Northern Territory names all 25 schools chosen for solar roll-out

Northern Territory names all 25 schools chosen for solar roll-out

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 12 February 2020 – The Northern Territory has named all 25 schools selected to have their electricity bills slashed by as much as 40 per cent through a government-funded solar roll-out that kicked off in December 2018. The NT Labor government said on Tuesday that the $5 million Rooftop Solar in Schools program would continue to be delivered over the course of three years to schools throughout the Territory, including in remote regions, with all 25 sites now selected on the basis of either their energy usage or innovative science programs. The program is part of the Territory’s Roadmap to Renewables Plan, which is targeting 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030. As ARENA noted here, schools are ideally suited to solar energy, due to their energy usage being highest during school hours during the day when the sun is shining, and dropping off when class finishes in the afternoon. NT education minister Selena Uibo said the program was an investment in both education and renewable energy. “Our $5 million Rooftop Solar in Schools program will enable selected schools to make significant savings in energy costs and redirect those savings into resources that will enhance learning,” she said. “Additionally, the solar systems themselves will also enhance learning. Their monitoring and measurement equipment will support innovative school-based science and technology projects, inspiring our next generation of engineers and scientists to advance renewable energy solutions.” The Territory’s minister for energy Dale Wakefield said the NT had an “incredible opportunity” to become a renewable energy superpower. This is not just the opinion of the government, but was the conclusion of a major report by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), entitled the “10 Gigawatt Vision for the Northern Territory.” That report outlined a plan for the creation of up to 8,000 new jobs by tapping into the territory’s rich solar resources and supporting the creation of new energy export industries, including renewable hydrogen. As Michael Mazengarb noted at the time, while parts of the territory have already embraced renewables – Alice Springs in particular, which has passed 40 per cent renewable energy penetration within its grid – the previous government ran scare campaigns over the costs of taking the grid to 100 per cent renewables, and openly backed the growth of gas fracking. “The $5 million Rooftop Solar in Schools program is an important part of our Roadmap to Renewables plan, to not only save schools money, but to equip our Territory students with the skills they need to maximise the job opportunities the clean energy sector will bring,” said Wakefield on Tuesday. “In contrast, the CLP does not believe in renewable energy, remain opposed to our 50% target, and utterly failed...

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Australia solar module stockpiles could be exhausted soon, due to coronavirus

Australia solar module stockpiles could be exhausted soon, due to coronavirus

One Step Off the Grid Sophie Vorrath 12 February 2020 – Australia’s rooftop solar market is being warned to brace for a months-long impact from the devastating coronavirus outbreak in China, as disrupted panel production and supply takes its toll on the local market. Solar Juice co-founder and head of supply, Rami Fedda said in a video message on LinkedIn on Tuesday that the word from key solar panel manufacturers was that China was not expected to return to anything like business-as-usual on PV panel exports until early March. “Manufacturers are running under capacity because their employees have to be quarantined for at least the next 14 days,” Fedda said. “Also other parts of the supply chain are affected, such as trucking and ports,” he added. “Many containers are on the wharf, waiting to get on the vessel.” For installers in Australia, Fedda said, this meant current Australian stockpiles of China-made panels could run out within the month, leaving installers and consumers in the lurch. China-made modules account for 90 per cent of Australia’s rooftop solar market. “We strongly believe that the stock currently available in Australia will not get us through to mid-March, let alone late March,” he warned. But Fedda also stressed that there were ways to help bridge the supply gap. “Please look at alternate products such as non-Chinese brands, like REC, LG … QCells,” he said. “We want everybody to start planning by the month, not just by the day, and this will reduce the chance of getting disappointed due to not having panels – because if there’s no panels there’s no solar installations.” Warnings of the ripple effect of the coronavirus outbreak in China on solar panel manufacturing and supply have ranged from delayed deliveries to project delays and price spikes – and spread well beyond the solar industry. At the time of publication, the latest data suggested the outbreak had infected more than 43,100 people worldwide and killed 1,018, with the impacts of an enormous quarantine effort being felt economy-wide. A report on Wednesday by Forbes said that experts were forecasting global economic growth in 2020 would be reduced by 0.2% to 0.3% as a direct result of the coronavirus. In the solar sector, PV Magazine reported last week that investment banking company Roth Capital Partners predicted prices including the cost of PV modules could rise in the near term as a result of in shortages of solar wafers and module glass. Last week, Todae Solar COO Tyrone Kahn said his company had received notifications from suppliers across the board about potential product delivery delays. “It’s likely to have some impact on the Australian market,” Kahn told RenewEconomy. “If the manufacturing plants stay closed for another couple of weeks then...

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India leads the way as PV threatens coal-fired power

India leads the way as PV threatens coal-fired power

pv magazine Max Hall 30 May 2019 – Falling PV panel prices led to notable year-on-year falls in the cost of developing solar plants around the world. India led the way with PV projects costing a weighted average of just $793/kW of capacity installed in 2018. Costs in China dipped to $879/kW last year, while solar projects in US and Australia cost $1,500. Solar power’s leading role in driving the energy transition – and the decarbonization of other sectors required to stave off catastrophic climate change – has once again been highlighted in a major global study. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published a study that not only signals the end times for coal-fired power, thanks to plunging unsubsidized clean power generation costs, but also indicates how cheap renewables can power the electrification needed to reduce carbon emissions from transport and space and water heating. “In most parts of the world today, renewables are the lowest-cost source of power generation,” states the first sentence of the Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018 report. That bold statement is backed up by a prediction that next year some 83% of the electricity generated by new PV capacity will be cheaper than new fossil fuel generation. Based on IRENA’s power purchase agreement and solar auction database, solar will generate electricity at a global weighted average price of $0.048/kWh in 2020. Such a figure would ensure PV electricity would also be cheaper than the marginal costs of power generated from 700 GW of existing coal-fired power stations worldwide. With solar module prices – and other PV array components – continuing their steepling falls last year, solar can boast the best learning rate of all renewable energies, with an estimated 37% between 2010 and next year. The learning rate represents the percentage reduction in costs for every doubling in the volume of generation capacity deployed. Tumbling panel prices IRENA reports PV panel prices fell 26-32% between December 2017 and the end of last year, to European prices of around $216/W for the cheapest products, $306 for standard modules, $400 for high efficiency options and $420 for ‘all black’ panels. That in turn led to notable year-on-year falls in the cost of developing solar plants around the world, with India leading the way with PV projects costing a weighted average of just $793/kW of capacity installed. Project costs in China came in at $879/kW last year and Italy saw a fall to $870/kW. The wide variability of global prices was reflected by the fact solar projects cost an average $2,101/kW in Japan and $1,500 in the U.S. and Australia. Despite such wide price ranges, the levelized cost of solar electricity (LCOE) continued to fall in most regions, with the U.K. and Germany rare exceptions. The end price...

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Solar and wind set new output record even as curtailment continues to bite

Solar and wind set new output record even as curtailment continues to bite

pv magazine Marija Maisch 12 February 2020 – Grid-scale wind and solar output reached new highs in Q4 last year pushing power prices to a three-year low despite a number of coal-fired generator outages. As Australia’s big PV fleet continues to expand, the National Electricity Market saw the highest output of big PV on record, but also record curtailment. Several grid-scale renewable energy records were once again set in Q4 2019. During the quarter, the National Electricity Market (NEM) generation mix was shaped by a combination of thermal coal outages, dry conditions, and high solar irradiation, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has revealed. Total wind and solar output across the NEM continued to rise. During Q4 2019, average grid-scale VRE generation reached 2,868 MW, representing a 39% increase from last year. VRE generation accounted for 14% of the NEM supply mix in Q4 2019 compared to 10% in Q4 2018, finds AEMO in its latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report. The quarter also saw the highest variable renewable energy output on record on the NEM, with 6,396 MW recorded at 13:30 on November 12, and a new high for grid-scale renewables’ share of NEM operational demand, with big solar and wind meeting 32% of NEM operational demand at 14:00 on October 06. Record big PV output Over the quarter as a whole, the contribution of big PV was particularly pronounced with average grid-scale solar generation at 825 MW. This was a record high for average quarterly contribution to the NEM and almost double Q4 2018’s output. The highest grid-scale solar output on record reached 2,421 MW at 11:00 on 4 December 2019. The significant increase was driven by a combination of increased solar irradiation across all states (Figure 20), recently commissioned projects ramping up production, and new capacity additions in New South Wales, AEMO states. Queensland generation accounted for the largest growth, representing 62% of total increase, the report states. Growth in grid-scale solar capacity slowed in the second half of 2019: in Q4 2019, only two projects commenced generation (Limondale Solar Farm 229 MW, and Nevertire Solar Farm, 105 MW, both in New South Wales). Compared to 2018, renewables output increased by 5.9 TWh in 2019, with grid-solar and wind contributing 3.2 TWh and 2.6 TWh respectively. According to AEMO, record variable renewable energy generation growth in 2019 is expected to continue into 2020, as a large amount of new capacity currently being accredited is likely to reach full generation by mid-2020 As forecast by consultancy Rystad Energy, Australia’s utility-scale solar sector is poised for a record year in 2020 with 1.96 GW of projects expected to complete commissioning. Overall, 3.6 GW of renewable energy capacity is expected to complete...

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Shell breaks ground on 120 MW PV project to power onshore gas operations

Shell breaks ground on 120 MW PV project to power onshore gas operations

pv magazine Marija Maisch 7 February, 2020 – Construction has begun on Royal Dutch Shell’s 120 MW solar farm which will generate clean energy for QGC’s natural gas processing plants near Wandoan in South West Queensland. The project is the oil major’s first global investment in an industrial-scale solar farm. As it continues the pursuit of its “new energies” strategy, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has launched construction on its first utility-scale solar project in Australia. The 120 MW Gangarri Solar Farm will be developed on land that forms some of the company’s QGC fracking operations to reduce the carbon footprint of its Queensland gas extraction activities. Unveiled a year ago, the solar farm located near Wandoan in South West Queensland is expected to feature about 400,000 PV panels and create up to 200 jobs during construction. Shell Energy Australia will be the foundation customer for the project, with an equivalent amount of electricity purchased from the national grid and sold to Shell’s QGC business, reducing the company’s carbon footprint by around 300,000 tonnes a year. The project is penciled in for completion in early 2021. “This is Shell’s first global investment in an industrial-scale solar farm, and we are proud to be investing in the ‘Sunshine State’ as a key centre of activity under Shell’s global ambition to expand our integrated power business,” Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan said. Welcoming Shell’s commitment, Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said on Friday the Gangarri project would show how gas as a transition fuel and clean energy assets can coexist. “With Shell sanctioning this 400,000 panel solar farm it will become part of Queensland’s clean energy revolution, which is providing the world a practical template on how to transition to low emissions future,” Lynham said. Lynham said Shell’s PV investment follows AGL and Vena Energy’s announcement last week of Queensland’s biggest battery located a stone’s throw away from the Gangarri solar farm. The battery system will have an initial capacity of 100 MW and store 150 MWh of energy, marking the first stage of a major renewable project that could involve 1 GW solar capacity. “The Darling Downs and South West Queensland is literally an energy powerhouse, these regions have developed the unprecedented large scale $70 billion onshore gas industry from a standing start, now it hosting some of largest clean energy generators in the country,” the minister said. The investment follows Shell’s recent $617 million acquisition of commercial and industrial power provider ERM Power and investment in solar developer ESCO Pacific.  The two acquisitions complement each other as part of Shell’s plan to use cheap solar energy to power Australian businesses, underlining the company’s vision for a world where solar meets the largest portion of primary energy demand...

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