Geelong Solar – Council to install solar at pools.

Geelong Solar – the City of Greater Geelong are rolling out a plan to make huge cuts to its carbon emissions (They’re aiming for 50% via their Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy) in 2020. They’ve installed 300 solar panels at a local swimming pool and have a lot of other plans for the rest of the year. 

Geelong Solar and the Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy

Fitness centre Leisurelink Aquatic and Recreation Centre on Pioneer Road in Grovedale has been fitted out with solar panels as part of the Greater Geelong Council renewable energy push. The centre now has over 300 solar panels and joins the Grove Community Centre, City Hall and Boorai Centre in Ocean Grove which had PV rooftop solar panels installed last November. 

Other public premises which will have solar panels installed in the roof later this year include the Bellarine Aquatic and Sports Centre, The Arena, and the National Wool Museum. According to the Geelong Advertiser, the buildings will also have upgraded energy efficient lighting and the heating/cooling systems will be altered so as to help meet Geelong’s Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy. 

Geelong Solar - Leisurelink Swim Sport and Leisure
Geelong Solar – Leisurelink Swim Sport and Leisure (source: geelongaustralia.com.au)

“It’s important for local government to lead the way with environmental initiatives,” Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood said.

“The benefits from installing these solar panels across City buildings will also extend to the community with significant annual savings.”

Mr Harwood said the estimated savings in energy reduction will be $200,000 per year, and this also means 1600 less tonnes of greenhouse gases. 

Geelong council have joined another bunch of council solar initiatives announced in the last year, such as:

It’s great to see councils moving in the right direction and taking the initiative to ensure they are using as much renewable energy as possible. In the same week where UNSW announced that they will be completely solar powered thanks to the Sunraysia solar plant, it’s a great time for renewables in Australia! 

Darebin Solar Saver – Interest Free Solar Loans

The Darebin Solar Saver, a groundbreaking solar scheme in the Victorian city of Darebin, means that residents are able to take out an interest-free loan from the council to cover the cost of solar panels and installation, with repayments added to household rates. 

About the Darebin Solar Saver

Darebin councillors signed a $10m contract with EnviroGroup in Northcote to manage the expansion of the Darebin Solar Saver program, with systems available from 2kW to 10kW – installations are set to commence in July 2018. This is in addition to the ~500 households already enjoying the program. 

The $10 million expansion, which will be funded via existing cash reserves, will help further the council’s goal to double solar-power generated in Darebin from 18,000kW to 36,000kW. 

The Herald Sun quoted Kingsbury resident Mai Pham as a very happy user of the Darebin Solar Saver:

“We are really happy with our solar system. We’re saving on our energy bills and it means we don’t need to worry so much,” she said.

“The cost of installing solar means it’s not even a possibility for many low-income families, so this help from the council to cover the initial outlay is such a good idea.”

Residents who would like to take advantage of the generous and forward-thinking solar programs (which are currently slated to run from 2017 – 2021) can click here to register their interest. Alternatively, if you have any questions email [email protected] or phone 8470 8888.

Darebin Solar Saver
Darebin Solar Saver (source: darebin.vic.gov.au)

Interest Free Solar Loans

We’ve previously written about interest free solar via Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor Party and their ‘Powering Queensland’s Future’ scheme which may be offering no-interest solar loans in Queensland. There are a number of retailers currently offering low/no interest solar deals to customers but to have the purchasing power and safety of the government behind one of these schemes would be an amazing step in the right direction. We’ll keep you updated on any further details for councils subsidising solar for their residents! 

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! 

Solar Barbecue at Koroit Standoff Continues

The Moyne Shire and the Koroit Lions Club have continued discussions over who should fund and be responsible for maintenance over a proposed solar barbecue at the Koroit railway station. 

The $90,000 Solar Barbecue

Koroit Railway Station - Location for the Solar Barbecue
Koroit Railway Station – Location for the Solar Barbecue (source: wikipedia.org)

The Koroit Lions Club had requested $20,000 from the council through community assistance funding towards the project, which, according to Standard.net.au, is estimated to cost close to $90,000, exclusive of ongoing maintenance. 

Cr Jill Parker proposed to give $20,000 to the club towards a ‘barbecue and shelter of any kind’ with the proviso that council are not responsible for ongoing maintenance. 

“I agree that the Lions Club have shown initiative in putting up a solar barbecue,” Cr Parker told a council meeting. 

“They have asked us for funding towards that and I would like to see that we make that available to them.

“The only provision I would add is that if it is a solar one, that (council) won’t be responsible for ongoing maintenance of a solar unit.”

Through a submission to the council, the club noted that it would be an environmentally friendly asset and some of the councillors, such as Cr Jim Doukas, agreed. Cr Doukas told the meeting that having “two bob each way” (i.e. offering the money but refusing to take responsibility for the project in an ongoing fashion) represented ineffective policy and will make the council look like “idiots”. Cr Doukas said the money should be given “in the interest of progress”, an idea which was shared by Cr Jordan Lockett who said it was not “just about a simple barbecue where old mate cooks his snags”, but an opportunity to be a “progressive shire and say we believe in solar energy”.

The $20,000 grant was eventually passed but, as discussed, the council won’t be responsible for any maintenance/repair. So we’ll see what happens after it’s built! 

Whichever way you cook it, $90,000 for a barbecue is certainly expensive. But when you put the investment into perspective, it’s great seeing the councils get involved in making facilities more environmentally friendly – such as the solar bins which have been rolled out to Cairns and in Noosa recently. Great progressive investment from the Moyne Shire! 

Liddell Power Station To Close in 2022 – AGL Energy

AGL Energy will be closing the Liddell coal-fired power station in 2022, resulting in a 1000MW shortfall of energy. AGL has an exciting plan to cover this missing amount by using a mix of solar power, wind power, pumped hydro, battery storage, and gas peaking plants over a three-stage period leading up to 2022. 

The Closure of Liddell and its implications

The Turnbull government had asked AGL Energy to consider extending the life of the Liddell power station or selling it to someone else, but it doesn’t seem like that plan is on AGL’s radar. According to the SBS, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has asked the AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) have a look at AGL’s idea, advising that it is best to “leave the judgement of (the plan’s) merits to the experts”. 

AGL’s plan for solar/wind/pumped hydro/storage and gas peaking plants will cost $1.3b and is expected to provide electricity at $83/MWh for up to 30 years, in contrast to the much higher cost for Liddell. By keeping it open for just an extra five years the cost would be $920 million and it would cost $106/MWh, according to figures stated on the SBS

“Obviously it’s a significant proposal, there is a host of new technologies and new investments as part of it,” Mr Frydenberg was quoted in Melbourne on Sunday.

“You need all forms of energy in Australia’s future energy mix, there’s a role for coal there’s a role for gas, there is increasingly a role for wind and solar and for battery storage,” he added.

Liddell Power Station - AGL Energy to close it in 2022
Liddell Power Station – AGL Energy to close it in 2022 (source: wikipedia.org)

This news comes hot on the heels of the closing of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria in March this year. Numerous other coal-fired power stations across New South Wales and Victoria are nearing the end of their 50 year lifespans – with two of Victoria’s three coal-fired plants having outages during last February’s hot weather. 

Federal opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler was complimentary of the plan – whether 

Stockland Solar Power Rollout – 12.3MW

Stockland Solar installs – Australia’s biggest diversified property company have announced that they will partner with Todae solar to roll out Australia’s largest ever property solar project at 10 of Stockland’s shopping centres.

Stockland Solar Shopping Centres

Their September press release noted that the $23.5 million investment will see Stockland install more than 39,000 PV panels, on roof space on retail centres in areas such as Merrylands, Burleigh Heads, Point Cook and Wendouree in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. They are aiming to install 12.3MW across 10 shopping centres, at a cost of $23m a year. This will generate around 17GWh of solar per annum. 

Mark Steinert, Managing Director and CEO of Stockland discussed their plan in the release, saying:

“We are 100% committed to investing in sustainable energy. We’re extremely proud to be setting a new standard in solar for Australian property which will help create clean, green energy for our retailers, our customers and the communities we operate in.

“We’ve already invested more than $4.5 million in successful solar projects at four of our shopping centres in NSW and this project will extend our reach across 10 of our centres on the east coast.”

Stockland Solar Powered Shopping Centres
Stockland Solar Powered Shopping Centres (source: stockland.com.au)

Combined, the project is expected to produce 17.2 GWh of energy every year, the equivalent to driving an electric car around the world 2,381 times.

Todae will help Stockland install solar at Stockland Shellharbour, Stockland Wetherill Park and Stockland Nowra shopping centres in NSW. They’ll also expand an installation at Stockland Green Hills. To date, Stockland solar have generated over 2.3 million kWh of energy – the company owns and operates the most green star rated shopping centres in Australia.

“Investing in technology like solar energy is not only environmentally sustainable, it also makes good business sense. Our forecast average yield over a 10 year period is 11.6 per cent on capital invested, generating strong shared value for both our investors and our communities,” Mr Steinert said.

This solar installation will bring the company closer to its target for a 60% carbon intensity reduction for its office and retail assets over the FY06-FY25 period.

Last year Stockland was recognised as the most sustainable real estate company in the world in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and achieved Global Sector and Regional Sector Leader status in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey in the category Diversified – Retail/Office. 

Stockland is also going to spend $200,00 on installing Tesla Destination Chargers across 31 Stockland shopping centres, according to One Step Off The Grid

Stockland’s shopping centre solar rollout will be across the following centres:

  • Stockland Caloundra, Qld
  • Stockland Merrylands, NSW
  • Stockland Hervey Bay, Qld
  • Stockland Bundaberg , Qld
  • Stockland Traralgon, Vic
  • Stockland Burleigh Heads, Qld
  • Stockland Point Cook, Vic
  • Stockland Cairns, Qld
  • Stockland Green Hills, NSW
  • Stockland Wendouree, Vic

This represents another massive step forwards for commercial solar and we are sure we’ll see many other companies follow Stockland’s lead and start generating as much of their own power as they can. 

Australia’s largest solar plant built in NSW in 2018

Australia’s largest solar plant will be built in NSW early next year. It will be a 250MW DC solar photovoltaic power plant with energy storage and installed in NSW’s Sunraysia region. The plant will be built by Decmil on behalf of Chinese company Maoneng Australia, who already have a solar farm in the ACT and are looking to create a second. The Sunraysia solar farm was being discussed back in June (click to view our article about it) and has changed from 200MW to 250MW but will still be located on 1000 hectares of private freehold land 17km south of Balranald centre – approximately 140km south-east of Mildura.

Australia’s largest solar plant

Australia's largest solar plant - Sunraysia Solar Farm
Australia’s largest solar plant – Sunraysia Solar Farm artist’s rendition (source: sunraysiasolarfarm.com.au)

According to Maoneng vice-president Qiao Han, Maoeng Australia and Decmil signed an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) on Tuesday. They plan to construct the plant as soon as April or May in 2018 – with the construction contract valued at approximately $275 million. 

The plant is expected to generate at least 530,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, and will power houses in both NSW and Victoria. Maoneng’s previous Australian solar investment, the 13MW Mugga Lane solar park in the ACT, generates around 24,500 megawatt hours – so this is a big step up. 

There’s talk of the plant also using batteries to store excess power making it one of the first solar farms in New South Wales to do so. According to a statement from Decmil, “This will provide greater energy reliability and allow the solar farm to produce electricity during periods of peak demand rather than only during sunlight hours.”

Large-Scale Solar Farm Competitors

Although this will be Australia’s largest solar plant for a while, there are currently three projects which will be larger when they are completed: 

No doubt before those three are finished we’ll have even bigger plants on the horizon – it’s great watching the neverending race of large-scale solar! 

 

 

 

Solar Powered Trams in Melbourne / VRETs

Victoria has been working on a plan for solar powered trams over the past year and it looks like the Andrews government has moved one step closer with the project – announcing plans to build two new Victorian solar farms to power Melbourne’s tram networks. If that phrase conjured up the image of a bunch of trams with solar panels on top, unfortunately not yet – but using renewable energy to power public transport is a great step forwards. We already have projects like the Valdora solar farm run by the Sunshine Coast Council to power all their energy needs so it’s very encouraging to see the public sector moving in (some semblance of) lockstep with private innovation and investment. 

Melbourne’s Solar Powered Trams

Premier Daniel Andrews Solar Powered Trams
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announces Solar Powered Trams.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced that Bannerton Solar Park and the Numurkah Solar farm have won tenders to provide renewable energy to power Melbourne’s trams, offering 100MW and 38MW respectively for the network. The $100m Bannerton project will consist of 95,000 solar panels and is expected to reach full completion by July 2018. The Numurkah Solar Farm will output 100MW via 300,000 solar panels on 500 hectares, but only 38MW of this will be going to the government. French solar plant developer Neoen (who will partner with Tesla to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia) will commence construction in early 2018.

In January Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio advised that they would use one solar plant with 75MW of power – and that half of this would go to the tram network as 35MW was sufficient to cover the energy needs of 410 Melbourne trams. Despite opposition energy minister David Southwick decrying it at the time as a ‘media stunt’ and said Andrews’ government should be ‘fighting for the most affordable power deal for Victorians’, the government has forged ahead and have doubled down on their renewable energy plans – announcing Victoria’s Renewable Energy Targets for 2020 and 2025. 

Victorian Renewable Energy Target

Legislation introduced to Parliament (the first time RETs have been enshrined in state legislation in Australia) last week has set Victoria’s RETs (Renewable Energy Targets) to 25% at 2020 and 40% by 2025. According to the Herald Sun, they haven’t released any modelling showing what the figures are based on, but the RET will mean a cut to energy prices of $30 p.a. for an average family. 

According to Andrews, “The VRET will cut the average cost of power for Victorians by around $30 a year for households, $2,500 a year for medium businesses and $140,000 a year for large companies, while driving a 16 per cent reduction in Victoria’s electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2034-35.”

