UQ solar farm to go ahead despite complaints.

Construction of the $125 million 64MW UQ solar farm will go ahead although there have been myriad complaints from local NIMBYs in the Warwick area – the farm has received development approval from the Southern Downs Council this week.

UQ solar farm

UQ Solar Farm
UQ Solar Farm (source: www.warwicksolarfarm.com.au)

Terrain Solar were responsible for submitting the DA for the 154-hectare project at Freestone Valley – but UQ will take over when construction begins later this year. Southern Downs Council approved the DA yesterday with Mayor Tracy Dobie casting the deciding vote.  

Some local residents aren’t as chuffed, arguing that it represents “environmental vandalism” to put install solar panels on “good agricultural land”. We rolled our eyes too. The solar farm opposition hasn’t managed to make much of a difference, with the majority of residents still happy for the project to go ahead.

“We are already the largest solar generator among Australian universities, and this initiative will complement the 50,000 existing solar panels on our campuses,” vice-chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said in a statement.

“This project makes a clear and bold statement about UQ’s commitment to leadership in renewables and demonstrates UQ is prepared to make a meaningful investment in creating a sustainable future,” vice-chancellor Høj continued.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the solar farm would be a “phenomenal project” and said it was possible to utilise the land for agricultural and energy generation purposes at the same time:

“It is the intention to graze sheep on that land and it will continue to be productive land throughout the life of the solar farm,” Cr Dobie said.

“Myself and councillors understand all of the concerns but there are many, many residents who are very supportive of the solar farm.

“I understand why those individuals and those families have concerns and we have tried as best as we can to condition this proposal to ensure that we can go as far as we can to meet the concerns of those residents.”

In approving the farm, the council imposed 37 discrete conditions such as the planting of natural vegetation to try and protect local views. 

This will make UQ the first major university in the world to offset 100% of its energy usage with renewables. The UQ solar farm will generate around 154,000 megawatt hours per year – the equivalent of offsetting around 27,000 homes. It’ll join UNSW who also committed to going 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

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Kiamal solar farm signs a PPA with Flow Power.

The 200MW Kiamal solar farm located near Ouyen in Western Victoria has signed a PPA for 25% of its output (50MW) – they’ll sell this power to Flow Power who will then offer it to their business clients along with power generated from the Ararat wind farm.

Kiamal solar farm

Kiamal Solar Farm - Flow Power
Kiamal Solar Farm – Flow Power (source: flowpower.com.au)

Kiamal solar farm also signed a deal with Total Eren, as CEO of Flow Power Matthew van der Linden sounded excited about when interviewed: 

“It’s really cheap,” van der Linden told RenewEconomy. “It’s well below the rates out in the market.”

“Because we have got a long term agreement with a large scale project and obviously they can offer a very competitive price around that.”

Total Eren will be responsible for construction of the as yet unbuilt solar farm – this will be the first Australian investment from a JV combining Total Eren and a renewable energy developer.  The farm will include more than 700,000 PV panels over almost 500 hectares of space, using single axis tracking. It also has approval from Mildura council for a 100MW/380MWh battery storage facility, according to Michael Vawser of Total Eren.

Another 50MW of the power was contracted to Mars Australia last week – allowing them to run their entire business (including six factories) on 100% renewable energy. Commercial solar continues to come along in leaps and bounds.

Lastly, Kiamal also signed a contract with energy retailer PowerShop (which is owned by Meridian Energy, New Zealand’s biggest utility company):

“This agreement secures our solar output for Victoria and we are also in final negotiations with projects for additional wind output in Victoria,” van der Linden said. “New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland should follow soon after, completing our first phase of projects and seeing us out for the year.”

The Kiamal solar farm will begin over the next 12 weeks and it’s estimated it’ll take around 12 months to reach completion. If you’d like to read more about the project you can see some more detailed information by clicking here

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Green Power Solar Blockchain ICO

Green Power Exchange (GPX) is a startup which is hoping to create a global platform for peer-to-peer renewable energy trading – with the goal of making renewable energy trading simple and convenient – resulting in a lower price because the energy is being sent directly from producer to consumer, cutting out the usual middlemen.

Green Power Exchange 

GPX’s solution is to eliminate intermediaries and launch a simple, easy to use peer-to-peer platform to buy and sell renewable energy. The local distributor will still need to be paid for line rental, but apart from that this eschews the traditional energy supply chain which consists of 1) Generation, 2) Transmission, 3) Distribution and 4) Retail. Obviously all steps in the supply chain result in a higher cost per kilowatt so it’s great to see some options where someone can buy directly from the producer. 

Crypto Reporting have done some research about Green Power Exchange, how it works, and how much you could save – offering up the example of a producer usually receiving $0.06 USD / kWh from a wholesaler or retailer while the end user is still paying around $0.20 USD / kWh. This is over 300% more than the producer receives – and as the energy goes from transmission to distribution to retail everybody adds on a clip. Not very efficient, and since the producer and end buyer are artificially separated like this, it’s difficult for them to meet and reach an agreement on a price. Enter GPX!

With direct trading, a cost per kWh could be $.1 USD which benefits both parties (the customer would still have to pay line rental to the local distributor which would be around $0.02). In this case the producer receives $.1 USD instead of $0.06 and the customer pays $0.12 instead of $0.20 per kWh. 

For GPX to work, you’ll need a smart meter which will be checked and then energy distributed through smart purchase power agreements posted on the blockchain. Given that PPAs will have to differ depending on the jurisdiction, Green Power have set up standard templates for everywhere the platform operates. There’s also the option to upload your own PPA which will then be vetted by the team to ensure it conforms with their standards. 

Christian Wentzel - Co-founder, Head of Energy - Green Power Exchange
Christian Wentzel – Co-founder, Head of Energy – Green Power Exchange (source: gpx.energy)

The Pre-ICO for Accredited Investors starts in 98 days as of 05.06.2018, so now’s a great time to start researching the company if it looks interesting to you. 

Are you thinking about investing in Green Power Exchange? Have you got any thoughts on this sort of model for the electricity market? Please let us know in the comments! 

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The rotating, energy-efficient solar home Girasole

In Crace, Canberra, Anna and Phillip Burroughs reside in a multi-award-winning solar home named ‘Girasole’. It’s the widest rotating home in the world – using solar power to rotate on its axis to gather maximum amounts of solar panel and allow for a novel and exciting living area for the Burroughs’. 

Girasole the rotating solar home.

Girasole Rotating Solar Home
Girasole Rotating Solar Home (source: Liveability.com.au)

Girasole was designed by DNA Architects and Industrious Design in 2012-2013 – with the house being offered a six star energy rating. Construction was completed by MAG Constructions in 2013 and in the middle of the year the Burroughs happily moved in to their amazing new home which boasts a 120,000 litre underground water tank, 10.5kW solar panels, north-facing living room windows, the highest insulation rating possible (using polystyrene external cladding) and LED lighting throughout. 

A touchscreen panel in the house is pressed to commence the rotation of the 56 tonne home – which also has an automatic option to ‘follow the sun’. It takes about 10 minutes for the house to do a full 360′ rotation and, amazingly, takes about the same energy as a lightglobe to turn around due to extremely clever and energy efficient construction and design. 

According to the Internet, ‘Girasole’ is Italian for sunflower – an apt choice for the amazing solar house. Gira(re) also means ‘to turn’ and sole is the sun, so it’s a bit of a play on words. 

Some words from the original designer, John Andriolo from MAG Constructions:

“The idea for this house came about over 50 years ago when I was just a 10-year-old boy studying history in Italy. I found Galileo Galilee’s idea of ‘eppure si mouve’ (‘the earth is moving’) completely fascinating, and since then I have always dreamt that one day I would build a house that follows the sun. Seeing this idea now become a reality is a little surreal but I hope it will demonstrate how our natural resources, like the sun and rain, can be put to good use in future home designs.”

