Community solar in Mayo | Solar Communities Program

The Turnbull Government’s $5 million Solar Communities Program will help community solar in Mayo – a rural electorate in South Australia. Four grants have been provided to local community groups to help install solar/energy storage systems and reduce their electricity bills. 

Community Solar in Mayo

Community Solar in Mayo
Community Solar in Mayo (source: Wikipedia)

According to energy minister Josh Frydenberg, there are four community groups in mayo which will receive grants through the Solar Communities Program, of which round 2 closed on June 7 and allows application for grants of up to $12,500 for rural solar projects: 

  1. Strathalbyn Woolshed received $8,897 to buy and install a 13.11kW solar pv system in order to help minimise their electricity bill.
  2. Nairne Oval Committee received $11,590 for an energy storage system to complement the existing 15kW solar system at the Nairne and District Sporting Complex.
  3. Macclesfield Recreation Grounds Committee received $9,790 to buy and install a 13.11kW solar system. This will supply ~75% of the ground’s energy requirements.
  4. Hill Radio received $10,249 to buy and install a 6.27kW solar system with battery storage to help minimise their electricity bill.

The Solar Communities Program is being delivered by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science in conjunction with the Department of the Environment and Energy. The initial round of funding saw more than $2.8m delivered to 218 community groups. 150 groups are expected to be helped throughout round 2 of the Program.

The Solar Communities Program

According to a press release by Josh Frydenberg and reposted on the Renew Economy site, the program “provides funding for community groups in selected regions across Australia to install rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV), solar hot water and solar-connected battery systems to reduce their electricity costs.”

Here are some other examples of community solar in Australia:

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SA Tesla Battery Plan – Election Fallout

The future of the SA Tesla Battery plan brokered between Elon Musk’s Tesla and Jay Weatherill’s is on unstable footing after the results of Saturday’s state election in South Australia, seeing Weatherill’s party defeated by the Liberals. But will it make much of a difference? How will the new party serve SA’s rapidly growing renewable energy industry?

SA Tesla Battery Plan
SA Tesla Battery Plan Future? Jay Weatherill and Elon Musk in happier times (source: SA Labor Facebook)

SA Tesla Battery Plan – What Now?

The incumbent Labor party, headed up by Jay Weatherill, lost to the Liberal party on Saturday night after 16 years of rule in South Australia. The new premier is Steven Marshall who seems quite keen on continuing the Labor party’s work on growing renewable energy in the state.

ABC Radio National Breakfast’s Fran Kelly asked Marshall about the plan to equip housing trust properties with Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries, and Mr Marshall said: “That’s not part of our agenda. Our agenda is 40,000 homes.” However, when pressed about the specifics at a later date, Marshall was a (little) more clear on the Liberals’ plans:

“We don’t know where that is but any contracts the [previous] government’s entered into — we’ll be honouring them, there’s no doubt about that. Any other items that they flagged during the election, we’re happy to look at it but we’ve got our own energy policy agenda and we’ll be rolling that out as a priority.”

We wrote earlier this year about the South Australian solar loan program which both parties had different versions of a renewable energy push for the state – Labor were offering $100m for solar loans in South Australia. Up to 10,000 South Australian homeowners could access up to $10,000 for loans for solar panels, batteries, or both – with the loans interest free for the first 7  years. There was talk of the solar batteries offered in this scheme to be 100% manufactured by Tesla. 

In contrast Steve Marshall’s Liberals had the same amount of expenditure – on a bigger scale, with a smaller amount per household – their $100m plan was to provide grants of $2,500 per household for 40,000 dwellings. Mr Marshall argued at the time that 10,000 households was not enough to ‘shift the dial’, speaking about the rapidly increasing cost of electricity. The Liberals haven’t mentioned Tesla specifically and Marshall doesn’t have the same close relationship as Weatherill had with the enigmatic Elon Musk – but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Marshall is clearly keen to move forwards on renewable energy and whether he chooses Tesla or one of the Powerwall 2 alternatives as their energy storage battery of choice may not matter so much.

We’ll keep a close eye on how the Marshall government moves forwards with the SA renewable energy initiatives and keep reporting in! 

 

 

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Tempus Energy partner with Origin in SA

UK based clean-tech startup Tempus Energy is expanding into Australia, according to a press release that notes they will be partnering with Origin Energy to pilot ‘flexible energy demand’ in South Australia over the next few months. Their software uses machine learning to maximise savings for customers – analysing data from modern BMS (Building Management Systems), battery storage devices (e.g. the Tesla Powerwall 2), and more – in order to minimise the amount of money spent on electricity. 

South Australia will now have an opportunity to try this software platform out – no word yet on how it will be rolled out in conjunction with Origin but it appears it’ll be a new business model for Tempus. They previously ran a UK supply business which was closed down last year in favour of focusing on countries with “transparent and open wholesale markets”. Will be interesting to see how the offer ends up for the end-user. 

