Solar loans in South Australia, sonnen to move HQ

Premier Jay Weatherill has announced $100m for solar loans in South Australia. Up to 10,000 South Australian homeowners will be able to access up to $10,000 for loans for solar panels, batteries, or both. The loans will be interest free for the first 7  years. At the same time, German company sonnen has announced it will relocate its Australian headquarters from Sydney to Adelaide – we’ll report more on that next week. 

Solar Loans in South Australia

Solar Loans in South Australia
Solar Loans in South Australia (source: Jeremy Buckingham via Wikipedia)

Yesterday the Labor party made the announcement that they will offer these solar loans for private homes – with Premier Weatherill discussing the ramifications of the plan in a press conference:

“It’s going to slash bills, we’ve already seen that with our virtual power station, modelling demonstrates a 30 per cent reduction in energy power,” he said.

“We’ve seen from the national regulator that renewable energy projects are projected to reduce energy bills by $300 over the next two years, so it’s just beginning to happen.”

The Liberal party already announced a very similar policy last October so it looks like there’ll be a good result for renewables no matter who wins – it’s a little surprising to see Premier Weatherill offer something so similar when he has been such a champion of renewable energy for so long. Regardless, it’s a great scheme and one which will have a good result either way – South Australia continues to lead the charges with regards to renewables in Australia.

According to the ABC, opposition leader Steven Marshall said their $100m plan was to provide grants of $2,500 per household for 40,000 dwellings – so less money, but for more properties. Mr Marshall argued that 10,000 households was not enough to ‘shift the dial’ with regards to ballooning energy prices:

“The reality is 10,000 is not going to shift the dial in South Australia in terms of prices, unlike the Liberal Party which has put our policy up for independent scrutiny and we know that prices will come down under the Liberal Party’s energy policy,” Mr Marshall said.

“We’ve put our plan out for independent evaluation.

“Labor still hasn’t provided any indication whether this is going to bring down energy prices in South Australia for any more than just the 10,000 people it’s talking about.”

Back in October last year the Liberal party said their plan will save $300 per household per annum, but later admitted their modelling was inaccurate and the savings will be around $70 and won’t start until 2022. To achieve that figure of $300 a $500m-$700m interconnecter to New South Wales would need to be connected by 2021.

No word on specific savings with regards to Labor’s plan so for the time being voters will need to decide whether $2,500 for 40,000 houses or $10,000 for 10,000 houses is going to have a better effect on energy prices and stability. No doubt we’ll have more information on this as election time draws nearer! 

 

Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill is on the campaign trail at the moment – promising to introduce Australia’s first renewable energy storage target (which the state will subsidise) and also upping the current state-based 2025 renewable energy target from 50% to 75% (given they’re already at 48.9%).

Renewable Energy Storage Target

Jay Weatherill - Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia
Jay Weatherill – Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia (source: @jayweatherill on Twitter)

Weatherill was at an election forum which was about the environment on Tuesday (the 20th) and said the South Australian state election to be held on March 17 will be primarily focused on renewable energy – a ‘referendum on renewables’ of sorts: 

“If we go down, they will be wagging their fingers at everybody around the nation, to say that’s what happens if you push too hard into renewable energy,” Weatherill said. “That’s what the prime minister is trying to do and that’s what is going to happen.”

He has promised to lift the renewable energy target to 75% and implement a renewable energy storage target which would be 25% of SA’s peak demand – approximately 750MW of storage. The government would help the private sector meet this target through subsidy arrangements. 

Weatherill discussed his party’s policy further with Guardian Australia, noting that South Australia are happy to continue ‘going it alone’ if they’re not going to get any help from the Turnbull government:

“It’s a rejection of the federal government’s approach – and the state Liberal party’s approach,” Weatherill said. “We’re not interested in putting our leadership in renewable energy in the hands of people that don’t believe in a renewable energy future.”

Carnegie Clean Energy reported yesterday that they have secured $3 million in government funding to build a 2MW, 500 kWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at the General Motors Holden site in Elizabeth, South Australia. With the rapidly decreasing cost of large-scale energy storage, it seems that the Renewable Energy Storage target shouldn’t be too much of a problem and will be a massive help to baseline power and will also assist in reducing the blackouts which plagued the country in 2016.

“This solar and battery project by Carnegie is part of a wave of new investment in South Australia we have leveraged through the $150m Renewable Technology Fund announced as part of our energy plan,” Weatherill said at the time.

In further news, Weatherill has today announced that South Australian households will be able to apply for a $10,000 loan to cover the cost of installing solar panels and battery storage – which we’ll cover tomorrow. 

 

Tailem Bend solar farm reaches financial close.

The 127MW Tailem Bend solar project will begin construction later this month. A financial close has been achieved by Singapore energy company Equis Energy and a 22 year purchase power agreement (PPA) has already been signed with Snowy Hydro. There are now plans in the pipeline to create Tailem Bend 2.

