“Tidal wave” of new wind and solar will force early coal plant closures

“Tidal wave” of new wind and solar will force early coal plant closures

Renew Economy Michael Mazengarb 24 February 2021 – Many of Australia’s coal-fired generators are facing unplanned and early retirements as revenues fall to unsustainable levels, according to a new analysis that finds a surge in wind and solar investment is pushing coal out of the electricity market. The findings have been detailed in a joint analysis completed by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Green Energy Markets, which found that revenues for coal-fired generators could fall by as much as two-thirds by 2025. The analysis found that the amount of new wind and solar investment entering the Australian energy market could exceed many recent projections, and a lack of flexibility on the part of ageing coal generators could see them retired sooner than anticipated. “The market is facing a tidal wave of new supply, much greater than anything government authorities or market analysts forecast or even contemplated just two years ago,” Green Energy Markets’ Tristan Edis said. “The supply added from 2018 to 2025 equates to over a third of the entire demand in the NEM, and more than eight times the annual generation of the Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW.” The amount of added electricity generated by new wind and solar projects added between 2018 and 2025 could grow to 70,000GWh, which the report noted was more than the annual consumption of New South Wales. The report, published by IEEFA on Wednesday, estimates that the increase in renewable energy generation will meet virtually all of the growth in expected electricity demand and will fill almost all of the gap to be left by the Liddell power station when it closes in 2023. The report estimated that as much as 8GW of utility scale solar, 12GW of wind, and 22GW of rooftop solar would be operating across the National Electricity Market by 2025, accelerating the exit of some of the state’s oldest coal generators. The growth in low marginal cost wind and solar generation will see generators with more expensive fuel costs, like coal and gas, pushed out of the market due to the National Electricity Market’s merit order effect. “They will be displaced because wind and solar have no fuel cost and typically bid into the market with prices close to zero,” IEEFA analyst Johanna Bowyer said. “We predict that gas power station output will fall by 78% and coal output by 28% by 2025 compared to 2018 levels.” The good news for consumers is that the effect will also see less generation being provided by the more expensive sources of electricity and will help drive electricity prices lower for consumers. “The extra competition from wind and solar plants will also have a deflationary impact...

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Can Solar Agriculture Save the Modern Farming Industry?

Can Solar Agriculture Save the Modern Farming Industry?

Solar Magazine Ed Kennedy 26 June 2020 – A farmer’s life has always been one of hard toil and many challenges. It’s no revelation to say in 2020 there are more challenges than ever before for farmers and the industry as a whole. Their causes are complex and diverse, and the realities of technological advancement and globalization have oftentimes added additional ordeals to their existence. But it can’t be overlooked such phenomena has also brought many benefits to farming. So even though the industry looks upon a new decade with greater hurdles for its survival than ever before, there’s also the promise of emerging technology coming into mass use. Technology that can help farmers not only sustain, but thrive. Solar is an essential part of this new dynamic. From the 1800s to 2020 The Industrial Revolution made farming more efficient. But it also brought about the painful demise of the previous economic model. As technology advanced it allowed harvesting to be done more quickly but at the expense of the labor pool. The loss of jobs as a result of innovations in farming has become a common trend ever since. Such new advents and alterations to the existing model farmers have often welcomed and detested with equal measure. At the same time, the way the demand for agricultural exports operates has changed too. In decades gone by the capacity for far-distant nations to trade agricultural goods was—while by no means impossible in every instance—a far more difficult prospect. Today (allowing for the impact the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily placed on the process) the global exchange of agricultural goods is done with an ease and speed that would’ve been unimaginable in bygone eras. But this too has often placed a new pressure on farmers. Yes, unquestionably some have benefited—and benefited massively from such a change—as farms that produce world-class “clean and green” goods now have a truly international market to export to. But for those who sell more routine goods, or find the international market has saturated their domestic audience with the same products they sell, the path to maintaining a steady profit year in and year out has become much harder. Ultimately, such trends are not just problems for farmers, but for all others. Especially those within their native nations. It’s anticipated the years ahead will see the world become more unstable as a result of numerous factors, not the least of which the growing threat of climate change. In this regard, essentially every nation will face new pressures upon its quest for food security. It’s expected the survival of farming as a viable career and economic model will have growing urgency, locally and globally.  It is here that solar could...

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New Solar Access Act aims to implement automated solar permitting in most California cities

New Solar Access Act aims to implement automated solar permitting in most California cities

