Solar PV installations in Australia Triple From 2017

Solar PV installations in Australia have tripled in the first half of 2018 in comparison to solar uptake in 2017. How will this affect our renewable economy and can we expect this to continue for the rest of the year? Where are all the installs coming from? Let’s take a look. 

Solar PV installations in Australia

Solar PV installations in Australia Triple From 2017 (source: Canberra Times via Green Energy Markets)
Solar PV installations in Australia Triple From 2017 (source: Canberra Times via Green Energy Markets)

The Canberra Times is reporting that household systems are now, on average, around 5 kilowatts. As the technology improves we’ll see this figure rise and (potentially) prices fall. They’ll certainly fall in terms of per watt pricing but the system uptake has resulted in 44% lower feed-in tariffs in New South Wales already – we’ll have to wait and see how this affects the rest of the country. It certainly doesn’t seem to have curbed the ACT’s appetite for solar systems – with the state leading Australia by a huge margin with a 130.8% uptake in installs over Q1+2 in 2018 vs. the same period. 

Green Energy Markets are also predicting that by 2020 renewable energy will represent around 33% (1/3) of Australia’s energy mix – almost double the 17.3% measured in 2015. Ric Brazzale of Green Energy Markets told the Canberra Times they are expecting to see around 30% higher figures by the end of the year:

“If we continue on at the same rate of installations we will end the year at between 1450 MW to 1500 MW – this will be more than 30 per cent higher than the 1100 MW installed last year,” he said.

It’s important to note that the amazing growth commercial solar (i.e. systems which are more than 15kW) has also seen over the last 12 months is heavily reflected in these figures. Over a quarter of June’s solar system demand is due to companies wanting to insure themselves from rapidly rising electricity prices and take control of their bills back by installing a commercial solar system on their premises. 

If you’re interested in reading all the specifics of their report, please click here to download Green Markets’ Renewable Energy Index for May 2018.

Read More Solar News:

Bungala Solar Farm receives final approval.

The 275MW Bungala Solar Farm, which is already under construction, has received final approval. Bought by Italian energy company Enel, the $400m solar farm built in conjunction with the Dutch Infrastructure Fund is expected to be ready in early 2019.

Bungala Solar Farm

Bungala Solar Farm
Bungala Solar Farm (site: commbank.com.au)

The farm will see 860,000 solar panels built on 585 hectares of Bungala Aboriginal Corporation land and, according to Enel, will create around 200 jobs during the construction period. We previously reported on the Bungala project back in April where it was to be built by Reach Solar and the agreement to sell it to Enel Green Energy and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund had been inked – they were just waiting on a financial close when has been reached this week. 

Head of Enel Green Power, Antonio Cammisecra, spoke about the Bungala Solar Project to news.com.au and said that it would be Enel’s initial foray into the Australian renewable energy market – with the goal to become a “key player” in the industry. “The project marks the first step of our growth strategy in a country which boasts such an abundant resource base and whose renewable capacity is expected to surge in the next years,” Cammisecra said.

The farm is to be ‘battery storage ready’, and, according to RenewEconomy, will most likely be the first major Australian solar farm to enter Australia’s FCAS (Frequency Control and Ancillary Services) market – as they’ll be utilising SMA inverters to provide voltage control for the grid. 

The Bungala solar farm has signed a PPA with Origin Energy – earlier this year Frank Calabria, the chief of Origin, discussed how important ‘big solar’ is for our future and how we need to work on the transition to renewables: “Energy markets around the world are in transition and Australia is no different,” Calabria said. “We must make sure our energy supply is secure, as Australian homes and businesses rely on it. At the same time, we must make sure energy continues to be affordable as we move Australia towards a cleaner supply.”  

Read More Solar News:

Australian Renewable Energy Agency Solar Grants – 12 Plants Reach Financial Close in April

Australian Renewable Energy Agency
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have reached a significant solar milestone with their funding of PV plants in Australia. As of EOM April 2017 all 12 plants currently receiving grant funding from ARENA have reached a “financial close”. A financial close refers to the fact that all plants are fully financed with council and environmental approvals. They also have agreements in place with regards to grid connection, construction, and engineering. Nine of the plants have already begun construction and, when completed, the 12 plants will generate enough renewable energy to power 150,000 homes. All together, the 12 plants will generate 468.8MW of solar energy – and this doesn’t count at least six more plants being developed without any assistance from ARENA.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht noted that the total cost of plant production has decreased by 40% over the last three years. The amount of grant funding required to launch large-scale solar projects has also shrunk dramatically – from $1.60/watt three years ago to just 28c per watt in 2017. In addition to this, there are at least six PV plants in advanced stages of development that have received no funding, an indication that the industry has advanced to a level where it’s financially feasible to develop solar plants even without any government intervention and Australia is well on its way to reaching our 2020 renewable energy target (large-scale renewable energy generation of 33,000 GWh)

