Institutional Investors in Solar – NAB’s $200m Portfolio

Institutional Investors in solar have had some great news this week as NAB’s Low Carbon Shared Portfolio represents a $200m pool of loans to renewable projects – so it’s a fantastic way to invest in clean energy in Australia. The portfolio allows the public to support large-scale solar and wind farms which they weren’t previously able to do.

Institutional Investors in Solar

NAB Institutional Investors in Solar
NAB Institutional Investors in Solar (source: NAB.com.au)

Institutional Investors in Solar will be able to invest in the $200m facility which has seven ‘senior loans’ to wind and large scale solar farms financed by NAB.  The CEFC has also chipped in a $90m cornerstone investment:

“The Low Carbon Shared Portfolio creates an opportunity for institutional investors to participate in the renewable energy sector even though they may not be able to enter into individual project financing transactions,” Richard Lovell from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation said. 

“This offering is unique in giving investors credit exposure to the underlying projects, a significant innovation in the market.”

NAB have advised that the seven projects in the Low Carbon Shared Portfolio represent 2.5 million tonnes of displaced CO2 emissions – the equivalent to 350,000 Australian households (i.e. a very significant amount). 

Former NSW Premier Mike Baird is now the head of customer relations for corporate and institutional banking at NAB. Mr Baird spoke of the project and NAB’s goals:

“We’re responding by providing ways for institutional investors to back major renewable energy projects alongside NAB, while releasing capital for NAB to continue to reinvest in the renewables sector.”

According to the Fifth Estate, all seven loans in the Low Carbon Shared Portfolio are in Australian dollars and all have a remaining tenor of at least 15 months. The loan portfolio has an expected weighted average life of 3.2 years. NAB will retain at least 25 per cent of each low carbon loan on its own balance sheet and will manage the loans for the shared portfolio. If NAB exits a particular loan, the shared portfolio will also divest.  

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Lightsource BP offering residential PPAs

Lightsource BP, a UK based solar and smart energy solutions company, is preparing to move into the Australian market where they will offer residential rooftop PV solar power at no upfront cost – instead using the PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) model usually reserved for large-scale solar installs. 

Lightsource BP Solar in Australia

Lightsource BP in Australia
Lightsource BP in Australia (source: bp.com)

Lightsource Labs Australia Pty Ltd (LS Labs) have applied to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to launch their product, asking for an individual exemption to hold a retailer authorisation. The application says that LS Labs could launch their product in NSW, SA, QLD, and VIC within a couple of weeks, so all eyes on the regulator to see if they’re happy to grant the exemption.

The way LS Lab’s product will work is that they will supply, install, operate and maintain a solar array, batter and smart metering system to homes, and then sell the renewable power to the client at a fixed price under a PPA model. According to Renewables Now, the period of PPA could be up to 20 years and price per kWh will depend on the terms of each individual contract (i.e. it’ll be cheaper depending on how long the contract is). They also note that customers will be offered the opportunity to buy the system at any time after the second year of the PPA.

RenewEconomy is reporting that Lightsource BP partnered with French company Edf in the UK – using LG Chem batteries as part of the ‘Sunplug’ program. These PPAs were around 9.9p/kWh (~$0.18 AUD) so it’ll be interesting to see how this fares in the Australian market. 

Last month, Lightsource BP acquired Ubiworx Systems to help support a plan for the global launch of a smart-home solution. Kareen Boutonnat, COO of Lightsource BP, said at the time that the “power of the home” will be very important with regards to shaping the world’s “new energy future” – a situation where the energy market transcends monitoring and controlling of consumption, turning ‘smart homes’ into ‘genius homes’ (as we call them). Will be exciting to see where this goes over the next few years! 

 

 

 

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Solar roads in Tokyo for 2020 Olympics

The Tokyo metropolitan government have announced that they’ll build solar roads in Tokyo which will help Japan promote itself as an eco-friendly nation ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Let’s take a closer look at solar road technology and see how it’s working in other countries as well.