The VRET legislation allows for a competitive reverse auction (i.e. the lowest bidder wins) for up to 650MW of power (enough to power Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley combined) , which Clean Energy Council chief exec Kane Thornton says will ‘turbocharge’ the renewable energy industry in Victoria, calling it a ‘major step forward for communities, businesses and the state’s renewable energy industry’. 

Political grandstanding or a massive step forward for renewable energy in Victoria? Is it necessarily a zero-sum game? We’ll know very soon – watch this space and we’ll keep you updated on how things are going! With the first legally binding state RETs Victoria are certainly putting their money where their mouth is and doing their bit to reduce emissions and move towards a renewable energy future. 

Wemen Sun Farm construction in 2017 – Wirsol

Wirsol Energy Pty Ltd will commence construction on the 110MW Wemen Sun Farm later this year. Wirsol, an arm of German renewables developer Wircon GmbH, didn’t provide information on who they bought the farm from or for how much (it was previously owned by Overland Sum Farming along with Island Green Power). No word on the two other Mildura solar projects owned by the same companies – the future of the Yatpool Sun Farm and the Karodoc Sun Farm is currently unknown.

Wirsol - Wemen Sun Farm
Wirsol – new owners of Wemen Sun Farm (translation – ‘Everyone can make electricity’ – if my school German doesn’t fail me…)

Wirsol Energy did note that by the end of the year they will have five solar farms under construction in Queensland and Victoria – with a combined capacity of around 400MW. So it wouldn’t be surprising if they’ve done a deal to procure one of Yatpool and Karodoc projects, given that they have already announced three other solar farms in various stages of completion.  

According to the Wirsol website  they will also have the Whitsunday Solar Farm (Collinsville – 69MW), Hamilton Solar Farm (Collinsville – 69MW), and the Gannawarra Solar Farm (Kerang, 60MW) all commencing commercial operations in Q1 2018 – if you add their output to the Wemen Sun Farm that makes approximately 310MW – we’ll see what the fifth farm is soon enough, no doubt! There will be much more to come – according to Wirsol they plan to deploy up to 1GW of solar power by 2020. 

Mark Hogan, MD of Wirsol, was quoted on their website as saying “We are thrilled to announce the successful acquisition and refinancing of this portfolio as it marks our first move into the Australian renewable sector.  Our success in Australia has been driven by the significant experience accrued in the European market and deploying 1 GW of solar to date.  We believe this transaction demonstrates the importance of bringing together industry knowledge and local expertise to successfully develop, construct and finance large-scale renewable projects.  This transaction firmly positions Wirsol as one of Australia’s leading renewable investors.  We will continue building on this success and are actively seeking to acquire further development opportunities to fulfil our internal ambition of deploying 1GWp solar across Australia by 2020.”

Wemen Sun Farm

The project is located at Hatta-Bronvale Road in Wemen, close to the border of Victoria and New South Wales and approximately 110km south east of Mildura. 

According to RenewablesNow, it is a 110MW plant on 770 acres and will ‘give rise to regional value creation’ of over $200m. AussieRenewables are reporting that Powercor Australia have signed PPAs to connect the projects to the state electrical grid, but no word on if that agreement will carry over with the new owners (that information was taken from the Overland Sun Farming site back in March). Overland CE Brett Thomas was quoted in WeeklyTimesNow as saying that the farm’s panels would use tracking to follow the sun from east to west; we’ll undoubtedly see more information about this as the project enters development. Another great development for Australian solar farms

Newbridge Solar Plant Upgrade Gets Go Ahead

The Victorian state government has given $1 million in funding to upgrading an existing Newbridge solar plant which will create up to 70 local jobs and represents world-class solar technology.

Newbridge Solar and RayGen Resources

Newbridge Solar Plant - RayGen Resources
The Newbridge Solar Plant –
created by RayGen Resources (source: raygen.com)

The plant will be built by Blackburn-based solar technology company RayGen Resources and the funding was announced by Lily D’Ambrosio, the Energy, Envicornment and Climate Change Minister for Victoria. The funding well come from Business Victoria’s New Energy Jobs Fund and will create jobs in manufacturing, sales, product engineering, and software engineering. This represents another boon for Victorian solar which has been moving along in leaps and bounds over the last 12 months.

D’Ambrosio approved the funding this week and was quoted by the Bendigo Advertiser as saying “This is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the exports for our growing renewables sector and deliver a positive environmental impact”.

John Lasich and Zhen Mu , along with RayGen’s new CEO, Alex Wyatt, are in charge of the Chinese solar project which is based on the pilot plant which supplied power to a Newstead organic mushroom farm. The energy generated by the new Newbridge solar farm will supply the more than enough to power the business. No word yet on when the plant will be completed but we think it will be within the next 12 months and look forward to seeing the PV Ultra technology utilised in the future.