Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm Tender

Hot of the heels of their success last week after signing a contract with Western Power to construct a microgrid in Kalbarri, Carnegie Clean Energy look set to build a Kalgoorlie Solar Farm after winning a tender for the lease of 250 hectares of land within the Buffer Zone of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area.

The Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm

Kalgoorlie Solar Farm - Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie
Kalgoorlie Solar Farm – Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie (source: carnegiece.com)

According to SmallCaps, Carnegie (ASX: CCE) plan to construct and operate a solar farm which is capable of supplying large amounts of electricity into Western Australia’s main power grid. It’ll be known as the Mungari Solar Farm and will have a capacity of up to 100MW. This will result in the farm being able to generate 20MWh of battery-storage each year. The farm will be located 6km south-west of Kalgoorlie – where it will be able to supply electricity to Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources – they’ll have access to clean, stable energy and be able to lock in price points without having to worry about the volatility currently plaguing Western Australia. It’ll also help them move towards reaching their RET (Renewable Energy Target) – which is currently 24% of electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020. 

“Carnegie has a strong track record of developing greenfield sites into shovel-ready renewable projects rapidly and responsibly, most recently with its Northam Solar Farm,” said Dr Michael Ottaviano (Carnegie Clean Energy‘s Managing Director).

“We are excited to play a role in the development of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area, which has an important role in the future economic prosperity of the Eastern Goldfields and look forward to working closely with local industries seeking sources of clean power generation, the State Government, local governments and other key stakeholders in bringing this project to fruition,” said Dr Ottaviano.

Kalbarri microgrid: Carnegie to build.

The long awaited Kalbarri microgrid will be built this year and launched in 2019, as Renewable energy developer Carnegie Clean Energy have signed a $6.8 million contract with state-owned Western Power to build a 5MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in the area. 

Kalbarri Microgrid

Kalbarri Microgrid Details
Kalbarri Microgrid Details (source: Western Power)

According to the contract, Carnegie’s subsidiary Energy Made Clean will be teaming up with JV partner Lendlease services to build the sustainable energy storage system. It will be able to generate 4.5MWh and a minimum of 2MWh will always be accessible for backup services. 

The BESS facility will have two different modes – “Island Mode”, and “Grid Mode”, with the former allowing operation independent of the electricity grid. Grid mode will do what it says on the tin – helping provide network stabilisation for voltage and frequency to other generation sources. 

Carnegie Clean Energy CEO Dr Michael Ottaviano was ecstatic about winning the contract: 

“We’re excited to have won an extremely competitive, global tender using the latest in storage and control technologies. This reinforces Carnegie’s leadership in the design and delivery of innovative energy solutions in Australia,” he said. 

“(this) contract award comes just over 12 months after the establishment of the EMC/Lendlease JV which has secured $25m in orders in the last 4 weeks with Kalbarri and our Northam Solar Farm. With tender cycles running in excess of 12 months, and a clear focus on delivery of high-value projects for utility grade customers, we are just starting to see the results of our hard work over the past year.” Mr Ottaviano continued. 

West Australian Energy Minister Ben Wyatt also spoke of the BESS microgrid in Kalbarri and how it is a “game changer” for communities “…subject to environmental factors that can cause outages. The improved reliability for the region will boost the local tourism and retail operations, as well as enhance the lifestyle of residents.”

 

WA Electricity Grid Needs Upgrade For Solar

A leading energy export from the Australian Energy Market Operator has warned that the WA Electricity Grid requires upgrades over the next couple of years or else it risks being completely overwhelmed by the influx of solar in the state. 

The WA Electricity Grid & Solar

According to TheWest’s website, solar energy now makes up the majority of the WA Electricity Grid’s energy collection – representing around 700MW of capacity. They interviewed Cameron Parrotte, the head of strategy and innovation at the Australian Energy Market Operator – who noted that measures need to be put into place to manage the influx of solar into the grid before it starts to overload.  Parrotte said the amount of additional solar capacity is currently growing at 35% per year. 

“When you talk about comparison to other States, percentage-wise we are flying,” he said.

“Some people then say ‘you’ll start running out of roof space’.

“What you are tending to find is that some people who were the early adopters, some of their PVs are starting to reach the end of their life.

“Instead of putting up another 1kW to replace the 1kW they had, they’re putting in 5kW.”

