Cultana Solar Farm to go ahead

The Cultana solar farm will go ahead, having received planning approval from the South Australian government. Let’s take a closer look at the project. 

Cultana Solar Farm to go ahead

The Cultana solart farm will be a 280MW solar farm being developed by Simec Zen Energy Australia. The project is set to commence construction within the next 12 months. It’ll be constructed on land next to the Whyalla Steelworks, who are currently expanding via Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance (and who will undoubtedly need more power in the coming months and years). 

Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance’s $1b fund to help support solar power in the Whyalla will be tapped for the Cultana project – despite some blowback from Adani Renewables who have bizarrely asked that the project be assessed by the Federal Department of the Environment under the EBPC Act. Adani have raised concerns about the potential impact on animals such as the threatened western grass wren and the slender-billed thornbill. They also discussed the problems with impact to Aboriginal heritage, dust, and traffic impacts. Seems strange given their own project will undoubtedly be scrutinized for the same reasons, but they must have a plan…

The project was signed off by SA Minister for Planning Stephan Knoll who put some restrictions on the approval. Simec have been asked to submit Environmental Management Plans for the construction and the operation phases of the Cultana Solar Farm. 

According to RenewEconomy, the $350M project will generate 600GWh of electricity per annum. This project is tipped to create 350 jobs during construction and 10 ongoing operations solar jobs after it’s completed. It’s expected to contribute savings of 492,000 tonnes of co2 emissions per year. 

Cultana (source: rowanramsey.com.au)

“There is a great future for energy‐intensive industries in Australia,” Sanjeev Gupta was quoted as saying. 

“This the first step in GFG leading the country’s industrial transition to more competitive energy.”

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Cohuna Solar Farm Commences Construction

The 34.2 MW Cohuna Solar Farm has commenced construction in Victoria after being chosen as one of the three winning tenders from the Victorian renewable energy auction.

Cohuna Solar Farm | Timeline, Investment, Jobs.

The 34.2MW Cohuna solar farm will be located in the shire of Gannawarra and will be built by Enel Green Power.

The solar project will consist of 87,000 bifacial modules mounted on single-axis trackers and will be connected to the grid via the Cohuna Zone Substation. Enel Green Power are investing ~US$42 million (AU$59 million) into the project, expected to commence operations by the end of this year.

Once completed, the project is expected to generate 77 GWh per year. The solar farm will be built in conjunction with local developer Leeson Group.

“Since EGP made its entry into the Australian renewable sector, we have already made great strides to expand our footprint in this competitive market,” said Antonio Cammisecra, Head of Enel Green Power (who also own the Bungala Solar Farm, Australia’s largest online solar farm), in comments repeated in PV Magazine.

Whilst the Cohuna Solar Farm’s output is a little more modest, it’s still an important step forwards for solar power in Australia and the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET). Under the VRET, six projects will be developed (three wind and three solar). With these projects the Victorian government hopes to source 25% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, 40% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.

If you’d like to read the press release from Enel please click here

If you’d like to know more about the developer, here’s a blurb about their company taken from their website:

Enel Green Power, the global renewable energy business line of the Enel Group, is dedicated to the development and operation of renewables across the world, with a presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Enel Green Power is a global leader in the green energy sector with a managed capacity of over 43 GW across a generation mix that includes wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower, and is at the forefront of integrating innovative technologies into renewable power plants.

The other two winning projects which won the Victorian renewable energy auction are:

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Bundaberg is the rooftop solar capital of Australia.

A press release from the Queensland Government notes that Bundaberg is now the rooftop solar capital of Australia. Let’s read more into solar power in north Queensland.

Bundaberg is the rooftop solar capital of Australia.

On the back of the Clean Energy Council report released today, Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham praised Queensland for its rapid update in solar power compared to the rest of Australia:

 “Queensland fills six of the top 10 rooftop solar postcodes in Australia, by number of installations.

“And sitting at the top is Bundaberg with 12,620 installations with a capacity of 47,500kW.

“In fact, Queensland has four of the top five places with Hervey Bay at No 3, Caloundra at No 4 and Toowoomba at No 5,’’ Dr Lynham said.

Queensland’s $2b Affordable Energy Plan means that the state now has the lowest ‘typical’ household power bill of the mainland states, according to a separate press release on Dr Lynham’s site.

North Queensland solar is going really well at the moment, with the government trialling grants for landlords to install solar in Bundaberg, Gladstone and Townsville.