Tailem Bend Solar Project

Tailem Bend Solar Farm
Tailem Bend Solar Farm (source: http://equisenergy.com/newsroom/)

The $200m project is 100km south-east of Adelaide and will begin construction in February, according to Equis.

The Australian Financial Review noted that there were initial plans for a 28.8MW diesel generator to support the solar farm, but these were scuppered by the Australian Energy Market Operator who placed “unreasonable technical demands” on the project.  

Equis, who are also planning on building a 1000MW project in Queensland’s part of the Surat Basin (the Wandoan solar farm), said they have a huge amount of projects in the pipeline:

“Australia represents one of the most exciting solar power generation markets globally and Equis expects to build over $1 billion of new projects over the next 24-36 months,” director David Russell said in the press release. 

“As Asia’s largest renewable energy developer, Equis is able to leverage its economies of scale to deliver large scale, low-cost, reliable renewable energy, which Australia needs, as well as providing employment opportunities and supporting economic growth in local communities.” Mr Russell continued. 

According to Deal Street Asia, the project is expected to start generating power and feeding it to the grid in the first quarter of next year. 

The Tailem Bend solar projects will generate around 413,000MWh/year, which is equivalent to 82,600 homes and will save over 200,000 tonnes of CO2 annually compared to the same generation from South Australia’s current non-renewable power plants. 

Equis Energy are also building a  250MW DC solar photovoltaic power plant with energy storage installed in NSW’s Sunraysia region (the Sunraysia solar farm)

Tesla Virtual Power Plant in SA

A Tesla Virtual Power Plant will be built in South Australia, comprising of 50,000 home solar and battery systems state-wide. The deal between the South Australian Government and Elon Musk’s Tesla was announced last week by Premier Jay Weatherill ahead of the SA March state election. 

The SA government have pledged to do their part in the implementation of the virtual power plant scheme with a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the state Renewable Technology Fund.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant

According to Premier Weatherill, a trial of the scheme has already begun in Housing Trust properties, with 100 properties to receive their systems by EOFY (June 30), and another 1,000 in FY 18/19. After the trial is complete another 24,000 Housing Trust properties will receive the systems. 

Since there’s no word yet on the Tesla Powerwall 3 release date, they’ll use the Powerwall 2 batteries which have a 13.5kWh size. 5kW solar arrays will also be used for the 50,000 homes included in the virtual power plant. No word yet on the specifics of the solar panels the arrays will consist of but we’ll bring you that information as it becomes available.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant - Powerwall 2 Solar Battery
Tesla Virtual Power Plant – Powerwall 2 Solar Battery (source: tesla.com)

A statement from Tesla was released: 

“When the South Australian Government invited submissions for innovation in renewables and storage, Tesla’s proposal to create a virtual power plant with 250 megawatts of solar energy and 650 megawatt hours of battery storage was successful. A virtual power plant utilises Tesla Powerwall batteries to store energy collectively from thousands of homes with solar panels. At key moments, the virtual power plant could provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal power plant.”

Danny Price of Frontier Economics discussed the program with the ABC:

“The biggest saving for consumers is that they don’t have to pay for as much network cost to deliver power to them because they’re generating their own power,” Price said.

Zoe Bettison, the Minister for Social Housing, discussed the reason they are installing these solar + storage systems in Housing Trust properties:

“We know that people in social housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative will take some pressure off their household budget,” she said.

A mammoth deal and step forward for South Australian solar – we’ll bring you more information as it becomes available!

Tesla Battery in SA Earns $1m in a few days.

The Tesla Battery in SA has earned an estimated $1m in the last few days due to warm temperatures and a very volatile electricity market. Since being announced in July of last year and completed in November, the battery has already withstood a test last December when the Loy Yang Power Station (sector A3) tripped and went offline – the battery was able to send 100MW to the grid in 140ms, despite being almost 1000km away. It’s now proving its value again during a hot Australian summer where it was paid up to $1000/MWh to charge itself last week, according to Electrek and RenewEconomy.

Tesla Battery in SA Earnings

Tesla Battery in SA Earns $1m in a few days
Tesla Battery in SA Earns $1m in a few days (source: reneweconomy.com.au)

The 100MW/129MWh Tesla Powerpack system installed in South Australia (which is known to the grid as the Hornsdale Power Reserve) was built by Tesla and is operated by Neoen -who have access to about 30MW/90MWh of the battery’s capacity to trade on the wholesale market. The South Australian government have access to the remaining electricity to help stabilise the grid. 

As we saw with its 140ms response time, the Powerpack is able to offer energy to the wholesale market a lot faster than its rivals – allowing Neoen to profit from the large swings in energy prices in Australia (which become even more intense when we have a heatwave or there’s an outage at any of our major plants). 

