“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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Will the solar roof tile ever crack the mainstream market?

Will the solar roof tile ever crack the mainstream market?

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 11 February 2021 – A roof in British Columbia with Ergosun solar roof tiles. Image: Ergosun A Canada-based company called Ergosun caught One Step’s eye this week with a pitch to the Spanish market for its “ready to install” Integrated Solar Roof Tile – a product engineered in the UK and so far rolled out to the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, South Africa, and Jamaica. Ergosun, it appears, is expanding its presence in the relatively niche market of residential solar roof tiles, with an integrated PV product it says has a “harmonious” appearance, an easy ”click & play” installation process, and is “respectful with the environment.” The tiles are designed to be installed on a section, or sections, of a roof, and then integrated with similar-looking regular roofing tiles. Ergosun says each tile can produce 15W of energy of peak power and can perform as an individual solar PV panel, each having a module, junction box and integrated MC4 connectors, allowing for “click & play” installation. (The system on the house above is said to be able to produce up to 8kWh of energy.) In the Spanish market, Ergosun will be competing with another company called Tejas Borja, which has manufacturing rooftop tiles in Valencia for over a century, but has recently started producing a solar version, the Solar Flat-5XL, which comprises a slim-line ceramic tile overlaid with PV panel. And there are bound to be many more contenders in Europe. In the US, of course, Elon Musk’s electric vehicle and battery juggernaut, Tesla, has its own plans for world domination with its sleek solar glass shingles, dubbed the Solar Roof, a residential PV product that Musk in 2019 predicted would achieve market growth “like kelp on steroids.” This has not happened. At least, not yet. Certainly, in Australia, Tesla’s Solar Roof is nowhere to be seen, despite having opened to orders – with a $1000 deposit – almost exactly a year ago. In response to an inquiry through the Tesla Australia website, One Step was told that the Solar Roof could still be 12 to 24 months away from being available. Elsewhere on the Australian market, we have seen the Flat SOLARtile, which was launched with some fanfare in April of 2019 by Chinese thin-film solar specialist Hanergy in partnership with local industrial giant CSR. As reported at the time, the two companies had agreed to begin pre-sales of the Thin Film Flat SOLARtile in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, Japan and United States markets, ahead of an official global launch later the same year. But the SOLARtiles, which were to be marketed through CSR roofing subsidiary Monier, are still “coming soon” according to the website. (Monier does also offer an InlineSOLAR...

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https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/rooftop-solar-installs-off-to-quick-start-in-january-up-23-on-last-year/

https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/rooftop-solar-installs-off-to-quick-start-in-january-up-23-on-last-year/

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 5 February 2021 – Australia’s rooftop solar market continues to beat the odds – and the global pandemics – closing out the first month of 2021 with new installations up nearly one-quarter on the same time last year, even as the industry and took a well earned break. The latest data from market analysts SunWiz shows that Australian households and businesses added a total of 249MW to the national rooftop solar tally in January, led by installations in New South Wales (77MW), Queensland (60MW), and Victoria (54MW). The numbers are a 21 per cent drop on the installations recorded in December 2020, but considering January is a typically quiet month, and considering the market has started 2021 with a 23 per cent jump on January 2020, SunWiz calls it a “reasonable start to the year.” “All the states witnessed a sudden drop in January accounting to the public holidays in December,” SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston says in the January report. “There is [also] a slight dip in the capacity registered in most of the commercial size ranges in January,” he adds. Even the average system size dropped slightly to 8.27kW. On a state-by-state basis, New South Wales continues to lead the monthly installation numbers, a trend that has been playing out for some time now, although Queensland still leads the country for the total installed capacity of rooftop solar (at or below 100kW). The SunWiz report also notes that the last few months have seen a slight turn around in the share of commercial solar for all of the Australian states, except for Victoria, where residential and small commercial has been the...

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The changing state of retiring solar panels

The changing state of retiring solar panels

Solar Power World By Mr. Dwight Clark, Chief Compliance Officer 22 December 2020 – On Jan. 1, California will be the first state in the nation to add hazardous waste solar panels to its universal waste program, a move intended to promote solar panel recycling and reuse and to keep them out of landfills. This reclassification will have significant implications on how spent PV solar panels are managed in the state. Many of the changes are positive Prior to this change, PV solar panels have been subject to the full requirements of California’s hazardous waste regulations, because discarded solar panels may potentially exhibit hazardous waste characteristics. These current California regulations state the generators of solar panel waste, (such as the project owner, project operator, or other service provider) bear the burden of performing testing to confirm if their material is hazardous. This determination can involve costly and technically challenging sampling of the PV solar panel to determine this characteristics. But under the universal waste classification proposed in that state, project operators, waste handlers and transporters can opt to treat the panels as universal waste without the need for testing. By being classified as universal waste, PV solar panels will now be subject to a streamlined set of standards, compared to other types of hazardous waste, that are intended to ease regulatory burden and promote recycling. For example, under the universal waste requirements, handlers may accumulate PV solar panels for up to one year, while the general hazardous waste requirements only allow accumulation for 90 days (for large quantity generators). This longer accumulation period will allow handlers to transport the solar panels to destination facilities in bulk rather than on a more frequent basis, lowering transportation costs, one of the largest variables in disposal of PV solar panels. In addition, the universal waste requirements include fewer labeling and recordkeeping requirements and also allow waste to be transported without a hazardous waste manifest. What PV solar panels does this rule apply to? The PV solar panel(s) must first be a “waste”. This means, in the context of this rule, as a PV solar panel that has no known market(s) for its use as a PV solar panel. This includes not only used solar modules that are removed but units that are held within the supply chain (as unused solar modules) in which a decision has been made to dispose of the units or have become retrograde. “Retrograde material” means any hazardous material which is not to be used, sold or distributed for use in an originally intended or prescribed manner or for an originally intended or prescribed purpose and which meets any one or more of the following criteria:(a)(1) has undergone chemical, biochemical, physical...

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Utility-scale solar makes up nearly 30% of new U.S. electricity generation in 2020

Utility-scale solar makes up nearly 30% of new U.S. electricity generation in 2020

Solar Power World Kelly Pickerel 8 February 2021 – Renewable energy sources accounted for 78.09% of new utility-scale electrical generating capacity added to the U.S. grid in 2020, according to a review of FERC data by the SUN DAY Campaign. FERC’s latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report found that 28,751 MW of new utility-scale capacity was added last year, with renewable sources accounting for 22,451 MW. Wind (13,626 MW) and solar (8,543 MW) each contributed more new generating capacity than did natural gas (6,259 MW). Natural gas accounted for 21.77% of the total, with very small contributions by coal (30 MW), oil (6 MW), and “other” sources (5 MW) providing the balance. There were no new capacity additions by nuclear power or geothermal energy during the year. Wind farms added 5,004 MW in December alone and provided nearly half (47.39%) of the new capacity for the year. Solar accounted for 29.71% of new generating capacity. Combined with a small amount of hydropower, wind and solar were the only new sources of new generating capacity during six (June through November) of the 12 months of 2020   Renewable energy sources now account for 24.06% of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity and continue to expand their lead over coal (19.65%) and nuclear power (8.57%). The generating capacity of just wind (9.83%) is nearly one-tenth of the nation’s total while wind and solar combined account for 14.15% (not including residential solar). Ten years ago, FERC reported that installed renewable energy generating capacity was 13.71% of the nation’s total. Five years later, it had increased to 17.83%. With current capacity now at 24.06%, renewables now appear to be on track to reach — and likely exceed — 30% of the nation’s total generating capacity by 2025. The mix of all renewables is expected to add more than 59,308 MW of net new generating capacity to the nation’s total by December 2023 while the net new capacity from natural gas, coal, oil, and nuclear power combined will actually drop by more than 15,400 MW. If FERC’s projections prove accurate, over the next three years, renewable energy generating capacity should account for comfortably more than one-quarter of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity – increasing to 27.92%. Meanwhile, coal’s share will drop to 17.07%, nuclear’s to 7.93%, and oil’s to 2.76%. Natural gas’ share will also decline slightly to 44.15%, compared to 44.33% now. In fact, renewables’ share could — and probably will — be even higher. Over the past 23 months, FERC has been regularly increasing its renewable energy projections in the monthly “Infrastructure” reports. FERC’s first such projection — provided in its March 2019 report — forecast the addition of 36,608 MW of wind...