Parrotte / The West said they believe solar power could fully displace conventional methods of energy generation (coal/gas fired plants) for short intervals within as few as five years. Initially, these intervals would be restricted to times when electricity demand is low (e.g. mild, sunny days in the middle of the day) but surely sends another message to those trying to delay the death of traditional electricity methods. It’s now up to providers and authorities to upgrade the grid and make sure it’s able to take the excess power solar will provide. 

We’ve previously written about blockchain powered P2P energy trading fintech platforms such as Power Ledger or WePower along with less technologically intense solutions such as community solar – the writing is on the wall here and it’s only a matter of time before renewable energy completely overtakes coal and gas fired plants, so it’s important the government act now to ensure the grid is capable of withstanding the new era of energy generation!

WA Electricity Grid - Sunwise - Ludlow Solar Installation
WA Electricity Grid – Sunwise – Ludlow Solar Installation (source: sunwiseenergy.com.au)

Gov’t Owned Synergy Enters WA Market

Government-owned Synergy has entered the market in Western Australia for the sale and installation of solar and battery storage systems. This has caused an uproar – with many existing small businesses calling it ‘blatantly unfair competition’ and decrying the fact that a government-owned corporation with substantial competitive advantages will compete directly with small businesses. 

Synergy and the Potential Conflict of Interest

Synergy to enter domestic solar market in WA
Government-owned Synergy to enter the domestic solar market in WA

Synergy is a Government-owned corporation (website here), fully owned by the Government of Western Australia. Synergy, Verve Energy, Horizon Power and Western Power were created in 2006 as a result of the breakup of Western Power Corporation. On 1 January 2014 the retailer (Synergy) merged with the state-owned generation business (Verve Energy). They have a legislated monopoly to buy/sell all energy generated by PV solar systems on residential premises for the whole of Western Australia. According to Wikipedia, Synergy is Western Australia’s largest energy retailer and generator with more than one million industrial, commercial and residential customers, generating total annual revenue of more than $3.2 billion (14/15 financial year).

They recently entered the market for the sale and install of domestic solar/storage systems (which generally cost between $3,000 and $10,000,) competing directly with small businesses.  

Garry Itzstein and the National Electrical and Communications Association

A letter written by Garry Itzstein to the Small Business Minister, The Hon. Paul Papalia, is currently doing the rounds. Mr Itzstein is the Executive Director of the NECA (National Electrical and Communications Association) in Western Australi, which is a peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.

Mr Itzstein’s letter advises that the NECA WA “strongly urges the government to reconsider the previous government’s decision to allow Synergy to compete in the solar and battery storage installation market”, citing already increased competition and declining demand severely affecting existing small businesses. 

According to the letter, Synergy would be able to use their ‘monopoly status, financial strength and government subsidies’ to:

  1. 1 . advertise heavily to its existing customer base (which is the entire retail market of electricity consumers)
  2. leverage considerable purchasing power over equipment suppliers
  3. leverage considerable purchasing power over installers (in the end, these systems must be installed by a licenced electrical contractor)
  4. apply its vast marketing budget
  5. undertake pricing that borders on predatory

We’re inclined to agree – it seems unfair that Synergy are able to enter the domestic solar and storage market in WA and compete against existing businesses, given their huge and unfair advantages. What do you think? Sound off in the comments…

Click to read: Garry Itzstein and the NECA’s letter to Paul Papalia re: Synergy

 

WA Solar – Installs rising, but so is ‘energy inequality’.

The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has created a research report on WA solar entitled Power to the People: WA’s Energy Future. It highlights the rapidly rising trend of solar power in Western Australia but also a more sobering statistic – so-called ‘energy poverty’ where those in a lower income bracket are spending up to and over 15% of their income on energy (with the average household energy (electricity, gas, and heating) bills no more than 4%). 

WA Solar Overview

WA Solar Installation Predictions 2017
WA Solar Installation Predictions 2017 (source: theconversation.com / CER)

Western Australia’s rooftop solar PV capacity is set to reach 2000MW by 2022 – a figure larger than every power station in WA bar one. According to the ‘Power to the People’ report, WA rooftop solar PV has increased by a massive 37% over the past 18 months. 

Western Australia solar power installers have been hard at work – with around 25% of suitable residences having solar panels installed – which brings WA to third place in Australia, behind Queensland (32%), and South Australia (31%). 

