Solar Highways in China

There’s been a lot of information in the news lately about solar highways and we’re please to report on how one of the trials is going over in China. Solar roads are growing in popularity and we are seeing more trials pop up as the technology improves and becomes cheaper to implement. The myriad uses of solar roads (electric heating strips could melt snow, LEDs could warn drivers of any impending issues up ahead, or the roads could even charge electric vehicles down the track) mean there is a lot of research going on to try and make the tech tenable. Let’s look into it some more! 

Solar Highways in China and worldwide.

Solar Highways in China (source: YouTube)
Solar Highways in China (source: YouTube)

We wrote about solar roads in China last year and are pleased to report that we have an update on how the solar panel trial on a major highway in the city of Jinan has gone. The trial was lead by Pavenergy and Qilu Transportation with Pavenergy making the solar panels for Qilu, which is a state-owned company who operates the highway the solar road section is installed on.

The panels are made up of a complex polymer not unlike plastic – which means they have slightly more friction than normal roads – but this can be adjusted during the manufacturing profess to ensure it’s the right surface for cars. According to Today Online, normal asphalt (aka bitumen) roads cost around USD $120 per square metre each 10 years to resurface and repair. The solar road companies Pavenergy and Colas are hoping to reach USD $310 – $460 per square metre to install the solar roads – with around USD $15 of electricity being produced by each square meter of solar road each year. This means they could pay for themselves in comparison with conventional roads over a 15 year period. The problem now is the longevity of the panels – can they withstand big trucks driving over them every hour for 10 years? 

“If it can pass this test, it can fit all conditions,” said Mr Li Wu, the chairman of Shandong Pavenergy. 

Professor Zhang Hongchao, an engineering expert at Tongji University in Shanghai is helping Pavenergy with their research, which they expect to have further information on within the next 6-12 months. 

If you’re interested in reading more about solar roads then try our article about solar roads in Tokyo which are currently being installed for the upcoming Olympics in 2020. Another company rivalling Pavenergy and Qilu is a French company named Colas which has already developed 25 solar roads and solar parking lots in France, Canada and the USA. 

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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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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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Hyundai Solar Panels coming to Australia

Hyundai solar panels will be available in Australia this year after inking a massive deal with a local solar company. The Korean company will look to sell to the commercial and residential sector and will also look to install large-scale solar projects here.

Hyundai Solar Panels in Australia

Hyundai Solar Panels - Green Energy
Hyundai Solar Panels – Green Energy (source: Hyundai)

Hyundai Heavy Industries Green Energy have signed an exclusive deal with Queensland solar distribution company Supply Partners. The deal has been valued at $70 million and will see Hyundai HI return to the Australian market since it exited in 2011. 

Larry Kim, the head of global sales for Hyundai Heavy Industries Green Energy, said the company’s sales targets are ambitious – planning to sell 20-30MW of panels this year, and 40-50MW in 2019. According to RenewEconomy, they were only up to 10MW of panels when they exited the market. It’s important to note that the solar landscape has changed considerably in the last 7 years and that 10MW worth of panels certainly doesn’t represent the ostensible failure the numbers provide in 2018 terms.

Kim said the focus of Hyundai will be squarely on the residential and commercial markets. 

“Nowadays, the Australian market is growing very fast in all markets, but residential and commercial are more stable,” Kim told RE in an interview.

He also discussed their plans with regards to energy storage and how they’re going to roll it out to Australia – given that we already have such a high solar panel installation rate it would seem logical to enter this market as well. 

“This is part of (our) long-term strategy,” he said.

“We are focusing on the Korean market for energy storage systems first,” he said. “After that, (we will look at) the Australia residential market.

“But not in the near future.”

We’ll be super interested to see how Hyundai’s re-entry into the Australian market goes and will be sure to update you as soon as we hear anything more about the move.

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Zero Mass Water and the portable Source Hydropanels

American company Zero Mass Water have received a grant from ARENA to trial their solar powered clean drinking water in Australia. The technology involves the usage of portable Source Hydropanels which dehumidify the air (literally pulling moisture from it) and then purifying and adding minerals to it. They’re able to create up to five litres of potable (drinking) water every day. 

Zero Mass Water – Portable Source Hydropanels

Zero Mass Water Source Hydropanels Solar Powered Water Filter
Zero Mass Water Source Hydropanels Solar Powered Water Filter (source: zeromasswater.com)

ARENA (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency) will provide around $420,000 in grants to help Zero Mass Water set up 150 water systems across Australia as a trial. It’s estimated that this will result in 20,000 plastic water bottles not being used over the 15 year length of the project. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht was excited about being able to provide some assistance to this great tech: 

“This pilot project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources to remote communities while simultaneously reducing the number of plastic bottles that end up in a landfill,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Using a combination of solar photovoltaics with solar thermal technology, Source’s ability to create clean drinking water could be utilised to achieve positive solutions around water supply. The potential benefits of this technology to the environment are important.”

“The project will demonstrate the technology not yet seen in Australia – a product that produces clean, renewable, infrastructure-free drinking water extracted from the air using solar energy,” he continued. 

Vice President of Zero Mass Water, Rob Bartrop, explained why the Source Hydropanels and solar powered clean drinking water trial was a great fit for Australia:

“It’s a really good fit for Australia as it needs no additional infrastructure to operate so it overcomes a lot problems with remote operations,” he was quoted in Fairfax Media.