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Solar-plus-storage as an antidote to grid congestion in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido

Solar-plus-storage as an antidote to grid congestion in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido

PV Magazine Emiliano Bellini 9 February 2021 – Japan‘s northern island of Hokkaido has seen strong development of large-scale PV and wind in the past two decades due to relatively low costs of land compared to other regions in the country. As a result, however, renewables grid integration and grid stability have become challenging in the area, especially because the island has low energy demand. Although in 2019 a 300 MW interconnection line was switched on to enable some electricity exchange with Japan’s northeastern region of Tōhoku, grid congestion and stability in the island remain critical and grid operators are allowed to enforce curtailment against wind and solar power producers without compensation up to 30 days per year to balance supply and demand. A possible solution to make large-scale solar still viable in the region and to avoid curtailment from local network operators is the construction of plants connected to storage. A good example is being provided by a 6 MW / 21 MWh facility that Chinese inverter manufacturer Sungrow energised at the end of 2020. The plant relies on inverters and a containerised storage solution based on lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NCM) provided by the company and occupies a surface of around 85 hectares. “The batteries smooth the power generated, allowing it to be integrated into the grid more effectively,” the manufacturer said in a statement. “The robust design makes it durable and weather-resistant, especially important in Hokkaido where the temperature can be lower than -35 degrees Celsius.” Sungrow explained that the project is entitled to a high feed-in tariff of 21 JPY ($0.19)/ kWh but that the connected AC capacity of the plant is limited to only 845 kW due to limited grid availability. “As one of the countries with the most stringent grid codes, Japan presents us lots of opportunities and challenges,” Sungrow added, without providing more technical or financial details on the project. In October, SB Energy, a subsidiary of Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company SoftBank, completed a 102.3 MW / 27 MWh solar-plus-storage plant built on 132 hectares of land near the town of Yakumo. On the island of Hokkaido, there is currently another large-scale solar-plus-storage project under development. Property developer Tokyu Land is building a 92 MW of solar with 25.3 MWh of lithium-ion storage...

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South Australia to trial solar hot water virtual power plant to act as midday sponge

South Australia to trial solar hot water virtual power plant to act as midday sponge

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 8 February 2021 – Image: Solahart A South Australia-based trial will aggregate more than 2,400 residential hot water systems to act as a virtual big battery, helping to soak up excess rooftop solar power in the form of low-cost electricity and providing a cheap and scalable form of demand management. The $9.9 million trial, which is being backed by both the South Australian government and the federal government, via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, will use the technology of Rheem Australia’s renewables brand, Solahart. The project will integrate a Solahart Powerstore – a solar smart, grid interactive, electric water heater – with a home energy management system across both solar and non-solar households, as well as across different socioeconomic groups. Using a similar model to solar and battery-based virtual power plants, the Active Hot Water Control project households participating in the trial will be rewarded for such services as curbing electricity usage at peak times, participating in electricity price arbitrage, and providing network services to the grid. As ARENA notes in its statement on the trial, hot water systems are significant users of energy, as well as being some of the most basic energy storage devices available, and therefore obvious candidates for much smarter use, both by households and network operators. Queensland has been doing this for a while, with a time-of-use tariff used specifically by distributors to power residential hot water systems during periods of low electricity demand. This period of low demand has traditionally been the night time, but has lately shifted to the middle of the day, when abundant solar generation pushes prices right down. In South Australia, where booming rooftop solar uptake could see the state become the first gigawatt-scale grid in the world where consumer-generated solar electricity effectively eliminates grid demand, it is well past time that solutions like this were brought into play. “As more of Australia’s electricity comes from solar, we need to increasingly shift more of our energy consumption to daylight hours when solar PV is generating, rather than at night when solar isn’t available,” said Darren Miller, the CEO of ARENA, which put $1.98 million towards the trial – an amount matched by the SA government. “This trial will help to create a pathway to scale up the use of hot water systems in demand management, while rewarding customers for taking part in the trial through cheaper energy bills,” Miller said. Federal minister for energy and emissions reduction, Angus Taylor, said the project would help manage Australia’s world-leading uptake of rooftop solar.
 
