Hornsdale Power Reserve saves $8.9m in 6months

Hornsdale Power Reserve – also known as the Tesla South Australia battery, the 129MWh solar/energy storage battery has saved the state $8.9m in six months, according to Renew Economy and their analysis of spot market pricing in 2018.

Hornsdale Power Reserve

Hornsdale Power Reserve
Hornsdale Power Reserve (source: hornsdalepowereserve.com.au)

The cost of the Hornsdale Power Reserve hasn’t been made public, but at ~$800 per installed kWh the cost comes out to around $100m (with around $50m paid by the government), which fits the whispers we’re hearing around the traps.

The partnership between Tesla and South Australia was inked in July last year as Elon Musk and then-Premier Jay Weatherill decided on Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm as an installation spot. The Tesla Battery was then completed on November 24, ahead of its December 1 operation deadline (Musk made a bet with Weatherill/South Australia that Tesla would install the Powerpack batteries by December 1 or the project would be free).

According to an analysis undertaken by RenewEconomy and investigated further by Clean Technica, The battery saved $5.7m in its second quarter of operation. It bought power at an average price of $79/MWh and sells it at $191/MWh (a figure somewhat distorted by a very power-hungry January – with that month removed the price goes down to $141/MWh). The estimated savings for the full 2018 are expected to be around $18m. 

It’s important to note that the battery is still trading 30MW (of its total 100MW) of capacity so there is space to expand operations should the government be so inclined. 

If you’d like to read a more detailed account of how much money the Hornsdale Power Reserve has saved South Australia in 2018 click here to read Stephen Parker and Bruce Mountain of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre investigate the economics of energy generation/storage.

If you’d like to see more stats on how the HPR is going, price-wise – there’s a rolling 72 hour graph of each battery charge/discharge with spot price data available via this link.

 

 

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World’s biggest solar farm planned for Saudis

World's biggest solar farm - Vision Fund

Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank will team up with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to provide initial equity for the world’s biggest solar farm in Saudi Arabia. Softbank and the Saudi Arabians have said that their project will have a gigantic 7.2GW capacity in 2019 and this will grow quickly.

World’s biggest solar farm

World's biggest solar farm - Saudi Arabia
World’s biggest solar farm – Saudi Arabia (source: albawaba.com)

By 2030 they are hoping to have a titantic 200GW of power – this would take up a massive amount of the desert, equivalent to a million football fields, according to Renew Economy.

For scale, worldwide total solar deployment is around 400GW, with the current biggest solar farm in China (the Tengger Desert Solar Park at 1.5GW). Australia’s biggest is the 220MW Bungala Solar Farm in Port Augusta.

According to Softbank and the Saudi Arabians, the Saudi Arabian solar project will be built in two stages next year (in separate projects of 3GW and 4.2GW), and they aim to have 200GW by 2030. This would be a huge change to the country which currently uses 60% oil, as they enjoy the lowest cost of oil production worldwide.

For comparison, Australia only uses 20GW per year so this is an absolutely massive undertaking.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son say phase one will cost $5 billion, with $1b of this money coming from the Vision Fund and the rest will be through project-financed debt. 

The plant will be able to supply enough electricity for Saudi Arabia and ‘much of the middle East’ via exporting – with projected savings forecast to be up to $40b per year. The manufacturing of the solar farm in Saudi Arabia will also result in the creation of 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

Masayoshi Son says the projected will “fund its own expansion” so it’s really exciting to see how a project of this size manages to become profitable/cash flow positive so quickly – we’ll be watching it closely. This is the biggest project we’ve covered and it’ll be great to follow it along as it’s built and starts providing power to the Middle East! 

World's biggest solar farm - Vision Fund
World’s biggest solar farm – Vision Fund

 

 

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Australian solar installs new record in November

Australian solar installs reached an all-time high of 120MW in November, eclipsing the 100MW in October and the record of 110MW set in June 2012, which was ‘artificially’ (for want of a better word) inflated as it was the last month before Queensland cut off the $0.44c premium feed-in tariff. These are massive numbers when compared with the previous few years and a fantastic indicator for the future of renewable energy in Australia. 

Australian Solar Installs in 2017

According to RenewEconomy and The Green Energy Markets’ Renewable Energy Index, for most months in 2016 solar installs were below 60MW and January 2016 had a measly install amount of 45MW. The reason for the big drop in numbers was due to the end of the premium feed-in tariffs and also the federal government’s substantial cutback of the amount of STC rebate certificates it provided. This means the cost of solar (and payback period) increased substantially, dropping the number of installs and casting doubt upon the industry as a whole.