The 12 plants received a total of $92m in grants from ARENA – in addition to $1bn provided by private investment.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Funded Solar Plants

The Solar Plants ARENA have funded and their capacity:

  1. QLD – Kidston Solar Park, 50MW
  2. QLD – Longreach Solar Park, 15MW
  3. QLD – Collinsville Solar Power Station, 42MW
  4. QLD – Oakey Solar Farm, 25MW
  5. QLD – Darling Downs Solar Farm, 106.8MW
  6. QLD – Whitsunday Solar Farm, 52.8MW
  7. NSW – White Rock Solar Farm, 20MW
  8. NSW – Dubbo Solar Hub, 22.4MW
  9. NSW – Manildra Solar Farm, 42.4MW
  10. NSW – Parkes Solar Farm, 46MW
  11. NSW – Griffith Solar Farm (Neoen), 26.4MW
  12. WA – Emu Downs Solar Farm, 20.1MW

Read More Solar News:

RES Australia propose two new solar farms in New South Wales.

RES Australia are seeking government approval for two solar farms around Mayrung, near the border of NSW and Victoria. They’ll both connect to the TransGrid 132kV – the grid for Mayrung area. The first farm, ‘Currawarra’, will be the biggest solar farm in NSW.

About the Projects

RES currently have two projects they are working on and will submit to the cancel later this year for developmental approval of the following:

Project 1: ‘Currawarra’ is a solar PV plant with 175MW of renewable energy. There will be 500,000 solar panels involved in the project and it will significantly dwarf the current largest operational solar farm in New South Wales – AGL Energy‘s 102MW Nyngan solar plant.

Project 2: ‘Tarleigh Park’ will be a smaller version of Currawarra – the plan is to generate up to 90MW with 250,000 solar panels. Tarleigh Park is approximately 20km south east of Denilquin.

Both plants will feed directly to the TransGrid.

About RES Australia

RES Australia
RES Australia

According to the project manager of Currawarra and Tarleigh Park for RES, Mike Whitbread, they are hoping to have the applications completed and submitted by September. If the applications are accepted then they plan to start creation of the projects in 2018. Currawarra will take approximately 1.5 years and the construction of Tarleigh Park is expected to be 9-12 months.

Whitbread was quoted in ShepNews.com.au about discussing the impact the projects will have on the region, especially during the construction phase:

“We recently completed the Ararat Wind Farm in Victoria and basically our workers filled the town’s accommodation during the construction phase. The workers stayed in town, ate in town and used the local facilities,” Mr Whitbread said.

RES Australia, as a subsidiary of the RES group in the UK, are already seasoned veterans in the renewable energy field, managing over 2GW in renewable energy projects over the world. They have recently completed wind farm projects in Taralga in NSW, and Ararat / Murra Warra in Victoria.

 

 

Read More Solar News:

Solar Q Gympie Solar Farm $2b Development Proposal Lodged

Solar Q, a Queensland based solar company, has lodged a development application with the Gympie Council as they are currently proposing to develop a $2b solar farm and battery storage 30km north-west of the city. Terrific news for renewable energy in Queensland and we are really excited to see how they manage the energy storage aspect of the project.

Solar Q MD Scott Armstrong

Managing director of Solar Q, Scott Armstrong, has been quoted by the ABC as advising the project is Australia’s biggest solar + energy facility. “To give you an idea of size, at ultimate design it will provide around 15 per cent of south-east Queensland’s energy requirements from both the solar panels and the 4,000 megawatt hours of energy storage,” Mr Armstrong said.

The plan is to build this amazing facility in stages, with the first stage (which Solar Q have already applied to build) totalling 350MW. This is slated to increase to 800MW by 2021 – enough electricity to power around 315,000 houses. The solar farm will connect to the grid at a Lower Wonga substation and can feed energy to Kilkivan, Gympie, Palmwoods, Caboolture, Beerwah – and will even be able to feed into North Brisbane and all the way north to Gin Gin and central Queensland.

Solar Q Gympie Solar Farm
Solar Q Gympie Solar Farm Approximate Location

The 17km2 site will house around 3 million solar panels and help ease the load on power stations during periods of peak consumption such as night time or during heatwaves.

To put these numbers into perspective, Queensland has the highest rate of business and residential solar in the country, a total of 1,805mw with over 32% of homes having solar panels installed. This project would increase the number by almost 50%, ensuring QLD can continue jostling with SA in the fight to be the solar capital of Australia. It looks like the 2020 RET (Renewable Energy Target) of 33,000 GWh of renewable sourced energy is still on track.

Renewable Energy Target 2020 Australia
Renewable Energy Target 2020 Australia (Source:cleanenergycouncil.org.au)

Gympie Solar Farm Project Description

As per the Gympie Times, the project will:

  • Generate around 735,000MWH/an which will power 127,000 homes (we assume this are figures for stage 1)
  • Generate 350MW of Solar PV.
  • Create 450 full time jobs for 18 months during construction.
  • Create 6-8 full time ongoing jobs.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 666 tonnes of co2 – which is as much as 180k cars.
  • Be housed on 572 hectares of cleared grazing land, adjacent to the Lower Wonga substation.

