Sundrop Farms | Solar Greenhouse

Sundrop Farms have a solar greenhouse at Port Augusta in South Australia and today we’ll take a look at how it works and how effective the system is. 

Sundrop Farms | Solar Greenhouse

Sundrop Farms Solar Greenhouse
Sundrop Farms Solar Greenhouse (source: Sundrop Facebook)

Sundrop Farms’ pilot facility was opened in Port Augusta in 2010. The solar hydroponic farming concept cost $200m to build and was opened at the end of 2016. It includes a 20 hectare solar greenhouse, a field of 23,000 mirrors, a 127m tall solar tower and a desalination plant. Another great step in the right direction for solar technology

According to an interview with Sundrop Farms Australia Managing Director Steve Marafiote in GQ, it was an easy choice to work with the company once he saw what their value proposition was:

“When I understood what Sundrop was about, I knew I wanted to be part of the business,” Mr. Marafiote said.

“This large-scale sustainable operation is world leading,” he continued. 

“If you look at the agricultural land where the farm is now, it was 120 hectare site that would traditionally sustain six to 10 cows a year. That’s it. Instead, that desert land has been converted to produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year – it’s a stark difference.”

The project had $100m of investment from private equity firm KKR and partners with Coles Supermarkets as an official partner. Sundrop has a 10 year contract with them to deliver truss tomatoes – giving them a sizeable 15% share of the Australian market. 

Another massive boon for companies wanting to use a method like this for renewable farming is that there is a surfeit of data points with which to make decisions, includeing monitoring and controlling such factors as water, fuel, temperature and electricity use:

“We know what those operating costs will look like for the next 20 years, and I don’t think there are too many sectors who have the luxury of that position.” said Marafiote.

Click here to view the official website.

 

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Summerhill solar farm commences construction.

The 5MW Summerhill solar farm will officially commence construction tomorrow – the farm will be located at the former Wallsend Borehole Colliery. 

Summerhill solar farm

Summerhill Solar Farm
Summerhill Solar Farm – Artist’s Rendition (source: smh.com.au)

All the renewable energy created by the Summerhill solar farm will be owned by the Newcastle City Council who will then be approximately 50% powered by renewable energy. 

Carnegie’s wholly owned subsidiary Energy Made Clean and JV partner Lendlease have been awarded the design and construction of the project, according to PV Magazine. It’ll be built on top of the former Wallsend Borehole Colliery. Read more about the tender here

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the solar plant’s cost is around $8m, with $6.5m of this provided in the form of a loan by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Initial modelling shows that this plant will save around $350,000 per annum, also noting that the city council’s cost of electricity has double over the past few years – making this a very attractive option to help offset the highly volatile wholesale price of electricity. It’s listed as ‘battery ready’ according to the Altenergy website. 

Nuatali Nelmes, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, discussed the project in a media statement:

“The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of all of our council facilities during the day, which represents significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings on electricity costs,” Mayor Nelmes said.

Further discussion shows that, although financial ramifications are very important, the eco-friendly nature of the project was ‘more than just money’:

“While cost savings are certainly a critical factor in our decision to build the solar farm, sustainability initiatives are about more than just money and our community expects us to be good environmental stewards,” Ms Nelmes continued.

This is a fantastic attitude and we look forward to seeing how well the SUmmerhill solar farm performs for the Newcastle City Council. More top news for council solar, which has been growing in leaps and bounds over the last 18 months. 

Read some more articles about council solar below!

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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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Goonumbla solar farm – deal with Snowy Hydro

The Goonumbla Solar Farm will supply energy to Snowy Hydro under a deal announced today. 

Goonumbla Solar Farm

FRV (Fotowatio Renewable Ventures), a large-scale solar developer based in Spain, already has five solar projects in Australia and will now start work on the Goonumbla Solar Farm. 

The 68MW solar farm will commence construction next April, and it’s expected that the project will be fully up and running by June 2020. It’ll produce around 195,000MWh, according to RenewEconomy

The wind and solar energy will be used to support Snowy’s pumped hydro storage generators who were previously pulling electricity from the grid to pump the water (to the tune of 2800 MWh, according to the Sydney Morning Herald).

“This agreement will put significant pressure on wholesale electricity prices which will lead to downward pressure on retail – household – energy prices,” Snowy Hydro chief executive Paul Broad said.

CEO of FRV, Daniel Sangi-Vela, discussed the project with the media:

“With this agreement we want to continue leading the production of renewable energy in Australia, a country that is showing a great commitment to boost renewable energy projects,” Mr. Sangi-Vela said.

“The Goonumbla Solar Farm will enable us to develop our expansion plans in the country, while contributing to a more sustainable future in Australia” he continued.

This is an exciting development for FRV, who have a proven track record in the space and are also responsible for the Lilyvale Solar Farm, Clare Solar Farm, Moree Solar Farm, Royalla Solar Farm, and the Winton Solar Farm

Snowy Hydro’s Electricity Tender

Goonumbla Solar Farm and Snowy Hydro
Goonumbla Solar Farm and Snowy Hydro (source: snowyhydro.com.au)

According to Snowy Hydro, their tender involved over 17,000MW of projects, with four solar farms and four wind farms winning contracts to supply Snowy Hydro Limited – an electricity generation and retailing company who own, manage and maintain the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme located in the Kosciuszko National Park.

Solar Farms:

  1. Goonumbla Solar Farm (FRV)
  2. Metz Solar Farm (Clenergy)
  3. Unnamed Total Eren Farm
  4. Unnamed Lightsource BP Farm.

Wind Farms:

  1. Dundonnel wind farm (Tilt)
  2. Murra Warra wind farm (Macquarie and RES Group)
  3. Unnamed CWP Renewables Wind Farm
  4. Unknown!

According to Snowy Hydro, these eight projects total 888MW and will generate around 2.8 terawatt hours of energy annually. If you’re interested, you can read more on the official website by clicking here

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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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