Super fund ISPT rolls out rooftop solar.

Superannuation fund property investor ISPT is installing up to 59 rooftop solar properties Australia-wide as part of its $12b portfolio, cutting utility costs by $27 through a range of energy efficiency initiatives. Their National Solar Project is a four-stage initiative which aims to reduce the cost of baseload electricity and improve energy security for ISPT’s clients.

Stage 1 of ISPT Rooftop Solar Rollout

ISPT Rooftop PV Solar Installations (source: http://ispt.net.au)
ISPT Rooftop PV Solar Installations (source: http://ispt.net.au)

Alicia Maynard, ISPT’s GM for sustainability and technical services said on the ISPT website that “We conceived this project in 2016 following a national review of our key property assets in terms of the opportunity to install rooftop solar PV panels,”

According to the Australian Financial Review, stage one will involve the installation of solar panels in 13 buildings for a total of 13,000 square metres of renewable energy generation. ISPT have already finished construction of PV solar rooftop arrays in Perth (at 100 St Georges Terrace), in Canberra (at 18 Marcus Clarke Street and 7 London Circuit) and in Melbourne (at Central West Shopping Centre). 

Some of the upcoming projects will include:

  • 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
  • 477 Pitt Street, Sydney (Sydney Central)

“The solar PV rollout is about positioning our portfolio to be at the forefront of the move to clean energy, taking an industry-leading position that will deliver value for our tenants, dividends for our investors and better solutions for our environment,” said chief executive Daryl Browning.

In stage two another 20 properties will have solar installed – with a massive 45,000 square metres of solar panels planned to be installed. These solar initiatives mean that ISPT’s commercial property portfolio has been given a 4.8 star rating by the NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) energy efficiency scheme.

Commercial Solar Power in Australia

This is another example of commercial solar gaining traction as a way to diversify portfolios, add value to a property, and reduce exposure to rapidly rising electricity prices. Some examples of recent commercial solar include:

 

 

WePower ICO – Fintech solution for green energy.

Disclaimer: As of the date of publishing nobody at Saving with Solar currently has any investment in WePower but we are planning on joining the ICO.

At Saving with Solar we are extremely interested in the blockchain and how it can help solve issues for those generating solar power. Previously we’ve taken a look at Power Ledger (POWR) and today we’ll look at the upcoming ICO for WePower, which is a “blockchain-based green energy trading platform”. 

WePower ICO

The project allows producers of renewable energy to raise capital by issuing ERC20 energy tokens, which represent energy they commit to produce and deliver. They have support from state power regulators in Lithiuania and electric power companies and will target Europe – Spain, Italy, Germany, Estonia, and others. Numerous solar power plants which produce over 1000MW have joined the project: Conquista Solar, Civitas Project and Novocorex.

Development of the project is divided into three stages:

  1. WePower Breeze – market entrance – “challenging the way how energy investments and purchase are done today by creating the necessary technological layer for the change to happen’. 
  2. WePower Storm – growing the services and usability, and using smart contracts to aggregate and manage flows of renewable energy. 
  3. WePower Hurricane – the final step – a completely new decentralized energy utility.

ICO Start: 1 Feb 2018

ICO End: 15 Feb 2018

Hard cap: $35,000,000

Soft Cap: $5,000,000

Token: WPR, ERC20 standard

ICO Price: 1 ETH = 4000 WPR

Minimum investment: $200

Bonuses: 15% discount for early investors: before reaching the soft cap ($5 million) 4600 WPR will be deposited for 1 ETH.

Accepted currencies: ETH

If you’re interested in investing, click here to read the whitepaper they’re prepared ahead of the ICO. Although we believe in this project we in no way recommend investing in anything like this without doing your due diligence first. One negative, for example, is that there are already a number of projects in the sphere offering fintech solutions for green energy (e.g. Power Ledger). Another is that it hinges entirely on the progress of renewable energy. Obviously we’re bullish on that situation, to say the least, but many countries have a strong oil lobby and prices of oil have decreased recently. And, who knows, maybe a perpetual motion machine is just around the corner. 