The Approval Process

Mick Curran, the Mayor of Gympie, was quoted as saying that “there doesn’t appear to be any great hurdles to overcome” – noting that the project will create 450 jobs during its construction and he would “certainly look forward personally to seeing all of these approvals come to fruition”. If there is no problem with the  Gympie Council or State Government Agencies, work on the Solar Q Gympie Solar Plant will start by the end of 2017.

The plant will be funded without government help – by a combination of private investors and superannuation management funds.

Watch this space for more information on this exciting development!

Read More Solar News:

Bungala Solar Project: Origin agree to buy Reach Solar’s Port Augusta Solar Energy

Bungala Solar Project: Construction set to begin

Construction at the 300mw Bungala Solar Project is set to commence shortly as Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) have signed a Power Purchase Agreement to buy all energy generated by the plant, which will be built by Reach Solar.  The project (for those interested, view the DA here) is set to occupy 800 hectares of Bungala Aboriginal Corporation‘s land – situated about 10km north east of Port Augusta. This will be known as the project’s second phase – Bungala Solar Two.

The Bungala Solar Project will generate 220mw of energy by using solar panels that follow the sun’s position throughout the day. The site will be ‘battery storage ready’ and have capacity for another 80mw at the end of construction. According to RenewEconomy, Reach has submitted proposals for both 20MWh of battery storage and 100MWh – so we’ll see how that goes in the next few months. Watching the growing significance of energy storage during the creation of these new PV solar farms is fantastic – the technology is starting to reach the point where it will be a mainstay of every solar farm.

Reach Solar Energy
Reach Solar Energy Logo (source: reachsolarenergy.com.au)

Port Augusta’s Renewables Future

Reach CEO Tony Concannon lauded the ‘great news’ for Port Augusta during its transition to a ‘renewable energy hub’. The project is expected to create up to 350 jobs throughout its construction and is being financed without any government assistance. City Mayor of Port Augusta, Sam Johnson, was also proud of the result, advising that “Our vision is for Port Augusta to be the renewable energy capital of Australia and the confidence Reach has shown in our city strengthens our resolve to achieve this title.”

According to Reach Solar, the Bungala Solar Project will be one of Australia’s largest solar farms – it will be ready to start supplying power by summer 2018 but it will not be fully operational (220mw) until around August 2018.

In other Port Augusta renewables news, $450m wind farm (the 212mw Lincoln Gap Wind Farm Project) is also quite close to signoff – read more here.

 

Read More Solar News:

Tony Concannon, former head of GDF Suez (Hazelwood plant): ‘solar and storage already cheaper than gas’

Tony Concannon, former Australian boss of Engie (formerly (GDF Suez) and current chief executive of Reach Solar Energy, has made a submission to the Finkel review last month. Concannon’s submissions says the combination of solar energy and storage is already ‘competitive’ with the gas fired CCGTs (Combined Cycle Gas Turbines).

Tony Concannon Solar
Tony Concannon (LinkedIn)

Concannon’s submission to the Finkel review on February 21 notes that “Renewable generation and energy storage costs continue to fall rapidly. Reach received estimates in late December 2016 for solar PV and energy storage (40MWh to 100MWh) which translated into a tariff between $110/MWh to $130/ MWh. This is already competitive with gas-fired CCGT and costs are expected to reduce further”. It’s interesting to note that Concannon, as former boss of Engie (i.e. the company that run Victoria’s ‘Hazelwood’ brown coal generator which is Australia’s most polluting brown coal generator) has completely shifted focus to renewables. It’ll also be interesting to see whether these estimates are able to hold up in practice.

Reach’s Current Solar Projects

As per RenewEconomy , Reach Solar Energy have approval to build 300MW PV (Photovoltaic) solar power station 7km north east of Port Augusta (on a former ostrich farm) in South Australia, and a contract from Origin Energy for two 110mw solar farms as part of the Bungala Solar Project. The ‘Nature of Development’ as per the application states the “Bungala Solar Project – 300 MW Solar Voltaic Electricity Generation Plant” – so it’ll be interesting to see how many MW they end up producing (the $660m Port Augusta solar array will start with 100MW and scale up to the planned 300MW according to The Guardian) and how this affects effective tariffs after they are completed. If costs do continue to reduce as quickly as per the below image indicates it’s only a short matter of time before we do see the energy market become cheaper than gas-fired CCGT. Once regulations around storage of this energy are organised Australia will be in good shape to meet its Paris target by 2030.

PPA Graph Australia
Bundled PPA (power purchase agreement) Prices as per Origin presentation.

 

Read More Solar News: