Powering North Queensland Summit Recap

The Powering North Queensland Summit was held in Townsville last Thursday (August 31, 2017). It had some fantastic media coverage and over 200 companies were represented. It was a great event to show off how far solar has come in North Queensland since last year and was run as a joint initiative of the Australian Solar Council and the Energy Storage Council. 

Powering North Queensland Summit Recap

Powering North Queensland Summit 2017
Powering North Queensland Summit – Townsville, 2017 (source: solar.org.au)

John Grimes of the Australian Solar Council and Battery Storage Council told the summit that Queensland has $6.8 billion of investment in the pipeline. The 31 large-scale solar projects, four wind / solar / storage hybrid plants, and one pumped hydro project will generate more than 6 gigawatts of power, with the vast majority of them being located in North Queensland. It’s estimated that this represents around 3,200 jobs as well.

Grimes also said that that PV solar is now the cheapest source of electricity worldwide, where it, along with wind, costs around 30 AUD per megawatt hour. “We are getting to the point where the cost of solar PV is so cheap it’s basically following the cost trajectory for glass. The glass and aluminium frame are the most expensive components,” Mr Grimes said, according to the Townsville Bulletin.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also addressed the Powering North Queensland summit, discussing the $199m 300 hectare Sun Metals solar farm which will be built next to its $1b zinc refinery in Townsville.

“What we are seeing is private investment of $2 billion and $1.6 billion in north Queensland … upon completion Sun Metals will be the largest single site user of renewable energy. This is a unique project and is a great example of an innovative company investing in its future and North Queensland.”

Apart from the usual political posturing and petty point-scoring, Palaszczuk also highlighted the Government’s $1.16b Powering Queensland Plan, which hopes to provide electricity price relief for the state by investing $770m to offset the Solar Bonus Scheme. Other initiatives were also discussed, and the Premier reiterated the QLD Government’s commitment to a 50% RET (Renewable Energy Target) by 2030.

To read the premier’s full speech, please click here.

North Queensland Renewables Boom Interview

John Grimes of the Australian Solar Council and Rachel Watson, the GM of Australia Pacific Hydro, were also on Radio National last Saturday discussing the Haughton Solar Farm in Townsville and the other myriad solar projects currently in various stages of construction/planning across North Queensland. You can listen to the show on the ABC website by clicking here.


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QLD Solar Power – Statistics and Information

QLD Solar Power as a whole now produces more energy than the highest capacity power station in the state.

Queensland has 1,805mw of solar PV capacity created by residential and business – this is bigger than the 1,780mw the Gladstone coal fired power station produces. In March 2017, Queenslanders added 25mw of rooftop solar – thus breaking the record and overtaking the Gladstone plant. In Australia there are 1.5m solar powered homes and they generate approximately 50% of their own electricity. As the price of panels, inverters and storage drops lower and efficiency grows we will see this increase as a result.  The 25mw of PV solar was the biggest month for solar installations in Queensland since 2012 and the overtaking was flagged in a speech by QLD Energy Minister Mark Bailey last month at a battery storage conference in Brisbane. Bailey was quoted as saying “…the combined solar rooftops are now the second largest power generator, just behind the 1680 MW Gladstone Power Station”.

QLD Solar Power stats – now over 32% of homes

According to head of the Energy Storage Council John Grimes, “Over 32 per cent of homes in Queensland have solar panels on their rooftops, so it’s actually the biggest power plant in Queensland, which is a fantastic achievement.” Grimes also noted that there hasn’t been too much government subsidy in getting to this point (the old $0.44c / mwh plans were grandfathered back in 2012) and that “(reaching this solar milestone is) just about governments getting out of the way and letting cost-effective technology actually do its job”.

QLD Solar Power

QLD Solar Power (source: reneweconomy.com.cau)

The potential of solar for rural communities

On the ABC, Tim Latimer of Redback Technologies noted that “There’s many, many Indigenous communities around Australia in remote regions that pay upwards of 60 cents per kilowatt on energy because of the diesel generation costs.” With solar + storage now easily reaching 50% of that, there’s a massive amount of scope for outback Australia to embrace solar power and solar energy storage. At half the cost with none of the noise or pollution and no need for constant refilling, it seems like a no brainer. Hopefully this is something the government and companies can sort out sooner rather than later – for the benefit of everybody.

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Home Batteries in Queensland – A Look at 2017 (Queensland Energy Storage Summit)

As the pre solar monopoly of the energy companies starts to wind down and power returns to the consumer (sorry), there’s a lot of buzz about home batteries in Queensland and when they’re going to be viable for usage. According to the state government, Queensland has 425,000 houses connected to solar energy – the most of any state in Australia. Depending on your personal circumstances, energy storage still has a ways to go before it reaches anywhere near this number. The Queensland Energy Storage Summit met in February to discuss some of the issues pertinent to energy storage.

Queensland Energy Storage Summit Recap

An industry conference (the Queensland Energy Storage Summit) held on Wednesday February 17 provided a valuable insight into the state of energy storage in Queensland, how far we’ve come, and the steps that still need to be taken for Queenslanders to buy into the new technology.

Queensland Energy Storage Summit  2017
Queensland Energy Storage Summit 2017 – Sponsored By Redback

According to the conference there were 6750 Australian solar storage installations in 2016 and this is projected to reach 20,000 in 2017 – which leaves plenty of room for industry growth. High prices and consumer concerns are some of the barriers to solar storage uptake. According to Anthony Buckwell of One Stop Warehouse (A company fully owned by GCL which is a Chinese power company), a full install of the battery, panels, and transformers is currently an $11,000 – $20,000 investment.

Supply Partners director Lliam Ricketts proposed a government scheme similar to the Green Loans program (which allowed up to $10,000 for energy products). Ricketts also suggested the government consider creating an independent resource which would be responsible for educating consumers which storage options were available, what was safe, and what to look for in an installer.

Lastly, a great point from Jill Cainey of S&C Electric who noted that the sometimes fragile power network in remote areas could be mitigated by energy storage – “Utility-owned storage will deliver energy security at the lowest cost…because of scale and the ability to manage the assets appropriately” she said.

Queensland Energy Storage Summit 2017 – Keynote Speakers

  • Hon Mark Bailey, Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply, Queensland Government
  • Ian McLeod, Chief Executive Officer, Ergon Energy
  • John Phillpotts, Program Manager – Network Transformation Roadmap, CSIRO
  • Dr Christine Williams, Assistant Director-General Science Division, Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland Government
  • John Grimes, Chief Executive, Energy Storage Council

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