Walgett Solar Farm to supply 50% of UTS solar

The University of Technology of Sydney (UTS) has signed a PPA with the Walgett Solar Farm which will cover 50% of its energy usage.

Walgett Solar Farm

The $40m Walgett Solar Farm was approved by the NSW government last year – it will eventually output 32MW and is now reaching the next stage of its project lifecycle.

The farm is owned fully by Epuron, who will be able to commence construction on the project after signing this PPA with UTS.

“For our renewable projects to be able to attract finance and get built, it’s crucial to find suitable partners to become committed customers and provide certainty,” Epuron Director Martin Poole told PV Magazine.

“With the UTS commitment to purchase our clean energy output, the Walgett Solar Farm can move ahead and we look forward to commencing construction in the coming months.” Mr Poole continued.

The project is expected to be built in two stages with the first stage outputting around 15MW.

The Walgett Solar Farm will generate approximately 63,000MWh p.a. once complete – enough to power almost 10,000 homes in New South Wales. 

UTS Solar

Walgett Solar Farm
Walgett Solar Farm PPA will help power UTS (source: newsroom.uts.edu.au)

This is the third PPA UTS have signed to add to its renewable portfolio – their main goal, as we wrote last year, is to completely offset their energy usage with renewable energy via a $1.3b ‘City Campus Master Plan’.

“We are committed to finding sustainable solutions to reduce our environmental impact,” UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs said. “But we don’t just want to create improvement for ourselves, we want to change whole systems to enable others to also improve their sustainability. UTS has spent the last couple of years researching and creating an effective energy model to help reduce emissions while also supporting the continued growth of the renewable energy sector.”

They’ve installed six solar systems on rooftops at the UTS campus and, by 2020/21, are hoping to reduce their emissions 30% on 2007 levels. 

In other university solar news, the University of Newcastle is doing great things with printed solar cells.

 

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Battery Energy Storage System in Alice Springs

Battery Energy Storage System – Alice Springs is set to receive its first grid-scale battery as solar power in the Northern Territory heats up.

Alice Springs Battery Energy Storage System

Battery Energy Storage System Alice Springs
Battery Energy Storage System discussion at Alice Springs (source: territorygeneration.com.au)

The $8.3M, 5MW/2.5MWh grid-scale battery storage facility in Alice Springs was announced last year and has been completed this week. It was built by New Zealand solar company Vector using LG grid-scale solar batteries.  

Government owned Territory Generation (The Northern Territory’s major electricity producer) have advised that they’re hoping this battery will facilitate greater uptake of solar in the NT:

“The Battery Energy Storage System is an important milestone in the Northern Territory’s transition to renewable energy and a critical piece of infrastructure to support the Northern Territory Government’s Roadmap to Renewables strategy,” Territory Generation Chief Executive Officer Tim Duignan said.

“Reliability and stability of the power system is a critical barrier in the uptake of renewable energy across Australia, and I am pleased that we are at the forefront of tackling this issue right here in Alice Springs,” he continued.

The BESS should have quite a big impact on base-load power as well, so let’s see how it fares during summer 2018/19. Previously a very conservative approach to local grid management (read more in RenewEconomy) means this battery should help quite a lot: with half an hour storage capability, and can supply 8MW for 6 seconds, or 7.5MW for 60 seconds – suitable for the moments everyone decides their air conditioners need to be turned on at the same time!  

Mr. Duignan also discussed the plans for Darwin solar in the future: “The cutting-edge technology in our Battery Energy Storage System will reinforce Alice Springs as the solar capital of Australia by enabling greater solar penetration whilst maintaining grid stability.”

We wrote about the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) last June as it was unveiled in an attempt to compete with the other states, where the Northern Territory was lagging behind considerably (January 2017 PV output was 4,049MWh vs Queensland’s 126,629MWh). 

The Northern Territory is in a very unique position compared to its neighbour states – the state hosts a mere one percent of the total population but it represents approximately 15% of Australia’s land mass. However, installs are more expensive over there due to less competition and higher cyclone ratings required on solar panels. This dearth of Darwin solar is starting to change and there are a raft of high quality solar installers working hard in Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs, and more. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly they can catch up to the other states. 

Darwin Solar Farms

There are plenty of farms and solar projects in various stages of completion in the Northern Territory and this is growing rapidly:

  • GPT Group have 1.25 MW at Casuarina Square shopping Centre
  • Darwin International Airport’s 4MW.
  • Epuron are working on a 25MW Solar plant at Katherine.
  • The Australian Defence Force have tendered for a 12MW of solar (combined) at their Darwin and Robertson Barracks.
  • Rim Fire Energy Retail’s 10MW Batchelor solar farm.
  • Infigen Energy are building a 12MW solar farm at Manton Dam and 10MW at Batchelor.
  • Community solar project “Repower Alice Springs” is planning for a 10MW community solar farm.

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Melbourne Water Solar Tenders

Melbourne Water has announced a tender for two solar systems so they’re able to power to water treatment plans. Expressions of interest are now welcome.

