Scotch College Solar | Perth School Solar

Scotch College, a private school founded in 1897 in Perth, has installed 512kW of rooftop solar across multiple rooftops on its premises with the goal of saving around $235,000 a year on energy costs. Another great step in the right direction for solar schools! 

Scotch College Solar System| Perth School Solar

Scotch College Solar System
Scotch College Solar System (source: Verdia.com.au)

Scotch College installed a large-scale PV solar system at their school, with 1,280 photovoltaic solar panels (enough to cover 10 tennis courts) now currently generating 512kW of solar power. According to an article on One Step Off The Grid, this 512kW is expected to cover 26% of the school’s energy needs. 

It has been installed by Verdia , who were also responsible for financing a 1.7MW, $3.2 million PV solar system at the CSU Wagga Wagga campus late last year, and are helping Stockland Shopping Centres out with their gigantic commercial solar rollout (they’ve worked on Stockland Merrylands and Stockland Caloundra most recently). 

“It’s cheaper and cleaner than grid power and is a working example to students of a 21st century distributed power system,” said Verdia CEO Paul Peters.

“The 512-kilowatt rooftop solar system has been installed across multiple buildings within the senior, junior/middle and maintenance school areas. It will replace about 26% percent of grid electricity use on-site with emission free, renewable power.” he continued. 

According to an official post about the Scotch College Solar System on the Verdia website, the solar project is expected to pay for itself in just under five years and it will save the school $4m in reduced energy costs over the life of the assets. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the options for adding solar power to schools and classrooms, you can also read our article from earlier this year about the Hivvee solar powered school classrooms currently being trialled in NSW. 

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CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation

CSIRO’s Black Mountain facility is set to have a further 2,900 solar panels installed in a plan to save around $900,000 a year. They’ve called for tenders this month and hope to have a decision made this week.

CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation

Black Mountain Solar
CSIRO’s Black Mountain Solar Installation (source: CSIRO)

Federal government agency CSIRO are doubling down on their previous solar investment – with an existing 380 solar panels at Black Mountain set to be increased by around 700%. The first 480 panels were installed earlier this year, and according to the Canberra Times, over 880kW of solar systems have been rolled out at other CSIRO sites since 2016 – including Black Mountain, Armidale in NSW, Werribee in Victoria, Kensington in Western Australia and Darwin. 

According to a CSIRO spokesman, 1.2MW of solar will also be installed in Pullenvale (QLD) and Waite (SA) – with a further 4.2MW planned for the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

“Once installed, these [photovoltaic] systems will deliver more than $900,000 [in] annual savings on energy bills, save close to 8000 megawatt hours of energy and reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by about 7400 tonnes each year,” the spokesman said.

All together, the plans are to install five megawatts of grid-connected, on-site renewable energy across its building portfolio by 2020.

“A key opportunity exists for CSIRO to hedge against the predicted upward price trend in electricity prices by investing today in alternative renewable energy sources to power their sites,” the CSIRO tender document says.

“The installation of large scale on-site renewable energy generation is a key mechanism to reduce CSIRO’s carbon footprint.”

The CSIRO have called for tenders for the Black Mountain solar upgraded and have advised that they will sign a contract this week, before deciding on a timeline to complete the upgrade. Some more fantastic news for government-installed solar and another step in the right direction for Australia’s renewable energy future. 

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Dunsborough Community Energy Project – Virtual Power Plant

The  Dunsborough Community Energy Project is currently offering no upfront cost solar in Western Australia – all for the flat fee of $35/week – inviting south-west Western Australia residents to join their 6.5MW virtual power plant. 

Dunsborough Community Energy Project

Dunsborough Community Energy Project
Dunsborough Community Energy Project (source: dunsboroughcommunityenergyproject.com.au/)

This Dunsborough Community Energy Project has been established as a joint effort between Perth-based company Redback Energy, investment outfit SUSI Partners and Perth law firm Jackson Macdonald. It already has over 60 signups to their virtual power plant and hope to reach 1000 by the end of the year. The goal of their project is to allow all members to be 90% renewable inside their homes. It’s a realistic goal, and they have partnered with some fantastic companies to deliver a really powerful product offering:

According to a post on RenewEconomy, people who sign up to the Dunsborough Community Energy Project will receive:

  • 7kW of solar PV (Suntech panels)
  • Redback 5.5 KVA inverter
  • 9.6kWh Pylontech (LiFePo4) batteries

The community’s goal is to reach 1,000+ Redback solar and battery storage systems in the area (Dunsborough and Yallingup). Over the 10-20 year lifespan of the project ‘additional income and dividends’ are expected to raise up to $8m which can then be spent on lowering energy costs further or giving back to local community projects. 

The official website states that Redback Energy will give $250 towards a ‘community fund’ for each system sold. This fund will then be distributed “…to fund local community projects in schools, sporting clubs and or other projects such as a Dunsborough community pool.” A great idea and fantastic to see Redback supporting the local economy in more ways than one!

Click here to view the official website of the project and learn more about it. 

You can also learn more about Virtual Power Plants or Community Solar across Australia by clicking!

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Congupna solar farm / Design and Development Guidelines

The Congupna solar farm has been approved for the Shepparton area and will produce 30MW of energy – this is enough to power 10,000 homes in the region.

Congupna solar farm

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne announced the successful Congupna solar farm approval this morning. 

According to Minister Wynne the farm will create over 100 solar jobs for the region: 

“The Congupna solar farm will create more than 100 new jobs and produce 30 megawatts of new, clean energy – helping to drive down energy prices.”

 “We’re working with industry and community to make sure solar farm developments deliver the right outcomes for communities, the environment and jobs” he continued.

The Tallygaroopna, Lemnos and Tatura East solar farm applications has been deferred until further strategic work on Goulburn Murray Irrigation District is completed.

As per the official press release, the Labor Government in Victoria will invest over $1.3b to put solar panels, hot water, and batters in 720,000 homes, as part of their Solar Homes Program.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio was equally impressed by the project, discussing how they will be able to affect climate change and electricity prices:

“These new guidelines will provide more certainty to the community, and more confidence to invest in major solar farms like the one at Congupna.”

 “We’re creating jobs, driving down power prices and combatting climate change with the biggest investment in renewable energy in Victoria’s history” Minister D’Ambrosio said.

According to Shepparton News, Mr Wynne’s office stressed in a press release that the Congupna facility “will be built on non-irrigated agricultural land” and is projected to create almost $40 million in capital expenditure.

Solar Energy Facilities – Design and Development Guidelines

At the same time, Minister Wynne released a draft version of the design and development guidelines for solar energy facilities. They’ll help councils, developers, and communities ensure they build solar farms suitable for everybody. Although we’ve seen many successful large-scale solar farm rollouts in Australia, solar farm opposition is still a bit of an issue for some developments. Hopefully these guidelines help clear up what is and isn’t suitable for large-scale solar! 

 

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Brighte – Interest Free Loans for Solar Systems

Energy finance startup Brighte think upfront costs of solar are too high. Their interest free, buy now pay later app aims to increase Australia’s solar uptake

Brighte, Energy Finance and Katherine McConnell

Brighte Solar
The ‘Afterpay of Solar’ (source: Brighte website)

The company was set up by former Macquarie Group senior manager Katherine McConnell in 2015, drawing fundraising from former investment director at Hastings Funds Management (now known as Vantage Infrastructure), Kim Jackson, and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. The Series B funding round raised $18.5m, with Mr Cannon-Brookes calling it ‘part of the unbundling of banking’ in the AFR.

McConnell shares a lot with Audrey Sizbelman, the head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, who has been warning about the high cost of solar driving a wedge between the ‘haves and the have-not’s’:

“I think the fact that someone can leave the system [the electricity network] because they can rely on their own resources is a good thing for an individual but it isn’t for the rest of us, because it means you have a smaller pot of people to maintain the system,” Ms Zibelman said.

“We do not want to invite an economic bypass,” she said, “creating the haves and the have-nots”.

This is why Brighte has been set up to offer a system similar to the extremely successful Afterpay, but for installing solar and other improvements like air-conditioning or more efficient lighting and heating. 