“Solar power can only be used when the sun is shining, which is why we need to find more ways to...

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UK climate data shows why Australia’s best bet is with wind and solar

UK climate data shows why Australia’s best bet is with wind and solar

Renew Economy Ketan Joshi 6 February 2021 – Finalised estimates of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions from the years 1990 through to 2019 show that wind and solar have played a major role in the country’s pathway towards lower national emissions, with a deep potential for these two technologies driving future change in the country as efforts to electrify more sectors expand. “There was an 8% fall in emissions from the energy supply sector between 2018 and 2019,” wrote wrote the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Between 1990 and 2019, emissions in the UK fell a stunning 66%. “This decrease has resulted mainly from changes in the mix of fuels being used for electricity generation, including the growth of renewables; together with greater efficiency resulting from improvements in technology”. Historically, the energy sector has been the largest in terms of national emissions, but is now the second largest since 2016, with first place being taken by the UK’s transport sector. It is the demise of coal-fired power generation that has been the core of the drop in emissions. “Since 1990 there has been a decline in the use of coal at power stations and an increase in the use of gas, which has a lower carbon content so results in fewer emissions. Coal use in generation reduced by 96% between 1990 and 2019”. In 2019, gas fired power generation remained static while the use of renewables increased 9%. The data confirms a dynamic playing out in the country whereby much of the recent change is being driven by renewable energy. As gas persists, nuclear power reaches shut-down ages and other sectors electrify, the task for renewable energy will increase. The UK’s new finalised emissions data also confirm that a wind down of the country’s coal, gas and oil extraction sectors has contributed significantly to falling emissions. This slice of the country’s energy sector emissions shows extractive industries highlighted in green: A recent release by analytics firm Ember Climate found that the UK achieved a milestone in 2020 (not yet covered in the country’s emissions data) for its power grid, with the combined output of wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy eclipsing the output of fossil fuels for the first time on record. The trend is set to continue, and of those technologies, it is wind that has done the heavy lifting, with bioenergy and hydro static since the mid 2010s and solar only growing slowly. If Australia were to follow along a pathway of similarly deep cuts in emissions in the grid, the rapid shutdown of coal-fired power stations would have to be a priority. But accelerating their shutdown has not been a focus of either of the major party’s climate...

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New energy deal to bring large-scale battery to Melbourne CBD

New energy deal to bring large-scale battery to Melbourne CBD

ENERGY Imogen Hartmann 27 January 2021 – Community-scale battery storage in the Melbourne CBD and inner-city suburbs is a step closer thanks to a recently signed agreement between the Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) and Victorian electricity distributor, CitiPower. The partnership will investigate a ground-breaking new model of community battery ownership including crowdsourcing local investment, in what is considered a Victorian-first. The aim is to create a network of batteries, or ‘solar sponges’, located on the low-voltage electricity network across inner-Melbourne, which is operated by CitiPower. This unique trial will focus on creating a sustainable commercial model that delivers benefits for consumers and networks. The project’s first phase is underway to identify the trial sites and gauge community sentiment as well as develop the potential funding model and relationships with market service providers including energy retailers. This will inform the second phase, which will aim to deploy the batteries on a broader scale in late 2021. Dean Kline, Chief Executive Officer at the Yarra Energy Foundation, said, “The battery network would work as a solar sponge, absorbing power from solar during the day and releasing it during peak times and at night. This would provide customer, community and network benefits.” As household batteries remain relatively expensive, “shared batteries are a smart solution to give households and businesses reliable and affordable energy when they need it,” Mr Kline said. Forecasts for the Australian solar market indicate that with more people working from home, higher than normal electricity consumption could make solar an even more attractive option for families and small businesses. CitiPower’s General Manager, Electricity Networks, Mark Clarke, said the penetration of rooftop solar in the CitiPower network was currently low at around five per cent of the 332,000 customers but was expected to reach 24 per cent by 2026. “With this renewable energy source growing it is a good time to be investigating the potential for connecting batteries to support the whole community,” Mr Clarke said. “By sharing the batteries, customers can make the most of their investment in solar. It benefits all CitiPower customers, even if they don’t have rooftop solar, as batteries help reduce the cost of building network capacity to accommodate more power and manage localised peak demand, particularly in summer.” The first battery is expected to be trialed later in 2021. Financial modelling has commenced and the project has already received interest from investors. Yarra Energy Foundation is a not-for-profit providing services and advice to homes and businesses that want better energy, with core funding provided by Yarra City Council. CitiPower owns and operates the distribution network that delivers electricity to over 332,000 residential households and commercial customers across Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs and is...

