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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Solar Backpackers – Solar jobs not going to locals?

The dozens of solar farms in various stages of construction or approval in Queensland are being flooded with ‘solar backpackers’ – with local staff being eschewed due to the perception of being too difficult to manage. This has led to a situation where ‘solar backpackers’ are being employed instead of local staff as it’s easier for the companies. 

Solar Backpackers and Solar Jobs

According to the ABC, in the last fortnight Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the Electrical Safety Office conducted inspections across many of Queensland’s regional solar farms. 30 Notices were issued to various companies – this includes 23 breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act and seven breaches of the Electrical Safety Act.

Industrial Minister Grace Grace discussed the issues and advised that a new Code of Practice will be released by the end of the year:

“With the construction of solar and wind farms expanding throughout Queensland, we must ensure electrical safety is paramount,” she said.

“While there is a robust system in place to ensure the highest levels of safety, we are far from complacent and we want to ensure world’s best practice in this area.

“Following the completion of the solar code, a similar process will be undertaken to develop a separate code of practice for wind farms,” she said.

The Australian Border Force have also become involved, but haven’t confirmed any instances of ‘illegal workers’ or ‘worker exploitation’:

“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that Australian workers have priority and that foreign workers are a supplement to, and not a substitute for, Australians,” an ABF spokesperson said.

“The Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa allows ‘backpackers’ to stay and holiday in Australia for up to 12 months, work in Australia for up to six months with each employer, study for up to four months and leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid.

“WHM visa holders can undertake any kind of work with any employer during their stay in Australia as long as they do not work more than six months with that employer.”

List of Solar Farms in Queensland (Information from abc.net.au)

Company Solar Farm Area Size Owner Solar Jobs Created
Biosar Energy Childers Bundaberg 120MW Elliott 200
Biosar Energy Susan River Fraser Coast 100MW Elliott 300
Biosar Energy Oakey Solar Farm Stage 2 Toowoomba 70MW Canadian Solar 200
Downer Group Ross River Solar Farm Townville 148MW Palisade Unknown
Downer Group Clare Solar Farm Burdekin 100 MW FRV Unknown
Downer Group Sunshine coast Solar Farm Sunshine Coast 15MW Sunshine Coast City Council Unknown
Acciona Lilyvale Solar Farm Central Highlands 100MW Fotowatio Renewable Ventures Unknown
CIMIC Group & UGL Limited Collinsville Solar Project Whitsunday 42.5MW Ratch Australia 120 at peak
RCR Tomlinson Darling Downs Solar Farm Western Downs 110MW APA Group 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Daydream Solar Farm Whitsunday 180MW Edify Energy 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Hayman Solar Farm Whitsunday 60MW Edify Energy 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Longreach Solar Farm Longreach 15MW Canadian Solar 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Oakey Solar Farm Stage 1 Toowoomba 25MW Canadian Solar 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Sun Metals Solar Farm Stage 1 Townsville 124MW Sun metals Corp 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Emerald Solar Park Central Highlands 72MW Renewable Energy Systems 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Haughton Burdekin 500MW Pacific Hydro 3,000 across eight projects
Bouygues Construction Australia Hamilton Solar Farm Whitsunday 69MW Edify Energy 325
Tranex Whitsunday Solar Farm Whitsunday 69MW Edify Energy Approx. 60
Beon Energy Hughenden Solar Farm Flinders 20MW BayWa r.e 100
Windlab and Erus Energy Kennedy Energy Park Flinders 60MW Windlab Approx. 130 to 140
Yarranlea Yarranlea Solar Farm Toowoomba 121MW Risen Energy 200 proposed positions
Adani Rugby Run Solar Farm Stage 1 Isaac Region 65MW Adani Renewables 150 proposed jobs
 

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SolarReserve sign MOU for Aurora Project

American company SolarReserve have signed an MoU with Heliostat SA to manufacture and assemble the components for their solar tower and molten salt storage facility at Port Augusta.

SolarReserve Commence Construction on Aurora Solar Thermal Plant

SolarReserve sign MOU for Aurora Project
SolarReserve sign MOU for Aurora Project (source: solarreserve.com)

SolarReserve announced on Tuesday that they’ll work with Heliostat SA to create 12,800 96 square metre glass mirrors for their Aurora Solar Thermal Plant. 

The solar thermal plant in Port Augusta, South Australia, was announced last August and received developmental approval back in January It is slated to be a $750m project but we haven’t heard any specifics as to updated pricing, and this information is the first news on the project since January of this year. 

According to the CEO of SolarReserve, Kevin Smith, the solar thermal power plant will comprise of approximately 12,000 mirrors, each the size of a billboard (around 100sqm), arranged in a circle over 600 hectares. The mirrors will focus light and heat to the top of a 227m tall tower to generate up to 150MW. This will result in over a million square metres of surface area for the project. 

“Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility,” Mr. Smith said at the time. He elaborated today when discussing the deal with Heliostat SA: 

“We’re excited to have formed a long-term partnership with Heliostat SA and look forward to teaming up with them to bring manufacturing of our world-class heliostats to South Australian workers,” said Mr. Smith.

“SolarReserve is committed to supporting South Australia’s goals which will attract investment, create South Australian jobs and build an exciting and growing new industry.”

According to an article on RenewEconomy the project will create around 200 full time solar jobs for the area, with 650 to be employed during the construction phase. 

This project is a bit slow and new information is thin on the ground, so great to hear that it’s moving ahead. We’ll keep you posted as soon as there’s any new information on the solar thermal plant! 

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Parkesbourne solar and storage project unveiled.

Australian renewable energy developer CWP Renewables is planning to build a 600MW Parkesbourne solar and storage project within Goulburn in New South Wales. The gigantic project will cover around 2,000 hectares in in the Greater Hume Shire.

Parkesbourne solar and storage – more info.

Parkesbourne Solar Project`
Parkesbourne Solar Project (source: cwprenewables.com)

There are two separate Parkesbourne solar projects being touted by CWP – the first is a 600MW solar and storage project in the New South Wales Goulburn Mulwaree Council area. The second plan is for a 200MW Glenellen solar and storage park. According to Renewables Now, this will be installed on already cleared land situated north-east of Jundera, within the Greater Hume Shire. 

Project manager Matthew Flower discussed what will happen on in the future if this project goes ahead:

“We are looking at producing up to 600MW power with this and right now there are no other 600MW solar farms in Australia,” Mr Flower said. 

“The largest at the moment would be about 150MW.

“That is not to say it will be the largest by the time of possible approval because this area is expanding so rapidly, but it is certainly a major project.

“The attraction of the area is proximity to the electricity grid and relatively flat land.”

Mr Flower went on to explain why they chose the specific location and why they will use solar power instead of wind:

“Wind can vary a lot, but not sun,” Mr Flower said.

“It would not matter if it was further west, because of the angle of the sun. Latitude is the main thing.

“Our application comes off the back of early engagement with potential hosts, neighbouring landowners and the wider community. 

“These discussions have shaped the project, which will continue as we work through the permitting process,” Mr Flower said. 

The project is expected to create 300 solar jobs during construction and 25 more ongoing operational positions. The $600m farm could even be the largest of its type in all of Australia.

We’ll keep you updated as more information about the project becomes available! An Environmental Impact Statement will be released to the public sometime in 2018. 

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