Solar roads in Tokyo

The country has already made some inroads with regards to trialling the solar road technology – in May a car park at a 7-11 in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. It consists of solar panels installed on the road, with a covering of a special resin which enhances durability and allows cars/bikes to drive over the panels without damaging them. 

A manager at the 7-11 store was quoted in the Independent as saying: “The solar road system can generate 16,145 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, covering about nine per cent of the entire electricity that the store consumes.”

Tokyo’s government has set a goal for 2030 – that renewable energy should represent at least 30% of power consumption in the city (up from 12% in 2016).  We’re not sure where the solar roads in Tokyo will go, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have any information.

Business Times reports that it cost around 5 million euro per KM of solar road for the roads already installed in France – so it’s still very expensive and we have a ways to go before solar roads are everywhere.

We reported last year on solar roads in China, which are strong enough for medium-sized trucks to drive over. No news yet on how that is going but we’ve got trials in the Netherlands on cycling roads and also on French motorways so there should be more information on solar road performance soon.

More Solar Roads

Solar roads in Tokyo
Solar roads in Tokyo (artist’s impression) (source: news.com.au)

If you’re interested in reading more about solar highways, here are some other articles which may be of interest – the tech is still very much so in its nascent stages so keep your eyes posted and we’ll keep you updated on everything solar road related!

SONOB Installation on Dutch Highways (IIPV) – solar panel sound barriers (SONOB) as part of a project replacing currently installed sound barriers. 

The ACT has a ‘solar highway’ which isn’t exactly a solar road per se, but a step in the right direction.

recent report by US firm IDTechEX advises that they think “electrically smart roads” can be a $23 billion industry in 10 years, according to an article from news.com.au. 

 

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UNSW’s Martin Green wins Global Energy Prize

Sydney professor Martin Green from UNSW has beaten out Tesla Musk to win the $820,000 Global Energy Prize for his work in the field of photovoltaics. Green will share the prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, who is an expert in the field of thermal power engineering.

Martin Green and the Global Energy Prize

Martin Green of UNSW
Martin Green of UNSW (source: Wikipedia)

Professor Green is Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW. According to the ABC he’s a leading specialist in both mono and polycrystalline ilicone sole cells, having invented the PERC solar cell (PERC cells represent just under a quarter of the world’s silicon cell manufacturing capacity (as of end of 2017)).

We’ve written plenty of articles about UNSW solar – they’re involved in general solar power research, have launched the SunSPoT solar potential tool, and they have also recently signed a 15-year corporate PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to become 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

In 1989, Professor Green and his team were responsible for the solar cells in the first photovoltaic system. In 2014 he was able to double 1989’s energy conversion efficiency of 20% to 40%. 

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs told the ABC that Professor Green had “delivered truly transformational outcomes in renewable energy for more than three decades”.

“Martin is a highly deserving recipient of this global prize and we warmly congratulate him,” he said.

“His fundamental and applied research has transformed the global energy sector and will continue to produce major economic and social benefits, both in Australia and worldwide.” Professor Jacobs continued. 

Professor Green said receiving the award was “a great honour”.

“The efficiency of solar modules is an area whose progress has been faster than many experts expected, and this is good news,” he said.

“We need to maintain the pace of research in Australia, not only to keep our international lead, but also to benefit society by providing a cheap, low carbon source of electricity.”

This is a fantastic reward for one of Australia’s solar stalwarts and we salute Professor Green for his ongoing work with solar power technology.

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Australia’s largest hospital solar power system at Port Macquarie

Australia’s largest hospital solar power system will be built at Port Macquarie Base Hospital as part of a $900,000 investment via the Mid North Coast Local Health District project. The hospital solar farm is projected to save the Port Macquarie Base Hospital around $130,000 in energy bills each year.

