World’s largest solar + storage project in Florida

The world’s largest solar + storage project will be built in Florida – the 409MW facility will boast world-leading specs. Let’s take a look at the project:

World’s largest solar + storage project in Florida

Florida Power & Light (FPL), a state owned utility which is owned by NextEra Energy, will build the world’s largest solar + storage project in Manatee Country in southwest Florida.

According to RenewEconomy, the FPL says its Manatee Energy Storage Center (to be created alongside existing FPL solar plant in Manatee County) will be built in southwest Florida. The storage capacity of 409 MW and be able to output 900 MWh of electricity – the equivalent of powering 329,000 homes for 2 hours.

“This is a monumental milestone in realizing the full benefits of solar power and yet another example of how FPL is working hard to position Florida as the global gold standard for clean energy,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL in quotes on the FPL 

“Even as we aggressively execute on our plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030, we never lose sight of finding innovative ways to bring our customers the benefits of solar energy, even when the sun’s not shining.” he continued.

“Replacing a large, aging fossil fuel plant with a mega battery that’s adjacent to a large solar plant is another world-first accomplishment and while I’m very pleased of that fact, what I’m most proud of is that our team remained committed to developing this clean energy breakthrough while saving customers money and keeping their bills among the lowest in the nation.” Silagy finished. It sounds like a fanstatic goal and we’re super excited to see if they’re able to reach it.

Even though we usually report about Australian solar goings-on, this was too good to pass up. Great news for Nextra Energy, Florida Power & Light, Manatee Country, and for the world as a whole. The revolution continues.

“FPL is pioneering a clean energy revolution for our state that’s come full circle for our community,” said Stephen Jonsson, who is the chairman of the board of County Commissioners in Manatee County.

The growth of solar + storage projects has been helped by significant cost reductions in battery storage. The latest Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCoE) figures published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance last week which showed that the LCoE for lithium-ion batteries dropped 35% in 2018 to US$187/MWh.

We’ll keep you posted on any updates!

 

 

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Bifacial solar panels for commercial solar.

Vicinity Centres, who will provide 31MW of clean energy to 22 shopping centres and their retailers by the end of the year, is trialling bifacial solar panels to see how that will affect their choices for stage 3 of Vicinity’s solar program.

Bifacial solar panels for commercial solar.

According to an article in PV Magazine, the first bifacial panels were installed at Kurralta Central Shopping Centre to get a better yield from their available roof space. Initial tests showed 6-8% to 16-18% increased output (they tried a bunch of different locations and coatings on the roof to maximise output). 

 “It’s early days,” said Renae Sambrooks, General Manager of Energy and Commercial Management for Vicinity, “but results from Kurralta made us feel confident enough to install bifacials in three more centres.

“Over the next few months results of those trials will help us make decisions around our Stage 3 solar program,” she said in comments quoted in PV Magazine.

We’ve reported fairly comprehensively about Vicinity Centres and solar investment in the past – we’re also taken a look at the Stockland shopping centres and their commercial solar investment.

“As of today,” Sambrooks said, “we’ve produced 2.5MWh of clean energy from 13MW of installed capacity and we’re in the process of constructing the next 18 MW, which will be completed by the end of 2019.”

There are a few other bifacial solar panels available:

An article in Green Tech Media notes that the bifacial PERC modules can boost performance by a staggering 27%. 

The Bifacial Solar Panels at Kurralta are one of the first steps Vicinity Centres are making to end up with their 31MW of renewable energy output – Sambrooks discussed the long term goal:

“Our vision was to create intelligent energy destinations. We’re not just whacking solar panels on roofs. It’s a long-term investment and we’re always thinking how we can sweat the solar installations and all our other energy initiatives to make a return.”

Still very early days, so we’ll keep you updated how they go with the testing and what Vicinity decide to do with regards to commercial solar panels.

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New England Solar Farm

UPC Renewables Australia is developing the New England Solar Farm, a major grid-connected solar farm in the Uralla Shire. Let’s take a look at the project and some of the opposition it’s currently up against.

New England Solar Farm

New England Solar Farm (source:newenglandsolarfarm.com.au)
New England Solar Farm Proposed Location (source:newenglandsolarfarm.com.au)

The 2700ha project will be 600-800MW depending on what approval UPC are able to get from the Uralla Shire Council. They’ve promised $150,000 – $200,000 a year for 25 years for the local community to go towards funding, partnerships, education, tourism and more. 

According to the official website, up to 500 jobs will be made during the construction of the solar farm (around 36 months) and if the New England Solar Farm ends up with battery storage (which is looking very possible), more jobs will be created. 

The farm is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power around 250,000 homes in New South Wales.

