Walgett Solar Farm to supply 50% of UTS solar

The University of Technology of Sydney (UTS) has signed a PPA with the Walgett Solar Farm which will cover 50% of its energy usage.

Walgett Solar Farm

The $40m Walgett Solar Farm was approved by the NSW government last year – it will eventually output 32MW and is now reaching the next stage of its project lifecycle.

The farm is owned fully by Epuron, who will be able to commence construction on the project after signing this PPA with UTS.

“For our renewable projects to be able to attract finance and get built, it’s crucial to find suitable partners to become committed customers and provide certainty,” Epuron Director Martin Poole told PV Magazine.

“With the UTS commitment to purchase our clean energy output, the Walgett Solar Farm can move ahead and we look forward to commencing construction in the coming months.” Mr Poole continued.

The project is expected to be built in two stages with the first stage outputting around 15MW.

The Walgett Solar Farm will generate approximately 63,000MWh p.a. once complete – enough to power almost 10,000 homes in New South Wales. 

UTS Solar

Walgett Solar Farm
Walgett Solar Farm PPA will help power UTS (source: newsroom.uts.edu.au)

This is the third PPA UTS have signed to add to its renewable portfolio – their main goal, as we wrote last year, is to completely offset their energy usage with renewable energy via a $1.3b ‘City Campus Master Plan’.

“We are committed to finding sustainable solutions to reduce our environmental impact,” UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs said. “But we don’t just want to create improvement for ourselves, we want to change whole systems to enable others to also improve their sustainability. UTS has spent the last couple of years researching and creating an effective energy model to help reduce emissions while also supporting the continued growth of the renewable energy sector.”

They’ve installed six solar systems on rooftops at the UTS campus and, by 2020/21, are hoping to reduce their emissions 30% on 2007 levels. 

In other university solar news, the University of Newcastle is doing great things with printed solar cells.

 

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New South Wales solar feed-in tariff to drop by 44%

The New South Wales solar feed-in tariff is set to drop by 44% after IPART, the state pricing regulator, confirmed previously drafted cuts to the state’s feed-in tariff benchmark for 2018/19.

New South Wales solar feed-in tariff

New South Wales solar feed-in tariff IPART
Click to view New South Wales solar feed-in tariff changes via IPART (source: IPART.NSW.GOV.AU)

The regulator, IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulator Tribunal for NSW) advised in May that they will be recommending heavy drops in the tariff with the release of a draft publication entitled ‘Solar feed-in tariffs: the value of electricity from small-scale solar panels in 2018-19. 

It looks like the solar feed-in tariff drops will be going ahead – so let’s take a look at what this means for people with solar, and people without:

As per Renew Economy, IPART justified their slashing of the prices in advising that all customers would be affected if they didn’t act.

“We set the benchmark range based on our forecast of the average price that retailers would pay for solar exports across the day (weighted by solar output) if they were buying this electricity on the wholesale spot market,” the report, released yesterday, said.

“We consider that this is reasonable, and that a higher benchmark would lead to unacceptable outcomes.

“Specifically, if retailers were required to pay more than this for solar exports, they would be paying more than they pay for wholesale electricity on the NEM.

“As a result, retail prices for all customers would need to be higher to recover the difference,” the report continued.

Those who have already invested in solar are a little less magnanimous about the changes – with Shani Tager from Solar Citizens conveying her opinon via email to RenewEconomy: 

“The decision to cut the feed-in tariff punishes solar owners, it’s like getting a pay cut for working overtime,”

That particular analogy might be a bit of a stretch but it’s interesting IPART aaren’t considering the ‘social price’ of carbon like Victoria are currently doing. This has raised the ire of the Greens as well:

“If the NSW government are serious about supporting renewable energy then they should be change the criteria to assess solar feed-in tariffs to recognise the multitude of benefits solar energy brings,” Greens MP Tamara Smith said.

To sign off, IPART gave us a hint of things to come and how they plan to deal with the situation in the future:

“We consider that solar customers should be treated like any other generator in the competitive electricity market, which means that they take or pay the market price – and are not otherwise compensated or penalised for their impact on these prices,” the report said.

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NSW solar feed-in tariff halved for 18/19.

The NSW solar feed-in tariff is set to halve in 2018/19 as the New South Wales regulator (IPART) has flagged changes to its price guide, citing lower wholesale prices as the main catalyst.

NSW solar feed-in tariff

NSW Solar feed-in tariff 2018
NSW Solar feed-in tariff 2018 (source: ipart.nsw.gov.au)

IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal for NSW) released a draft publication entitled ‘Solar feed-in tariffs: the value of electricity from small-scale solar panels in 2018-19‘ on Tuesday. It sets the benchmark for exported solar back into the grid for 7.5c/kW rather than the 11.9-15c/kWh range we saw in 2016/17.

It’s important to note that this is merely a benchmark and supply/demand will continue to define how much solar export it worth. With the wholesale prices currently falling and tipped to continue in 2018/19, it makes sense to see the FiTs adjusted accordingly.

IPART justified their decisions by explaining retail prices would rise if they didn’t slow down the FiT given the rapidly sinking wholesale prices (the most recent forward contract wholesale price from the ASX is 7.4c/kWh):

“We set the draft benchmark for the all-day solar feed-in tariffs based on our forecast of the average price that retailers would pay for solar exports across the day (weighted by solar output) if they were buying them on the wholesale market,” the report advises.

“For 2018-19, our draft all-day benchmark is 7.5c/kWh. We consider this benchmark is reasonable, and that setting a higher benchmark would lead to unacceptable outcomes.

“In particular, if retailers were required to pay more for these solar exports than they would pay for wholesale electricity on the NEM, retail prices for all customers would need to be higher to recover the difference,” the IPART report continues.

We’ve written previously about the NSW solar tariffs with regards to retail purchase or electricity – there’s a large disparity between offers and we expect that to continue. Whether you are feeding back into the grid or not, it’s important to be across the solar deals so you’re getting maximum return from your investment / paying as little as possible for your electricity.

Any questions? Please ask below!

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Large scale solar in NSW to explode in 2018.

Large scale solar in NSW under the Berejiklian government is about to kick up a notch, as 11 large-scale solar energy plants have been approved in the last 12 months. 2018 is also off to a great start with the 500,000 PV solar panel, 170MW Finley Solar Project in the Riverina being approved. 

Large scale solar in NSW

Large Scale Solar in NSW
Large Scale Solar in NSW (source: smh.com.au via NSW Government)

NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin contends that NSW is helping lead the charge (for our money South Australia and Queensland are well ahead right not, but in any case) for solar power in Australia: 

“These projects will ensure our energy security and with many more in the pipeline, NSW is in a stronger position than other states,” he said.

Although NSW only has half the amount of rooftop solar PV as Queensland and South Australia (15% as opposed to 30%) – these figures are definitely a step in the right direction.

 According to Planning Minister Anthony Roberts quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, 1800 jobs have been created and the ten solar plant approvals in 2017 were double the 2016 number: 
 
The solar plants “collectively reduce carbon emissions by over 2.5 million tonnes, which is equivalent to taking around 800,000 cars off the road”, Roberts said. 
 
Estimates from the Smart Energy Council (an amalgam of the Australian Solar Council and the Energy Storage Council which occured late last year) project that 1.4GW of rooftop solar and 2.5-3.5GW of solar farms will be added to Australia’s solar arsenal in 2018, a massive increase from the record 1.3GW for both rooftop and solar farms that we saw in 2017. 

“With some of the best sunshine anywhere in the world and lots of good locations available, it is not surprising that NSW is up there with Queensland as one of the national frontrunners for new large-scale solar power projects,” Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, said.

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RES Australia propose two new solar farms in New South Wales.

RES Australia are seeking government approval for two solar farms around Mayrung, near the border of NSW and Victoria. They’ll both connect to the TransGrid 132kV – the grid for Mayrung area. The first farm, ‘Currawarra’, will be the biggest solar farm in NSW.

About the Projects

RES currently have two projects they are working on and will submit to the cancel later this year for developmental approval of the following:

Project 1: ‘Currawarra’ is a solar PV plant with 175MW of renewable energy. There will be 500,000 solar panels involved in the project and it will significantly dwarf the current largest operational solar farm in New South Wales – AGL Energy‘s 102MW Nyngan solar plant.

Project 2: ‘Tarleigh Park’ will be a smaller version of Currawarra – the plan is to generate up to 90MW with 250,000 solar panels. Tarleigh Park is approximately 20km south east of Denilquin.

Both plants will feed directly to the TransGrid.

About RES Australia

RES Australia
RES Australia

According to the project manager of Currawarra and Tarleigh Park for RES, Mike Whitbread, they are hoping to have the applications completed and submitted by September. If the applications are accepted then they plan to start creation of the projects in 2018. Currawarra will take approximately 1.5 years and the construction of Tarleigh Park is expected to be 9-12 months.

Whitbread was quoted in ShepNews.com.au about discussing the impact the projects will have on the region, especially during the construction phase:

“We recently completed the Ararat Wind Farm in Victoria and basically our workers filled the town’s accommodation during the construction phase. The workers stayed in town, ate in town and used the local facilities,” Mr Whitbread said.

RES Australia, as a subsidiary of the RES group in the UK, are already seasoned veterans in the renewable energy field, managing over 2GW in renewable energy projects over the world. They have recently completed wind farm projects in Taralga in NSW, and Ararat / Murra Warra in Victoria.

 

 

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