“(Brighte) is a digital credit platform, sort of an energy-focused Afterpay so you buy now and pay later,” she told Fairfax Media.

“However, it differs to Afterpay as our customers are interacting for longer, as they’re not walking out of a store with their purchases, they can keep buying.

“We had direct feedback from businesses that felt there was a need for something faster and easy to support these transactions.”

According to Ms McConnell, they’re already funded over 7,500 homes and work with over 500 vendors. 

The 0% interest plans are available up to $30,000 and repayment terms are up to 60 months. If you’re interested in learning more or finding a ‘Brighte Vendor’ (i.e. a solar company aligned with them who are happy to help offer the interest free solar) please click here to visit the website.

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Redback Technologies’ Smart Hybrid System Launch

Brisbane-based Redback Technologies will launch their new Smart Hybrid System this week, which is a brand new all-in-one system to simplify solar energy for installers and homeowners while still generating maximum ROI on your solar investment!

Redback Technologies and the next generation Smart Hybrid System

Redback Smart Hybrid System Inverter SH5000
Redback Smart Hybrid System Inverter SH5000 (source: redbacktech.com)

Redback launched the Smart Hybrid System Sh5000 today at the 2018 All-Energy Conference – it has an abundance of features which are perfect for the house looking to maximise their ROI from installing solar:

  • 5kW inverter
  • New modular (expandable) battery cabinet. It can holdup to 14kWh of energy storage
  • All-in-one design outdoor rated for Australian weather conditions.
  • Inbuilt UPS, pre-wired with integrated DC isolators for an easy install. 

The Redback Technologies Smart Hybrid System uses the newly designed Redback Smart Energy Manager app, which makes installation a breeze. When you conneect the inverter to the web portal, you can monitor the performance of your inverter in real time, making sure it’s working as expected! 

Redback MD Patrick Matweew said in a press release delivered by email: “We’re all looking for ways to save money and reduce stress when it comes to our household energy bills. That’s why now is the right time for homeowners to consider a solar and storage system as it not only reduces household costs, but it also gives consumers the power to control their energy future.

“With the cost of small-scale renewable installations continuing to fall, there’s never been a better time to consider solar and battery storage.”

The Redback Smart Energy Manager app is now available to download from Google Play (Android) or the App Store (Apple).

If you’re interested in buying one of these Smart Hybrid Systems or would like to learn more about them then please give the friendly team at Redback a call on 1300 240 182 or click here to visit their page for homeowners/small business proprietors. 

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Solar powered abattoir to be constructed in Gladstone

Asia Pacific Agri-Corp have advised that they will spend $308m on a 78MW solar farm to create a solar powered abattoir in Gladstone, Queensland.

Solar powered abattoir

According to the manufacturer, Asia Pacific Agri-Corp, the project will cost $308m and will offset a significant proportion of the abattoir’s energy needs:

APAC managing director Daniel Daly was quoted by ABC News as explaining why Asia Pacific Agri-Corp decided this was the best option for their energy needs moving forwards:

“We have our own 78MW solar farm on the site, so we’re able to do behind the metre or through-the-fence power deals which keeps our costs controlled for the processing.

“There was also other costs associated with waste water and removal of waste water would be considerable … (so) we (will ) combine the surplus of power from the solar with the waste water into an onsite hydrogen plant.”

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, spoke about the project and how much of the abattoir’s electricity it’ll offset:

“Once fully operational this cutting-edge facility will be capable of processing 2,400 head of cattle per day ready to cater for growing demand for Australian beef,” Dick said in a statement.

“The development approval also provides for 95 hectares of solar panels, capable of generating 78 MW of electricity or almost one third of the sites total electricity needs. A further energy efficiency measure includes the development of an on-site 33MW hydrogen plant to service the abattoir’s boiler.”

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher was also optimistic about hte project, which will deliver 308 construction and 335 operation jobs:

“This development will open up massive job increases for labourers in the Gladstone region by providing employment to dozens of non-trade occupations such as cattle workers, forklift drivers, and other processing workers,” he said.

Construction of the farm is expected to begin next May and finish up in 2021. 

Solar Powered Abattoir
Solar Powered Abattoir Mockup (source: QLD Govt)

Commercial Solar Uptake

There’s been an abundance of commercial solar installations and uptake over the past 12 months – here are some of the most interesting ones:

-Nectar Farms’ new glasshouse will be powered by the Bulgana wind farm (190MW, with a 20MW/34MWh Tesla Powerpack battery)

-Sanjeev Gupta and GFG Alliance’s Whyalla steelworks will be powered by solar – utilising depleted mine pits to “unlock a legacy of past activity for the benefit of future generations”

-Vicinity Centres revealed that they will spend $75m to install solar at seventeen Vicinity-owned shopping centres.

 

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Solar Backpackers – Solar jobs not going to locals?

The dozens of solar farms in various stages of construction or approval in Queensland are being flooded with ‘solar backpackers’ – with local staff being eschewed due to the perception of being too difficult to manage. This has led to a situation where ‘solar backpackers’ are being employed instead of local staff as it’s easier for the companies. 

Solar Backpackers and Solar Jobs

According to the ABC, in the last fortnight Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the Electrical Safety Office conducted inspections across many of Queensland’s regional solar farms. 30 Notices were issued to various companies – this includes 23 breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act and seven breaches of the Electrical Safety Act.

Industrial Minister Grace Grace discussed the issues and advised that a new Code of Practice will be released by the end of the year:

“With the construction of solar and wind farms expanding throughout Queensland, we must ensure electrical safety is paramount,” she said.

“While there is a robust system in place to ensure the highest levels of safety, we are far from complacent and we want to ensure world’s best practice in this area.

“Following the completion of the solar code, a similar process will be undertaken to develop a separate code of practice for wind farms,” she said.

The Australian Border Force have also become involved, but haven’t confirmed any instances of ‘illegal workers’ or ‘worker exploitation’:

“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that Australian workers have priority and that foreign workers are a supplement to, and not a substitute for, Australians,” an ABF spokesperson said.

“The Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa allows ‘backpackers’ to stay and holiday in Australia for up to 12 months, work in Australia for up to six months with each employer, study for up to four months and leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid.

“WHM visa holders can undertake any kind of work with any employer during their stay in Australia as long as they do not work more than six months with that employer.”

List of Solar Farms in Queensland (Information from abc.net.au)

Company Solar Farm Area Size Owner Solar Jobs Created
Biosar Energy Childers Bundaberg 120MW Elliott 200
Biosar Energy Susan River Fraser Coast 100MW Elliott 300
Biosar Energy Oakey Solar Farm Stage 2 Toowoomba 70MW Canadian Solar 200
Downer Group Ross River Solar Farm Townville 148MW Palisade Unknown
Downer Group Clare Solar Farm Burdekin 100 MW FRV Unknown
Downer Group Sunshine coast Solar Farm Sunshine Coast 15MW Sunshine Coast City Council Unknown
Acciona Lilyvale Solar Farm Central Highlands 100MW Fotowatio Renewable Ventures Unknown
CIMIC Group & UGL Limited Collinsville Solar Project Whitsunday 42.5MW Ratch Australia 120 at peak
RCR Tomlinson Darling Downs Solar Farm Western Downs 110MW APA Group 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Daydream Solar Farm Whitsunday 180MW Edify Energy 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Hayman Solar Farm Whitsunday 60MW Edify Energy 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Longreach Solar Farm Longreach 15MW Canadian Solar 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Oakey Solar Farm Stage 1 Toowoomba 25MW Canadian Solar 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Sun Metals Solar Farm Stage 1 Townsville 124MW Sun metals Corp 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Emerald Solar Park Central Highlands 72MW Renewable Energy Systems 3,000 across eight projects
RCR Tomlinson Haughton Burdekin 500MW Pacific Hydro 3,000 across eight projects
Bouygues Construction Australia Hamilton Solar Farm Whitsunday 69MW Edify Energy 325
Tranex Whitsunday Solar Farm Whitsunday 69MW Edify Energy Approx. 60
Beon Energy Hughenden Solar Farm Flinders 20MW BayWa r.e 100
Windlab and Erus Energy Kennedy Energy Park Flinders 60MW Windlab Approx. 130 to 140
Yarranlea Yarranlea Solar Farm Toowoomba 121MW Risen Energy 200 proposed positions
Adani Rugby Run Solar Farm Stage 1 Isaac Region 65MW Adani Renewables 150 proposed jobs
 

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Solar Panel Roads in Australia / Efficiency

Solar panel roads – today we’ll take a look at how research and trials for solar panel roads are going, and what the future looks like for solar highways. Will we ever see solar highways in Australia (or anywhere else, for that matter)? 