New England Solar Farm Opposition

We’ve seen a bit of solar farm opposition lately – it’s good to see companies being held to account, but the legitimacy of the claims seem to vary quite widely. The proposed New England Solar Farm has resulted in the creation of The Uralla, Walcha Community Action Group for Responsible Solar and Wind Development, a group of residents who would like the southern side of the project to be cancelled, citing social, economic and environmental impacts.

“It’s obvious that the north west more than anywhere else in the state has more at risk,” the group’s advisor Mark Fogarty said in comments repeated by the Northern Daily Leader.

“Therefore it’s imperative that the community entrust with the councils the right planning authority to ensure the balance between development and community interest.”

In response, UPC Renewables have reduced the project’s southern area by 50%, according to Killian Wentrup from UPC. 

“Landowners across the proposed site and many others in the wider community support our plans and the benefits it can bring to Uralla,” he said. 

As another example, the Bookaar solar farm was rejected last year. There’s no news on reapplying on their website, with a news article on their site noting that the Corangamite Shire will ‘miss out on local jobs and $150m of investment’. It’s a bit of a touchy subject as there are certainly some farms which need to go back to the drawing board before they’re approved, but there is also a surfeit of NIMBYs with some…interesting ideas as to what people should be able to do with their own property. 

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Solar in Esperance – Micro Power Systems Coming.

Solar in Esperance – Micro Power Systems will be installed across 14 properties this year to help stabilise their grid and offer access to renewable energy.

Solar in Esperance

Solar in Esperance, WA has been an issue for a while as the existing powerlines are easily downed – winds, trees, or lightning strikes can make for some very expensive repairs. 

Esperance its a town on the south coast of Western Australia. The McGowan Government in Western Australia has proposed that 13 Micro Power Systems (MPS) be installed in the area, in order to deliver a “safer, more cost efficient and reliable power supply to remote customers in the Esperance region”, according to the official media statement on the Government of Western Australia website.

Rural solar is a big issue in Australia so it’s fantastic to see governments working on combating this by offering modern solutions. The MPS’ will be supplied by state-owned corporation Horizon Power who are currently tasked with supplying energy to 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses over a whopping 2.3 million square kilometres, according to Solar Quotes. The MPS devices include solar panels, battery storage and a backup diesel generator in case the battery is empty and the sun’s not shining. 

Energy Minister Bill Johnston provided some quotes on his website with regards to the new plan:

“The MPS project for Esperance highlights the McGowan Government’s commitment to transitioning to renewable energy technologies at the lowest cost possible to taxpayers.

“These farmers are at the fringe of the power grid, east of Esperance and the Condingup area, where reliability isn’t as good and power outages take longer to restore” Minister Johnston said.

“The MPS will provide the farmers with more reliable and safe power that will cost the State less to provide.”

Solar in Esperance - Energy Minister Bill Johnston
Solar in Esperance – Energy Minister Bill Johnston

CPS National, an Australian company with over 20 years of experience in critical power and remote area power solutions, will deliver and install the systems.

Construction the on micro power systems will begin in April and is expected to be completed, with the systems fully operational, by the end of this year. 

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the company installing these MPS’, I have embedded a video about CPS below.

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Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications.

Tesla in 2019 – As the company rockets towards uncharted waters it’s very difficult to predict what Tesla will do in 2019. 

Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications?

Tesla in 2019 - Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)
Tesla in 2019 – Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)

Electrek are reporting that Tesla announced they are unveiling the Model Y solar car on March 14 – an ‘all-electric crossover based on the Model 3’. It’ll be announced in Los Angeles at Tesla Design Studio in Hawthrone, California. 

A shareholder’s letter released last month for Q4 2018 notes that ‘volume production’ of the Model Y should commence by the end of next year (and it’ll probably be done at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada).

“Additionally, this year we will start tooling for Model Y to achieve volume production by the end of 2020, most likely at Gigafactory 1.”

Tesla confirmed their plans for Model Y production at Gigafactory 3 in China at a ground-breaking ceremony back in February.

Although the Tesla electric cars aren’t necessarily to do with solar power per se, Tesla’s impending success or lack thereof relies fairly heavily on these devices. CEO Elon Musk needs the electric cars to succeed to ensure the company has enough money to work on its myriad other projects. They have a lot of competition from other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi who will likely announce their electric automobiles this month.

Some concerns are the Model Y totally cannibalising the Model 3 sales – with the $35,000 Model 3 and the Model X now only available online to lower costs for the financially embattled company. Their shares fell almost 10% last Friday amidst the slew of announcements. 

With regards to solar, Tesla’s main projects are the Powerwall 2, the Tesla solar roof, the commercial scale solar battery storage Tesla Powerpack 2, and potentially the announcement of a Tesla Powerwall 3 release date. To be frank it’s a bit concerning to see all the blood in the water around Tesla right now – let’s cross our fingers for some great results in 2019 for the company. 

 

 

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