Kaspar Kaarlep, the CTO of WePower, has a video below where he discusses their vision for energy transformation in Europe and across the world:

ICORating have assigned a “Positive” rating to the project and recommend it for both short and long term investors – saying the WPR tokens can be “considered both as investments for long-term portfolios, and for the purpose of speculative earnings on the expectations of a successful platform launch and demand for tokens from the initial customers for tokenized energy”. 

WePower ICO Whitepaper Rating
ICOrating.com gives WePower the
highest rate (source: WePower Newsletter)

View an introduction to the system by watching this video!

View a platform demo below:

 

If you have any questions, comments, or insight into this project we’d love to hear about it – please sound off in the comments and we can start a conversation about this exciting new technology. 

Australian solar cell research gets $29.2m grant.

Australian solar cell research has received a $29.2m grant from ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) – with 11 of the 22 projects currently sponsored associated with UNSW, who has been leading the way in Australia’s solar research for over 40 years. 

Australian Solar Cell Research

ARENA chief exec Ivor Frischknecht was quoted on the UNSW website talking about Australia’s solar research and how ARENA have been able to help with funding projects:

“In this funding round, the candidates and the calibre was so high, we actually increased the total funding we awarded to nearly $30 million,” he said. “This research will improve the technological and commercial readiness of new innovation in solar PV cells and modules, enhance Australia’s position as world-leaders in solar PV R&D and address Australian-specific conditions.”

ARENA’s latest funding round has seen UNSW granted $16.43m for 11 projects. UNSW’s research partner in ACAP (the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics), ANU, received  $7.89m for six projects, the CSIRO received $3.31m and Monash University got $1.59m.

UNSW and SIRF

Australian Solar Cell Research - UNSW's Solar Industrial Research Facility
Australian Solar Cell Research – UNSW’s Solar Industrial Research Facility (source: unsw.edu.au)

UNSW’s Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF) was created in 2011 as a $16m ‘turnkey pilot line manufacturing facility’ which allows UNSW to create silicon solar cells from lab processes to factory ready industrial processes. According to the UNSW website, architects Woods-Bagot modelled the outside of the building to mimic the pattern of multi-crystalline silicon solar cells.

Today, it’s a $30m facility aimed at advancing solar power technology – bringing UNSW’s solar tech to industry partners across the world. SIRF has brought over $8 billion in benefits to Australia over the past ten years – with gains of energy efficiency forecast to save Australians $750m over the next decade. It’s been the recipient of myriad ARENA grants and is a great example of Australia’s commitment to solar power research. 

Dean of UNSW Science Emma Johnston, discussing the grants, said: “At UNSW we are proud to have a long history of world-leading solar innovations dating back to the 1970s. But research is only one part of the puzzle. Equally as important is translating these world-leading ideas into commercially viable products.

“The SIRF facility we stand in today is evidence of this commitment – a place where we work hand in hand with industry to deliver solar solutions for Australia and the world,” Dr. Johnston added. 

Australian solar installs new record in November

Australian solar installs reached an all-time high of 120MW in November, eclipsing the 100MW in October and the record of 110MW set in June 2012, which was ‘artificially’ (for want of a better word) inflated as it was the last month before Queensland cut off the $0.44c premium feed-in tariff. These are massive numbers when compared with the previous few years and a fantastic indicator for the future of renewable energy in Australia. 

Australian Solar Installs in 2017

According to RenewEconomy and The Green Energy Markets’ Renewable Energy Index, for most months in 2016 solar installs were below 60MW and January 2016 had a measly install amount of 45MW. The reason for the big drop in numbers was due to the end of the premium feed-in tariffs and also the federal government’s substantial cutback of the amount of STC rebate certificates it provided. This means the cost of solar (and payback period) increased substantially, dropping the number of installs and casting doubt upon the industry as a whole.

Over the past 12-18 months, however, there’s been a perfect storm of the gigantic rise in the cost of wholesale electricity, better quality and price of solar panels and storage due to technology advances, and excitement about renewable energy have helped raise the numbers of solar uptake. Public perception and interest in the technology due to such projects as the massive Tesla battery in South Australia, German company sonnen’s ‘free power’ offering via sonnenFlat, and the Powerwall 2 battery have all led to Australia’s domestic and commercial solar uptake reaching this all-time high.

Australian Solar Installs 2017 - sonnen's sonnenFlat and sonnenBatterie
Australian Solar Installs 2017 – sonnen’s sonnenFlat and sonnenBatterie (source: sonnen.com.au)

The Renewable Energy Index for October 2017 showed that Queensland leads the way for Australia, with jobs coming via renewable energy projects (both large-scale and rooftop solar) almost doubling over four months from 3,634 at the end of 30 June 2017, to 7,194 in October.

 Amazing news for solar contractors and solar installers – although things may slow down a little over the Christmas period we can’t wait to see what 2018 brings to solar power in Australia. 

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. 

CSU Solar System at Wagga Wagga

CSU Solar – Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga is launched its 1.7MW, $3.2 million PV solar system yesterday – the country’s largest ever solar panel installation on a single site. The solar panels have been installed on the rooftops of 17 buildings around campus and it’s expected they will generate enough renewable energy to power 20% of the university’s electricity requirements. It was constructed over a six month period. 

CSU Solar System at Wagga Wagga Launch Party Cake
CSU Solar System at Wagga Wagga Launch Party Cake (source: CSU Green Facebook)

CSU Solar and Renewables

According to the CSU website, in 2016 they became the first carbon neutral university in Australia. Their 1,774 kW (1.7MW) solar installation will generate 2,620,000 kWh in its first year of operation – this is equivalent to the generation of 2,330 tonnes of CO2. Head contractor for the project are experienced large-scale solar installers Todae Solar, who have been responsible for a 1.24MW solar plant at the Brisbane Markets in Rocklea, 1.22MW at Stockland in Shellharbour, a nationwide 2.3MW Aldi rollout, and many more. 

Ed Maher, the manager of CSU Green, says the installation will serve two main roles – for CSU to keep leading in carbon neutrality, and also to ease their heavy reliance on the electricity network. It’s been financed through independent energy services firm Verdia and the tender was managed by Solar Choice late last year. As a result, the install is expected to save money starting from year one – “This is despite our existing low electricity tariffs and the absence of any unique government subsidies or grants,” Ed Maher said. “Given these early savings, I believe it marks a new phase in the financial viability of renewable energy on a large commercial scale which is another step towards a clean energy future.”

A lot about university solar this week – it’s no surprise that our universities are leading the renewables charge, and amazing to watch how quickly it progresses. 

If you’re interested, a drone-shot shot of the solar installation is available to watch below!

Sydney Metro Solar Powered Facility

The $8.3 billion Sydney Metro train network will include a solar project on the roof of a maintenance building at Rouse Hill to help power its facility. The Sydney Metro Solar project will generate around 1.5 million kWh (kilowatt hours) per year – enough to power 270 homes. 

This is a relatively small scale project (given the scope of the main network), but it’s a fantastic first step, and we hope just the start of a long and prosperous relationship between Sydney Metro and renewable energy.

Sydney Metro Solar at Rouse Hill

NSW Transport told the Rouse Hill Times that the solar facility at Rouse Hill will consist of 3,287 solar panels. They’ll be installed on the roof of the maintenance building on Cudgegong Road – this will be one of the largest solar power systems installed on a building in Australia – it’ll cover more than 6,500 square metres.

The renewable energy generated by this solar system will be used to power some of the Sydney Metro railway stations, and also the maintenance facility, where the new metro trains will be washed, inspected, repaired, and serviced. According to the official website, in keeping with the eco-friendly theme of the facility, Sydney Metro trains will be washed in an automated train wash, at least twice a week – and up to 95% of the water used to wash a train will be recycled. 

The trains also use regenerative braking – which means extra energy generated by a slowing train can be pushed back into their local grid and used by nearby trains. 

Sydney Metro Solar Rouse Hill
The Sydney Metro Solar Facility will be installed at Rouse Hill HQ (pictured) (source: sydneymetro.info)

NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance told the Daily Telegraph “This is one of the biggest solar power systems mounted on a building in Australia — another milestone that shows the sheer scale of the city-shaping Sydney Metro project,”

Constance noted that “Sydney Metro is the biggest urban rail infrastructure investment in the nation’s history and we’re building it for the long term” – so it’ll be great to see how they couple this with renewable energy and eco-friendly developments during its lifetime. 

Maverick by 5B – a prefab, low-cost solar array.

