SA Water aim for zero net electricity by 2020

As part of their ongoing goal of achieving zero net electricity usage by 2020, SA Water installed 100kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) and a 50kWh battery storage system in late December and expect the system to be commissioned in January. They also announced that they will spend $10 million on 6MW of rooftop solar PV across their operations, with the first installations expected to begin in the Q1 2019. 

SA Water 

Their $500,000 pilot 100kW solar 50kWh battery storage project is currently being finalised at the SA Water Crystal Brook workshop – and should be live this month. They’re planning on cutting their bill from $55 million for last financial year to $0 in 2020 by installing up to 6MW of solar panels across its myriad metropolitan sites. 

“We’ve already been reducing our electricity costs by more than $3 million a year since 2013, so we know that with a concerted push, our goal is ambitious, but within reach,” CEO Roch Cheroux told One Step Off the Grid via email.

“By increasing our renewable energy generation and storage, driving energy efficiencies and making smart decisions around our electricity usage and procurement, we aim to reduce our net electricity costs from $55 million in 2016/17 to $0 in 2020,” Mr Cheroux continued.

SA Water serves 1.6 million people across South Australia and is one of the single largest electricity users in the whole state, so for them to aim to be energy neutral by 2020 is a massive undertaking and will be a fantastic step forward for renewable energy in South Australia, which is already paving the way for the other states. 

According to RenewEconomy, pilot programs earmarked for the future include floating solar, silicon thermal storage, and flywheel mechanical battery storage systems. 

SA Water - Silicon Thermal Energy Storage Trial
SA Water – Silicon Thermal Energy Storage Trial at Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant (source: SA Water Facebook Page)

“As there is very little experience in the market of a large utility such as SA Water using a combination of battery and solar storage across multiple sites, it’s important to verify the financial benefits and increase our understanding of its capabilities”, Mr Cheroux told a press conference – you can watch it below. 

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 

Australia’s largest solar plant built in NSW in 2018

Australia’s largest solar plant will be built in NSW early next year. It will be a 250MW DC solar photovoltaic power plant with energy storage and installed in NSW’s Sunraysia region. The plant will be built by Decmil on behalf of Chinese company Maoneng Australia, who already have a solar farm in the ACT and are looking to create a second. The Sunraysia solar farm was being discussed back in June (click to view our article about it) and has changed from 200MW to 250MW but will still be located on 1000 hectares of private freehold land 17km south of Balranald centre – approximately 140km south-east of Mildura.

Australia’s largest solar plant

Australia's largest solar plant - Sunraysia Solar Farm
Australia’s largest solar plant – Sunraysia Solar Farm artist’s rendition (source: sunraysiasolarfarm.com.au)

According to Maoneng vice-president Qiao Han, Maoeng Australia and Decmil signed an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) on Tuesday. They plan to construct the plant as soon as April or May in 2018 – with the construction contract valued at approximately $275 million. 

The plant is expected to generate at least 530,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, and will power houses in both NSW and Victoria. Maoneng’s previous Australian solar investment, the 13MW Mugga Lane solar park in the ACT, generates around 24,500 megawatt hours – so this is a big step up. 

There’s talk of the plant also using batteries to store excess power making it one of the first solar farms in New South Wales to do so. According to a statement from Decmil, “This will provide greater energy reliability and allow the solar farm to produce electricity during periods of peak demand rather than only during sunlight hours.”

Large-Scale Solar Farm Competitors

Although this will be Australia’s largest solar plant for a while, there are currently three projects which will be larger when they are completed: 

No doubt before those three are finished we’ll have even bigger plants on the horizon – it’s great watching the neverending race of large-scale solar! 

 

 

 

Adani’s Whyalla Solar Farm greenlit

India based energy company Adani have received development approval for a $200 million, 140MW Whyalla solar farm. The farm will consist of PV solar modules and operate on a single axis tracking system. 

Adani’s Whyalla Solar Farm

Whyalla Solar Farm Adani
Whyalla Solar Farm (source: @AdaniAustralia on Twitter)

The solar plant will be located 10km north of Whyalla’s centre, on the Port Lincoln Highway. It will originally generate 100MW and the potential capacity of the solar plant will be up to 140MW. According to AdelaideNow, grid connection will be via the 132kv network between the Whyalla Centra and Cultana substations.

Although the original development application didn’t include any information about battery storage, this is an option that Adani is also investigating. 