Over the past 12-18 months, however, there’s been a perfect storm of the gigantic rise in the cost of wholesale electricity, better quality and price of solar panels and storage due to technology advances, and excitement about renewable energy have helped raise the numbers of solar uptake. Public perception and interest in the technology due to such projects as the massive Tesla battery in South Australia, German company sonnen’s ‘free power’ offering via sonnenFlat, and the Powerwall 2 battery have all led to Australia’s domestic and commercial solar uptake reaching this all-time high.

Australian Solar Installs 2017 - sonnen's sonnenFlat and sonnenBatterie
Australian Solar Installs 2017 – sonnen’s sonnenFlat and sonnenBatterie (source: sonnen.com.au)

The Renewable Energy Index for October 2017 showed that Queensland leads the way for Australia, with jobs coming via renewable energy projects (both large-scale and rooftop solar) almost doubling over four months from 3,634 at the end of 30 June 2017, to 7,194 in October.

 Amazing news for solar contractors and solar installers – although things may slow down a little over the Christmas period we can’t wait to see what 2018 brings to solar power in Australia. 

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Ausgrid to buy solar power from Syd businesses.

Electricity network operator Ausgrid has reacted to ballooning infrastructure maintenance and repair costs by investing in a pilot trial for solar power. They’re offering to buy solar from local Sydney businesses in a trial area to see how renewables can help move a company, which has been called “possibly the least efficient network in Australia” (via Hugh Grant (no, not that one!) from the Australian Energy Regulator) into the future.

Ausgrid’s Solar Trial

Ausgrid Solar
Ausgrid’s $2m Solar Pitch (source: ausgrid.com.au)

Ausgrid, Australia’s biggest network operator, was privatized and sold to two Australian super fund managers late last year. Technically the deal was a 99-year lease of their assets, while the New South Wales government holds 49.6% and a consortium of IFM Investors and AustralianSuper holds the other 50.4% interest.

With electricity networks now utilising PV solar to cut costs and future-proof their businesses, it’s clear the cat is well out of the bag in terms of Australia’s energy future. 

Via a $2 million trial investment, Ausgrid is offering $250 per kilowatt for companies in certain Sydney suburbs (Auburn, Erskineville, Alexandria, Redfern, Randwick, Waterloo and Kingsford Smith, according to RenewEconomy) to install solar panels on the top of warehouses and industrial facilities.

A tender document noted: “We consider solar power systems and energy efficiency retrofit activities would offer permanent demand reductions over the typical network need period once installed.”

They hope to reduce grid demand and subsequently lessen the amount required to fix existing infrastructure – and if this pilot is successful Ausgrid could potentially roll the offering across their entire network, which spans Sydney metro, the Central Coast, and the Hunter Valley.

The future for Ausgrid and Solar Power

Now that they’re starting to realise the inexorable march towards renewable energy means adapt or perish, there are myriad pathways Ausgrid could take from here.

Assuming their trial project is successful, they could roll the entire 1.6 million customers into a bunch of microgrids, implement local energy trading, and they could also consider looking at further decentralising their grid – they could offer incentives for energy storage, not just solar panels. 

Whatever ends up happening, Australia’s solar power future is clearly starting to shine brightly when companies like Ausgrid start to turn to renewables to save money! 

 

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Hayman and Daydream Solar Farm built by First Solar

First Solar have won a module supply contract for Edify Energy‘s Daydream solar farm and Hayman solar farm in Queensland. RCR Tomlinson Ltd (ASX: RCR) was awarded the $315m contract for the farms and have decided to give the supply contract to First Solar, who now have over 500MW in the pipeline over the next 12 months. For their part, RCR have over half a Gigawatt of large-scale solar projects in their order book and over a Gigawatt currently being developed or progressed under early contractor involvement processes, according RCR Managing Director & CEO, Dr Paul Dalgleish talking to RenewEconomy.

Daydream Solar Farm and Hayman Solar Farm

First Solar - Daydream Solar Farm
First Solar – Daydream Solar Farm (source: firstsolar.com)

The Daydream solar farm will be 180.7MW and the Hayman Solar Farm will be 60.2MW – the two projects are located just north of Collinsville in North Queensland – in the Whitsunday region. According to ELP.com, they will use single axis tracking technology which has been commissioned from Array Technologies, and over 2 million advanced thin film PV modules from First Solar, to produce around 531,000 MWh of renewable energy every year.

