AGL extends home battery and virtual power plant offering to eastern states

AGL extends home battery and virtual power plant offering to eastern states

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 23 September 2020 – AGL Energy has again extended the reach of home solar and battery virtual power plant with the launch of battery sales and installations for residential customers in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. AGL general manager of decentralised energy resources (DER) Dominique Van Den Berg said the gen-tailer would begin battery sales to existing solar customers in these states starting Wednesday, ahead of offering complete solar and battery bundles by the end of the year. Eligible customers who lived within 50km of the CBD of the three states’ capital cities would be able to either buy a battery from AGL outright or spread the cost over five years, paying around $100 a month, if they opted to connect to the VPP. All VPP customers would also receive payments for allowing AGL to access their stored energy at key times during the year to help improve grid reliability, thus making the decision to invest in batteries more economically attractive. “This is an exciting demonstration of the sharing economy in which we create value by using customers’ distributed energy assets like batteries and sharing the value with them,” said Van Den Berg. As in SA, VPP participants can choose from either the 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall, or a 9.3kWh LG Chem RESU and SolarEdge battery and inverter package – the latter of which can come with or without back-up power capabilities. AGL first tentatively extended its VPP program to Victoria, NSW and Queensland in June of last year, but only for customers who already had a battery. The deeper move into the eastern NEM states follows the success of AGL’s first network of residential solar batteries, which was established in Adelaide in 2016. Backed by ARENA, the Adelaide VPP notched up 1000 home and business battery systems by September 2019, at the time making it the largest of its kind operating in Australia with a capacity of 10MW. Van Den Berg said expanding its own VPP would help AGL to achieve its target of having 350MW of distributed and demand response assets under orchestration by mid 2024. “AGL is a market leader in residential batteries in South Australia, providing quality installations and products with an excellent safety record,” said Ven Den Berg in a statement on Wednesday. “As a result, we have exceptionally high customer satisfaction and are looking forward to offering these services to customers in other states.” Meanwhile, the gen-tailer is also investing in grid-scale batteries to provide the firming capacity that the energy market needs for the transition from coal to renewables and the decarbonisation of the economy, Van Den Berg said. “In doing so we are delivering on...

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Europe eyes massive offshore wind “energy islands” for next phase of transition

Europe eyes massive offshore wind “energy islands” for next phase of transition

Renew Economy Joshua S Hill 22 September 2020 – European electricity transmission system operator TenneT has flagged the potential of massive “offshore energy islands”, potentially as big as 12 gigawatts to supply power to northern European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. TenneT chief executive Manon van Beek raised the idea of a 12GW offshore energy island in the North Sea at  webinar, Europe’s Offshore Wind Vision, last week which involved ministers and top officials from Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, the CEOs of many of Europe’s transmission system operators (TSOs), and European renewable energy trade bodies. These energy islands, or hubs, have been a perennial topic of conversation over the last few years, focused particularly on helping Europe meet its climate goals. Denmark announced back in May its own plans to develop two energy islands that will supply the country with 4GW of clean electricity. The current plan, part of the Danish government’s first climate action plan, is to build two energy islands by 2030. The first, an artificial island in the North Sea, would start out with 2GW of offshore wind capacity and have room to expand to 10GW, while the second, on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, would also start out with a capacity of 2GW. However, the idea of energy islands dates back further. In fact, all the way back in 2017, three European TSOs, including TenneT, proposed the North Sea Wind Power Hub. Originally perceived as one mammoth hub that could include anywhere between 70GW to 100GW of offshore wind – enough electricity to supply as many as 70 to 100 million Europeans with renewable energy by 2050 – the North Sea Wind Power Hub has undergone shifts which have evolved into smaller modular hubs of 10GW to 15GW. Numerous ideas have been floated, but the premise remains the same – harness the North Sea’s favourable wind conditions as a resource to supply nearby European countries with clean electricity to meet ever more ambitious climate ambitions. The Europe’s Offshore Wind Vision webinar saw unanimous agreement over the need for such energy islands – described by WindEurope, the European trade body for wind, which was in attendance, as “hybrid offshore wind projects”, which is to say, “wind farms that have a grid connection to more than one country” – as a vital way in which to deliver on the European Union’s vision of 450GW worth of offshore wind capacity by 2050. TenneT Holding BV chief executive Manon van Beek declared that Europe needed to “bring offshore wind to the next level” and that neighbouring European states needed to strengthen their levels of cooperation. “We must take a step in the direction of a European roadmap that is based on...

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Money talks, BS walks: It’s global comedy hour, with a special Australian segment

Money talks, BS walks: It’s global comedy hour, with a special Australian segment

Renew Economy David Leitch 22 September 2020 – Laugh of the week In the end you just had to laugh. There were so many dramatic statements made last week about electricity it really was a cluster f***.  I’ll get into some of them in a minute, more for what they say about agenda driven forecasting, rather than anything else. However, the article that really made me choke on my Saturday breakfast was an interview with Matt Howell , CEO of the Tomago aluminum smelter, as quoted in the AFR. “With this announcement very clearly we can say, look, the smelter has got a long term future because the closure of Liddell will not impact reliability of power supply” At least we don’t have to pay attention any more when the industry claims it pays sky high prices and is uncompetitive in a world context. And of course it would be great to keep the aluminum industry going.  The irony is that no one tries harder than the renewable energy industry to work with the aluminum industry. We try much harder than the coal generators.  An aluminum smelter itself can be a source of firming power. And yet the aluminum industry owners just throw the work back into the industry’s face. Aluminium still consumes about 10% of Australia’s operational demand and by turning the smelters down the industry could significantly reduce operational demand. It’s true that Boyne Island provides more opportunities than Tomago because  at Boyne Island Rio has equity in the Gladstone power station. whereas at Tomago things are different. Is RIO the most backwards looking resources company out there? But so far Rio, the largest investor in Australia’s aluminum, has done absolutely nothing to show any support for any form of decarbonisation. And that’s despite selling their global coal interests. Rio is not even prepared to discuss the topic and it still seems as if,  despite the fact that Tomago’s future is now assured, Boyne Island at least will be closed along with Gladstone power station about 2030. The intransience of Rio, at least in public and who knows what happens behind closed doors in far away London, is frustrating in many ways. But we do know that chasing a gas rat up a drainhole is not going to be the answer. The irritating thing is we strongly suspect Tomago management understand that all too well, but support for  gas does play well to the Federal Govt cheer squad. Electricity prices are below their long term averages in Australia and low by world standards Does industry pay sky high prices? In our view the answer is clearly no. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s a graph...

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Genex secures network deal for Queensland big battery

Genex secures network deal for Queensland big battery

Renew Economy Michael Mazengarb 22 September 2020 – Clean energy project developer Genex says that it has secured the location for its Bouldercombe Big Battery in a deal with Powerlink to locate the battery to nearby to an existing substation. Genex announced on Tuesday that it had entered into a deal with network company Powerlink, to site the battery project adjacent to the Bouldercombe 275kV/132kV substation near Rockhamption in Queensland, allowing the battery easy access to a network connection. “Following an extensive search and selection process, the Bouldercombe site presents the ideal location for the Project and we are pleased to have secured access to it under this Agreement with Powerlink. The appointment of a preferred battery system supplier now allows us to commence the grid connection process which is on the critical development path for the Project,” Genex CEO James Harding said. While Genex did not disclose who the preferred battery supplier would be, as the supplier has sought to remain unknown until financial close on the project is achieved, but RenewEconomy understands that the battery supplier has an established presence in the Australian market for ‘big battery’ projects and is a very well known brand in the energy storage space. The Bouldercombe big battery is expected to be sized at 50MW/75MWh and will be the first standalone big battery system installed in Queensland. Having secured access to the land close to the Powerlink substation, Genex said that it would progress negotiations to connect to the grid at the site, which would then enable financial sign off and construction to commence. Genex hopes to start construction on the Bouldercombe big battery in the second quarter of 2021, with operation to commence in early 2022, if not earlier. Genex sees the battery as the first part of a series of investments the company will make in Queensland energy projects, including plans for a Como big battery, announcing last month that it had secured finance for that project. “Genex is pleased to have signed this Agreement with Powerlink in relation to the proposed 50MW/75MWh battery energy storage system project at Bouldercombe. The Bouldercombe Battery Project is the first large scale battery project as part of our Project Como strategy to broaden our footprint in energy storage,” Harding added. “This represents an exciting opportunity for us to apply the extensive market knowledge we have gained from developing the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project towards broadening and diversifying our storage portfolio, and to capture a significantly enhanced revenue generation profile.” Genex is currently progressing towards reaching financial close on its flagship project, the Kidston pumped hydro energy storage project, which will utilise two disused mine pits to provide 250MW/2,000MWh of storage capacity, and will be...

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Coles inks deal with CleanCo to power Queensland operations with solar and wind

Coles inks deal with CleanCo to power Queensland operations with solar and wind

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 232 September 2020 – Australian supermarket chain Coles will soon source nearly all of the electricity for its Queensland stores from locally generated solar and wind, after sealing a deal with state government-owned generator and retailer CleanCo. Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham said on Tuesday that CleanCo had signed a 10-year contract with Coles to power more than 90 per cent of its Queensland sites from July 2022 with renewable energy. The agreement will see Coles buy 400GWh of electricity a year from Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub, set to be Australia’s largest solar farm once built, and Acciona’s MacIntyre Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms to be built in the southern hemisphere. CleanCo, which also manages a portfolio of more than 1,100MW of government-owned hydroelectricity and gas plants, last year got a $250 million budget allocation boost to kick start investments in new renewable energy projects. In March, the gen-tailer revealed plans to build a 100MW wind farm at the 1.026GW MacIntyre project near Warwick and contract another 400MW of capacity from project owner Acciona, paving the way for the entire project to be built by 2024, and first power generation in mid-2022. And in May, CleanCo inked a deal with Neoen to buy 320MW of the output of the Western Downs Green Power Hub, paving the way for construction on that project – which will be 400MW all up – to begin in July. For Coles, the new deal follows the company’s 2019 committment to buy renewable energy through a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement with global renewables outfit Metka EGN, purchasing more than 70% of the electricity generated by three solar power plants in regional NSW. Coles said in its own statement that energy generated by the two Queensland projects alone would supply three-quarters of its Queensland electricity requirements, with the remainder supported by CleanCo’s low emissions portfolio. Coles Group has also made changes throughout its business to use energy more efficiently, through which it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 36.5% since 2009. “Long-term agreements like this are a great example of how we are able to reduce our energy costs, support the community and make a meaningful impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” added Coles chief sustainability, property and export officer Thinus Keeve. “The CleanCo and Metka EGN agreements are great examples of how we can grow renewable energy generation capacity in Australia because they give the developers the certainty they need to invest and we look forward to growing our partnerships with renewable energy providers in the future.” CleanCo CEO Dr Maia Schweizer said that providing competitively-priced clean energy to Coles allowed CleanCo to create growth and jobs in south-west Queensland...

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Its Electric Grid Under Strain, California Turns to Batteries

Its Electric Grid Under Strain, California Turns to Batteries

New York Times Ivan Penn 3 September 2020 – When demand exceeded supply in a recent heat wave, electricity stored at businesses and even homes was called into service. With proper management, batteries could have made up for an offline gas plant. Last month as a heat wave slammed California, state regulators sent an email to a group of energy executives pleading for help. “Please consider this an urgent inquiry on behalf of the state,” the message said. The manager of the state’s grid was struggling to increase the supply of electricity because power plants had unexpectedly shut down and demand was surging. The imbalance was forcing officials to order rolling blackouts across the state for the first time in nearly two decades. What was unusual about the emails was whom they were sent to: people who managed thousands of batteries installed at utilities, businesses, government facilities and even homes. California officials were seeking the energy stored in those machines to help bail out a poorly managed grid and reduce the need for blackouts. Many energy experts have predicted that batteries could turn homes and businesses into mini-power plants that are able to play a critical role in the electricity system. They could soak up excess power from solar panels and wind turbines and provide electricity in the evenings when the sun went down or after wildfires and hurricanes, which have grown more devastating because of climate change. Over the next decade, the argument went, large rows of batteries owned by utilities could start replacing power plants fueled by natural gas. But that day appears to be closer than earlier thought, at least in California, which leads the country in energy storage. During the state’s recent electricity crisis, more than 30,000 batteries supplied as much power as a midsize natural gas plant. And experts say the machines, which range in size from large wall-mounted televisions to shipping containers, will become even more important because utilities, businesses and homeowners are investing billions of dollars in such devices. Power lines near the Fountain Valley Plant, at the Orange County Sanitation District. The district’s batteries helped provide electricity to the grid last month when California’s grid was short of power.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times “People are starting to realize energy storage isn’t just a project or two here or there, it’s a whole new approach to managing power,” said John Zahurancik, chief operating officer at Fluence, which makes large energy storage systems bought by utilities and large businesses. That’s a big difference from a few years ago, he said, when electricity storage was seen as a holy grail — “perfect, but unattainable.” On Friday, Aug. 14, the first day California ordered rolling blackouts, Stem, an energy company based in...

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Global Smart Energy Summit 2020 Online Event

Global Smart Energy Summit 2020 Online Event

Global Smart Energy Summit 2020 Online Event Starts 5:00pm Tuesday, 29 September 2020 Ends 4:15pm Wednesday, 30 September 2020 Location Online Event Video or Audio Zoom Webinar 0000 Australia See map: Google Maps FREE TO ATTEND The GLOBAL SMART ENERGY SUMMIT 2020 will bring together leaders in business, civil society, policy makers and academia to provide a significant contribution to public debate on government stimulus packages and climate change action. DAY 1 REGISTRATION  ||  DAY 2 REGISTRATION Note: Please register separately for each day. BE a part of the largest online smart energy event in 2020 – our last online summit in May attracted over 3,500 registrants! AN OUTSTANDING PROGRAM The two-day program features industry and political leaders exploring ways to tackle the economic crisis and the climate crisis at the same time. Hear from more than twenty keynote speakers and chairs including international experts and political influencers, eminent Australians, CEOs of leading Australian businesses and renewables firms, and community and social change leaders. The event will be free to attend and we expect 10,000 delegates. REGISTER NOW!     View the latest program here or click on the button below. PROGRAM  ||  BIOGRAPHIES A RARE OPPORTUNITY EXPERIENCE A STELLAR GLOBAL LINEUP and engage in discussion with: Mark Carney, UN Climate Envoy and Finance Adviser, COP26 Malcolm Turnbull, 29th Prime Minister of Australia Bill McKibben, Founder, 350.org Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and COP23 President Audrey Zibelman, CEO, Australian Energy Market Operator Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Atlassian Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, UK Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Sam Kimmins, Global Head of RE100 James Ellsmoor, Director, Solar Head of State Lord Deben, Chairman, UK Committee on Climate Change Upendra Tripethy, Director-General International Solar Alliance Jamie Isbister, Australian Ambassador for the Environment Dr Shi Zhengrong, Founder, SunMan Co Ltd Prof Martin Green, Scientia Professor, Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics, University of New South Wales Sam Muraki, Representative Director Green Ammonia Consortium; Regional Vice-Chair World Energy Council Alex Hewitt, Chairman, Asian Renewable Energy Hub Dr Jemma Green, Co-founder and Chairman, Power Ledger and many more… PROGRAM TUESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 6:00 – 8:00 PM (AEST – Sydney Time) Join our guest speakers for this early evening session and explore European perspectives on the economic and climate crises. 5:15 PM Welcome and introductions 5:20 PM European perspectives 7:55 PM Wrap up This is the first of two events. Please register separately for Day 2. DAY 1 REGISTRATION  ||  SPEAKER BIOS WEDNESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (AEST – Sydney Time) 8:00 AM Welcome and introductions 8:05 AM Global perspectives 9:45 AM Australian perspectives BREAK 1:00 PM Global Renewable Energy 2:30 PM Australian global renewable energy projects 3:55 PM Wrap up and conclusion DAY 2 REGISTRATION ||  PROGRAM ||  SPEAKER BIOS THE BENEFITS BE AT THE...

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8minute Solar Energy unveil another massive Californian solar plus storage project

8minute Solar Energy unveil another massive Californian solar plus storage project

Renew Economy Joshua S. Hill 16 September 2020 – 8minute Solar Energy is to partner with Californian locally operated electricity provider Clean Power Alliance to develop a massive new solar and storage project, measuring in at 400MW in solar capacity with 180MW/540MWh of energy storage. 8minute Solar announced last week that it had executed a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Clean Power Alliance, which serves approximately one million customers across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in California, for the electricity generated from the to-be-constructed Rexford 1 Solar & Storage Centre in Tulare County. There aren’t a lot of specifics for the Rexford 1 Solar & Storage Center as yet, with base capacity figures of 400MW of solar and battery storage of 180MW/540MWh. When operational, expected for some time in 2023, the project is expected to provide enough electricity for the equivalent of over 370,000 residents and offset approximately 600,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, the equivalent of planting 12,000 trees, every day, for ten years in a row. “The recent blackouts and continued wildfires in California offer sobering proof of the urgent need for more renewable and reliable energy generation that both fortifies our grid and fights climate change – and large-scale solar paired with energy storage is the most efficient, lowest-cost way to achieve just that,” said Dr. Tom Buttgenbach, Founder and CEO of 8minute. “We are proud to partner with Clean Power Alliance, the largest clean choice energy provider in California. Our new generation of solar-plus-storage power plants are the future of energy – replacing an aging fleet of fossil fuel power plants with more economical and cleaner solutions and creating good jobs when they are needed most. “This partnership is yet another example of California taking the lead on next-generation technology, and we expect to build a lot more solar and energy storage centers across the United States.” Set to be constructed on private, low-productivity disturbed farmland in Tulare County in Central California, construction is expected to begin in early 2022 and create over 400 direct jobs and approximately one-thousand indirect jobs, as well as contributing over $200 million to the local economy over the life of the project. The long-term PPA contract, signed with Clean Power Alliance (CPA), marks the largest solar-plus-storage project for CPA, but also the largest for any community choice aggregator to date. “Solar-plus-storage is not only the cleanest way to increase grid reliability, it’s also the smartest and most cost-effective,” said Ted Bardacke, Executive Director of Clean Power Alliance. “Batteries are the cleanest and smartest way to reduce grid stress-induced outages in the future,” added Bardacke. “We are committed to aggressively ramping up battery storage investments so that our customers always have reliable...

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“Like a scrapyard of old cars:” Orange farmers try to stop community solar farm

“Like a scrapyard of old cars:” Orange farmers try to stop community solar farm

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 16 September 2020 – Plans to build a community solar and battery farm in the central-western New South Wales city of Orange are facing some opposition from … the community, based on concerns about the visual impact of the project. ITP Renewables Orange Community Renewable Energy Park is proposing to develop a 5MW solar farm with 5MWh of battery storage on farm land around 6km north-west of the town centre of Orange. The nearly $10 million Energy Park has partnered with Energy Democracy to set up a local co-operative that will provide the opportunity for locals to co-invest, an initiative that won the project a $3.5 million NSW government grant under its Regional Community Energy Fund. According to the development application, published for exhibition by the Orange City Council in February, the 16,000-module project has been designed to be “practically imperceptible and unobservable from adjacent areas” through the strategic planting of trees. But according to local paper the Central Western Daily, not everyone is satisfied that the trees will do the trick. The paper quotes neighbouring farmer Rob Green as saying the solar farm will ruin the area by altering the view to resemble “a scrapyard of old cars.” “I don’t want it here,” Green told the paper. “It is going to be so visual. It is going to be a blight for [motorists] coming into the city.” “There is just going to be all this metal in the middle [of a rural area],” he said. Green, who described himself as a “greenie,” said he and about 20 other local residents and landowners had already lodged submissions opposing plans for the farm and would continue to fight against its development. How this might affect the project’s progress remains to be seen – the Energy Park appears to be the first of its kind for Orange, which falls into the first of three renewable energy zones designated by the NSW government as development hot-spots for big solar and wind. In comments to the Central Western Daily, an ITP spokesperson said the company was hoping to begin construction in the first quarter of 2021, and would work with council and Transport for NSW on traffic safety issues – also pinpointed as a concern by Green. Objections to solar farms based on their visual impact, or potential impact on the environment, have become more common as large-scale PV generation has started to boom around the country. As the Australian wind industry has learned – in some cases, the hard way – even with strong public support for the development of solar and wind, whether or not projects make it off the drawing board begins and ends with constructive community engagement....

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Clean Energy Regulator promises crackdown on solar inverter installations

Clean Energy Regulator promises crackdown on solar inverter installations

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 16 September 2020 – The push for strict and uniform solar inverter standards that will allow rooftop PV systems to be controlled and switched off remotely has gained new muscle this week, with the Clean Energy Regulator adding checks of inverter settings to its inspection program. The CER said on Tuesday that it was working with the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Clean Energy Council to incorporate the inverter checks as part of its duties under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The new inspection program will be checking for compliance of inverter configurations with the Australian Standard 4777.2-2015, as well as compliance of inverter configurations with the requirements of each PV system’s corresponding distribution network service provider. According to the Clean Energy Council, AS4777.2-2015 – updated in 2015 and in effect since October 2016 – includes requirements such as reactive power capability, new voltage and frequency set-points and limits to be compatible with requirements of network businesses. The updated standard also requires inverters to have Demand Response Mode (DRM) capabilities, which gives a remote operator the ability to perform tasks like disconnecting the inverter from the grid, preventing the generation of power, or increasing power generation. The standard also gives distributed energy resources the capability to provide services to the network, such as provide stored rooftop solar power at times of peak energy demand by way of coordinated virtual power plants – a resource AEMO believes will be crucial to Australia’s energy supply in the not-too-distant future. Notably, the national standard does not yet require inverters have the ability to “ride through” system faults – a capability the AEMO is seeking to make compulsory to prevent large amounts of rooftop solar suddenly disconnecting as a result of voltage disturbances. That said, a Short Duration Undervoltage Disturbance Ride-Through (VDRT) Test Procedure developed by AEMO to ensure inverters responded appropriately during short-duration voltage disturbance events found the majority – 10 out of 17 – of commonly installed inverters developed against AS/NZS 4777.2:2015, already had this capability. South Australia – whose grid saw solar supply reach up to 93.7 per cent of state demand on the weekend – has decided to take matters into its own hands on this front, with strict statewide inverter standards to be introduced later this month under the government’s “Smarter Homes” program. As RenewEconomy has reported, the rushed new standards which will apply to any new rooftop solar installation contract signed after August 10 has been met with concern from the two peak solar bodies, who report industry “chaos and confusion” and fears that installers will be left holding crippling amounts of unusable stock. The CER – which already conducts comprehensive testing of the overall quality and safety of installed...

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How homes can shift their energy needs from gas to clean electricity

How homes can shift their energy needs from gas to clean electricity

One Step Off The Grid Michael Mazenbarb 4 September 2020 – Households now have access to more information about the benefits of switching from gas to electric appliances, with the launch of an online tool that helps to quantify both the cost savings and emissions reductions that can be achieved by making the switch. The new tool has been developed by the Conservation Council for the ACT Region and has been set up to aid households to make the switch from gas appliances, to electric appliances that can be powered with renewable electricity. Conservation Council ACT said that switching away from gas would be an effective way to reduce household greenhouse gas emission, particularly in the ACT which already effectively sources all of its electricity from wind and solar. “The good news is that because the ACT’s electricity is already powered 100% by renewable solar and wind, every house that switches from gas to electricity is contributing to real reductions in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Conservation Council ACT executive director Helen Oakey said. “The other good news, as shown by the website, is that by switching off gas, families can save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills by switching to energy efficient electric appliances.” “The Make the Switch website guides households about how to transition away from gas appliances, either when replacing an appliance such as a hot water system, or when building a new house,” Oakey added. The group said that moving away from fossil gas use would be essential as part of efforts to achieve zero net emissions targets, that all Australian state and territory governments have adopted, including in the ACT where gas contributes 22 per cent of the ACT’s direct emissions. A growing body of research suggests that gas is unlikely to become the low emissions transition fuel that it has been promised to be, and the burning of gas within homes has been linked with unsafe levels of air pollution that could lead to serious respiratory issues. The ACT government has made a commitment to phase out the use of gas by 2045, as part of an effort to meet its own zero net emissions target, which would require Canberra households to gradually replace gas appliances like heaters, cookstoves and hot water systems with electric alternatives. The ‘Make the Switch’ tool allows users to identify suitable electric alternatives to their current appliances, as well as providing an estimate of the cost and emissions savings that can be achieved by switching away from gas use. “The Make the Switch website answers all sorts of practical questions that Canberrans might have, from the environmental impacts of using gas, through to the options available to disconnect from the gas network,”...

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Tesla to add batteries and solar to another 3,000 low income houses in world leading VPP

Tesla to add batteries and solar to another 3,000 low income houses in world leading VPP

One Steo Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 4 September 2020 – South Australia has launched phase three of its Tesla home battery-based virtual power plant, extending the scheme to another 3,000 public housing properties and kicking off a “world-first” deal to procure a Big Battery’s worth of grid support services. Energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said on Friday that the latest $60.6 million expansion of the Tesla VPP would take the scheme to 4,100 Housing SA properties across the state, and on track to reach the ultimate goal of 50,000 South Australian homes, both public and private. For the Housing SA tenants, the scheme installs a 5kW rooftop solar and 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery system at no cost, and provides the household with a flat-rate electricity tariff priced 22% lower than the Default Market Offer, whether from the battery or the grid. It will be retailed through Energy Locals. For the state, Phase 3 of the SA VPP will bring together roughly 20MW of rooftop solar energy and 54MWh of combined battery storage to act as a single “power plant,” that can send excess solar to the grid and offer voltage and frequency support, as well as synthetic inertia. “In a world-first, home batteries will provide the grid stability services that South Australia has lacked since the closure of the Northern Power Station, to address the legacy of instability that we inherited,” said van Holst Pellekaan. “This will deliver at a household level what we are also delivering through the 50% expansion of the big battery at Hornsdale Battery to address these legacy issues.” This function comes at a critical time, as South Australia and the Australian Energy Market Operator struggle to address the increasingly urgent problem of integrating the state’s word-leading rooftop solar capacity. As RenewEconomy has reported, South Australia is on track to become the first gigawatt-scale grid in the world where the growing amount of rooftop solar effectively eliminates grid demand – which sounds like a good thing, but has been a major cause for concern for AEMO. The scramble to head off potential negative impacts from a solar-soaked grid has led to a number of proposed quick-fixes and market reforms, some of them – such as the proposal to charge solar households for exports to the grid – controversial. On the less drastic and more consumer-inclusive front, the establishment of solar and battery-based virtual power plants is expected to play a key role in helping to manage the state’s huge solar resource in a way that can benefit all parties. “Having rooftop PV and household batteries linked through a Virtual Power Plant creates the equivalent of a grid-scale battery in our suburbs and towns, which will...

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Latrobe Valley solar and battery project approved by Victoria planning minister

Latrobe Valley solar and battery project approved by Victoria planning minister

  Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 9 September 2020 – A 75MW solar and battery plant proposed for Victoria’s Latrobe Valley has been waved through by the state government as part of a decision to fast track construction and other project that will create jobs and stimulate growth in the post-Covid economy. South Energy’s $110 million Frasers solar farm near Toongabbie in eastern Victoria was one of more than $1 billion worth of building and development projects – and the only renewable energy project – to be “called in” and approved for development by state planning minister Richard Wynne on Wednesday. The raft of planning permits was issued as part of the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce’s fast-track function, aimed at creating jobs and stimulating economic growth while also contributing to broader social objectives like emissions reduction. Frasers Solar Farm had been proposed for development around 2km south of Toongabbie and 5km north of Glengarry in eastern Victoria, spanning 110 hectares and comprising around 228,000 solar panels, and potentially including an up to 20MW/40MWh battery energy storage system. According to the project website, South Energy had submitted a planning permit application to the relevant authority in November of last year, with the aim of starting construction in 2021 and be fully operational in 2022. A report in the Latrobe Valley Express in June said the site had been chosen for its proximity to existing electricity network infrastructure, as well as for its promising solar resource. South Energy has also noted the project presents an opportunity for vertical farming, which in this case could mean having sheep graze among the solar panels, and benefit from the shading and protection they provide. A community investment program is also being initiated around the project. “It’s more important than ever we continue adding to our pipeline of shovel ready projects to create jobs and stimulate the economy as we get to the other side of this second wave [of Covid-19],” said state treasurer Tim Pallas on Wednesday in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Victoria’s building and development sector is a key driver of our economy and these projects signal our commitment to give this industry the support it needs to make it through to the other side of the pandemic,” added planning minister, Richard Wynne. South Energy has four more solar projects in its development pipeline for Victoria and another two in Western Australia. Interestingly, the company’s 200MW Raywood solar and battery farm, proposed for construction in Sebastian in northern Victoria, was also given special passage through the approval process, in that case by the local council. As RenewEconomy reported in March, the project had looked like getting stuck in development limbo during the first wave of Covid-19 shutdowns, but...

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Morrison willingly turning blind eye to clean energy, Labor says

Morrison willingly turning blind eye to clean energy, Labor says

Renew Economy Michael Mazenbarb 9 September 2020 – The federal opposition has ramped-up pressure on the Morrison government to get behind an economic recovery that embraces clean energy, calling on the government to abandon its push for a ‘gas-led’ recovery, saying it would lead to fewer new jobs. Speaking to the Smart Energy Council’s virtual Conference and Exhibition on Wednesday, Labor climate and energy spokesperson Mark Butler said that the Morrison government’s reluctance to embrace the clean energy sector and increase its ambition on climate change was out of step with the wider community. “Obviously, there is still significant cause for pessimism because in spite of the extraordinary level of consensus in the community, in the business sector and among regulators, lenders and investors, there is still a great degree of reluctance among members of the Commonwealth Government,” Butler told the Smart Energy Council event. “They’re still resisting a commitment to net zero emissions in spite of the fact that every state government Liberal and Labor alike is signed up to it. Resisting any post-2030 commitment.” “We’ve also seen some pretty dodgy modelling, in the leak of some weird looking bubble graphs from a Technology Roadmap yesterday, which again, seek to put the finger on the scale to promote gas industry investments over clean energy investments.” “And we know that that’s just self-defeating. Investors aren’t going to fall for that. So if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen on the taxpayer dollar, and it’s all going also going to lead to far fewer jobs that are clean energy led,” Butler added. Butler pointed to a number of assessments that have concluded that more jobs could be created through policies that target government support and investment into the clean energy sector, compared to the number of jobs that could be created by fossil fuel industries. A recent assessment published by Beyond Zero Emissions detailed how up to one million jobs could be created through investments in zero emissions technologies, and that these opportunities could create as many as three times as many jobs compared to the same level of investment in the fossil fuel industry. Butler’s comments were echoed by his federal leader, Anthony Albanese, who while speaking at a separate event lamented that the Morrison government was proving to be willingly “blind” to the clean energy opportunities on offer. “I said before, our nation’s long-term future lies in renewable energy sources,” Albanese said at an event in Coffs Harbour on Wednesday. “In coming decades, we must position our nation to be a major player in the clean energy industries that continue to grow in importance over time.” “Indeed, if we get the policies right, we can transform our nation...

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Its Electric Grid Under Strain, California Turns to Batteries

Its Electric Grid Under Strain, California Turns to Batteries

New York Times Ivan Penn 3 September 2020 – Last month as a heat wave slammed California, state regulators sent an email to a group of energy executives pleading for help. “Please consider this an urgent inquiry on behalf of the state,” the message said. The manager of the state’s grid was struggling to increase the supply of electricity because power plants had unexpectedly shut down and demand was surging. The imbalance was forcing officials to order rolling blackouts across the state for the first time in nearly two decades. What was unusual about the emails was whom they were sent to: people who managed thousands of batteries installed at utilities, businesses, government facilities and even homes. California officials were seeking the energy stored in those machines to help bail out a poorly managed grid and reduce the need for blackouts. Many energy experts have predicted that batteries could turn homes and businesses into mini-power plants that are able to play a critical role in the electricity system. They could soak up excess power from solar panels and wind turbines and provide electricity in the evenings when the sun went down or after wildfires and hurricanes, which have grown more devastating because of climate change. Over the next decade, the argument went, large rows of batteries owned by utilities could start replacing power plants fueled by natural gas. But that day appears to be closer than earlier thought, at least in California, which leads the country in energy storage. During the state’s recent electricity crisis, more than 30,000 batteries supplied as much power as a midsize natural gas plant. And experts say the machines, which range in size from large wall-mounted televisions to shipping containers, will become even more important because utilities, businesses and homeowners are investing billions of dollars in such devices. Power lines near the Fountain Valley Plant, at the Orange County Sanitation District. The district’s batteries helped provide electricity to the grid last month when California’s grid was short of power.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times “People are starting to realize energy storage isn’t just a project or two here or there, it’s a whole new approach to managing power,” said John Zahurancik, chief operating officer at Fluence, which makes large energy storage systems bought by utilities and large businesses. That’s a big difference from a few years ago, he said, when electricity storage was seen as a holy grail — “perfect, but unattainable.” On Friday, Aug. 14, the first day California ordered rolling blackouts, Stem, an energy company based in the San Francisco Bay Area, delivered 50 megawatts — enough to power 20,000 homes — from batteries it had installed at businesses, local governments and other customers. Some of those devices were at...

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A Solar Future for Low-Income People

A Solar Future for Low-Income People

NY Times 17 July 2020 – To the Editor: Re “Biden’s $2 Trillion Plan Links Climate Change and Economic Recovery” (news article, July 15): In his monumental plan, Joe Biden has declared his commitment to eliminating carbon emissions from power plants by 2035. He also vows to direct 40 percent of all clean energy and infrastructure benefits toward disadvantaged communities. There is potential synergy in these two ambitions. Beyond the obvious health benefits of shutting down power plants that spew their pollutants on low-income communities and communities of color, there is an opportunity to offer those households a clean, decentralized source of power: rooftop solar energy. For all the excitement about solar energy, large solar fields still generate less than 2 percent of utility-supplied power. Rooftop arrays and other “distributed” solar systems increase that electricity by less than 1 percent, and most of that power is beyond the reach of low-income households. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, rooftop solar arrays could supply 39 percent of our electricity nationwide. Why are we such laggards in tapping this resource? With grant support or favorable loans, millions of low-income Americans who are now outside the solar loop could enjoy vastly reduced energy bills for decades while moving us closer to the post-carbon future that Mr. Biden so enthusiastically embraces. Philip Warburg Newton, Mass. The writer is the author of “Harness the...

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Battle lines drawn over future of CEFC, as Taylor gets wires crossed on gas

Battle lines drawn over future of CEFC, as Taylor gets wires crossed on gas

Renew Economy Michael Mazengarb 2 September 2020 – Federal parliament is set for yet another showdown over national energy policy, with federal Labor and the Greens indicating they will vote against a series of legislative amendments proposed by the Morrison government that could see billions in taxpayer funds directed into failing fossil fuel projects. The fight is over the future of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) after the Morrison government introduced proposed legislative amendments to establish a $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund, that would open up the green financing body to investing in gas projects. Federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor insists that the CEFC can already invest in gas projects, however the examples cited by Taylor as CEFC gas investments were not originally made by the clean energy finance body. The proposed amendments, introduced into parliament by Taylor, would also allow the CEFC to make investments in loss making projects, which could see funds intended for clean energy projects directed towards propping up failing fossil fuel projects. The amendments also include a refined definition of ‘low emissions technologies’ that are designed to allow the CEFC to make investments in gas projects. Opposition climate and energy spokesperson Mark Butler said that while the Labor party supported the establishment of a dedicated Grid Reliability Fund, but that it would oppose amendments that seek to expand the CEFC’s investments into the gas industry. “Labor supports the expansion of the CEFC to help deliver a modern electricity grid, but not for gas generation investments that are neither a new technology, nor meet the existing CEFC definition of low-emissions technology,” Butler said. “This is the clean energy financing body – not for new gas generation. We’ll safeguard the financial integrity of the CEFC, to ensure it retains strict safeguards which ensure it only invests in economically viable projects that continue to provide a return to taxpayers.” Butler said that Labor would also move to oppose amendments which would give federal energy minister Angus Taylor greater powers over how the CEFC directs its investments. “We’ll also block any attempts to turn the CEFC into a personal slush fund by giving new powers to scandal-ridden Minister, Angus Taylor, who has an ideological opposition to renewable energy, and thinks a good use for taxpayer money is expensive new coal-fired power stations,” Butler added. “If the Government is unwilling to accept these sensible amendments to be moved by Labor, we will vote against the Bill.” The Morrison government needs the legislative amendments to pass, as it is counting on the establishment of the $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund to cover the costs of commitments it is making under the Underwriting New Generation Investments program....

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Victoria seeks 600MW wind and solar to power hospitals, schools and trains

Victoria seeks 600MW wind and solar to power hospitals, schools and trains

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 2 September 2020 – Victoria has announced plans to procure a minimum of 600MW of new solar and wind energy capacity for the state, through a second Renewable Energy Target (VRET) auction that will take government operations to 100% renewables. State energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said her department would also kick off a “market sounding process” to test industry interest and capacity for enough new renewables to power the state’s hospitals, schools and train network, among other things. This market sounding process would begin on Wednesday, a government statement said, with a briefing to around 300 investors, ahead of the launch of a formal process. “Our government will be going 100% renewable,” said D’Ambrosio in a Tweet on Wednesday morning. “We’ll be tendering for more than 600MW of new build renewables to power our schools, trains, hospitals and other government services. “We’re also asking businesses to tell us if they’d like to join our VRET2 tender, to get even more renewables built to reduce their power bills. More renewables. More jobs. Lower emissions,” the minister said. News of the new renewable energy auction round comes as Victoria struggles through its fifth week of a strict, six-week Stage 4 lock-down in a bid to get on top of a second wave of Coronavirus infections and deaths. It also follows calls from green group Environment Victoria for the urgent resumption of large-scale solar and wind energy auctions, to avoid the state’s renewable energy market going into a potentially devastating lull. But the push for new investment in large-scale solar and wind also comes at a time when Victoria is struggling to accommodate existing renewables capacity on its grid – a problem that is already causing major delays to the commissioning of a number of projects, many of which came about through the 2017 VRET auction. As RenewEconomy has reported, the issues in Victoria, which also affect south-west NSW, are the result of complex and questionable new connection rules, and also the slow pace of grid infrastructure upgrades to address issues which have been flagged for the best part of the past decade. And such has been the scale of the problem for Victoria that in February of this year the Labor Andrews government – whose 50 per cent by 2030 renewable energy target was written into law in October 2019 – announced a dramatic intervention, in a bid to fast-track urgent grid upgrades and to unlock more large-scale renewables and encourage more big batteries. To get around further such problems, it has been recommended that future VRETs target areas where there are no immediate grid constraints or where grid issues are being effectively resolved, such as the Gippsland area. In...

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Cheaper, cleaner, more reliable: How renewables are winning energy trifecta

Cheaper, cleaner, more reliable: How renewables are winning energy trifecta

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 1 September 2020 – Last week, the three business lobby groups that did more than most to undermine the Labor-Greens carbon price, and who hoorayed loudly when Tony Abbott put it the sword in 2013, joined up with unions and super funds and research groups to urge the same Coalition government to aim for a zero emissions target by 2050. It begs the question: What has prompted the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Energy Council to perform such a majestic backflip, and seemingly turn their backs on the fossil fuel industry and the carbon pollution they once claimed was an honourable by-product of their members’ money making endeavours. The answer is quite simple: It is no longer tenable to dispute – unless of course you are a member of the governing Coalition and the conservative commentariat – that wind and solar are clearly the cheapest and cleanest option, and with the backing of smart systems and storage, the most reliable too. The experts have made this abundantly clear. The fact that wind and solar offer the cheapest source of bulk generation has been known for some time. Solar prices have plunged  more than 90 per cent over the past decade, and wind by around 60 per cent. The two leading expert bodies in Australia – the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator – have made this abundantly clear: Even with storage, wind and solar offer the cheapest option for dispatchable power, and battery storage costs continue to fall and the technology continues to amaze with its versatility. All major bodies have recognised that the introduction of wind and solar has been a key factor is bringing down wholesale electricity prices over the last year – with some help from increased efficiency and lower gas prices. And last week, AEMO made a point in its annual Electricity Statement of Opportunities that it was the addition of more than 4,200 megawatts of new wind and solar capacity over the past year that had improved grid reliability, so much so that it saw no shortfall of the country’ strict reliability standards for the next 10 years. Its chief concern was the increasing frailty of the ageing coal fleet, and the threat of sudden losses of large units as the machinery struggled to cope with intense heatwaves and other extreme conditions. This week, The Australia Institute has reminded us how dramatically the grid has and is changing, and perhaps the most astounding figures have been the growing share of renewables which has matched a parallel fall in electricity emissions. According to analyst Hugh Saddler, emissions from sent out generation in Australia’s main...

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Wind and solar farms face more cutbacks due to new network constraints

Wind and solar farms face more cutbacks due to new network constraints

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 1 September 2020 – Large scale wind and solar farms in South Australia are being affected by two new network constraints revealed over the past week, adding to the growing amount of problems affecting the sector. The new constraints affect the two main links from South Australia to Victoria, one because of network equipment failure that could last another 12 months, and the other the result of growing concerns about the stability of the grid in north-west Victoria. The biggest constraint is being imposed on the Heywood inter-connector, where flows from South Australia to Victoria are being restricted from 650MW to 420MW as a result of the failure in July of a “static VAR compensator” (SVC) at Para in South Australia, which is not expected to return to service until mid-2021. The other restriction was imposed on Thursday on the MurrayLink HVDC connection to the north, where flows from South Australia to Victoria are being restricted from 220MW to 95MW by the Australian Energy Market Operator because “new technical issues impacting grid performance and operational stability have been identified”. The West Murray region has been highly problematic, with concerns about system strength and voltage problems resulting in the halving of output from five big solar farms for more than seven months, warnings of “material” constraints in south-west NSW due to grid congestion, and other constraints in what has become known as the “rhombus of regret” in Victoria, referring to the shape of the network in that region. The MurrayLink constraint could be in place until mid-October while AEMO seeks potential solutions, and many wind and solar farms in South Australia may find their output constrained, or forced to switch off altogether, when normally they might expect to be able to export surplus capacity to the neighbouring state. This occurred this weekend, when at least eight wind farms and one large scale solar farm in South Australia had their output cut to zero at various times on Saturday – despite the windy conditions – because of near record low demand in their own state and the new export limits, which caused negative prices over much of the last two days. Some wind or solar facilities will always switch off when prices are negative, but others were obliged to do so because there was simply no way to export the surplus power. Among those reduced to zero output were all three Lake Bonney wind farms, all three Snowtown wind farms, the Mt Millar, Lincoln Gap and Cathedral Rock wind farms, and the Tailem Bend solar farm. Nine South Australia wind farms affected by low demand, network constraints, and negative prices on Saturday. Source: Anero.id The issue was further complicated by relatively low demand...

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Mining city Broken Hill to host one of world’s biggest renewable micro-grids

Mining city Broken Hill to host one of world’s biggest renewable micro-grids

One Step Off The Grid Giles Parkinson 12 August 2020 – The iconic mining city of Broken Hill in the far west of New South Wales is set to host one of the world’s largest renewable mini-grids, powered almost entirely by solar, wind and grid scale storage. The proposal comes from the transmission company Transgrid, which says it is seizing on the opportunity to replace the city’s ageing back-up diesel generators with “21st century technology”. The main thrust of this will be investment in storage facilities to support the existing wind and solar resources in the region – principally the 200MW Silverton wind farm (pictured above) and the 52MW Broken Hill solar farm, both owned by the renewables investment fund PARF, part owned by AGL. The interesting, and possibly surprising part of the Transgrid proposal is its choice of storage options. It considered a range of big battery proposals – ranging from 73MW with four hours of storage to 50MW and 90 minutes storage supported by demand response (including one big battery proposal from AGL). But Transgrid has chosen as its preferred option a huge 150-200MW compressed-air storage facility with 1,550MWh of storage proposed by Canadian company Hydrostor. It will be the world’s biggest compress air energy storage facility. Transgrid appears to have done this because it prefers “synchronous generation” rather than grid-forming battery inverters – which are relatively new, although recently proven in several smaller off-grid applications and with the Dalrymple battery in South Australia. The only other such project of note in Australia is a 5MW installation with two hours of storage proposed by Hydrostor for an old zinc mine in South Australia. Hydrostor has a big blue blob on the map of Australia near Broken Hill that identifies a “near term” development opportunity that could now come true. Like the AGL battery study, its project was one of 14 storage proposals for NSW that received funding by the NSW government for feasibility studies. Hydrostor describes Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) as similar to pumped hydro, delivering long duration storage by using a proprietary thermal management system and the use of purpose-built hard-rock air-storage caverns. Presumably, the mining town of Broken Hill provides plenty of options for such caverns. The air is then released to spin a turbine. “This creates a wonderful opportunity to bring Broken Hill back up into the 21st century,” Andrew Kingsmill, the head of Transgrid’s network planning told a webinar on Wednesday. Broken Hill,  a city of 17,000 people built on mining and now also a major tourist destination, current gets its electricity supply from a single transmission line that runs over 250km from the southern New South Wales town of Buronga, on the Murray River. When that line goes down, or there is a...

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North-facing rooftop solar panels rarely best for consumers – or the grid

North-facing rooftop solar panels rarely best for consumers – or the grid

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 14 August 2020 – A University of South Australia study has found that the nation-wide habit of facing rooftop PV panels to the north could be short-changing solar households – and adding to the “duck-curve” shaped problems of Australia’s increasingly solar saturated grids. The study, by UniSA solar researcher Kirrilie Rowe and Associate Professor Peter Pudney, calculated the optimal self-consumption panel orientations for a community of 29 individual dwellings and a residential building with 42 apartments in Australia. And what it revealed is that when it comes to solar self-consumption, optimal panel placement is rarely towards the equator. The study found that in both cases – of the individual dwellings and the apartment building – if the panel area was small enough so that the household would not export, then facing the panel north remained the best option. But as rooftop solar system sizes increased, it became better to mount the panels facing north-west to meet the afternoon loads, and if even more panel area was available then panels should be faced north-east and west. “The real challenge now facing the solar industry is finding ways to balance production and consumption by maximising self-consumption for the solar panel owner,” said Rowe in a UniSA release on Monday. “Solar panels on residential dwellings are typically installed facing the equator to maximise the energy collected, but the power generated by an equator-facing panel peaks at around midday, whereas residential loads typically have peaks in the morning and afternoon. “By orienting panels in different directions rather than just facing the equator, it’s possible to minimise the shortfall between load and generation. “This benefits the end-user by decreasing the amount of electricity required to be imported, and the stability of the grid by decreasing the amount of variability between peak and low loads.” Rowe says this kind of thinking, placing the emphasis on rooftop solar self-consumption, could be very valuable in the near-term as distributed solar uptake increases and the cost of solar batteries remains prohibitive. The University says it offers a simple approach to improving self-consumption without increasing set-up costs on new PV systems, and potentially also for use in remodelling existing systems. “The information on how to orient solar panels to minimise power shortfall is useful to groups developing housing precincts and has been used to design a renewable energy system for a retirement village with 24 dwellings,” Rowe said. “Future work will incorporate energy storage into the...

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Coal generation kills 800 a year in Australia, says new report

Coal generation kills 800 a year in Australia, says new report

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 25 August 2020 – The human cost of burning fossil fuels to generate energy has been laid bare in a new report from Greenpeace this week, with pollution from Australia’s coal-fired power plants found to be causing hundreds of premature deaths a year, as well as asthma symptoms in thousands of children. The report, titled Lethal Power, was put together by a group of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals, including former Australian of the year Professor Fiona Stanley, coal pollution expert Dr Aidan Farrow, and economist and former leader of the federal Liberal Party, Dr John Hewson. It finds that pollution from Australia’s 22 remaining black and brown coal power stations is responsible for 800 premature deaths, 14,000 asthma symptoms among children, and 850 cases of low birth weight in newborns each year. And it calls on governments to ramp up Australia’s pollution and emissions standards, both to protect the health of its people and to help speed up the exit of coal plants from the national electricity market. Jonathan Moylan, Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner, said many Australians would be shocked to learn that coal power plants in Australia were more loosely regulated than their counterparts in China and the EU. In April of this year, National Pollutant Inventory data showed that the Vales Point black coal-fired power station in New South Wales had recorded a sharp spike in the release of various pollutants in the 2018-19 financial year. This included an almost threefold increase in PM2.5 particulate pollution, which can lead to respiratory and heart conditions, as well as increases in other pollutants. Delta, at the time, denied the plant had a dangerous pollution problem – despite it being one of Australia’s largest greenhouse gas emitters – and argued that the data reflected “the diminished performance of a number of filter bags” that coincided with the time of testing. “The evidence is in; Air pollution from burning coal kills,” said Hewson in a statement on Wednesday, accompanying the report’s release. “Governments of all stripes must now come up with a plan to ensure coal is completely phased out and replaced with renewable energy as quickly as possible, with regional plans to prepare communities for the economic adjustment. This transition should be the urgent policy focus.” Worryingly, however, many of Australia’s governments appear more focused on propping up polluting and inefficient coal plants that shutting them down. Vales Point is expected to receive as much as $11 million from the federal government’s UNGI scheme to help pay for upgrades. And with the threat of dangerous climate change still not enough to shock the Morrison government into action, the Greenpeace report this week hopes to use the weight...

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Crossbench pushes Coalition to support ISP and community renewables projects

Crossbench pushes Coalition to support ISP and community renewables projects

Renew Economy Michael Mazengrab 24 August 2020 – The federal crossbench has called on the Morrison government to provide support for community renewable energy projects, saying that it was critical for ensuring local and regional communities were able to benefit from a ‘boom’ in wind and solar energy investment. Independent MP for Indi, Helen Haines, moved the motion on Monday, which calls on the Morrison government to establish a dedicated agency to support the creation of community renewable energy projects, to ensure local communities can benefit from what the CSIRO estimates will be $1 trillion spent on energy through to 2050. Haines’ electorate is home to the ground-breaking Yackandandah community project pushing for 100 per cent renewables, and the motion was seconded by Independent member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, who ousted former PM Tony Abbott in last year’s election. The motion calls on parliament to “[acknowledge] that ‘community energy’, which is where a renewable energy project is developed by, owned by or delivers benefit to local communities, offers a compelling model for capturing the immense benefits of renewable energy, including jobs and investment, for local communities in regional Australia.” The motion also calls on the Morrison government to provide direct financial and technical support for local communities to develop community renewable energy projects, and to establish a “dedicated national community energy agency”, to support the development of new community run renewable energy projects. Haines said that regional Australia would play a predominant role in the transition to clean energy, and it was important that regional communities were able to directly benefit from the opportunities created in this transition. “Australia’s future is renewable, and Australia’s renewables will be built almost entirely in regional Australia. These aren’t political statements, they are the sober findings of the engineers at the Australian Energy Market Operator,” Haines said. “Who have mapped out a technical blueprint, the Integrated System Plan for Australia’s electricity needs over the next 20 years.” “That plan shows that in that timeframe, over 60 per cent of our coal fleet will reach the end of its life. It will retire, it will breakdown, it will be gone. Because the cost of renewables, even when you add the cost of storage, are cheaper than fossil fuels, these coal power stations will be replaced by solar and wind.” “As we look for ways to rebuild our economy from the crisis that we are now in, harnessing this 21st-century gold rush for the benefit of everyday people is one of our greatest opportunities. It is right here, right now, and it is before us if we grasp it,” Haines added. “The renewable boom is exciting, but it should happen with locals, not to locals....

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Solar pushes Queensland daytime grid demand to lowest level in 16 years

Solar pushes Queensland daytime grid demand to lowest level in 16 years

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 24 August 2020 – Daytime electricity demand in Queensland reached a new low on the weekend, with the Sunshine State’s huge large-scale and rooftop solar resources combining to push scheduled demand to 3,889MW in the early afternoon on Sunday, August 23 – its lowest level since late in 2004. According to Global Roam’s Paul McArdle, daytime electricity demand for the Queensland region on Sunday fell to 3,911MW at the 11.45am dispatch, and then to 3,896MW at the 12.15pm dispatch, and then lower again to 3,889MW after 1pm. McArdle says that according to a check run through NEMreview v7, the levels of demand on Sunday were the lowest seen since in roughly 16 years, since late in 2004. And, as McArdle also notes in this Watt Clarity article, this is even more impressive considering comparable low points in demand back in the early 2000s would most likely have occurred in the very early hours of the morning, or possibly on major public holidays such as Christmas day, if the weather was cool. On Sunday, the low demand might have been boosted by ample sunshine, combined with the effects of the “Antarctic blob” that delivered a cold blast up and down Australia’s east coast, reducing the demand for energy to run air conditioners at a traditionally low-demand time of the week. “The Queensland ‘duck’ (as in ‘duck curve’) is getting hungry…” McArdle says. The new milestone comes after AEMO reported the highest level of wind and solar output late last...

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