion, ‘(doesn’t) think anyone opposes it, it just shouldn’t be on prime land’. Although the video above has poor audio and is a bit difficult to understand, there also appear to be some concerns about subdividing agricultural (rural) land and using it for commercial purposes – so we’ll see how this factors into their argument over the coming weeks and months. 

The residents have called on the Bathurst Regional Council to support them in their noble crusade, despite the fact that final approval will actually come from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment given that it is a ‘project of state significance’. 

Conversely, a more heartening letter to the editor has been published on the Western Advocate website where a Raglan local calls the rationale behind the opposition ‘bizarre’ and described the behaviour at the aforementioned public meeting as ‘somewhat embarrassing’ – which is putting it somewhat mildly.

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