Edify signed a power purchase agreement with Origin Energy for the Daydream solar farm’s output (they’ll also buy the renewable energy certificates), but the Hayman Solar Farm will operate as a merchant plant.

About First Solar and Edify Energy

First Solar, Inc. are an American based PV manufacturer of rigid film modules, or solar panels, and also a provider of utility-scale PV power plants. In 2009 they were the first solar panel manufacturer to lower their creation cost to $1 (USD) per watt. According to Wikipedia they produced CdTe-panels (cadmium telluride) with an efficiency of ~14% at a cost of 0.59 USD / watt in 2013. They’re the second largest maker of PV modules worldwide.

Edify Energy are an Australian renewable energy development and investment company who have led the financing and delivery of over 30 utility scale solar PV projects at a cost of over $1b. For the Daydream solar farm and Hayman solar farm, they won ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) funding last September under their large-scale solar funding round.

More good news for Queensland solar farms – construction on the projects will commence almost immediately – scheduled for Q3 2017, with module delivery to arrive in Q4 2017 and Q1 2018.

 

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Solar thermal power plant for South Australia

Big news out of South Australia today as Port Augusta is going to get a $650m solar thermal power plant to supply all the power needs for the State Government. It is slated to commence construction in 2018 and will generate 150MW of power. This is a major boon for South Australian solar and the industry as a whole.

Port Augusta Solar thermal power plant.

The plant, which is going to be named ‘Aurora’, will be built by SolarReserve over a three year period. According to AdelaideNow, the standard output under regular conditions will be around 135MW – it will be viable to raise this in peak periods if there are favourable conditions.

SolarReserve have agreed to pay to construct the plant and the State Government have agreed to buy its power over a 20-year contract. RenewEconomy have reported that the government will pay a levelised price of ~$75/MWh, and ‘no more’ than $78/MWh. The project will be created thanks to a $110 million ‘concessional equity loan’ from the Federal Government to SolarReserve, and will be able to store between eight and 10 hours of energy to facilitate power supply even when the sun’s not shining.

According to the CEO of SolarReserve, Kevin Smith, the solar thermal power plant will comprise of approximately 12,000 mirrors, each the size of a billboard (around 100sqm), arranged in a circle over 600 hectares. Each of the 12,000 mirrors will focus light and heat to the top of a 227m tall tower to generate up to 150MW. “Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility,” he said.

The ‘concentrated solar power technology’ will use the 12,000 mirrors (also known as heliostats) to send heat/light to a receiver at the top of the tower where moten salt stored there is heated to 565 degrees Celsius, generating steam to drive a single turbine. Since the project will include storage as well, it should result in a substantial reduction in wholesale price volatility, according to Smith.

The design is based on the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility at the Mojave Desert in Nevada, which has a gross capacity of 392MW and has a gigantic 170,000 mirrors (enough to power 140,000 Californian homes).

SolarReserve, based in Santa Monica, have already constructed a solar thermal power plant, with the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project a success (although it was taken offline for ~8 months over 2016/17 due to a molten salt tank).

“We are supporting this nation-leading renewable energy project because it will deliver more competition into our energy market and put downward pressure on power prices for households and businesses,” Jay Weatherill, the premier of South Australia said.

Watch this space to learn more about the project!

Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant
Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant (source: wikipedia.org)

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2 North Queensland Solar farms approved

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) has been approved to build two North Queensland solar farms in Clare and Tieri – to bring another 141MW of solar power to the sunshine state.

FRV and North Queensland Solar

FRV Logo - North Queensland Solar Farms
FRV Logo (source:claresolarfarm.com.au)

According to the Daily Mercury, the Tieri project will create 200-250 jobs during its development. It is a 96MW DC solar farm and will join another FRV farm in the same region – the 125MW Lilyvale Solar Farm.

With the additional approval of the 45MW Clare II Solar Farm in Burdekin (which will be constructed next to the Clare I solar farm) these two projects (Clare II and Tieri) will add 141MW to FRV’s current 281MW portfolio of solar farms in the approved, but planning stages. It’s going to be a big 12 months for solar farms Australia wide, but especially in Queensland where there has been a flurry of recent approvals (e.g. the mega solar farm at Bouldercomb, an smaller Longreach Solar Farm and many more). RenewEconomy data shows that there are 17 solar farms currently being built (or having reached financial close) in Queensland alone – and there are at least another 34 currently being planned.