No PPA (Power Purchasing Agreement) has been signed yet, but as soon as that is sorted out we will see a starting date for construction of the farm – which is expected to be some time in 2018. The plant should be generating renewable energy by 2019. The construction phase of this solar farm is expected to create 350 jobs and could be “just the tip of the iceberg” for Whyalla, Giles MP Eddie Hughes told news.com.au last year. 

“Since 1998 Whyalla has wanted to become the solar capital,” said Mr Hughes. “It’s the realisation of the dream to have a major proponent come to us.”

Other Whyalla Solar Projects

News of Adani’s solar farm comes off the back of Zen Energy approving a $700m solar, battery and pumped-hydro storage project to power Zen Energy owner Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty OneSteel works in Whyalla. The project is expected to provide 1 gigawatt (1000MW) and also  100MW/100MWh battery storage. Hopefully, this will also provide some help to the real estate market in Whyalla, which has dropped by 21% in 2017 so far. 

Adani also has another $100m solar farm in Moranbah awaiting DA from the Isaac Regional Council. 

 

Bungala Solar Farm receives final approval.

The 275MW Bungala Solar Farm, which is already under construction, has received final approval. Bought by Italian energy company Enel, the $400m solar farm built in conjunction with the Dutch Infrastructure Fund is expected to be ready in early 2019.

Bungala Solar Farm

Bungala Solar Farm
Bungala Solar Farm (site: commbank.com.au)

The farm will see 860,000 solar panels built on 585 hectares of Bungala Aboriginal Corporation land and, according to Enel, will create around 200 jobs during the construction period. We previously reported on the Bungala project back in April where it was to be built by Reach Solar and the agreement to sell it to Enel Green Energy and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund had been inked – they were just waiting on a financial close when has been reached this week. 

Head of Enel Green Power, Antonio Cammisecra, spoke about the Bungala Solar Project to news.com.au and said that it would be Enel’s initial foray into the Australian renewable energy market – with the goal to become a “key player” in the industry. “The project marks the first step of our growth strategy in a country which boasts such an abundant resource base and whose renewable capacity is expected to surge in the next years,” Cammisecra said.

The farm is to be ‘battery storage ready’, and, according to RenewEconomy, will most likely be the first major Australian solar farm to enter Australia’s FCAS (Frequency Control and Ancillary Services) market – as they’ll be utilising SMA inverters to provide voltage control for the grid. 

The Bungala solar farm has signed a PPA with Origin Energy – earlier this year Frank Calabria, the chief of Origin, discussed how important ‘big solar’ is for our future and how we need to work on the transition to renewables: “Energy markets around the world are in transition and Australia is no different,” Calabria said. “We must make sure our energy supply is secure, as Australian homes and businesses rely on it. At the same time, we must make sure energy continues to be affordable as we move Australia towards a cleaner supply.”  

Williamsdale Solar Farm, ACT ‘Solar Highway’ ready.

The 11MW Williamsdale Solar Farm in the ACT, 20km south of Canberra, has been completed and the ACT government’s impressive “solar highway” project is now completed. What’s next for solar energy in the ACT? 

About the Williamsdale Solar Farm

Williamsdale Solar Farm ACT
Williamsdale Solar Farm, ACT (source: diamondenergy.com.au)

The Williamsdale Solar Farm consists of 36,000 solar panels and is able to generate enough electricity to power 3,000 homes. Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury was quoted in the Canberra Times as saying: “The clean power generated by the Williamsdale Solar Farm takes us another significant step towards achieving our target of 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 in the ACT.” Rattenbury also noted that the future is here and it is “clean, green, and renewable,” and that renewable energy is responsible for around $500 million in investment into the local ACT economy. 

Forecasts by the ACT Government have shown that the solar farms will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million tonnes over the coming two decades. 

Elementus Energy started work on the Williamsdale Solar Farm in 2013 at its initial location near Uriarra Village – this was eventually moved to Williamsdale after fierce local opposition and the project was then taken over by the Impact Investment Group in 2016. The Impact Investment Group agreed to purchase the project “as-is” and develop it further with the price tag being quoted as “up to $35 million.” 

About the ACT’s “Solar Highway”

With the SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm, the Mugga Lane solar farm, and the Royalla solar farm already completed, the ACT now has a combined 177,000 solar PV panels along a 50 kilometre stretch, which is being called the ACT’s “Solar Highway”. The highway runs from the Monaro Highway in the south to the Majura Parkway heading north, and, according to Minister Rattenbury, will create 85,500 mWh per year of renewable electricity – enough to power 11,700 homes. 