The panels are 1.2 x 2.4 metres and each one can handle 30 litres of water, which has been tested to Australian drinking water contaminant guidelines. 

The trial will commence in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and a bunch of smaller, regional towns. Remote communities that also have trouble with drinking water will also see the pilot project installed so we’re excited to see how cheaply we can use the sun to filter and purify water and anticipate this proving a big deal, especially for remote areas and developing countries.

 

 

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Global investment in solar power in 2017

The United Nations are reporting that global investment in solar power in 2017 was substantially higher than any other energy source, with a massive 45% of the investment coming from China. Let’s investigate this a little deeper and see what some industry professionals have to say.  

Investment in Solar Power

In a record-breaking year, the 98GW of new solar capacity is higher than any other tech, including other renewables like wind or water turbines, nuclear or fossil fuels. There’s 6GW of this going to Australia – Iain MacGill from UNSW discussed the massive increase in Australian domestic solar via the ABC:

“We have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin,” Dr MacGill said.

“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market.”

Professor Ulf Moslener from the Frankfurt School UNAP Centre discussed China’s huge $126 billion investment in solar power, where air pollution currently kills around a million people per year:

“The costs are still falling which makes the dominance in investment terms in China even more thrilling,” he said.

The director of ANU’s Energy Change Institute, Ken Baldwin, said there’s still plenty of room to grow and that the next ‘decade or two’ will see the closing of all Australian coal-fired plants: 

“What will be interesting to see is whether this can be maintained,” Professor Baldwin said.

“There was 6 gigawatts of solar, both residential and commercial installed in [Australia] in 2017.

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sonnen in South Australia – HQ, manufacturing plant.

sonnen in South Australia – the German battery manufacturing giant (which is also the world’s largest home storage energy company) have announced that they’re going to move their Australian headquarters from Sydney to Adelaide. The announcement was made last week during a huge week for renewables in SA – with the upcoming election both major parties have promised $100m in solar loans for South Australian residents.  

sonnen in South Australia

Along with the administrative tasks (i.e. the ‘headquarters’) of sonnen’s Australian operations, they’ll also be setting up a full energy storage manufacturing facility in the state.

Chris Parratt, the Australian boss of sonnen’s Australasian business, said the company will have a solar battery manufacturing facility ‘up and running’ in Adelaide within six to nine months.  According to the Australian Financial Review, Parratt says the facility will be able to produce 10,000 systems a year, including sonnen’s flagship sonnenBatterie line. He noted that they are looking at four separate locations in Adelaide, including the former Holden car manufacturing site and the former Mitsubishi car-making factory in Tonsley Park precinct. 

sonnen in South Australia
sonnen in South Australia – sonnenBatterie eco 8.2 (source: sonnen.com.au)

Parratt noted that sonnen have set up a similar facility in Atlanta in the United States of America in a fast timeline last year telling a press conference (along with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill) that they’re confident in scope management:

“We believe in about six to nine months we’ll be producing our first energy storage system,” he said. 

sonnen already have 30,000 household batteries installed in Germany, making them the world’s largest home storage energy company. 

It looks like this will go ahead regardless of whether Weatherill’s incumbent party or the South Australian Liberal leader Steven Marshall wrests control of the state – the latter is against renewable energy targets but has also committed to a $100m means-tested subsidy for up to 40,000 households to get interest free solar loans. 

Weatherill was quick to extol the employment ramifications of the move, having been told he was “doubling down to chase his losses” by federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg last week with regards to raising the RET from 50% to 75%:

“We saw yesterday I was accused of being a problem gambler. Well today, South Australia has hit the jobs jackpot,” Mr Weatherill said, referring to Sonnen’s plans, which will create 130 new immediate jobs, rising to 190 by the end of the year, and then another 300 jobs for trades people to install the batteries.

It’s shaping up to be a very interesting election in South Australia. Who are you voting for, and why? Let us know in the comments. 

 
 

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Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm Tender

Hot of the heels of their success last week after signing a contract with Western Power to construct a microgrid in Kalbarri, Carnegie Clean Energy look set to build a Kalgoorlie Solar Farm after winning a tender for the lease of 250 hectares of land within the Buffer Zone of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area.

The Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm

Kalgoorlie Solar Farm - Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie
Kalgoorlie Solar Farm – Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie (source: carnegiece.com)

According to SmallCaps, Carnegie (ASX: CCE) plan to construct and operate a solar farm which is capable of supplying large amounts of electricity into Western Australia’s main power grid. It’ll be known as the Mungari Solar Farm and will have a capacity of up to 100MW. This will result in the farm being able to generate 20MWh of battery-storage each year. The farm will be located 6km south-west of Kalgoorlie – where it will be able to supply electricity to Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources – they’ll have access to clean, stable energy and be able to lock in price points without having to worry about the volatility currently plaguing Western Australia. It’ll also help them move towards reaching their RET (Renewable Energy Target) – which is currently 24% of electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020. 

“Carnegie has a strong track record of developing greenfield sites into shovel-ready renewable projects rapidly and responsibly, most recently with its Northam Solar Farm,” said Dr Michael Ottaviano (Carnegie Clean Energy‘s Managing Director).

“We are excited to play a role in the development of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area, which has an important role in the future economic prosperity of the Eastern Goldfields and look forward to working closely with local industries seeking sources of clean power generation, the State Government, local governments and other key stakeholders in bringing this project to fruition,” said Dr Ottaviano.

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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:

 

 

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