Hivve – Solar powered school classrooms being trialled.

Solar Powered School Classrooms are being trialled in two classrooms in NSW as part of a $368,115 grant from ARENA. The classrooms are built by a company named Hivve and will be built at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Holsworthy and Dapto High School.

St Christopher’s Principal Tony Boyd was quoted by Fairfax Media talking about the project:

“It’s an exciting prospect where schools can be a generator of electricity,” Mr Boyd said.

Hivve – Solar Powered School Classrooms

Hivve - Solar Powered School Classrooms
Hivve – Solar Powered School Classrooms (source: hivve.com.au)

According to their website, Hivve is an “advanced environmentally responsible education ecosystem that has been thoughtfully designed to create a flexible, accessible and healthy learning environment.”

According to figures from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), school classrooms use an average of 3,800 KWh of electricity, but Hivve classrooms will generate 7,600 net KWh. The school and students will be able to view the results in real-time via an online dashboard. 

A press release about the solar powered classrooms published on the ARENA website had a couple of quotes from CEO Ivor Frischknecht who said the solar classrooms can have a dual purpose, to edify the new generation about renewables whilst actually generating energy:

“This is a great way to get the next generation involved in renewables at an early age and educate them as to what the positive benefits will be as Australia continues its shift towards a renewable energy future,”

“The success of the Hivve project could lead to a nation-wide adoption of the modular classrooms, reducing reliance on the grid and even providing a significant amount of electricity back to the NEM.” Mr Frischknecht said.

Hivve Director David Wrench spoke about the technology and how it will be able to educate the students:

“We are very pleased to be partnering with ARENA on this exciting project. We have carefully designed every element of the Hivve classroom to create the best possible learning environment for students”, Mr Wrench said.

We’ve seen a lot of solar power at universities (e.g. UNSW’s recent pledge to become fully solar powered), but these are some of the first solar school initiatives – hopefully the first of many more!

Click here to view the media release by ARENA: Classrooms powered by renewable energy to be trialled in NSW schools

Australian solar cell research gets $29.2m grant.

Australian solar cell research has received a $29.2m grant from ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) – with 11 of the 22 projects currently sponsored associated with UNSW, who has been leading the way in Australia’s solar research for over 40 years. 

Australian Solar Cell Research

ARENA chief exec Ivor Frischknecht was quoted on the UNSW website talking about Australia’s solar research and how ARENA have been able to help with funding projects:

“In this funding round, the candidates and the calibre was so high, we actually increased the total funding we awarded to nearly $30 million,” he said. “This research will improve the technological and commercial readiness of new innovation in solar PV cells and modules, enhance Australia’s position as world-leaders in solar PV R&D and address Australian-specific conditions.”

ARENA’s latest funding round has seen UNSW granted $16.43m for 11 projects. UNSW’s research partner in ACAP (the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics), ANU, received  $7.89m for six projects, the CSIRO received $3.31m and Monash University got $1.59m.

UNSW and SIRF

Australian Solar Cell Research - UNSW's Solar Industrial Research Facility
Australian Solar Cell Research – UNSW’s Solar Industrial Research Facility (source: unsw.edu.au)

UNSW’s Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF) was created in 2011 as a $16m ‘turnkey pilot line manufacturing facility’ which allows UNSW to create silicon solar cells from lab processes to factory ready industrial processes. According to the UNSW website, architects Woods-Bagot modelled the outside of the building to mimic the pattern of multi-crystalline silicon solar cells.

Today, it’s a $30m facility aimed at advancing solar power technology – bringing UNSW’s solar tech to industry partners across the world. SIRF has brought over $8 billion in benefits to Australia over the past ten years – with gains of energy efficiency forecast to save Australians $750m over the next decade. It’s been the recipient of myriad ARENA grants and is a great example of Australia’s commitment to solar power research. 

Dean of UNSW Science Emma Johnston, discussing the grants, said: “At UNSW we are proud to have a long history of world-leading solar innovations dating back to the 1970s. But research is only one part of the puzzle. Equally as important is translating these world-leading ideas into commercially viable products.

“The SIRF facility we stand in today is evidence of this commitment – a place where we work hand in hand with industry to deliver solar solutions for Australia and the world,” Dr. Johnston added. 

Greatcell Get $6m Perovskite Solar Cell research.

Greatcell Solar has been awarded a grant by ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) to continue their research into producing perovskite cells for solar power generation. We’ve written about perovskite solar cells a few times this year – with the technology showing great potential and shaping up as an inexpensive alternative to conventional silicon cell technology. 

Greatcell and Perovskite

Queanbeyan-based Greatcell, formerly Dyesol, will spend $17.3m on developing a world-class plant which will scale up their manufacturing capability of high quality, large-area perovskite devices. ARENA will fund $6m of the project following a successful previous grant of $450,000 to continue work on the technology.   