Energy Inequality in WA

WA Today also reported on the ‘energy poverty’ situation – according to the Power to the People report, low-income families pay almost $1,791 per year for energy. This is up $440 since the last year – and the report also revealed that at least one in ten single parents are spending a massive 15.1% of their yearly wage on energy. Around 25% of them spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills – while middle-income families only pay around 3% of their annual income. 

Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre director and author of the report, Alan Duncan, noted that it’s common for those on a lower wage to be renting, and at this current point in time there’s little reason for owners to install solar panels on their rental properties: “However, there is a need to revisit incentives for new solar installations, with landlords having little financial motivation to install solar on rental accommodation, and homeowners deterred by the initial upfront costs involved.”

As stated before, in WA 25% of suitable dwellings have rooftop solar installed. However, in lower socio-economic areas, only 7.4% have solar panels installed. What’s the future to combat this and try to find a way forward so we can install solar power for rental properties? Technology upgrades, government incentives, or something else? Soon enough we will reach critical mass for owner/occupiers and need to find ways to bridge the rental gap. Can the Government come up with something to help? Watch this space…

 

Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid starts construction.

Carnegie Clean Energy, whose solar, battery, wave and desalination microgrid plans have been the topic of much discussion since they was announced earlier this year, have commenced construction on their 2MW Perth solar PV / battery energy storage microgrid. Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid (GIMG) project will be the largest embedded, grid-connected solar and battery microgrid in Australia.

About the Garden Island Microgrid

According to Carnegie’s website, Carnegie Clean Energy Limited (formerly Carnegie Wave Energy) is an “Australian, ASX-listed (ASX: CCE) developer of utility scale solar, battery, wave and hybrid energy projects.” The website notes that Carnegie is the only company in the world which has a  combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids.

Carnegie Clean Energy - Garden Island Microgrid
Carnegie Clean Energy – Garden Island Microgrid (source: carnegiece.com)

Using microgrid technology means the project will be able to function independently from the main power grid, and using hybrid sources of energy generation along with storage means they won’t run out of energy if the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. The system will have 3MW of solar PV panels and a 2MW battery energy storage system.

Carnegie’s chief exec Michael Ottaviano was quoted earlier this year (at an energy storage conference in Sydney) discussing stand alone power systems (microgrids) – after having installed over a dozen for both Western Power and Horizon Energy. “It is just a cheaper, cleaner more secure solution than the alternative,” Ottaviano said. “The cost of technology is coming down. What was an economic driver for remotes systems, is now true for the fringe of grid and on the main grid too.”

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Defence Minister Marise Payne released a joint statement which lauded the work done by Carnegie:  “The Government continues to support the work of Carnegie and we look forward to seeing how this project will inform Carnegie’s ability to provide energy security solutions at island locations in the future”.

Carnegie have inked supply agreements with the Department of Defense (in order to supply power and water (via the desalination plant) to HMAS Stirling – Australia’s biggest naval base in Perth, which is home to more than 2,300 service personnel.

Byford Solar Farm largest in WA

Construction on the Byford Solar Farm will commence shortly as Kleenheat have entered into an agreement with clean energy company WestGen. Kleenheat will purchase the solar power and the renewable energy certificates generated from the construction of the upcoming Byford solar farm, which will be build 35km south of Perth.

Byford Solar Farm

The farm will cost approximately $70m to complete and it will be able to generate up to 30MW of power – the largest solar farm of its type in WA. According to a press release on the Wesfarmers website (Kleenheat is owned by Wesfarmers), the 75 hectare project will be commissioned early next year and will help save 67,000 tonnes / year of CO2 emissions.

Mark Gadsby, the GM of Kleenheat, spoke about how the Byford farm will allow them to purchase wholesale energy at competitive pricing – which will have a follow on effect for their customers. “This is a way of securing the best price for the energy at its source, strengthening our ability to compete in the market to secure and retain business customers in the contestable electricity space,” said Mr Gadsby.

The Director of WestGen, Richard Harris, said that the partnership of Kleenheat and WestGen over the Byford Solar Farm proved that renewable energy is now a very viable option in Western Australia and nationwide – being quoted as saying that “With technological advances and economies of scale, large-scale renewable energy developers can offer more and more competitively-priced and reliable supply that is environmentally sustainable”.

The project is expected to provide around 100 jobs to the area at peak construction and will be the only utility scale solar farm in a metro area in Australia.