Australian company 5B have launched the Maverick (MAV) portable solar farm – their easily-transported large-scale portable solar farm with a continuous array design. Because of this, a solar farm built with MAV can generate between 180 – 200% more MWh per hectare than fixed tilt or single axis tracking designs. This could be a game changer for farmers, remote communities, film crew, or anyone who needs to use a large amount of power and don’t have grid access. Launched in July this year, the ‘solar farm in a box’ has been gaining traction for anyone looking for portable solar in Australia. 

Maverick Portable Solar Array by 5B
Maverick Portable Solar Array by 5B (source: 5b.com.au)

Maverick Portable Large-Scale Solar Farm

The Maverick is a continuous array, which means DC cables don’t need to be trenched, saving setup time and reducing the potential for any errors when setting up. According to the 5B website, two people are able to roll out a 12kW MAV in ten minutes with ‘standard site vehicles’. Here are some further stats on the MAV:

  • Ground mounted DC solar array of 32 or 40 PV modules.
  • Any 60/72 cell standard framed PV module can be used if you want to choose (they come with Jinko panels by default).
  • Each MAV weighs approximately three tonnes. 
  • MAV is 5m wide and 16m/20m long (32/40 modules) once deployed.
  • Modulates oriented in a concertina shape at 10-degree tilt (electronically configured and ready for integration at site).
  • Simple deployment via a forklift and 2-3 people. As per the 5B tagline – “100 kilowatts fully installed before lunch, and 1 megawatt in a week” – pretty impressive!

They’re modular as well; you can ship four 32-module MAVs in a standard ISO 20 foot container (similar to the Renovagen solar carpet we discussed yesterday)

Click here to download the MAV product brochure. You can also view a video from 5B below which shows how the Maverick solar array works. Have you had any experience with the MAV? How did you find it? Please let us know in the comments. 

Sun Exchange raises $1.6m for blockchain/bitcoin

Peer-to-peer solar equipment leasing marketplace Sun Exchange has raised $1.6 million USD  in seed financing from a group of strategic partners, which includes the New York company Network Society Ventures and three other American technology accelerators to “accelerate global access” to solar power. Sun Exchange’s model works by p2p equipment leasing through a combination of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency (e.g. Bitcoin) with solar leases.

About Sun Exchange

Sun Exchange - Africa Solar Power Investment through Bitcoin/Blockchain Technology
Sun Exchange – Africa Solar Power Investment through Bitcoin/Blockchain Technology (source: thesunexchange.com)

Based in South Africa, Sun Exchange allows anyone to buy solar cells throughout the world and earn rental income from them. They have been in the African energy market since 2014 and have expanded rapidly with a headquarters in California and another operating office in Dubai. The company won Best Bitcoin and Blockchain Business in Africa for consecutive years (2016 and 2017) at the Africa Fintech Awards.

The blockchain records the solar assets and payouts are in crypto-currency. According to Forbes this is known as “streaming monetized sunshine” and Sun Exchange are calling this part of the “save the world tool-kit”. Investors are seeing their solar cells installed and rented to places like Africa and the Middle East, and places like factories, schools, rural communities and hospitals are benefiting from this innovative technology.

Given the fact that there are countries like Germany and Australia with massive amounts of solar power installed compared to places like South Africa and Namibia, it’s sensible to see the choice to invest in the latter developed countries where they have a large amount of daily sunshine and limited amounts of solar PV. This works both from an economical and a philanthropic viewpoint.

The Sun Exchange network pays its investors using utility ERC20 tokens known as GREEN which rewards users for installing and using renewable energy. This is part of the Greeneum Network which uses smart contracts and machine learning to run its current test projects in Europe, Cyprus, Israel, Africa and the United States. Greeneum are hoping to have the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for the project completed by mid-next year. 

According to Sun Exchange this is the first marketplace of this kind where investors are able to help emerging markets that are “solar-rich but power-poor”. For example, there are currently ~600m Africans living without access to electricity. Estimates say that it’d cost $350b to provide them all with electricity so using distributed investors and solar energy are a great way to try and solve this problem. We’re excited to see how this project progresses and will update you as soon as there’s further news on their venture! In the meantime, if you’re interested in investing please click here to learn more about Sun Exchange and how you can get involved. 

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