“Bundaberg people are embracing the financial and environmental benefits of solar,’’ Dr Lynham said.

“Queensland is leading the way on renewables as the Palaszczuk Government heads towards its target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“Palaszczuk Government initiatives, encouraging the take-up of rooftop solar and batteries and creating an environment that has been embraced by the solar industry across the state, particularly in regional areas, is paying dividends across-the-board for Queenslanders.

“In Bundaberg seven applications for the Queensland Government’s solar-only loan package have been approved  and a further 35 applications for battery assistance packages also have been approved.’’ Dr Lynham continued.

Dr Anthony Lynham - Bundaberg the rooftop solar capital of Australia
Dr Anthony Lynham – Bundaberg the “rooftop solar capital of Australia” (source: Wikipedia)

Media enquiries: David Potter 0428 411 617

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SRES – Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity?

Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity? Yesterday The Australian newspaper published an article titled ‘Households’ $2bn solar hit’ which hypothesises that every Australian household will have to stump up $195 to help subsidise the subsidies. Is this rubbish? What impact does the SRES really have on electricity prices? Let’s read on…

SRES – Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity?

Ketan Joshi via Renew Economy wrote a great article titled “How a ridiculous falsehood about solar power self-replicated in media”. You can read it on Ketan’s blog (ketanjoshi85) by clicking here. The “$2b solar hit” is a sum which has been basically made up through some extremely shoddy extrapolations.

The article in the Australian was run with by a number of Australia’s most trusted media outlets – News.com.au, 7 News, Sky News, the Today Show, and the consistently atrocious Daily Mail – who titled their article about the rebates thusly: 

“Climate change farce: How every Australian household contributes $200 a year to those lucky enough to be able to afford to put solar panels on their roof”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor decided to blame the big electricity retailers:

‘The big cost is the profits being taken by the big energy companies in the wholesale market, without innovation or new products, and it is time for them to deliver a fairer deal for their customers,’ he said.

‘According to the Australian Energy Market Commission, the small-scale technology certificate cost is less than three per cent of the bill, whereas 46 per cent is going to the big generator retailers.’

The Renew Economy article notes that, for FY18 and FY19 respectively, Australians paid/will pay $19 / $32 towards the scheme. This is a stark contrast to the $134 / $195 which was reported. It appears that the figures are so badly skewed for a number of different reasons including the assumption that 100% of electricity costs are passed on from businesses to households. They also haven’t factored in the Small-scale Technology Percentage, which will be set by the Energy Minister in March – and the effect this will have on STCs is quite marked. Installing solar power systems becomes cheaper if the STCs are higher, so you can see how this would have an impact which could be measured erroneously. It’ll be interesting to see how this impacts on solar grants moving forwards. 

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (aka SRES) is scheduled to run until 2030. If you’d like to read more about it please visit the Clean Energy Regulator’s website – where they have plenty of information about the scheme. 

We’d also recommend Ketan’s article for a more in depth exploration of the issue.

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Solar in Space – China’s Plans Revealed.

Chinese media are reporting that solar in space may not be as far off as we think – they’re revealed plans to build a power station orbiting the earth. Let’s take a look at the plans and see what other countries are also working on renewable energy in the solar system. 

Solar in Space – How does it work?

Solar in Space - Mars Rover (source: nasa.gov)
Solar in Space – Mars Rover (source: nasa.gov)

Chinese Media have made a statement about the solar space race – their idea is that a station could orbit the earth at 36,000 kilometres – enough to get the sun’s energy but not experience any atmosphere interference. Seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight will also be totally negated, so the station would be able to generate significantly more power than those on earth which are subject to the sun’s whims.

Chinese journal Science and Technology Daily has reported that the city of Chongqing is the host of construction of an early experimental space solar plant. 

Pang Zhihao, researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, said a space solar power station held the promise of providing “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The space solar station would be able to supply energy at 6x the power of solar farms on earth – reliably supplying energy “99%” of the time. 

The next plan for China is to build and launch a number of small/medium sized solar power stations which will be launched into the stratosphere between 2021 – 2025. 

According to the SMH Japanese, Indian and European scientists are also working on the best way to generate solar power in space. What impact could this unlimited power have on things like the Mars Rover which was ‘pronounced dead‘ over the last week? According to the researches, the energy would be converted to electricity and send to the earth via a microwave or laser beam – so they’ll need to work on ensuring this won’t have any bad effects on atmosphere or the earth in general before it goes ahead. 

 
 

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