Elektrek are reporting that during certain peak periods, Neoen were able to sell energy at up to $14,000 per MWh, according to forecasts from RenewEconomy on the 23rd. 

A couple of weeks ago Tesla was chosen to build another Powerpack battery in Bulgana, and the company fronted by the charismatic Elon Musk is also working in conjunction with Neoen to bid for even larger battery projects – so hopefully the good results the battery in SA has been delivering will bode well for the future. 

 

SA Water aim for zero net electricity by 2020

As part of their ongoing goal of achieving zero net electricity usage by 2020, SA Water installed 100kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) and a 50kWh battery storage system in late December and expect the system to be commissioned in January. They also announced that they will spend $10 million on 6MW of rooftop solar PV across their operations, with the first installations expected to begin in the Q1 2019. 

SA Water 

Their $500,000 pilot 100kW solar 50kWh battery storage project is currently being finalised at the SA Water Crystal Brook workshop – and should be live this month. They’re planning on cutting their bill from $55 million for last financial year to $0 in 2020 by installing up to 6MW of solar panels across its myriad metropolitan sites. 

“We’ve already been reducing our electricity costs by more than $3 million a year since 2013, so we know that with a concerted push, our goal is ambitious, but within reach,” CEO Roch Cheroux told One Step Off the Grid via email.

“By increasing our renewable energy generation and storage, driving energy efficiencies and making smart decisions around our electricity usage and procurement, we aim to reduce our net electricity costs from $55 million in 2016/17 to $0 in 2020,” Mr Cheroux continued.

SA Water serves 1.6 million people across South Australia and is one of the single largest electricity users in the whole state, so for them to aim to be energy neutral by 2020 is a massive undertaking and will be a fantastic step forward for renewable energy in South Australia, which is already paving the way for the other states. 

According to RenewEconomy, pilot programs earmarked for the future include floating solar, silicon thermal storage, and flywheel mechanical battery storage systems. 

SA Water - Silicon Thermal Energy Storage Trial
SA Water – Silicon Thermal Energy Storage Trial at Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant (source: SA Water Facebook Page)

“As there is very little experience in the market of a large utility such as SA Water using a combination of battery and solar storage across multiple sites, it’s important to verify the financial benefits and increase our understanding of its capabilities”, Mr Cheroux told a press conference – you can watch it below. 

Loy Yang Power Station & Tesla’s Battery

South Australia’s Tesla solar battery was put to the test yesterday and it performed admirably – delivering its full 100MW of power to the grid in 140 milliseconds as the Loy Yang Power station tripped and went offline late last week. 

According to Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis, the battery, which has only been live for less than a month, tripped 140ms after the Loy Yang A3 went offline. This resulted in an immediate loss of 560MW and the Tesla battery (also known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve), reacted immediately, despite being almost 1000km away. 

The AFR quoted Koutsantonis via an interview on 5AA radio last Wednesday: 

“That’s a record and the national operators were shocked at how quickly and efficiently the battery was able to deliver this type of energy into the market,” Mr Koutsantonis said. 

He also noted the rapid speed in comparison to the existing emergency generators:

“Now if we got a call to turn on our emergency generators it would take us 10 to 15 minutes to get them fired up and operating which is a record time compared to other generators,” 

Loy Yang Power Station

Loy Yang Power Station
Loy Yang Power Station (source:tripadvisor.com.au)

With the closure of the 1600MW Hazelwood dirty coal power station earlier this year, the Loy Yang Power station in Traralgon has been doing some heavy lifting. 

Technically it’s split into to sections, Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B. If you count them as one station it’s the largest power station in Australia, generating over 3000MW of power.

Loy Yang A was bought by AGL Energy in 2012, and Loy Yang B was sold by Engie and Mitsui to Alinta for $1 billion last month. 

It’s a base load supply station and produces about a third of Victoria’s energy requirements. 

As such the 100MW the Tesla was able to provide is a drop in the bucket if there was to be a major issue affecting the whole station, but it’s a step in the right direction and amazing to see how well the solution works in a ‘real-world’ situation.

Bring on another 500MW of lithium-ion baseload power! 

Tesla Battery in South Australia completed.

Elon Musk’s 100MW Tesla Battery in South Australia has been completed – well ahead of its December 1 operation deadline. The array of Tesla Powerpack batteries will be tested over the coming days and we can expect the system to be fully live by next Friday.

Tesla Battery in South Australia 

Tesla Battery in South Australia
Tesla Battery in South Australia (source: Tesla)

The Tesla South Australia battery partnership was first inked back in July when Musk partnered with Neoen and signed an agreement with the South Australian government to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. The battery farm is powered by Neoen’s 315MW Hornsdale wind farm and is located adjacent to it in Jamestown, about 200 kilometres north of Adelaide. 