Byford Solar Form EPC Contract

Byford Solar Farm
Byford Solar Farm (source: perthnow.com.au)

According to RenewEconomy, Perth based WHBO Infrastructure will JV with Phoenix Solar (based in Singapore) to deliver the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) for the project. WHBO GM Will Gobler spoke excitedly about the project, and advised that the landmark project will help raise the image of solar power in Western Australia significantly:  “It’s an important project. Not only will it set a new benchmark for solar projects in WA, but will also provide benefits for the local economy, with opportunities for our workforce, as well as for subcontractors and suppliers.

The project is expected to be fully commissioned and operational by mid 2018, after multiple delays.

 

 

AER $8m wind & solar farm Port Gregory, WA

GMA Garnet have commissioned AER (Advanced Energy Resources) to build a 3MW wind and solar farm Port Gregory in mid-Western Australia. Port Gregory is located 60 km south of Kalbarri (and 120km from the nearest substation, so this is a significant development for the GMA Garnet mine).

AER Solar Farm Port Gregory

Advanced Energy Resources - Solar Farm Port Gregory
Advanced Energy Resources (source: advancedenergy.net.au)

Advanced Energy Resources, part of the Castelli Group, will develop the project for the GMA Garnet mine – it will supply almost 70% of the mine’s power – which will then in turn reduce carbon footprint by about 5,000 tones of carbon dioxide per annum. The West reported that CFO of GMA, Grant Cox said the farm will help the mine reduce input costs in combating the increasing cost of electricity  – and also lauded the environmental impact of the the project –  “We are proud to be moving our operation to have the lowest carbon emissions in the industry,” he said.

AER MD Luca Castelli also spoke proudly of the collaboration – noting the company’s proven track record of embedded renewable energy generation – and how it is a lot cheaper than ‘dirty’ power generated through fossil fuels. “We are proud to be partnering with GMA Garnet in this groundbreaking project which will credibly display how AER can reduce costs for large energy users while providing tangible benefits to regional electricity networks and fringe of grid areas” Castelli said.

AER, which was founded in 2006, already owns and operates a renewable portfolio so this is a welcome addition.

Funding renewables for mines is still a new idea and faces a lot of challenges – with National Australia Bank (NAB)’s global head of resources, energy, and Northern Australia, Phillip Mak, recently addressing a panel on renewable energy in resources on the issue. Mak was quoted as telling the Energy and Mines Summit in Perth“…the big challenge is convincing miners, investors and bankers, that the integration is very well understood and reliable”.

This is a great step for Western Australian Solar  and it’s also positive seeing renewable energy in resources become a larger part of our renewables conversation, given that natural resources contribute significantly to export performance and also to our GDP, albeit to a lesser degree.

Broome Solar Power – Horizon Power’s Plan

Residents of Broome in Western Australia are becoming frustrated with their inability to access solar power in one of WA’s sunniest towns, according to the ABC. Broome Solar power is becoming a real problem for residents who want to invest in the renewables boom but aren’t able to due to WA’s massive landscape and tiny population density.

Broome Solar Power Install Cap

As the state-owned energy utility Horizon Power own the grid in Broome, they have put restrictions on the residents so that only 10% of the town’s power is allowed to be generated from solar. This is to protect the grid from being compromised when the sun doesn’t come out. Horizon Power are responsible for generating, procuring, distributing and retailing the electricity and they are dealing with dozens of microgrids so it can be difficult to manage energy.

According to the ABC, Horizon Power are currently trialling battery storage systems in Carnarvon and Onslow to help mitigate the problem – with Horizon spokesman Frank Tudor quoted as saying “Broome will be part of the trials that we are looking at across all of our different systems, if that proves worthwhile then we will gradually roll it out”.

Broome Solar Power
Broome Solar Power (source ABC.net.au)

Horizon Power

Horizon Power Logo
Horizon Power WA

Horizon Power were established in 2006 during reforms to Western Australia’s solar electricity sector and service apprximately 2.3 million squre kilometres. They are responsible for 47,000 connections and supply more than 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses in regional towns and remote communities across Western Australia.

Given the unique challenges of servicing such a huge area with such a low amount of customers (they have one customer for every 53.5 km2, the lowest in the world, it is understandable that Horizon Power needs to come out with some novel solutions to provide stable electricity to their constituents. Their decentralised delivery model is both a blessing and a curse in this situation – they’re able to work quickly to local issues but residents in towns like Broome are left with this situation where the microgrids (Horizon have 32 microgrids across the state) are too small to withstand any sort of major swing in renewable production.

Read more about their renewable energy blueprint by clicking here or viewing the video below: