Summerhill solar farm commences construction.

The 5MW Summerhill solar farm will officially commence construction tomorrow – the farm will be located at the former Wallsend Borehole Colliery. 

Summerhill solar farm

Summerhill Solar Farm
Summerhill Solar Farm – Artist’s Rendition (source: smh.com.au)

All the renewable energy created by the Summerhill solar farm will be owned by the Newcastle City Council who will then be approximately 50% powered by renewable energy. 

Carnegie’s wholly owned subsidiary Energy Made Clean and JV partner Lendlease have been awarded the design and construction of the project, according to PV Magazine. It’ll be built on top of the former Wallsend Borehole Colliery. Read more about the tender here

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the solar plant’s cost is around $8m, with $6.5m of this provided in the form of a loan by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Initial modelling shows that this plant will save around $350,000 per annum, also noting that the city council’s cost of electricity has double over the past few years – making this a very attractive option to help offset the highly volatile wholesale price of electricity. It’s listed as ‘battery ready’ according to the Altenergy website. 

Nuatali Nelmes, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, discussed the project in a media statement:

“The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of all of our council facilities during the day, which represents significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings on electricity costs,” Mayor Nelmes said.

Further discussion shows that, although financial ramifications are very important, the eco-friendly nature of the project was ‘more than just money’:

“While cost savings are certainly a critical factor in our decision to build the solar farm, sustainability initiatives are about more than just money and our community expects us to be good environmental stewards,” Ms Nelmes continued.

This is a fantastic attitude and we look forward to seeing how well the SUmmerhill solar farm performs for the Newcastle City Council. More top news for council solar, which has been growing in leaps and bounds over the last 18 months. 

Read some more articles about council solar below!

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Vales Point Solar Energy Project greenlit.

The $117m, 55MW Vales Point Solar Energy Project was greenlit by the Department of Planning today.

Vales Point Solar Energy Project

Vales Point Solar Energy Project Location
Vales Point Solar Energy Project Location

The project is going to be built by Delta (who were bidding for the Liddell power station earlier this year) and will co-exist with the coal-fired power station at Vales Point power station. Work is slated to commence early in 2019 and the solar farm will be built over 80 hectares of a rehabilitated ash dam. 

Delta Electricity Company Secretary Steve Gurney discussed the impact on the national grid:

“Delta recognises that both dispatchable power and low emission technologies have a role to play in supporting an affordable, reliable and sustainable national electricity grid” Mr Gurney said.

The Vales Point solar projet is expected to create over 100 solar jobs over the 18 months it’ll take to complete and will run for a 25 year lifespan. This will also extend the lifespan of the adjacent Vales Point power station which will now operate past its technical closure date of 2029.

Clay Preshaw, the director of Resource and Energy Assessment as the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, spoke about the farm’s potential impact on Australia’s solar future:

“This innovative project is one of the first in Australia where large-scale renewable and coal-fired energy facilities sit side by side,” Mr Preshaw said.

Vales Point Solar Energy Project Submissions

According to The Herald, the project was on public exhibition for a couple of months and 14 submissions were received. One of those was from the Lake Macquarie City Council, who support the project going ahead, but raised a concern about the impact the project may have on coastal saltmarsh:

“With the exception of the coastal saltmarsh issue, it appears that the ‘baseline’ for impact assessment is reasonable, predictions of impact are robust with suitable sensitivity testing, the assessment considers how to avoid and minimise impacts, and the proposal includes all reasonably feasible mitigation options,” the submission said.

Other than that it looks like everyone’s happy – it’ll be interesting to see how this works in unison with the coal-fired power plant and which one is more profitable!

 

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Printable Solar Panels / Cells – A Primer.

Printable Solar Panels – at some point it may be possible to use a simple desktop inkjet printer to print your own solar cells. We’re a while off that yet, but with great advancements in the technology over the last couple of years, let’s take a look at what the future holds for printed solar cells!

Printable Solar Panels

Printable Solar Panels - University of Newcastle
Printed Solar Cells – University of Newcastle (source: abc.net.au via University of Newcastle)

We wrote last week about the University of Newcastle and their foray into printed solar cells – today we’re going to take a bit of a deep dive into the situation and see where we can expect this technology to go in the next few years. 

The University of Newcastle are reporting that their latest tests in Newcastle brings them “about two years” away from launching their product onto the commercial solar market. Leading the charge has been University of Newcastle physicist Professor Paul Dastoor, who created the electronic inks which are used to print the flexible solar panels.

The process is According to the ABC, semi-conducting ink is printed on a transparent plastic sheet for the first layer, and then layers are printed on top of the other, until the cells are about 200 microns thick. For reference, human hair is around 50 microns. After that, a “top contact layer” is done again, reel-to-reel, using a technique known as sputter coating, according to Professor Dastoor.

They estimate the cost of their modules at less than $10 per square metre which is extremely cheap – the main problems are the efficiency of the printed solar panels and ensuring there’s enough space for them as it’ll take quite a lot of room on a roof. They use a lot of plastic to manufacture as well so looking at ways to recycle the waste of printed solar cells is extremely important. For that reason, in six months Professor Dastoor and his team will pull the printed solar cells off the Melbourne roof they’re currently on and investigate ways to minimise environmental waste. 

 

 

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Printed Solar Cells | University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle has been able to deliver printed solar cells at a production cost of less than $10 per square metre. They are now powering a Newcastle business and showing results in the wild. Amazing steps forward for solar technology, and in our own backyard! How long until we can print solar cells at home using inkjet printers?

Printed Solar Cells – Breakthrough Technology

University of Newcastle physicist Professor Paul Dastoor has created electronic inks which are used to print the flexible solar panels – offering “unprecedented affordability” and could help solve the energy crises in New South Wales and Australia-wide.

“We are changing the climate, we know it’s because burning fossil fuels and we have to shift to renewables, even if leaders in Canberra can’t understand that,” he told AAP via the Bega District News.

“This technology has the potential to be enormously scalable … it’s fast, it’s low cost and doesn’t require anything special.”

The team are able to print hundreds of metres of solar cells at the Centre of Organic Electronics at the University of Newcastle. If a commercial scale printer were obtained, this could easily be upgraded to kilometres of cells. 

“The low cost and speed at which this technology can be deployed is exciting as we need to find solutions, and quickly, to reduce demand on base-load power – a renewed concern as we approach another summer here in Australia,” Professor Dastoor said.

 
Printed Solar Cells via Paul Dastoor
Printed Solar Cells via Paul Dastoor of University of Newcastle (source: newcastle.edu.au)

Around 200 square metres of the printed solar panels has been installed at an industrial site owned by logistics company CHEP in Beresfield, near Newcastle.

This is a fantastic step forwards for solar panel technology People who are wanting to install solar into a rental property or those who don’t have access to a roof (apartment solar) will be licking their lips at the possibility. 

According to Wikipedia, these printed solar cells have a few main drawbacks:

  1. The efficiency of inket solar cells is “too low to be commercially viable” 
  2. Indium is a rare material and could be gone in 15 years.
  3. The ink needs to be weather resistant and can survive harsh conditions.

It looks like the efficiency of Dr Dastoor’s printed solar panels is around 2-3%, but at only A$10 per square metre when manufactured at scale, it looks like these modules are certainly commercially viable, even if they’re not the most efficient cells in the world. 

In six months they will remove the test panels from the CHEP roof and have a look at recycling the material. Professor Dastoor and his team will also run some statistics on how well the printed solar was able to perform. We’ll keep you updated! 

If you want to learn more about flexible solar panel tech, please click here

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Newcastle solar farm to go ahead – Carnegie

Carnegie Clean Energy, who last week announced they will be building both the Kalbarri microgrid and the Kalgoorlie solar farm, have had another win today as their fully owned subsidiary Energy Made Clean won a tender to build and operate a $7m, 5MW Newcastle solar farm. 

Newcastle Solar Farm

Newcastle Solar Farm
Newcastle Solar Farm (source: Carnegie Clean Energy)

According to a press released they issued yesterday, Carnegie Clean Energy won the tender to install the PV solar + storage facility on a capped, former landfill site at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre in Newcastle. The project forms part of Newcastle Council’s plan to cut emissions by 30% by 2020 as part of the Renewable Energy Target. 

Carnegie’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Ottaviano (feels like we’ve been quoting him every day lately!) said, “We are delighted to have won our first utility scale solar farm project in NSW and our first to be connected in the National Electricity Market. This project brings the value of new contracted work for our joint venture to over $30m over the past 2 months.”

The Newcastle solar farm will be installed as a ground mounted fixed tilt system. It’ll have an optimised piling system so as to benefit as much as possible from the site topology and it’ll be modular – they are preparing for the future addition of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Carnegie have stated that the design phase has already commenced and plant commissioning is expected at the end of Q3 this year. 

Energy Made Clean “specialises in the delivery of mixed renewable energy microgrid projects to islands and remote and fringe of grid communities” and Carnegie is the “only company in the world to offer a combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids” – so it’ll be really interesting to see what their future plans are now that they have some big projects to work on! 

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