UNSW’s Martin Green wins Global Energy Prize

Sydney professor Martin Green from UNSW has beaten out Tesla Musk to win the $820,000 Global Energy Prize for his work in the field of photovoltaics. Green will share the prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, who is an expert in the field of thermal power engineering.

Martin Green and the Global Energy Prize

Martin Green of UNSW
Martin Green of UNSW (source: Wikipedia)

Professor Green is Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW. According to the ABC he’s a leading specialist in both mono and polycrystalline ilicone sole cells, having invented the PERC solar cell (PERC cells represent just under a quarter of the world’s silicon cell manufacturing capacity (as of end of 2017)).

We’ve written plenty of articles about UNSW solar – they’re involved in general solar power research, have launched the SunSPoT solar potential tool, and they have also recently signed a 15-year corporate PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to become 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

In 1989, Professor Green and his team were responsible for the solar cells in the first photovoltaic system. In 2014 he was able to double 1989’s energy conversion efficiency of 20% to 40%. 

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs told the ABC that Professor Green had “delivered truly transformational outcomes in renewable energy for more than three decades”.

“Martin is a highly deserving recipient of this global prize and we warmly congratulate him,” he said.

“His fundamental and applied research has transformed the global energy sector and will continue to produce major economic and social benefits, both in Australia and worldwide.” Professor Jacobs continued. 

Professor Green said receiving the award was “a great honour”.

“The efficiency of solar modules is an area whose progress has been faster than many experts expected, and this is good news,” he said.

“We need to maintain the pace of research in Australia, not only to keep our international lead, but also to benefit society by providing a cheap, low carbon source of electricity.”

This is a fantastic reward for one of Australia’s solar stalwarts and we salute Professor Green for his ongoing work with solar power technology.

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Kiamal solar farm signs a PPA with Flow Power.

The 200MW Kiamal solar farm located near Ouyen in Western Victoria has signed a PPA for 25% of its output (50MW) – they’ll sell this power to Flow Power who will then offer it to their business clients along with power generated from the Ararat wind farm.

Kiamal solar farm

Kiamal Solar Farm - Flow Power
Kiamal Solar Farm – Flow Power (source: flowpower.com.au)

Kiamal solar farm also signed a deal with Total Eren, as CEO of Flow Power Matthew van der Linden sounded excited about when interviewed: 

“It’s really cheap,” van der Linden told RenewEconomy. “It’s well below the rates out in the market.”

“Because we have got a long term agreement with a large scale project and obviously they can offer a very competitive price around that.”

Total Eren will be responsible for construction of the as yet unbuilt solar farm – this will be the first Australian investment from a JV combining Total Eren and a renewable energy developer.  The farm will include more than 700,000 PV panels over almost 500 hectares of space, using single axis tracking. It also has approval from Mildura council for a 100MW/380MWh battery storage facility, according to Michael Vawser of Total Eren.

Another 50MW of the power was contracted to Mars Australia last week – allowing them to run their entire business (including six factories) on 100% renewable energy. Commercial solar continues to come along in leaps and bounds.

Lastly, Kiamal also signed a contract with energy retailer PowerShop (which is owned by Meridian Energy, New Zealand’s biggest utility company):

“This agreement secures our solar output for Victoria and we are also in final negotiations with projects for additional wind output in Victoria,” van der Linden said. “New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland should follow soon after, completing our first phase of projects and seeing us out for the year.”

The Kiamal solar farm will begin over the next 12 weeks and it’s estimated it’ll take around 12 months to reach completion. If you’d like to read more about the project you can see some more detailed information by clicking here

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UTS Solar – aiming to fully offset all energy.

UTS Solar and renewables – the University of Technology Sydney have asked for proposals from large-scale renewable energy projects as they’re hoping to enter into a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) in order to fully offset the energy usage of buildings developed under UTS’ $1.3b City Campus Master Plan program.