The $50 million system is capable of outputting 129MWh and can be used as baseline power during summer peak loading periods, where it can provide enough energy to power 30,000 homes for eight hours, or 60,000 for four. While this might not seem like a lot and one wonders if another company could have done it for cheaper (91 groups bid for the project), it’s definitely been a great way to raise awareness of energy storage in Australia and its rapidly rising uptake (and rapidly decreasing cost). 

It’s important to note that the Tesla battery is far from a panacea for South Australia’s energy woes – as Tony Wood, the energy program director at the Grattan Institute, told the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Over time, storage can help put downward pressure on prices because it can flatten out peak demand,” Wood said.

“It’s a very useful step in the right direction … but it doesn’t solve South Australia’s problem, even at that scale.”

In the meantime, Tesla continues to burn through cash at the rate of $8,000 USD / minute as they struggle to get on top of the Model 3 rollout. What does this mean for the Powerwall 3? The next 12 months will be extremely interesting for Elon Musk and his ‘blue sky’ investors – we hope they’re able to get all their ducks in a row and Musk can start making Tesla more cashflow positive. 

In the meantime, let’s see how Tesla’s battery works over summer for South Australia! 

Adani’s Whyalla Solar Farm greenlit

India based energy company Adani have received development approval for a $200 million, 140MW Whyalla solar farm. The farm will consist of PV solar modules and operate on a single axis tracking system. 

Adani’s Whyalla Solar Farm

Whyalla Solar Farm Adani
Whyalla Solar Farm (source: @AdaniAustralia on Twitter)

The solar plant will be located 10km north of Whyalla’s centre, on the Port Lincoln Highway. It will originally generate 100MW and the potential capacity of the solar plant will be up to 140MW. According to AdelaideNow, grid connection will be via the 132kv network between the Whyalla Centra and Cultana substations.

Although the original development application didn’t include any information about battery storage, this is an option that Adani is also investigating. 

No PPA (Power Purchasing Agreement) has been signed yet, but as soon as that is sorted out we will see a starting date for construction of the farm – which is expected to be some time in 2018. The plant should be generating renewable energy by 2019. The construction phase of this solar farm is expected to create 350 jobs and could be “just the tip of the iceberg” for Whyalla, Giles MP Eddie Hughes told news.com.au last year. 

“Since 1998 Whyalla has wanted to become the solar capital,” said Mr Hughes. “It’s the realisation of the dream to have a major proponent come to us.”

Other Whyalla Solar Projects

News of Adani’s solar farm comes off the back of Zen Energy approving a $700m solar, battery and pumped-hydro storage project to power Zen Energy owner Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty OneSteel works in Whyalla. The project is expected to provide 1 gigawatt (1000MW) and also  100MW/100MWh battery storage. Hopefully, this will also provide some help to the real estate market in Whyalla, which has dropped by 21% in 2017 so far. 

Adani also has another $100m solar farm in Moranbah awaiting DA from the Isaac Regional Council. 

 

Tempus Energy partner with Origin in SA

UK based clean-tech startup Tempus Energy is expanding into Australia, according to a press release that notes they will be partnering with Origin Energy to pilot ‘flexible energy demand’ in South Australia over the next few months. Their software uses machine learning to maximise savings for customers – analysing data from modern BMS (Building Management Systems), battery storage devices (e.g. the Tesla Powerwall 2), and more – in order to minimise the amount of money spent on electricity. 

South Australia will now have an opportunity to try this software platform out – no word yet on how it will be rolled out in conjunction with Origin but it appears it’ll be a new business model for Tempus. They previously ran a UK supply business which was closed down last year in favour of focusing on countries with “transparent and open wholesale markets”. Will be interesting to see how the offer ends up for the end-user. 

Tempus Energy
Sara Bell of Tempus Energy at “Free Electrons” Startup Accelerator (source: tempusenergy.com)

Tempus Energy in Australia

Tempus, founded by current CEO Sara Bell in 2012, has 11 employees (according to their LinkedIn company profile) and is active in the UK, Australia, and Sweden. According to their pitch from the ‘Free Electrons Pitch Off’, Tempus’ offering is a ‘machine learning software that forecasts the closing electricity market price before market closure. The software processes data in real time and combines market forecasting with the ability to predict electricity usage and understand how flexible assets perform in different conditions in order to minimise electricity cost and maximise use of renewable generation’.

Sara Bell was quoted as saying: “Tempus Energy is delighted to be partnering with a forward-thinking energy company like Origin. We are looking forward to helping them explore the benefits and challenges of new flexible energy demand solutions and how this can contribute towards the transition to a lower carbon, stable energy system that can deliver tangible benefits to customers.

You can view Sara Bell’s elevator pitch for Tempus Energy below – we’ll follow their partnership with Origin closely and be sure to update you as soon as there’s news on how you can take advantage of their service!