Next year, the Sapphire, Hornsdale Stage 2, and Crookwell 2 wind farms will begin generation. The ACT continues to have some of the lowest electricity prices in Australia

Wemen Sun Farm construction in 2017 – Wirsol

Wirsol Energy Pty Ltd will commence construction on the 110MW Wemen Sun Farm later this year. Wirsol, an arm of German renewables developer Wircon GmbH, didn’t provide information on who they bought the farm from or for how much (it was previously owned by Overland Sum Farming along with Island Green Power). No word on the two other Mildura solar projects owned by the same companies – the future of the Yatpool Sun Farm and the Karodoc Sun Farm is currently unknown.

Wirsol - Wemen Sun Farm
Wirsol – new owners of Wemen Sun Farm (translation – ‘Everyone can make electricity’ – if my school German doesn’t fail me…)

Wirsol Energy did note that by the end of the year they will have five solar farms under construction in Queensland and Victoria – with a combined capacity of around 400MW. So it wouldn’t be surprising if they’ve done a deal to procure one of Yatpool and Karodoc projects, given that they have already announced three other solar farms in various stages of completion.  

According to the Wirsol website  they will also have the Whitsunday Solar Farm (Collinsville – 69MW), Hamilton Solar Farm (Collinsville – 69MW), and the Gannawarra Solar Farm (Kerang, 60MW) all commencing commercial operations in Q1 2018 – if you add their output to the Wemen Sun Farm that makes approximately 310MW – we’ll see what the fifth farm is soon enough, no doubt! There will be much more to come – according to Wirsol they plan to deploy up to 1GW of solar power by 2020. 

Mark Hogan, MD of Wirsol, was quoted on their website as saying “We are thrilled to announce the successful acquisition and refinancing of this portfolio as it marks our first move into the Australian renewable sector.  Our success in Australia has been driven by the significant experience accrued in the European market and deploying 1 GW of solar to date.  We believe this transaction demonstrates the importance of bringing together industry knowledge and local expertise to successfully develop, construct and finance large-scale renewable projects.  This transaction firmly positions Wirsol as one of Australia’s leading renewable investors.  We will continue building on this success and are actively seeking to acquire further development opportunities to fulfil our internal ambition of deploying 1GWp solar across Australia by 2020.”

Wemen Sun Farm

The project is located at Hatta-Bronvale Road in Wemen, close to the border of Victoria and New South Wales and approximately 110km south east of Mildura. 

According to RenewablesNow, it is a 110MW plant on 770 acres and will ‘give rise to regional value creation’ of over $200m. AussieRenewables are reporting that Powercor Australia have signed PPAs to connect the projects to the state electrical grid, but no word on if that agreement will carry over with the new owners (that information was taken from the Overland Sun Farming site back in March). Overland CE Brett Thomas was quoted in WeeklyTimesNow as saying that the farm’s panels would use tracking to follow the sun from east to west; we’ll undoubtedly see more information about this as the project enters development. Another great development for Australian solar farms

Hayman and Daydream Solar Farm built by First Solar

First Solar have won a module supply contract for Edify Energy‘s Daydream solar farm and Hayman solar farm in Queensland. RCR Tomlinson Ltd (ASX: RCR) was awarded the $315m contract for the farms and have decided to give the supply contract to First Solar, who now have over 500MW in the pipeline over the next 12 months. For their part, 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 talking to RenewEconomy.

Daydream Solar Farm and Hayman Solar Farm

First Solar - Daydream Solar Farm
First Solar – Daydream Solar Farm (source: firstsolar.com)

The Daydream solar farm will be 180.7MW and the Hayman Solar Farm will be 60.2MW – the two projects are located just north of Collinsville in North Queensland – in the Whitsunday region. According to ELP.com, they will use single axis tracking technology which has been commissioned from Array Technologies, and over 2 million advanced thin film PV modules from First Solar, to produce around 531,000 MWh of renewable energy every year.

Edify signed a power purchase agreement with Origin Energy for the Daydream solar farm’s output (they’ll also buy the renewable energy certificates), but the Hayman Solar Farm will operate as a merchant plant.

About First Solar and Edify Energy

First Solar, Inc. are an American based PV manufacturer of rigid film modules, or solar panels, and also a provider of utility-scale PV power plants. In 2009 they were the first solar panel manufacturer to lower their creation cost to $1 (USD) per watt. According to Wikipedia they produced CdTe-panels (cadmium telluride) with an efficiency of ~14% at a cost of 0.59 USD / watt in 2013. They’re the second largest maker of PV modules worldwide.

