Walgett Solar Farm to supply 50% of UTS solar

The University of Technology of Sydney (UTS) has signed a PPA with the Walgett Solar Farm which will cover 50% of its energy usage.

Walgett Solar Farm

The $40m Walgett Solar Farm was approved by the NSW government last year – it will eventually output 32MW and is now reaching the next stage of its project lifecycle.

The farm is owned fully by Epuron, who will be able to commence construction on the project after signing this PPA with UTS.

“For our renewable projects to be able to attract finance and get built, it’s crucial to find suitable partners to become committed customers and provide certainty,” Epuron Director Martin Poole told PV Magazine.

“With the UTS commitment to purchase our clean energy output, the Walgett Solar Farm can move ahead and we look forward to commencing construction in the coming months.” Mr Poole continued.

The project is expected to be built in two stages with the first stage outputting around 15MW.

The Walgett Solar Farm will generate approximately 63,000MWh p.a. once complete – enough to power almost 10,000 homes in New South Wales. 

UTS Solar

Walgett Solar Farm
Walgett Solar Farm PPA will help power UTS (source: newsroom.uts.edu.au)

This is the third PPA UTS have signed to add to its renewable portfolio – their main goal, as we wrote last year, is to completely offset their energy usage with renewable energy via a $1.3b ‘City Campus Master Plan’.

“We are committed to finding sustainable solutions to reduce our environmental impact,” UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs said. “But we don’t just want to create improvement for ourselves, we want to change whole systems to enable others to also improve their sustainability. UTS has spent the last couple of years researching and creating an effective energy model to help reduce emissions while also supporting the continued growth of the renewable energy sector.”

They’ve installed six solar systems on rooftops at the UTS campus and, by 2020/21, are hoping to reduce their emissions 30% on 2007 levels. 

In other university solar news, the University of Newcastle is doing great things with printed solar cells.

 

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Battery Energy Storage System in Alice Springs

Battery Energy Storage System – Alice Springs is set to receive its first grid-scale battery as solar power in the Northern Territory heats up.

Alice Springs Battery Energy Storage System

Battery Energy Storage System Alice Springs
Battery Energy Storage System discussion at Alice Springs (source: territorygeneration.com.au)

The $8.3M, 5MW/2.5MWh grid-scale battery storage facility in Alice Springs was announced last year and has been completed this week. It was built by New Zealand solar company Vector using LG grid-scale solar batteries.  

Government owned Territory Generation (The Northern Territory’s major electricity producer) have advised that they’re hoping this battery will facilitate greater uptake of solar in the NT:

“The Battery Energy Storage System is an important milestone in the Northern Territory’s transition to renewable energy and a critical piece of infrastructure to support the Northern Territory Government’s Roadmap to Renewables strategy,” Territory Generation Chief Executive Officer Tim Duignan said.

“Reliability and stability of the power system is a critical barrier in the uptake of renewable energy across Australia, and I am pleased that we are at the forefront of tackling this issue right here in Alice Springs,” he continued.

The BESS should have quite a big impact on base-load power as well, so let’s see how it fares during summer 2018/19. Previously a very conservative approach to local grid management (read more in RenewEconomy) means this battery should help quite a lot: with half an hour storage capability, and can supply 8MW for 6 seconds, or 7.5MW for 60 seconds – suitable for the moments everyone decides their air conditioners need to be turned on at the same time!  

Mr. Duignan also discussed the plans for Darwin solar in the future: “The cutting-edge technology in our Battery Energy Storage System will reinforce Alice Springs as the solar capital of Australia by enabling greater solar penetration whilst maintaining grid stability.”

We wrote about the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) last June as it was unveiled in an attempt to compete with the other states, where the Northern Territory was lagging behind considerably (January 2017 PV output was 4,049MWh vs Queensland’s 126,629MWh). 

The Northern Territory is in a very unique position compared to its neighbour states – the state hosts a mere one percent of the total population but it represents approximately 15% of Australia’s land mass. However, installs are more expensive over there due to less competition and higher cyclone ratings required on solar panels. This dearth of Darwin solar is starting to change and there are a raft of high quality solar installers working hard in Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs, and more. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly they can catch up to the other states. 

Darwin Solar Farms

There are plenty of farms and solar projects in various stages of completion in the Northern Territory and this is growing rapidly:

  • GPT Group have 1.25 MW at Casuarina Square shopping Centre
  • Darwin International Airport’s 4MW.
  • Epuron are working on a 25MW Solar plant at Katherine.
  • The Australian Defence Force have tendered for a 12MW of solar (combined) at their Darwin and Robertson Barracks.
  • Rim Fire Energy Retail’s 10MW Batchelor solar farm.
  • Infigen Energy are building a 12MW solar farm at Manton Dam and 10MW at Batchelor.
  • Community solar project “Repower Alice Springs” is planning for a 10MW community solar farm.

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Vales Point Solar Energy Project greenlit.

The $117m, 55MW Vales Point Solar Energy Project was greenlit by the Department of Planning today.

Vales Point Solar Energy Project

Vales Point Solar Energy Project Location
Vales Point Solar Energy Project Location

The project is going to be built by Delta (who were bidding for the Liddell power station earlier this year) and will co-exist with the coal-fired power station at Vales Point power station. Work is slated to commence early in 2019 and the solar farm will be built over 80 hectares of a rehabilitated ash dam. 