FRV Australia Managing Director Cameron Garnsworthy said: “These recent planning approvals build on FRV’s track record of successfully working with local communities to achieve positive regulatory endorsement for its utility-scale solar projects”. They’ve previously been responsible for the succesful design and development of the Moree solar farm, the Royalla solar farm (both in New South Wales), and, as previously mentioned, the original Clare solar farm which is currently being upgraded. They have a proven track record overseas as well – FRV is a global developer of solar projects who have built utility-scale plants in locations as diverse as Jordan, Uruguay, India and Italy.

You can click here to read more about the existing 125MW Clare Solar farm which will potentially reach 150MW in its final design (On May 31 FRV sold it to Lighthouse Infrastructure and DIF who acquired a 50% equity interest each in the project).

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Solar Power in Australia reaches 3.2% in 2016

The Clean Energy Council released figures on Tuesday that show Australians’ energy needs were powered by renewables to the tune of 17.3% in 2016 – the highest since Snowy Hydro was completed 50 years ago. 3.16% of this 17.3% renewable energy was from solar power in Australia – a massive jump of 29% from 2015. According to RenewEconomy, it’s expected to grow considerably in both small and large scale solar PV production – putting us well on track to reach our Renewable Energy Targets (RET) for 2020.

Solar Power in Australia

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton advised that 10 major wind and solar farm projects were completed in 2016 and there are 20 more in the pipeline; he’s confident that we’ll reach our RETs with time to spare.

“Every month brings new project announcements. While total investment in large-scale renewable energy was $2.56 billion last year, $5.20 billion worth of projects have secured finance in just the first five months of 2017 and have either started construction or will begin this year,” Thornton said.

“Innovation continues right across the renewable energy supply chain and new technologies such as energy storage are beginning to get their time in the sun,” he was also quoted as saying. We assume the pun was intended.

Solar Power in Australia 2017
Solar Power in Australia 2017

The Australian Renewable Energy Target 2020

Some more takeaway statistics from the report:

  • Renewable energy provided 17.3% of all Australia’s energy in 2016 – up from 14.6% in 2015.
  • 6,750 battery systems were installed in 2016, 13 times the number installed in 2015.
  • Hydro is still far and away the biggest contributor to Australia’s renewable energy, comprising 42.3% of the total amount.
  • In 2017, building a renewable energy plant is now cheaper than coal and gas-fired power plants.
  • About half of the projects already underway or set to commence in 2017 are for large-scale solar, due to price per kWh nearly halving in the last two years.
  • Approximately 17,500 GWh of renewable energy was created in 2016 – as the Renewable Energy Target is 33,000GWh we still have a way to go but progress is looking positive.
  • Large scale solar is almost 50% of its cost two years ago and is slated to play a huge part in reaching our RET in 2020.

Click here to read the Clean Energy Australia Report 2016 in full at the CEC website.

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Carnegie Clean Energy developing a 10-megawatt ‘battery ready’ solar farm in Western Australia

Carnegie Clean Energy have announced the development of a 10MW solar farm in Northam, east of Perth in Western Australia. This project will be the first of what is planned as a nationwide rollout. Carnegie’s wholly owned subsidiary ‘Energy Made Clean’ and Lendlease will work together on the project after inking a clean energy partnership in December 2016.  The project is expected to cost between 15 and 20 million dollars, as per RenewEconomy. Funding has not yet been secured.

MD and CEO of Carnegie Clean Energy, Dr. Michael Ottaviano said “…ability to add utility scale battery storage is a new product offering we will integrate into our own solar farms and also to developers of utility scale solar farms as the technology costs continue to decline in the coming years.” The plant will include 34,000 solar panels over 25 hectares of land and will produce enough energy for 3,800 homes.

According to SBS construction will start later on this year and the farm will be operation by the end of 2017. On the back of this news, Carnegie Clean Energy Ltd (ASX:CCE) continue their strong performance on the ASX in 2017 – at close today (20.03.17) they are up 6.76% to 0.079.

Carnegie and the South Australian Energy Crisis

Carnegie have already been in the news this week as Dr. Ottaviano confirmed they were in talks with the SA Government over the spiralling energy crisis. Ottaviano said his talks with the government were in regards to developing a ‘…home grown, utility scale battery energy storage solution to the State of South Australia, and indeed to other State Governments across Australia’. Other local companies such as ZEN Energy and Lyon Solar Group have been linked to the project after Tesla’s boss Elon Musk advised his company could delivery the system within 100 days or it would be free.

Carnegie Clean Energy managing director Mike Ottaviano.

Dr. Mike Ottaviano of Carnegie Clean Energy – credit: https://thewest.com.au

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