In a world where we’re starting to see solar panels mandatory on new homes (well, in California at least) there’s no doubt we’ll start to see a lot more novel ideas. 

If you want to follow Girasole on Facebook please click here.

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Senec.Home Intelligent Energy System in Australia

German company Senec has been shipping its products to Australia since early last year, and today we will take a look at the Senec solar battery range – according to the site one of these systems can increase your power self-sufficiency to 80% or more. Let’s take a look and see how they stack up against some of the other solar battery competitors. 

The Senec.Home Smart Energy Management System

Senec Solar Battery
SENEC.Home (source: SENEC)

Energy storage technology has been coming along in leaps and bounds lately – we’ve seen the standard lithium-ion swapped out with hydrogen, perovskite, zinc bromine and other materials. These batteries are lithium ion based as it still remains the most mature technology but it’s important to keep an eye out to see what’s around the corner. Who knows where the tech will take us! 

The Senec.Home is an ‘all in one’ system which includes a Senec inverter, a battery management system and battery modules. You need to manage the solar panels yourself, so make sure you have that planned out before you go and buy everything! Ask your retailer if there’s a good synergy between the system you’ve chosen because it’s an expensive exercise to try and swap or add more solar panels to an existing installation.

Here are some of the benefits of this system:

  • Engineered for 12,000 recharging cycles. This is double the capacity of its unnamed ‘nearest competitor’ (not the Tesla Powerwall 2 as it’s rated for ‘unlimited’ cycles)
  • The SENEC.Home Li system is an automated management system for the panels + battery. It manages your power needs without you doing a thing.
  • Australian service and support, but designed, manufactured and assembled entirely in Germany (except for the Panasonic battery modules).
  • Panasonic manufactured battery with 2.5kWh, 5.0kWh, 7.5kWh, and 10.0kWh options (“depending on the loading and unloading conditions”).
  • 98% maximum battery efficiency. 
  • Soon they’ll have a backup function so the Senec.Home can work when the grid goes down.
  • Up to four units can be daisy-chained to create your own microgrid.

After hosting a product launch last year for the system, it looks like demand for the product has been quite high. The price varies depending on a few factors so please get in touch with your retailer to discuss specifics. 

Click here to download the SENEC Intelligent Energy System Brochure and Specs.

If you’re interested in getting in contact, try  (08) 6280 1206 or  (+618) 6280 1206 if you’re not in Australia. Otherwise you can visit their site by clicking here

Have you got any experience or feedback with installing, buying, or running these systems? Please let us know about how you’re finding it in the comments. 

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Pallamana solar plant and battery in the works.

Pallamana solar plant – the suburb in South Australia will receive a 176MW PV solar plant and a battery storage system as part of plans released by renewable energy company RES. It gained “Crown sponsorship” in February and is one of two Murraylands solar projects (The other is Vena Energy’s $200m solar farm at Tailem Bend) currently in progress.

Pallamana Solar+Storage Facility

Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery
Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery (source: RES)

A 730 hectare site, which is currently used for cropping, could generate enough electricity to power 82,000 homes. This would result in co2 emissions decreasing by more than 140,000 tonnes per year. RES are planning to apply for DA (development approval) within the next month and then begin construction Q2 next year. 

The site is located in between Hillview Road and Monarto Road, just south of the Pallamana airfield and approximately four kilometres from Murray Bridge. It’s also adjacent to a power substation, (which you can see in orange on the picture above). 

No word yet on the specifics of the project but we’ll be sure to update you as soon as we know what sort of equipment they’ll be using. Of particular interest is the solar battery which hasn’t even got a size yet – so we’re not sure exactly what they’ll end up doing with regards to energy storage. 

The project is expected to create 200 solar jobs during construction and around 320 down the supply chain (accommodation, hospitality, cleaning, and so on). Hopefully RES hire as many locals as possible – there is a lot of solar talent in South Australia!