UTS Solar – City Campus Master Plan

UTS Solar Large Scale PPA Tender
UTS Solar Large Scale PPA Tender (source: Seb Crawford via uts.edu.au)

According to the UTS Newsroom, their goal is for renewable energy purchasing to meet 40-50% of the university’s entire needs by 2019. The energy requirements of the newest buildings at UTS will be fully offset and are a great representation of UTS’s ongoing commitment to sustainable operation. 

UTS Deputy Vice Chancellor (Resources) Patrick Woods was quoted as saying, “UTS has a strong record of innovation in energy, with Australia’s first offsite solar corporate PPA with Singleton Solar farm, followed by another in Orange NSW and Australia’s first district cooling connection contract with Brookfield Central Park.”

According to Vice Chancellor Woods, “Corporate renewable energy PPAs are a method for institutions to secure competitive and firm energy prices whilst contributing to our sustainability objectives. They’ve been particularly successful in the US for corporations seeking the benefits of renewable energy. The ACT and Victorian Governments, and Telstra have had similar success in Australia.” Woods noted that there are already a number of projects with DA, ready to break ground, but need a PPA for the generation so they can secure financing – so hopefully one of them can pair up with UTS and get started! 

UTS could purchase large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) and electricity for a 10-15 year period – and according to the tender, they plan on implementing the PPA within the next two years. As such renewable technology projects of suitable scale and in the correct phase (i.e. already under development/with development approval and awaiting a PPA) are being sought to tender. 

University solar farms are far from a new thing, with the University of Southern Queensland’s innovative solar carpark winning awards and saving USQ over $1m so far. Although UTS isn’t actually installing solar in this circumstance, it’s still fantastic to see them tendering for a PPA – they do have a lot of solar panels on the premises and support many different renewable endeavours – such as the Solar Stand and their Centre for Clean Energy Technology

 

 
 

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Telstra Energy – Solar farm built with RES Australia

Telstra Energy are backing a solar farm which will be built near Emerald in North Queensland at the cost of $100m. The telco have entered into a long term PPA (purchase power agreement) with RES Australia, who will operate the facility when it is built.

Telstra Energy & The Emerald Solar Farm

Telstra Energy
Telstra Energy

The single axis tracking farm will be built on 160 hectares and generate a huge 70MW of power – enough for 35,000 homes. The deal was announced yesterday – Telstra will buy the output (and the resulting renewable energy certificates (which act as a form of currency when validated)) from the farm, which will be completed in 2018. The Rnewable Energy Certificates (LGCs) are currently trading around $80/MWh and will help mitigate the cost of buying the solar power, given that wholesale electricity prices in QLD are around $100/HWh at the moment and, according to RenewEconomy, the cost of solar farms in QLD is around $70/MWh.

James Gerraty heads up strategy for the newly formed Telstra Energy division and told RenewEconomy that (the Emerald Solar Farm PPA) “…is about risk management. It makes a lot of sense for us.”. Meanwhile, Head of Telstra Energy Ben Burge (previously of Powershop Australia) gave the AFR some idea as to how they plan to use the power, saying “It’s a highly distributed, highly responsive source of energy which over the coming years we will look to make better use of in order to improve our resilience but also to address extreme wholesale prices in the market,”. No doubt they will use the backup power to sell when prices surge on the wholesale market and simultaneously protect themselves from larger fluctuations in energy pricing – a very astute risk management strategy. This will no doubt prove to be a sound investment and it will be interesting to see how far Telstra Energy take this new direction – they account for nearly 2TWh (2,000 gigwatt hours) of electricity per year so protecting themselves against rising energy costs whilst harnessing the falling cost of renewables is a no-brainer.

“We certainly will be looking at harnessing our own standby energy capacity in the wholesale market,” Mr Burge said, who said that, for example, he could see opportunities in the energy market for $300/MWh cap power contracts.

Watch this space for more news on Telstra Energy!

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