Australia’s largest hospital solar power system

The ABC is reporting that the hospital solar power system will generate 609kW and “significantly” reduce the site’s dependency on the grid. The project will involve installing more than 2,000 photovoltaic panels to cover most of the available roof space at the hospital. Queensland commercial solar power installer Solgen will be responsible for installing the panels, according to Port News

Hospital Solar - Solgen
Hospital Solar – Solgen (source: solgen.com.au)

Project manager for environmental sustainability for the Mid North Coast Local Health District, Danny Saunders, said that he expected other hospitals in a similar situation could follow suit with regards to installing solar on top of their roofs:

“They have large roofs and consumption day and night. It’s really the perfect storm for installing solar,” Mr Saunders said. He discussed how installing a large-scale solar project on top of a hospital is certainly not a new idea, and that he’s aware of a few others in various stages of completion:

“I know Canberra recently put in a very large system, and Adelaide and Bankstown is going through the process as well now.” 

“We just happen to have the largest one at the moment,” Mr Saunders said.

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams also weighed in on the project, with some effusive words:

“It makes perfect sense in an area like Port Macquarie, where we have one of the highest uptakes of rooftop solar, that we can do the same on our government facilities including our health facilities,” she said.

“Obviously hospitals have a huge expanse of rooftop available, and some 2030 panels will go up there, making a significant saving for the local health district that can be invested back into frontline services.”

The solar system is expected to be built by mid-July and will also include energy performance monitoring – with over 9,000 lights replaced with high efficiency LED lights. A great step into the future and we look forward to seeing more hospitals installing solar systems on the top. 

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Kiamal solar farm signs a PPA with Flow Power.

The 200MW Kiamal solar farm located near Ouyen in Western Victoria has signed a PPA for 25% of its output (50MW) – they’ll sell this power to Flow Power who will then offer it to their business clients along with power generated from the Ararat wind farm.

Kiamal solar farm

Kiamal Solar Farm - Flow Power
Kiamal Solar Farm – Flow Power (source: flowpower.com.au)

Kiamal solar farm also signed a deal with Total Eren, as CEO of Flow Power Matthew van der Linden sounded excited about when interviewed: 

“It’s really cheap,” van der Linden told RenewEconomy. “It’s well below the rates out in the market.”

“Because we have got a long term agreement with a large scale project and obviously they can offer a very competitive price around that.”

Total Eren will be responsible for construction of the as yet unbuilt solar farm – this will be the first Australian investment from a JV combining Total Eren and a renewable energy developer.  The farm will include more than 700,000 PV panels over almost 500 hectares of space, using single axis tracking. It also has approval from Mildura council for a 100MW/380MWh battery storage facility, according to Michael Vawser of Total Eren.

Another 50MW of the power was contracted to Mars Australia last week – allowing them to run their entire business (including six factories) on 100% renewable energy. Commercial solar continues to come along in leaps and bounds.

Lastly, Kiamal also signed a contract with energy retailer PowerShop (which is owned by Meridian Energy, New Zealand’s biggest utility company):

“This agreement secures our solar output for Victoria and we are also in final negotiations with projects for additional wind output in Victoria,” van der Linden said. “New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland should follow soon after, completing our first phase of projects and seeing us out for the year.”

The Kiamal solar farm will begin over the next 12 weeks and it’s estimated it’ll take around 12 months to reach completion. If you’d like to read more about the project you can see some more detailed information by clicking here

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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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Lyon Group – Global Solar Agreements

Brisbane based Lyon Group have announced three integrated solar and storage projects in Australia will be launched via partnerships they have signed with two overseas companies. The renewable energy developer has partnered with US-based Fluence and Japanese energy company JERA to develop large-scale solar+battery projects. 

Lyon Group’s Global Solar Agreements

Lyon Group, JERA, Fluence CEOs to announce partnership.
Lyon Group, JERA, Fluence CEOs to announce partnership. (source: Lyon Group)

Both JERA and Fluence are already joint ventures (JERA of TEPCO Fuel & Power Inc and Chebu Electric Power Co, and Fluence borne of Siemens and AES). The latter focuses on battery storage and service provision, and JERA would invest in the projects. Lyon will remain the project developer.

“This collaboration agreement is based on a shared understanding that the world requires low emissions energy systems that are also secure, reliable and affordable. Utility-scale battery storage solutions across new and existing generation plants will be a key enabler,” said David Green, Lyon Chairman.