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht released a statement on Tuesday about the second grant: 

“This has the potential to expand the applications for which solar can be used and to reduce costs,” Frischknecht said.

“We want to move perovskites closer towards commercialisation. This will help accelerate solar PV innovation in Australia, which is one of our key priorities.”

Greatcell Solar MD Richard Caldwell told RenewEconomy that they are confident in the long-term viability of perovskite in practical situations in the near future: 

“It has the compelling attributes of lower cost and greater versatility than existing PV technologies. In particular, it is suited to real world solar conditions,” 

“In the long term, this technology has the potential to provide a cost competitive and clean energy solution,” Caldwell was quoted as saying. 

Greatcell and Jinko Solar

Greatcell signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Jinko Solar earlier this year, which gives Jinko access to Greatcell’s perovskite solar technology. Their goal is to partner up and start manufacturing and selling perovskite-based solar on a large scale. 

Perovskite solar cells and Guanidinium

Greatcell Perovskite Solar Cells
Greatcell Solar Research into Perovskite (source: wikipedia.org)

According to Nature Energy, there’s been another breakthrough with the perovskite cells – incorporating the large organic cation guanidinium (CH6N3+) into methylammonium lead iodide perovskites has helped improving the stability of the perovskites (which are prone to decomposing over time – one of the main problems researchers are facing). 

With the addition of the guanidinium, perovskite solar cells are already working at 19% efficiency for 1000 hours under full-sunlight testing conditions – with silicon solar cells plateauing at around 25% due to the Shockley-Queisser limit. For that reason, we’re pouring money into finding an alternative to silicon solar cells – and it looks like perovskite has the potential to take over. Exciting times – watch this space and we’ll continue following the research and keeping you updated! 

 

Remote NT Solar hits 10 site target.

The Northern Territory government has reached its goal of offering remote NT solar to ten remote Aboriginal communities – saving the usage of over one million litres of diesel fuel and representing a $27 million dollar investment in renewable energy.

Remote NT Solar Overview

‘Tranche one’ of the program has been completed – according to EcoGeneration, it will generate 3.325MW at the ten remote Aboriginal communities – via the installation of 10,000 solar panels. It’s being jointly funded by ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) and the Northern Territory government; with its estimated cost over the full timeline of the program at $55m – in order to save the usage of 94 million litres of diesel fuel. The project has been managed by Power and Water and is called Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP).

Power and Water CEO Michael Thomson was quoted as saying “The completion of tranche one is on the trajectory to transform the way energy is supplied with hybrid solar and diesel power generation – …the state of the art installation of integrated electricity supply will reduce emissions and local pollution with fewer fuel trucks and barges visiting the communities.”

The current remote NT solar farms will provide approximately of 5000 kWh/day to power more than 570 households, with another 12 communities in line to receive panels, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Michael Gunner has advised. Ivor Frischknecht, the ARENA CEO, said “We’ve seen the benefits of renewable energy off the grid with mining and we know Solar SETuP can deliver the same results for Aboriginal communities”.

Remote NT Solar
Remote NT Solar (source: skynews.com.au)

As the installation of solar energy in the Northern Territory grows (despite receiving an average of nine hours of sunshine every day, year round, they have been lagging behind on solar PV installations), expect to see a lot more stories like this. It’s great to see the government and ARENA helping minimise the usage of expensive and polluting diesel fuel in favour of renewable energy. Have a read about the Dubbo Solar Project if you want to read more about solar power for Aboriginal communities.

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.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency Solar Grants – 12 Plants Reach Financial Close in April

Australian Renewable Energy Agency
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have reached a significant solar milestone with their funding of PV plants in Australia. As of EOM April 2017 all 12 plants currently receiving grant funding from ARENA have reached a “financial close”. A financial close refers to the fact that all plants are fully financed with council and environmental approvals. They also have agreements in place with regards to grid connection, construction, and engineering. Nine of the plants have already begun construction and, when completed, the 12 plants will generate enough renewable energy to power 150,000 homes. All together, the 12 plants will generate 468.8MW of solar energy – and this doesn’t count at least six more plants being developed without any assistance from ARENA.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht noted that the total cost of plant production has decreased by 40% over the last three years. The amount of grant funding required to launch large-scale solar projects has also shrunk dramatically – from $1.60/watt three years ago to just 28c per watt in 2017. In addition to this, there are at least six PV plants in advanced stages of development that have received no funding, an indication that the industry has advanced to a level where it’s financially feasible to develop solar plants even without any government intervention and Australia is well on its way to reaching our 2020 renewable energy target (large-scale renewable energy generation of 33,000 GWh)