Delta Electricity Company Secretary Steve Gurney discussed the impact on the national grid:

“Delta recognises that both dispatchable power and low emission technologies have a role to play in supporting an affordable, reliable and sustainable national electricity grid” Mr Gurney said.

The Vales Point solar projet is expected to create over 100 solar jobs over the 18 months it’ll take to complete and will run for a 25 year lifespan. This will also extend the lifespan of the adjacent Vales Point power station which will now operate past its technical closure date of 2029.

Clay Preshaw, the director of Resource and Energy Assessment as the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, spoke about the farm’s potential impact on Australia’s solar future:

“This innovative project is one of the first in Australia where large-scale renewable and coal-fired energy facilities sit side by side,” Mr Preshaw said.

Vales Point Solar Energy Project Submissions

According to The Herald, the project was on public exhibition for a couple of months and 14 submissions were received. One of those was from the Lake Macquarie City Council, who support the project going ahead, but raised a concern about the impact the project may have on coastal saltmarsh:

“With the exception of the coastal saltmarsh issue, it appears that the ‘baseline’ for impact assessment is reasonable, predictions of impact are robust with suitable sensitivity testing, the assessment considers how to avoid and minimise impacts, and the proposal includes all reasonably feasible mitigation options,” the submission said.

Other than that it looks like everyone’s happy – it’ll be interesting to see how this works in unison with the coal-fired power plant and which one is more profitable!

 

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Karadoc Solar Farm | Solar Farms in Victoria

The Karadoc Solar Farm has launched and is currently exporting power to the grid – making it the biggest solar farm in Victoria (for now). 

Karadoc Solar Farm

Karadoc Solar Farm
Karadoc Solar Farm (source: baywa-re.com.au)

The 112MW Karadoc Solar Farm can power over 110,000 homes. It’s located 35km south of Mildura and is being built by German-based energy company Bay-Wa. With 112MW it is just marginally larger than the Bannerton solar park, which outputs 110MW and is responsible for powering solar powered trams in Melbourne

As per this article from RenewEconomy, brewer Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) has contracted the entire output of the project in its goal to become 100% powered by renewable energy. 

“This represents an important step in CUB’s commitment to 100 per cent of its electricity being sourced from renewables,” said CUB CEO Jan Craps at the time.

There are a number of large-scale solar farms in Victoria in various stages of their life cycle, but all will be online by summer 2018/19:

  • Bannerton Solar Farm (110MW)
  • Karadoc Solar Farm (112MW)
  • Yatpool Solar Farm (81MW – Also a Bay-Wa project)
  • Wemen Solar Farm (110MW – also known as the Wemen Sun Farm)
  • Ganawarra Solar Farm (50MW – Live)
  • Swan Hill Solar Farm (15MW – Live)
  • Kiamal Solar Farm (265MW DC – won’t be completed until the middle of next year)

This isn’t even mentioning the 928MW which will be generated via three solar and wind farms as per a recent Victoria government renewable energy tender. 

Daniel Gäfke, Managing Director of BayWa r.e. Solar Pte Ltd. “The Karadoc solar farm is the largest installation ever undertaken by BayWa r.e and is a great showcase of our ability to procure, design and build projects of this size anywhere in the world. Australia is a very important market for us and this investment is testament to the commitment we have to help increase Australia’s renewable energy capacity.”

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Ballarat Energy Storage System | Solar Storage in Victoria

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has been turned on by the Victorian Government today – let’s take a look at this unique battery and see how it will help shape Victoria’s energy future!

Ballarat Energy Storage System

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has 30MW capacity and can output 30MWh – it’s located at the Ballarat terminal station and is owned by Australian energy company Ausnet. The battery storage units are Fluence branded, and were installed by Spotless and Downer Group.

Ballarat Energy Storage System
Ballarat Battery Energy Storage System (source: spotless.com)

ARENA and the Victorian Government will jointly provide $25 million in funding for both this project and the Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS). The project (BESS) is expected to end up costing around $35m. 

Lily D’Ambrosio, the minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, made a statement about the Ballarat Energy Storage System discussing the Government’s plans for Australia’s renewable energy future:

“We said we would deliver these large-scale batteries for Victoria, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” she said.

“This is part of our plan to transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system. We’re modernising our electricity grid, strengthening our energy security and delivering real action on climate change.”

According to RenewEconomy, the battery will be most useful in these three situations:

  1. It can help with congestion on Victoria’s transmission grid (especially as it’s installed at a network terminal rather than a wind or solar farm (which is the norm)). 
  2. It’ll help shore up the baseline load for Melbourne, especially during peak times when air conditioners and deconstructed latte machines are switched on en masse; and
  3. It’ll provide ‘key grid stability services’ like frequency control. 

Lastly, straight from the horses’s mouth:

The battery will store energy at times of relatively low value. The battery will use stored energy and use it at times of relatively high value. The project will also examine providing other grid services such as frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and, should it be established under the electricity market rules, a Fast Frequency Response (FFR).

It’ll be fascinating to see how this works over the summer – we’ll, of course, also be keeping a close eye on the Tesla batteries at the Hornsdale Power Reserve to see if they’re able to continue delivering massive savings to the SA government. How long until the rest of the states follow suit? 

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