Alexandra Canal transport depot solar+storage

The Alexandra Canal transport depot was officially opened by Sydney Lord mayor Clover Moore on Wednesday. It’s powered by 1,600 PV solar panels and also includes a Tesla Powerwall/Powerpack battery which has 500 kWh of energy. It represents the first time solar has been combined with large-scale energy storage in NSW – just like Tesla’s South Australia battery venture earlier this year. 

Alexandra Canal transport depot solar

Alexandra Canal transport depot  solar
Alexandra Canal transport depot solar (source: SMH.com.au / Supplied)

The Alexandra Canal transport depot will have the first government-installed Tesla battery for NSW – following suit from Victoria and South Australia who have already got similar setups. Lord mayor Moore took a look at the facility this week and had some high praise and explanation for the government’s future renewable plans:

“Growing the uptake of renewable energy is critical in combating the worst impacts of climate change,” Ms Moore said, adding:

“We’re working towards a target of 50 per cent of all electricity in the City of Sydney area to come from renewables by 2030.

“To help us achieve that target we’re covering the roofs of our properties with as many solar panels as possible. By mid-2021, we expect to have more than 7800 solar panels on the roofs of our properties. As the mix of storage and generation on our electricity grid changes, solar solutions like this could provide reliability and resilience to our electricity network and potentially prevent blackouts,”

The Tesla Powerpack batteries will be remotely managed by TransGrid and will be the first cab off the rank for a plan which will see Sydney install 1.5MW of battery storage on top of council buildings – with the goal of making their city 50% renewable in the short term. 

TransGrid boss Paul Italiano discussed the project with the Sydney Morning Herald:

“This initiative with the City of Sydney will afford the depot a significant amount of energy self-sufficiency while also sharing benefits with the wider community through the electricity network,” Mr Italiano said.

“By partnering with a site where this service is needed, we can support the City of Sydney’s renewable energy goals and reduce the cost of the council’s depot.”

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Beryl Solar Farm reaches financial close.

First Solar have reached a financial close at the 87MW Beryl solar farm in New South Wales. The farm will be one of the world’s first to use First Solar’s Series 6 modules (with 420+ watts per module) and will be constructed by Downer EDI. 

Beryl Solar Farm – Construction and Financial Close

Beryl Solar Farm
Beryl Solar Farm (site: firstsolar.com.au)

Beryl is around five km from Gulgong in central west NSW. This is one of NSW’s biggest completed solar farms but there are some upcoming projects which will dwarf it (such as the 200MW Sunraysia solar farm in Balranald or the $380m Gunning Solar Farm – with solar there are always bigger plans in place!).

According to a press release on Reuters, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract is worth about $150m and construction will commence soon.

TransGrid’s head of business growth Richard Lowe discussed how they will be able to integrate into the project: “The project is located approximately 250 metres south of TransGrid’s Beryl Substation, so we have been able to offer a very competitive and attractive asset connection plan to First Solar,” Lowe said in a statement on the TransGrid website.

“The Beryl Solar Farm will connect directly into TransGrid’s high-voltage electricity transmission network via a 66kV connection to a new bay at Beryl Substation.

“This connection will allow the export of 87 megawatts of power into the National Electricity Market – enough to serve the needs of approximately 25,000 average NSW homes, while the associated carbon emission displacement is equivalent to taking about 45,000 cars off the road.” the statement from TransGrid continued.

TransGrid will oversee the construction and operation of a new substation at the Beryl solar farm so they’re able to then connect that to the existing Beryl substation. This will happen in the second half of the year. 

If you’d like to learn more about the Series 6 module please click here to watch a video on the manufacturing process. 

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Global investment in solar power in 2017

The United Nations are reporting that global investment in solar power in 2017 was substantially higher than any other energy source, with a massive 45% of the investment coming from China. Let’s investigate this a little deeper and see what some industry professionals have to say.  

Investment in Solar Power

In a record-breaking year, the 98GW of new solar capacity is higher than any other tech, including other renewables like wind or water turbines, nuclear or fossil fuels. There’s 6GW of this going to Australia – Iain MacGill from UNSW discussed the massive increase in Australian domestic solar via the ABC:

“We have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin,” Dr MacGill said.

“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market.”

Professor Ulf Moslener from the Frankfurt School UNAP Centre discussed China’s huge $126 billion investment in solar power, where air pollution currently kills around a million people per year:

“The costs are still falling which makes the dominance in investment terms in China even more thrilling,” he said.

The director of ANU’s Energy Change Institute, Ken Baldwin, said there’s still plenty of room to grow and that the next ‘decade or two’ will see the closing of all Australian coal-fired plants: 

“What will be interesting to see is whether this can be maintained,” Professor Baldwin said.

“There was 6 gigawatts of solar, both residential and commercial installed in [Australia] in 2017.

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$380m Gunning Solar Farm proposed for NSW

Photon Energy are proposing to build a $380 million, 316MW PV Gunning solar farm – about 75km north of Canberra and 50km west of Goulburn.

Gunning Solar Farm Development

The ABC are reporting that Photo Energy have already lodged their initial plans with the NSW Department of Planning. The plans are set on 590 hectares and will encompass ‘hundreds of thousands’ of solar panels. It’s currently going through permit approvals and grid connection processes – according to RenewEconomy they are in discussions with Transgrid with regards to the construction of a 300MW (AC) substation to connect to their (Transgrid’s) network (which is 330KV).

The current largest operating solar PV setup in the southern hemisphere is the Nyngan Solar Plant in western NSW – it is able to generate 104MW. The Sunraysia Solar Farm, currently in pre-development stage as it was approved last month, is slated to generate 200MW – so the Gunning Solar Farm is a huge proposition and we hope that Photon Energy are able to get it over the line.

Photon Energy - Gunning Solar Farm
Photon Energy Logo (source:photonenergy.com.au)

Photon Energy’s MD, Michael Gartner, was quoted in the ABC discussing Australia’s transition to renewables and the Gunning Solar Farm’s role to play in all this: “The reason we’ve gone to that scale is because we see the need to build very large-scale solar generation systems to supplement the energy requirements of the power grid, as we’ve moved forward to the energy transformation away from coal to renewable energy.”

Photon Energy, founded in Prague in 2008 and publicly listed in Poland since 2013,  are hoping to begin construction of the solar farm in 2019, pending DA approval. They’re currently developing multiple solar projects in NSW, have approximately 50MWp of PV plants commissioned in five different countries, and have their own portfolio of 26MWp in three countries. Having operated in Australia for several years already and with successful developments under their belt, it’ll be exciting to see how the Gunning solar farm development goes.

 

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