The partnerships will be put to work with the following three solar projects Lyon is developing in need of some answers viz a viz their industrial scale battery storage solutions:

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the three solar power pants will generate 550MW when online at the end of next year. JERA are going to contribute over 10 billion yen (~$122 million AUD) to the projects, which will include a 100MW lithium-ion battery storage system at the Riverlands solar farm in South Australia, equal largest of its kind on the planet (the other 100MW battery isn’t far away – the Tesla Powerpack farm installed in South Australia last year as part of the Hornsdale Power Reserve)

We’ll keep you updated how this partnership progresses. Great news for solar energy in Australia! 

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Carnegie raises $5.3 million for solar, battery, wave

Carnegie Clean Energy, a clean energy company based in Perth, have raised $5.3 million for improvements and investments in its solar, battery, and wave energy businesses.

Carnegie Clean Energy Funding Round

Carnegie Clean Energy Funding Round
Carnegie Clean Energy Funding Round (source: https://www.carnegiece.com/)

The raised funds will be invested into working capital so Carnegie is able to complete its existing projects which include wave, solar, and battery storage microgrid projects. The extra money will ‘further develop its contract and project pipelines, and to further expand the business’, according to RenewEconomy

Carnegie’s CEO Michael Ottoviano has been in the press a lot lately and made some comments after the successful funding round:

“We thank our shareholders for their support in the capital raise,” he said.

“We will now use this new capital and our existing funds to accelerate our businesses towards financial sustainability.”

“We have achieved this at a time when this sector is at the start of a period of rapid growth. Our ability to be innovative both technically and commercially creates the opportunity to accelerate the growth our business to achieve and sustain profitable ongoing operations within the next 12-24 months.”

Dr.Ottoviano was quoted last year discussing the increasing competitiveness of renewables:

“We are fielding an increasing number of opportunities that historically were performed by diesel or gas turbines, for which battery systems are now increasingly competitive. The CCE battery solution offers faster response time, lower operating cost, no greenhouse gas pollution, and silent operation.”

Carnegie have also been responsible for some huge solar projects in Australia (which are in various states of progress), namely:

The company was founded in 1987 as Carnegie Wave Energy but has since expanded and renamed itself after purchasing solar and battery microgrid developer Energy Made Clean. Click here to visit the Carnegie website. 

Keep an eye on CCE on the ASX! Current price is at $0.032 as per InvestSmart.

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Solar panels on new homes mandatory in Cali

Solar panels on new homes will be mandatory for most new homes built in California from 2020 as per new building standards ratified by the California Energy Commission on Wednesday.

Solar panels on new homes

Solar panels on new homes - sunpower
Solar panels on new homes in California to benefit Sunpower (source: sunpower.com.au)

This move is the first in the United States which will provide a welcome boost to solar panel manufacturers and installers. According to the Australian Financial Review, California adds about 80,000 new houses per year. Currently, the California Solar & Storage Association estimates that 15,000, or almost one in five homes come with solar. The new standards are expected to increase demand for solar systems by 10-15%. 

The new mandatory solar scheme will raise the cost of a new home by nearly $10,000, according to estimates. This will mean around $40 USD per month in extra mortgage repayments which will be more than offset by a projected $80 USD saving on energy bills. 

“We cannot let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas guzzlers,” Commissioner David Hochschild said before the vote.

 
Tom Werner of SunPower, a San Jose solar company, was naturally rather excited about the prospect, telling people in an interview about his thoughts of the future of solar in the golden state: 
 
“We think it’s another example of California policy preceding what will happen in other markets,” he said.
 
According to a 2017 US Department of Energy report cited by the Energy Commission, just 9% of single family standalone homes in the state (which has 40m residents) currently have solar panels installed. This should increase that nicely, with shaded buildings or buildings with tiny roofs exempt from the new mandatory solar systems.
 
Is it only a matter of time before we see these new guidelines working in new communities alongside companies like Power Ledger, whose microgrid and blockchain technology allows for largely self-contained community solar options?
 
 

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