It’s not all peaches and cream for everyone involved, however – local aviation students have been known to make (infrequent, but necessary) emergency landings in the field where the solar panels will be installed and local residents told a meeting the rows aren’t wide enough for a light aircraft and they were concerned about what would happen in an emergency. 

Councillor Fred Toogood said the proposal was ‘exciting’ and that ‘we’ve got to be open to this sort of thing’ so we’ll see how they resolve the aircraft issue over the next month or so.

As per the Murray Valley Standard, if you’re a local and would like more information about the proposed Pallamana solar project, please visit www.pallamana-solarfarm.com or call 1800 118 737.

 

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Hydrogen energy storage in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage – French hydrogen specialist HDF Energy have announced their  Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais (CEOG) project, which will be one of the world’s biggest solar-plus-storage power plants. The $90m USD plant is expected to generate around 50 GWh per year and will store energy using hydrogen instead of the usual lithium-ion.

Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage - Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana
Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana (source: hdf-energy.com)

With an equivalent 140 MWh of energy stored, CEOG will be the biggest power plant worldwide storing renewable energy using hydrogen.  

The world’s current largest storage project, which was,developed by Tesla and Neoen in South Australia at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, has a slightly lower size – 129 MWh. It uses lithium-ion technology rather than Hydrogen. Neoen have also looked into alternative methods of energy storage, however – they are currently in the middle of building an “Electrolyser” Hydrogen Superhub at Crystal Brook in South Australia.

Hydrogen energy storage technology

According to the manufacturer HDF, the hydrogen energy storage tech has a number of benefits over lithium-ion, such as enabling the storage of energy for long periods of time with minimal loss. It’s a very simple process to store the energy as hydrogen – you just need an electrolyzer, storage tanks, and a fuel cell. 

Firstly the electrolyzer separates hydrogen and oxygen from a water molecule. The resultant hydrogen is then pressurised and stored in tanks. In the fuel cell the hydrogen is combined with oxygen, which then allows the production of electricity and steam. 

Hydrogen has been suffering a tough time of it as late as the efficiency is quite difficult to improve – typical ranges are from 75-80%, according to PV Magazine (click the link to read a fantastic, in-depth article about the future of storing energy as hydrogen). Further losses of between 5-35% result from compression and cooling of the molecular hydrogen. Even for on-site use or with a direct feed into the gas network, you’ll see conversion efficiency of around 70%. 

We need to continue the research to see if the efficiency of hydrogen can be improved and it’ll be very interesting to see what the numbers are from both the French Guiana project and the superhub at Crystal Brook. We’ll keep you posted! 

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Lyon Group – Global Solar Agreements

Brisbane based Lyon Group have announced three integrated solar and storage projects in Australia will be launched via partnerships they have signed with two overseas companies. The renewable energy developer has partnered with US-based Fluence and Japanese energy company JERA to develop large-scale solar+battery projects. 

Lyon Group’s Global Solar Agreements

Lyon Group, JERA, Fluence CEOs to announce partnership.
Lyon Group, JERA, Fluence CEOs to announce partnership. (source: Lyon Group)

Both JERA and Fluence are already joint ventures (JERA of TEPCO Fuel & Power Inc and Chebu Electric Power Co, and Fluence borne of Siemens and AES). The latter focuses on battery storage and service provision, and JERA would invest in the projects. Lyon will remain the project developer.

“This collaboration agreement is based on a shared understanding that the world requires low emissions energy systems that are also secure, reliable and affordable. Utility-scale battery storage solutions across new and existing generation plants will be a key enabler,” said David Green, Lyon Chairman.