Edify Energy are an Australian renewable energy development and investment company who have led the financing and delivery of over 30 utility scale solar PV projects at a cost of over $1b. For the Daydream solar farm and Hayman solar farm, they won ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) funding last September under their large-scale solar funding round.

More good news for Queensland solar farms – construction on the projects will commence almost immediately – scheduled for Q3 2017, with module delivery to arrive in Q4 2017 and Q1 2018.

 

Wandoan solar farm will add 1,000MW to QLD solar.

Singaporean renewable energy company Equis Energy have advised they are planning on building a 1,000MW solar farm (which would be the largest solar farm in Australia) in Wandoan. The Wandoan solar farm will be situated right in the middle of Queensland’s coal and gas region – in Queensland’s area of the Surat Basin. This is exciting news for Queensland solar and Australian solar farms in general – it could potentially be one of the biggest solar farms in the world.

About the Wandoan Solar Farm

Wandoan Solar Farm Location
Wandoan Solar Farm Location (source: chinchillanews.com.au)

The farm, which would add to the existing 4,000MW of renewable energy currently planned for QLD, will cover 1424 hectares and generate between 300 and 400 jobs during construction. According to the Toowoomba Chronicle, the $2 billion project will commence construction in the next 12 months and work will be staggered over a three year period.

Paul McVeigh, the Western Downs Regional Council Mayor, was quoted in the Chronicle as saying the farm will represent a significant investment in the area – “It’s a $2 billion construction cost and of that we expect at least 50 per cent of that to be invested in the local community,” Cr McVeigh said. According to the Chinchilla News it is a $1.5 billion investment, but whichever price the farm ends up costing there’s no doubt it’ll be a massive boon to the community if it goes ahead.

Cr McVeigh was also quoted in the Chinchilla News about the way Equis and the Western Downs council are approaching the approval process: “Equis has expressed their desire to be proactive in their consultation with neighbours of this project site, and that aligns with the business model we are promoting for renewable energy projects. The time-frame in which council has processed this application highlights the message we are open for business, and I think it is important to reiterate that although our approval process is rigorous, it is efficient.”

Lastly, McVeigh discussed the myriad options the area has with regards to energy needs: “We have our coal and coal-fire powered stations and coal seam gas…(now) we have a third wave of energy with solar farms, wind farms about to start construction on and also the ethanol plan near Dalby.”

No word yet on the specifics of the site or if it’ll include any storage, but we’ll update this article as soon as we have any news about the farm.

 

Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid starts construction.

Carnegie Clean Energy, whose solar, battery, wave and desalination microgrid plans have been the topic of much discussion since they was announced earlier this year, have commenced construction on their 2MW Perth solar PV / battery energy storage microgrid. Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid (GIMG) project will be the largest embedded, grid-connected solar and battery microgrid in Australia.

About the Garden Island Microgrid

According to Carnegie’s website, Carnegie Clean Energy Limited (formerly Carnegie Wave Energy) is an “Australian, ASX-listed (ASX: CCE) developer of utility scale solar, battery, wave and hybrid energy projects.” The website notes that Carnegie is the only company in the world which has a  combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids.

Carnegie Clean Energy - Garden Island Microgrid
Carnegie Clean Energy – Garden Island Microgrid (source: carnegiece.com)

Using microgrid technology means the project will be able to function independently from the main power grid, and using hybrid sources of energy generation along with storage means they won’t run out of energy if the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. The system will have 3MW of solar PV panels and a 2MW battery energy storage system.

Carnegie’s chief exec Michael Ottaviano was quoted earlier this year (at an energy storage conference in Sydney) discussing stand alone power systems (microgrids) – after having installed over a dozen for both Western Power and Horizon Energy. “It is just a cheaper, cleaner more secure solution than the alternative,” Ottaviano said. “The cost of technology is coming down. What was an economic driver for remotes systems, is now true for the fringe of grid and on the main grid too.”

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Defence Minister Marise Payne released a joint statement which lauded the work done by Carnegie:  “The Government continues to support the work of Carnegie and we look forward to seeing how this project will inform Carnegie’s ability to provide energy security solutions at island locations in the future”.

Carnegie have inked supply agreements with the Department of Defense (in order to supply power and water (via the desalination plant) to HMAS Stirling – Australia’s biggest naval base in Perth, which is home to more than 2,300 service personnel.