Solar Panel Roads

We’ve already written extensively about solar roads and the various trials they’re currently in the middle of:

However there are three main problems with solar roads at the moment – price, performance, and safety. It’s still exorbitantly expensive to come up (the price per kW of all the current solar roads is up to $~2000 per kilowatt) with these road solar cells which perform significantly worse than their roofed brethren. Since the panels don’t have a tilt and need to be housed underneath something strong and load-bearing, this cuts efficiency significantly. And if 5% of a panel is shaded, this can reduce power generation by up to 50%. It’s assumed that dirt, dust, and traffic will exacerbate this – so we need a way to make the initial panels cheaper and/or more effective if solar roads are ever going to be a real possibility. 

Solar Panel Roads in Australia

Solar Panel Roads in Australia
Solar Panel Roads in Australia? (source: solarroadways.com)

Would these solar panel roads work in Australia? News.com.au have a great article about solar road technology, where they  discuss how expensive the current trials are and what the future for this technology could be:

The article quotes Dr. Andrew Thomson, a solar researcher at Australian National University. 

“It’s a really attractive looking idea,” Dr Thomson said. But while “it’s technically feasible, it’s very expensive. I don’t really think there’s a market for it, the opportunity cost is very much against it”.

We’ll keep you updated with progress on how solar road resarch is going along – but perhaps it’s just not the best place to put solar panels as Dylan Ryan, lecturer in Mechanical & Energy Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University told news.com.au: “…solar roads on city streets are just not a great idea”

 

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Solar Victoria Scams – Residents Urged To Take Care

Solar Victoria Scams – the state government’s $1.3b solar power subsidy scheme has a lot of residents excited, but it’s also seen an influx of unethical ‘cowboys’ plying their trade.

Solar Victoria Scams – What to watch out for

Solar Victoria Scams
Solar Victoria Scams

“We have received alerts that scammers have been targeting Victorian households,” Solar Victoria’s website reads.

“Be alert to callers claiming to be from the Victorian government or Solar Victoria requesting bank account details.

“We will never ask you to provide personal details such as banking information over the phone.”

Premier Daniel Andrews was also quoted when he discussed the issue of Solar Victoria scams with reporters on Tuesday:

“If you’re being contacted by somebody, then that is not from the Victorian government, but I’m confident Consumer Affairs can handle this,”

Opposition energy spokesman David Southwick discussed a 72 year old pensioner who was conned:

“Despite telling the sales rep he was not interested in purchasing solar panels, the salesman let himself into John’s home and refused to leave until he signed up to a $9000 solar panel system on a financing plan he could not afford,” Mr Southwick said.

“What guarantees can you give that thousands of Victorians won’t end up with dodgy sales people knocking on the doors, phoning them, all hours trying to sign them up to solar panel deals that will leave them thousands of dollars worse off?”

Nigel Morris was quoted in the Solar Insiders podcast discussing what people’s attitudes are when there’s a rebate involved and how the scheme could impact solar companies, calling it a ‘classic solar coaster’:

“The government was going to give me something – I don’t really care why or how – and by god I’m owed it.

“Phones are ringing off the hook. People are ringing up saying ‘How do I get my tax back? How do I get my money? I don’t care about the solar panels. If you have to put solar panels on that’s fine, but tell me how I get that money.’

“So it’s causing a lot of angst … down in Victoria already, and almost a dead stop in solar sales.”

News.com.au is reporting that over 12,000 people have registered their interest for the Solar Victoria scheme. We’ll keep a close eye on how it goes and keep you updated!

Learn more about the Solar Victoria rebates by visiting the official website. And don’t agree to anything over the phone (or, even worse, a doorknocker)

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