The 12 plants received a total of $92m in grants from ARENA – in addition to $1bn provided by private investment.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Funded Solar Plants

The Solar Plants ARENA have funded and their capacity:

  1. QLD – Kidston Solar Park, 50MW
  2. QLD – Longreach Solar Park, 15MW
  3. QLD – Collinsville Solar Power Station, 42MW
  4. QLD – Oakey Solar Farm, 25MW
  5. QLD – Darling Downs Solar Farm, 106.8MW
  6. QLD – Whitsunday Solar Farm, 52.8MW
  7. NSW – White Rock Solar Farm, 20MW
  8. NSW – Dubbo Solar Hub, 22.4MW
  9. NSW – Manildra Solar Farm, 42.4MW
  10. NSW – Parkes Solar Farm, 46MW
  11. NSW – Griffith Solar Farm (Neoen), 26.4MW
  12. WA – Emu Downs Solar Farm, 20.1MW

Australian Solar Power could provide 30% of energy requirements by 2030.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) released a report on Monday which postulates that we could reach 30% of our electricity requirements through PV solar by 2030.  The 2030 Emissions Reduction Climate Change target is to reduce emissions by 26-28% (on 2005 levels) by 2030. If 30% of our energy is met through solar, we should also have a significant amount generated by wind (of the projected ~12GW of renewable energy we will have by end of 2018, 5.4GW of this will be wind power). This should put Australia in the driver’s seat in terms of meeting and even surpassing our emissions targets. Australian solar power is on an exciting and world-leading path.

Australian Solar Power ARENA
ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency)

Australian Solar Power Subsidies from ARENA

According to RenewEconomy, ARENA still has $800m in its budget to help fund renewable energy in Australia. At a function in Melbourne on Monday, ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht discussed how they will help over the next three years and advised that they are currently focusing on four main areas:

  1. Battery Storage / Grid Stability and Reliability
  2. Solar PV Innovation
  3. Raising Energy Productivity
  4. Exporting Renewable Energy

The main focus of ARENA’s budget will be on storage/grid stability and this is expected to account for around 50% of the remaining $800m over the next three years. Frischknecht was quoted as saying Australia is well on the way to a robust renewable energy economy – citing that our journey towards an “affordable and reliable” renewable energy grid is successful so far.

Ivor Frischknecht ARENA
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht addresses stakeholders (source: twitter.com/ARENA_aus)

Frischknecht also discussed the future of solar technology (both panels and storage): “This is the best time ever to be in this industry. It’s the most exciting time. If you look at the changes from 1980-2005 and compare to what has happened since, it is just breathtaking. And it is getting faster.” Noting that 75% of our current energy output is exported (via coal and LNG), he said that ARENA are exploring ‘vectors’ such as hydrogen, ammonia, and commodity refining/export as potential ways for Australia to make a profit from a robust renewable energy platform.

 

 

 

Portable Solar Tech SunSHIFT given $2.1m by ARENA.

The government have announced $2.1m in funding for portable solar tech (‘pop-up solar’), as per an announcement from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) last Thursday. This represents a step in the right direction in terms of replacing ‘dirty’ and expensive diesel generators with (for the most part) clean, portable energy solutions in rural and fringe-of-grid areas. These portable solar generators will be manufactured by a company called SunSHIFT, which has been established by Laing O’Rourke.

SunSHIFT Portable Solar by Laing O’Rourke

The money has been invested in a new technology which combines a PV system with battery storage. The system is also complemented by a diesel/gas generator as a backup energy source. The SunSHIFT portable solar machines will be modular 1MW blocks which could be used, initially, in tandem with conventional energy generation. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht noted in the AFR that this mobile solar tech could be particularly useful for short-medium term projects, where the relatively long payback period of solar energy would not be feasible.

“Projects that only last a handful of years, like construction and mining operations, could benefit from SunSHIFT without having to rely on the typical 20-plus year payback period for solar installations,” Frischknecht said.

The SunSHIFT blocks have also been lauded by Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg who was quoted as saying “This innovation means several locations can benefit from a single plant, without any one site needing to commit to a permanent installation.”

Portable Solar SunSHIFT Blocks
Mobile Solar – SunSHIFT Blocks (source: sunshift.com)

SunSHIFT Technical Specifications and more information.

  • Each 1MW block will contain 2400 (435kw) solar panels.
  • Each panels/inverter/transformer/storage unit will occupy ~1.25ha
  • Designed to fit in shipping containers.
  • Cost less than providing diesel power to regional sites (the transportation of diesel fuel can run up to 30% of cost of energy)
  • Targeted at mining companies.
  • Buy-out option available.
  • Click here to read a fact sheet from SunSHIFT about their product.