Tempus Energy
Sara Bell of Tempus Energy at “Free Electrons” Startup Accelerator (source: tempusenergy.com)

Tempus Energy in Australia

Tempus, founded by current CEO Sara Bell in 2012, has 11 employees (according to their LinkedIn company profile) and is active in the UK, Australia, and Sweden. According to their pitch from the ‘Free Electrons Pitch Off’, Tempus’ offering is a ‘machine learning software that forecasts the closing electricity market price before market closure. The software processes data in real time and combines market forecasting with the ability to predict electricity usage and understand how flexible assets perform in different conditions in order to minimise electricity cost and maximise use of renewable generation’.

Sara Bell was quoted as saying: “Tempus Energy is delighted to be partnering with a forward-thinking energy company like Origin. We are looking forward to helping them explore the benefits and challenges of new flexible energy demand solutions and how this can contribute towards the transition to a lower carbon, stable energy system that can deliver tangible benefits to customers.

You can view Sara Bell’s elevator pitch for Tempus Energy below – we’ll follow their partnership with Origin closely and be sure to update you as soon as there’s news on how you can take advantage of their service! 

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Musk slams SA energy security target.

Despite the Tesla South Australia battery partnership currently being undertaken, Elon Musk’s Tesla has rubbished the South Australian government’s planned SA energy security target, saying it will “hold back technology innovation whilst incentivising incumbent technology … imposing barriers on innovation by excluding rapidly evolving fast response technologies”.

Tesla’s Mark Twidell wrote a submission to the government where Tesla expressed their dissatisfaction with the target, saying “We do not feel that the draft regulations and supporting consultation paper are representative of the current South Australian position as leaders and innovators in the renewable energy space”.

SA Energy Security Target Musk Weatherill
Happier times: Jay Weatherill and Elon Musk before the SA Energy Security Target was announced.(source:theadvertiser.com.au)

SA Energy Security Target

Multiple major organisations have harshly lambasted the SA energy security target, which is planned to commence on January 1 and will require retailers to buy 36% of their power from South Australian sources. This number will rise to 50% by 2025 and, according to Nyrstar, who made a submission to the government about the target, “given the generation market structure and in particular the high concentration of generation in South Australia and the high underlying cost of the predominant fuel (gas), it is debatable whether the scheme will be effective at reducing pricing due to these factors”.

As per an article from the ABC, other submissions range from urging caution because it may not lower wholesale prices, to killing off plans for a new interconnector which was slated to feed power into the state. Momentum Energy said implementation of this energy security target is “unlikely to have any downward pressure on prices, and will instead become a pure pass-through to customers”. Origin Energy called the legislation “unclear”, and Alinta Energy posited that such a scheme could add $100 to an average bill.

For their part, the government stood by the legislation, with the Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis advising in parliament on Tuesday that it will lead to “lower wholesale electricity prices”, and will in turn “incentivise more generation”. No word on how exactly that will happen but we’ll undoubtedly hear more from all sides in the coming months. Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan noted that “even” the Greens were critical of the plan, labelled the government’s energy policy as “chaotic” and called for independent economic modelling before “inflicting further pain on long suffering South Australian businesses”.

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Tesla South Australia battery partnership

A massive boon for South Australian solar today as Tesla’s Elon Musk and the South Australian government have paired with Neoen to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. The Tesla South Australia partnership will be a world first and comes off the back of a bunch of Twitter banter in March 2017 between Musk and various Twitter users (initially spearheaded by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes), where he mentioned he is in discussions with the Premier about installing large scale solar in South Australia.

Tesla South Australia to create world’s biggest battery

The project will be 100MW (or 129MWh) and according to Musk on Twitter earlier in the year, it’ll be installed ‘within 100 days from contract signature or it is free’ – so we’ll be seeing the battery live and working this year! Jay Weatherill, the Premier of South Australia, was quoted as saying  “Battery storage is the future of our national energy market, and the eyes of the world will be following our leadership in this space”.

According to Nick Harmsen on Twitter, the battery will be built alongside Neoen‘s Hornsdale wind farm (currently 315MW), which is in Jamestown (mid-north South Australia). More details of the partnership coming straight from Heatherill’s office are embedded in the Tweet below:

The deputy CEO of Neoen, Romain Desrousseaux, said the project will highlight how large scale storage is now “commercially viable” and will also be able to provide “dependable, distributable power” – which was one of the main problems last year when South Australia suffered numerous lengthy blackouts, including last September when a freak storm damaged transmission lines. According to Weatherill and the ABC, the government had about 91 international bidders for the battery project, which could be used in the future to avoid load-shedding summer blackouts when electricity demand outstrips supply. Solar power (albeit as ‘energy storage’) being used to provide stability for the power grid is a new concept – and we’re very excited to see how it helps the festival state.
Elon Musk Tesla South Australia Partnership
Elon Musk announces the Tesla South Australia Partnership (source: ABC)

Tesla’s Musk was quoted today at a press conference at the Adelaide Oval as saying “It’s a fundamental efficiency improvement to the power grid, and it’s really quite necessary and quite obvious considering a renewable energy future”.

Tesla / South Australia Battery Partnership Reception

In an opinion piece for The Advertiser, Redflow CEO Simon Hackett has said South Australia’s 129 MWh Tesla project sets up the state as a world leader in battery storage. He also noted that it ‘confirms the integral role that batteries will play in the successful exploitation of renewable energy sources’.

 

 

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