Solar Power World Kelsey Misbrener 19 February 2021 – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 617, the Solar Access Act. SB 617 implements automated solar permitting in local jurisdictions with over 10,000 residents. This will allow for remote inspections and approvals of residential solar and solar + storage systems, which will greatly decrease approval times, cut permitting costs for local governments and homeowners, and help California meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The bill would also allocate $20 million to help AHJs switch to automated solar permitting, according to SEIA. SB 617 is co-sponsored by SPUR and Environment California. Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) is a principal co-author of the bill, and Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo) and Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) are co-authors. The effects of climate change have never been clearer, and California must accelerate its transition to clean energy in order to meet its target to become carbon neutral by 2045. Widespread installation of residential solar systems has helped push California towards these goals. However, while the cost of solar technology has decreased in recent years, the high costs associated with installation — including local permitting and inspection requirements — have remained prohibitive for many. Delays due to long permit and inspection wait times are also hurting solar implementation across the state. Automated permitting solves both of these issues; the Solar Access Act will allow California to implement a timely and comprehensive solution. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a project within the U.S. Department of Energy, has created a free-to-use program to support local governments with residential solar and solar + storage system permitting. SolarAPP+ provides a web-based portal that streamlines and automates permit reviews, and can be easily implemented into existing local government permitting software. The Solar Access Act requires cities and counties with populations over 10,000 to provide an online, instant permitting process like SolarAPP+. It also authorizes the California Energy Commission to provide technical assistance and grant funding for implementation through repurposed New Solar Home Partnership Program funds. NREL first introduced SolarAPP+ in late 2020 and has slowly expanded the program’s capabilities. Pleasant Hill is the first city in California to adopt SolarAPP+ and has already begun processing permits. San Jose also uses online solar permitting, and has seen a 600 percent increase in approvals since upgrading in 2016. “To fight climate change, we need to dramatically and quickly expand solar energy and energy storage,” Senator Wiener said. “We have seen highly successful examples of automated solar permitting on the local level. It’s time we take the next step and implement a better process in municipalities across the state.” “This bill builds on California’s great work to streamline solar permitting that has made...

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Solar and battery hybrid to power Jabiru as uranium mining stops

Solar and battery hybrid to power Jabiru as uranium mining stops

One Step Off The Grid Giles Parkinson 15 February 2021 – Energy provider EDL has won a government contract to build a new power system – based around solar and battery storage – to supply the off-grid town of Jabiru in the Northern Territory, which is pinning its future on tourism and services. Jabiru has until now been supplied by diesel generators from the nearby Ranger uranium mine operated by Energy Resources Australia, but that mine as ceased production and the diesel generators will no longer be available. The Northern Territory government held a tender for providers to come up with plans to supply the town with at least 50 per cent renewable supply – as per its territory-wide target by 2030. EDL has won the tender and will build and integrate 3.9MW of solar capacity, a 3MW/5MWh battery, and a 4.5MW diesel plant in what will be known as the Jabiru Hybrid Renewable Project. “EDL began more than 30 years ago with the development of the Pine Creek Power Station in the Northern Territory, and we’re very proud to continue our commitment to the Territory with Jabiru being our 100th site world-wide,” EDL CEO James Harman said in a statement. “Once completed, our hybrid renewable power station will provide Jabiru with at least 50% renewable energy over the long term, without compromising power quality or reliability.” Construction will begin shortly. The diesel power station will be completed by the end of 2021, and the solar farm and battery will come online in early...

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A $90 Million Solar Farm Makes University of Queensland 100% Renewable

A $90 Million Solar Farm Makes University of Queensland 100% Renewable

Solar Magazinbe Ed Kennedy 24 Spetember 2020 – The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia has laid claim to a renewable energy first. Not just first in the state of Queensland, or the nation of Australia—but reportedly first in the world. Since the opening of the US$90 million (AU$ 125 million) 64MW Warwick Solar Farm, UQ is held to be the first major university in the world to draw all the power required for its daily operations from renewable energy sources alone.  This project is a fantastic achievement for this institution, and a further illustration of the immense potential that exists for universities to be leaders in the growth of solar energy generally. Especially as although UQ’s achievement is outstanding in its own right, there are also numerous other educational institutions that have made solid inroads in this space, and collectively serve to showcase the rich diversity of possibilities on offer in this arena for other universities looking to commit to a substantial solar project. Photo: The University of Queensland More Solar in the Sunshine State The northeastern Australian state of Queensland is seen as a very promising destination for growing Australia’s solar capacity. As a state with a landmass of 1.853 million km², there are of course many variables from one length of its border to the next. Yet the fact its capital city Brisbane—located around just 100kms from Queensland’s southernmost border and only around 70kms from the Gold Coast, the state’s second-biggest city—regularly ranks among the sunniest capital cities in Australia illustrates the potential for solar to boom among the state capital and many other regions in the years ahead. What’s more, recent years have seen Queensland enjoying robust growth in its population and economy. Like essentially every other jurisdiction in the world, the impact of coronavirus has stalled this temporarily, but there’s every expectation the state will see a return to this enviable economic form in years ahead. Meanwhile, as of July this year, it’s held the state now has 6,600MW of large-scale renewable generation that is already operational or committed. Grading the Work The Warwick Solar Farm is actually two separate but identical solar plants residing on the same (adjacent) site. Each farm has the capacity for a power transfer capability of 32.1MW, and is connected to a 33kV network at the Warwick Bulk Supply Point substation, with the expectation it shall generate around 160,000 MWh per annum—estimated to be sufficient to power 27,000 homes. Although by no measure is US$90 million small change, the cost-efficiency aspects of the farm are also tremendous. Any excess energy that the farm generates will be sold into the National Electricity Market. Because of the sheer size of Warwick, it is expected this excess energy will aid in...

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