Melbourne Water Solar Tenders

Melbourne Water Solar Tender
Melbourne Water Solar Tender

State-owned Melbourne Water have announced that they want to be carbon neutral by 2030,so this is a step in the right direction. The expressions of interest are for design, construction, and operation of two solar facilities at the Eastern Treatment Plant (ETP) in Carrum Downs, and also the Winneke Water Treatment Plant in the Yarra Valley. 

This is a “practical way for Melbourne Water to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, and tackle climate change”, according to the utility. 

According to the tender, the systems will need >30 gigawatt-hours per year for the ETP, and 12GWh from Winneke. The ETP treats approximately 330 million litres of sewage a day – which is 40% of Melbourne’s total sewage. This is an extremely energy intensive task so it’s fantastic to see the utility come up with a plan to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2030. Australia’s solar power future is looking bright!

The official website has a link to the Expression of Interest with some interesting quotes:

“Melbourne Water is committed to reducing its net carbon emissions to zero by 2030.

The proposed solar farms are one initiative designed to help meet this ambitious goal and will play a role alongside other projects including hydro-power stations and the transition of Melbourne Water’s car fleet to zero emissions vehicles” the tender reads.

We’ve seen plenty of council solar over the last year and it’s fantastic to see state governments also working hard on minimising Australia’s carbon footprint.

Expressions of interest to provide solar power to Melbourne Water will close on November 27. The company are hoping to make their choice by May of 2019.

For further information please call 1800 931 978 or email via [email protected]

 

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Vales Point Solar Energy Project greenlit.

The $117m, 55MW Vales Point Solar Energy Project was greenlit by the Department of Planning today.

Vales Point Solar Energy Project

Vales Point Solar Energy Project Location
Vales Point Solar Energy Project Location

The project is going to be built by Delta (who were bidding for the Liddell power station earlier this year) and will co-exist with the coal-fired power station at Vales Point power station. Work is slated to commence early in 2019 and the solar farm will be built over 80 hectares of a rehabilitated ash dam. 

Delta Electricity Company Secretary Steve Gurney discussed the impact on the national grid:

“Delta recognises that both dispatchable power and low emission technologies have a role to play in supporting an affordable, reliable and sustainable national electricity grid” Mr Gurney said.

The Vales Point solar projet is expected to create over 100 solar jobs over the 18 months it’ll take to complete and will run for a 25 year lifespan. This will also extend the lifespan of the adjacent Vales Point power station which will now operate past its technical closure date of 2029.

Clay Preshaw, the director of Resource and Energy Assessment as the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, spoke about the farm’s potential impact on Australia’s solar future:

“This innovative project is one of the first in Australia where large-scale renewable and coal-fired energy facilities sit side by side,” Mr Preshaw said.

Vales Point Solar Energy Project Submissions

According to The Herald, the project was on public exhibition for a couple of months and 14 submissions were received. One of those was from the Lake Macquarie City Council, who support the project going ahead, but raised a concern about the impact the project may have on coastal saltmarsh:

“With the exception of the coastal saltmarsh issue, it appears that the ‘baseline’ for impact assessment is reasonable, predictions of impact are robust with suitable sensitivity testing, the assessment considers how to avoid and minimise impacts, and the proposal includes all reasonably feasible mitigation options,” the submission said.

Other than that it looks like everyone’s happy – it’ll be interesting to see how this works in unison with the coal-fired power plant and which one is more profitable!

 

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True Value Solar to shut down in Australia

True Value Solar, a German owned solar installation company in Australia, will shut down over the coming months as it struggles to compete in the local marketplace.

True Value Solar Shutdown

True Value Solar
True Value Solar

True Value Solar was once Australia’s biggest solar installation company, so this comes as a bit of a shame. With that said, their heavy discounting and price-focused product range led to its own issues as well. The company has 3.2 stars on ProductReview and has been sinking rapidly as the solar race to the bottom continues – as the old saying goes, good price, quality, and speed – you can pick two. Unfortunately this has now claimed another scalp and True Value have decided to exit the market. 

The company had been owned by German company M+W Group since 2011, when they invested in a controlling stake. They bought out the entire True Value Solar company in 2013 and have since rebranded as Exyte.  

Exyte, who turns over $4 billion per annum, have decided to exit the country and shut up shop. A map on its website with over 20 countries where Exyte operate no longer shows Australia .

True Value solar MD David McCallum hasn’t made any comment yet, nor has Exyte said anything official, but comments in One Step Off The Grid note that the status of the company (i.e. the upcoming closure) was ‘confirmed’ by RenewEconomy today. The current ~30 employees have already been informed of plans to shutter the company.

It’s understood that the winding down of True Value will be a gradual process so they are able to honour existing contracts and warranties as much as possible. No word yet on how it will affect their commercial solar arm. 

If you want to remember the good old days, please have a look below which shows you a ‘typical True Value Home Installation’.

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