The partnerships will be put to work with the following three solar projects Lyon is developing in need of some answers viz a viz their industrial scale battery storage solutions:

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the three solar power pants will generate 550MW when online at the end of next year. JERA are going to contribute over 10 billion yen (~$122 million AUD) to the projects, which will include a 100MW lithium-ion battery storage system at the Riverlands solar farm in South Australia, equal largest of its kind on the planet (the other 100MW battery isn’t far away – the Tesla Powerpack farm installed in South Australia last year as part of the Hornsdale Power Reserve)

We’ll keep you updated how this partnership progresses. Great news for solar energy in Australia! 

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Hyundai Solar Panels coming to Australia

Hyundai solar panels will be available in Australia this year after inking a massive deal with a local solar company. The Korean company will look to sell to the commercial and residential sector and will also look to install large-scale solar projects here.

Hyundai Solar Panels in Australia

Hyundai Solar Panels - Green Energy
Hyundai Solar Panels – Green Energy (source: Hyundai)

Hyundai Heavy Industries Green Energy have signed an exclusive deal with Queensland solar distribution company Supply Partners. The deal has been valued at $70 million and will see Hyundai HI return to the Australian market since it exited in 2011. 

Larry Kim, the head of global sales for Hyundai Heavy Industries Green Energy, said the company’s sales targets are ambitious – planning to sell 20-30MW of panels this year, and 40-50MW in 2019. According to RenewEconomy, they were only up to 10MW of panels when they exited the market. It’s important to note that the solar landscape has changed considerably in the last 7 years and that 10MW worth of panels certainly doesn’t represent the ostensible failure the numbers provide in 2018 terms.

Kim said the focus of Hyundai will be squarely on the residential and commercial markets. 

“Nowadays, the Australian market is growing very fast in all markets, but residential and commercial are more stable,” Kim told RE in an interview.

He also discussed their plans with regards to energy storage and how they’re going to roll it out to Australia – given that we already have such a high solar panel installation rate it would seem logical to enter this market as well. 

“This is part of (our) long-term strategy,” he said.

“We are focusing on the Korean market for energy storage systems first,” he said. “After that, (we will look at) the Australia residential market.

“But not in the near future.”

We’ll be super interested to see how Hyundai’s re-entry into the Australian market goes and will be sure to update you as soon as we hear anything more about the move.

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MS Tûranor PlanetSolar – Solar Boat

The world’s biggest solar powered boat, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, has been donated to the Swiss-based Race for Water Foundation. The €15 million boat was financed by a German entrepreneur, built by Knierim Yachtbau and holds two records: the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by solar boat and the longest distance ever covered by a solar electric vehicle.

MS Tûranor PlanetSolar

MS Turanor Planetsolar
MS Turanor Planetsolar (source: gearpatrol.com)

Tthe name Tûranor is an Elvish term created by J.R.R. Tolkien meaning “power from the sun.” Developed in 2010, the Swiss company PlanetSolar created the ship, which can travel around 5 knots. In May 2012, it became the first solar electric vehicle ever to circumnavigate the globe. Expedition leader and founder of the PlanetSolar project was Swiss eco-adventurer Raphaël Domjan.

The photovoltaic cells have a yield of 22.6 percent and almost cover the whole deck. Unlike the majority of solar panels, they can support the weight of a human: up to 80kg per square meter.

According to Autoblog, the PlanetSolar measures 115 feet long, 75 feet wide. It has a max speed of 16 mph and its 2 electric motors provide 60 kW of energy each. The boat has over 5,500 square feet of solar panels which supply power to 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries. All this and the boat is environmentally friendly and doesn’t produce any emissions (which means it’s perfect for performing experiments out at sea!)

As discussed, BusinessInsider is reporting that the boat has been donated to the Race for Water Foundation, who will use it as a mobile laboratory for scientific missions to raise awareness about renewable energy.

If you want to read more, the story of Tûranor PlanetSolar can be found in Kevin Desmond’s 280-page Electric Boats and Ships: a History published by McFarland Books.

If this was built in 2018, you wonder how much more effective it could be. We’ll no doubt see its successor at some point – it’ll be amazing to see how much more powerful our solar panel technology is!

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