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Inverter issues hit NSW solar farms, just as owner seeks buyer offers

Inverter issues hit NSW solar farms, just as owner seeks buyer offers

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 2 February 2021 – Inverter issues have hit production at the two New South Wales solar farms being offered for sale by the listed solar investor New Energy Solar. The company announced on Tuesday that the output from the 110MW (DC) Beryl and 57MW Manildra solar farms were 18.3 per cent below its “weather adjusted” expectations for the December quarter, as a result of the inverter problems it says are now “largely” rectified. “During the quarter, Beryl and Manildra experienced some inverter malfunctions that contributed to underperformance during the period,” the company said in its quarterly report. “Replacing the failed inverters at Beryl was largely completed during December, while at Manildra new inverter components have been ordered and replacement is expected to occur in the coming weeks.” It said Beryl also sustained damage from a lightning strike in December, which damaged cables and led to inverters being offline for a few days, although all these issues have since been remediated and plant performance has improved. It is not the first time issues have emerged at Beryl. The company said in June last year that unidentified “component issues” had affected production. The solar farm had been bought from First Solar and featured Ingeteam inverters. “Beryl and Manildra also experienced intermittent curtailment directed by AEMO as a result of grid issues across the central-west of New South Wales,” it said. The timing of the inverter problems is not the best for New Energy Solar, which reluctantly put these and other assets up for sale late last year out of frustration that the market was not properly valuing its solar portfolio, which is mostly based in the US. New Energy Solar has argued that its two NSW solar farms are high-quality assets, with proven operations and long-term investment-grade offtake contracts with an average tenor of 12 years. Manildra is contracted to EnergyAustralia and Beryl to Kellogg and NSW Metro. It says the “indicative bid phase” will commence this quarter, and expects the sales process to be completed in the middle of the year. It will use the money raised for security buybacks, capital returns and debt reduction. It’s not the only solar farm sales process currently underway. FRV has put its eight solar farm portfolio up for tender, according to repeated newspaper stories. Blackrock is reportedly looking to sell the co-located Hayman and Daydream solar farms in Queensland known as the Gretel portfolio, whileElliott Green Power Australia is also rumoured to be testing the market for its solar farms, which include 98MW Susan River and 75MW Childers solar farms in Queensland, and the 132MW Nevertire solar farm in NSW. UK Infrastructure investorJohn Laing – which has decided to get out of...

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Companies are powering ahead with big battery projects, but a ‘lack of certainty’ by governments could deter good investment

Companies are powering ahead with big battery projects, but a ‘lack of certainty’ by governments could deter good investment

ABC News Andy Oark 28 January 2021 – Grid-scale battery projects from firms like AGL, Origin Energy and Neoen are racing ahead despite the divergent energy and emission goals of governments, which create a “lack of certainty”, according to the New South Wales Energy Minister. Key points: Several new battery projects have been announced in New South Wales by power companies looking to get ahead as coal-fired power stations are phased out However, there are concerns the patchwork approach as a result of differing objectives between governments will deter good investment The Energy Security Board is expected to make recommendations on a market framework in the coming months “The number one complaint I get from business and industry is that there is a lack of certainty because of the policy settings across the country,” Minister Matt Kean told 7.30. “What we’ve done with our [NSW] energy roadmap is put very clear markers in the ground, so that everyone understands the framework. “NSW was one of the first states in the country to adopt a net zero emissions target. We also are responding to the challenges that we face in our system. “NSW, over the next 15 years, will see four of its existing coal-fired power stations come to the end of their technical lives … [we] need to ensure that we don’t see price spikes and blackouts as a result of not having a policy in place.” Battery wars Built by Tesla in response to the nation’s first statewide blackout, the Hornsdale battery in South Australia is the biggest in the country, having recently been upgraded to 150 megawatts. Now the race is heating up in NSW, with a new 500MW battery project announced by French firm Neoen at Wallerawang near Lithgow. Origin Energy has ambitious plans for a 700MW battery at Australia’s largest coal-fired power station at Eraring, NSW. The Liddell Power Station, pictured above, will be closing down in 2022.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts) AGL is pushing ahead with 1,000MW distributed across several sites, including the coal-fired Liddell power station, due to be shuttered by 2022. Tony Wood, energy director at the Grattan Institute, says these firms are trying to get “ahead of the game”. “What they’re doing is effectively staking out the territory, then announcing these investments. And the good news is these are commercial investments being made by private companies, and they’re not being driven by government subsidies,” Mr Wood said. Concerns about stability Kerry Schott, the independent chair for the Energy Security Board, recently raised concerns about grid stability in reference to incoming renewables. “We’re also increasingly seeing the impacts on frequency and system strength. And that’s the thing that the market design needs to change,” Ms Schott said....

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Using solar energy and agriculture to limit climate change, assist rural communities

Using solar energy and agriculture to limit climate change, assist rural communities

Science Daily Oregon State University 4 January 2021 – Co-developing land for both solar photovoltaic power and agriculture could provide 20% of total electricity generation in the United States with an investment of less than 1% of the annual U.S. budget, a new paper by Oregon State University researchers found. Wide-scale installation of agrivoltaic systems could lead to an annual reduction of 330,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S — the equivalent of 75,000 cars off the road per year — and the creation of more than 100,000 jobs in rural communities, while minimally impacting crop yield, the researchers say. “Agrivoltaics provide a rare chance for true synergy: more food, more energy, lower water demand, lower carbon emissions, and more prosperous rural communities,” said Chad Higgins, an associate professor in Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and the senior author of the paper published in the journal Sustainability. Agrivoltaics also align with the goals of the Green New Deal, a package of federal legislation that seeks to address climate change and economic inequalities, Higgins said. “Rural America, agriculture in particular, can be the solution to many of our concerns, whether it be renewable energy, mitigating climate change impacts, sustainable food or good water resource management,” Higgins said. “That connection is untapped mostly because there hasn’t been sufficient investment in those communities. “What we propose in this paper is all possible. It’s technically possible. It’s politically possible. And it would make money after the initial investment. That’s the takeaway — that we should take a hard look at agriculture as a solution to problems rather than a cause of problems.” The analysis outlined in the paper prepares Higgins for the next phase of his agrivoltaics research, which includes the installation of a fully functional solar farm designed to prioritize agricultural activities on five acres of Oregon State’s North Willamette Research and Extension Station in Aurora, Oregon, 20 miles south of Portland. The next phase aims to demonstrate to the agricultural community and potential future funders how Higgins’s findings can be applied in real world agricultural systems to encourage early adoption. Ground is expected to be broken in May 2021 with production expected to start in 2022. In the Sustainability paper, Higgins and his co-author, Kyle Proctor, a doctoral student in his lab, find that an area about the size of Maryland would be needed for agrivoltaics to meet 20% of U.S. electricity generation. That’s about 13,000 square miles, or 1% of current U.S. farmland. The cost of the agrivoltaic arrays would be $1.12 trillion over a 35-year project life. The researchers believe that the private sector would invest in the bulk of the construction costs with the federal government...

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Eclipsed by Chinese rivals, Panasonic quits solar cells and panels

Eclipsed by Chinese rivals, Panasonic quits solar cells and panels

Nikkei Asia Staff Writer 32 January 2021 – OSAKA — Panasonic will withdraw from solar cells and panel production, Nikkei has learned, as the former leading maker now faces fierce competition from Chinese rivals that can produce the items at a lower cost. Panasonic will quit manufacturing as early as March 2022 at factories in Malaysia and Japan’s Shimane Prefecture. The move marks a complete exit from the solar manufacturing business after the Osaka-based company scrapped a partnership with Tesla that produced solar cells last year. Panasonic will procure solar panels from other manufacturers to stay in the power industry through such businesses as installing generation systems for residential use. According to the International Energy Agency, the amount of new solar power generation this year is expected to reach 117 million kilowatts, up 10% from the previous year. Due to the increased production by Chinese manufactures, the price of solar panels has fallen to about a third of 2012 prices. The lower prices from Chinese rivals forced Japanese manufacturing out of production. Panasonic’s solar cell and panel business has been in the red. Currently most sales are based on domestic demand. However, demand is not expected to grow as an incentive program for household solar power generation in Japan has been being rolled back since November 2019. Panasonic had been building on the solar cell business of Sanyo Electric, which it turned into a full subsidiary in 2011. The original technology, HIT, was considered to have the highest efficiency in the world at the time in converting sunlight into electric power. In 2009, Panasonic had its sights set on becoming a top-three manufacturer, but is now out of the top five due to price wars with Chinese companies that have taken 30% of the market share. However, Panasonic plans to stay in the renewable energy business, focusing on such segments as power management systems for smart cities. After ending solar panel manufacturing, the Shimane factory will concentrate on the production of power conditioners that convert electricity extracted from solar cell panels from direct current to alternating current. Its Osaka factory, which produces in-vehicle panels, is expected to relocate its employees. With the withdrawal of Panasonic, Kyocera and Sharp will be the only major companies in Japan that produce solar batteries and panels. The global share is now dominated by Chinese manufacturers such as JinkoSolar, and the Japanese makers who once led the market are losing...

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NT to build world’s largest solar farm

NT to build world’s largest solar farm

9 Staff News 28 January 2021 – The Northern Territory will be home to the world’s largest solar farm after an $8 billion agreement. The deal with Sun Cable will see a 12,000-hectare solar farm built near Elliott, a small town on the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs. Once operational, power from the site will be available constantly, with the solar farm supporting the 30-gigawatt storage facility. A massive solar energy project is going ahead in the Northern Territory. (Daniel Munoz) The project will create 1500 jobs during construction and 350 ongoing positions once operations begin, the NT Government claimed. However, it’s going to be a while before any power is produced, with construction for the project set to begin immediately after financial close in October 2023. The NT Government claimed that by 2027, the Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) would have the capacity to provide a significant amount of renewable energy for the Territory, as well as up to 20 per cent of Singapore’s electricity supply. Once up and running, it’s estimated the project will export $1 billion worth of solar electricity each year. Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the solar farm would put the NT on the “international map” for renewable energy. “Territorians are already seeing the benefits of this investment, with Sun Cable hiring more than a dozen Darwin firms for initial works,” he said. “This project will transform the Territory into a renewable energy powerhouse, and cement our position as Australia’s comeback...

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Home solar and batteries “the norm” in new Brisbane property developments

Home solar and batteries “the norm” in new Brisbane property developments

  One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 27 January 2021 – Two residential developments being built in suburban Brisbane will feature “futuristic” new homes fitted out with rooftop solar, battery storage and heat pump hot water systems, a standard the Queensland government hopes will become “the norm” in the state as it aims for net-zero emissions by 2050. The state Labor government-led developments, one in Carseldine in Brisbane’s north and the other in the south-western suburb of Oxley, will include AlphaESS and Tesla Powerwall home batteries, respectively, with the Powerwalls offering the option to link to a virtual power plant. Queensland deputy premier Steven Miles said both developments would demonstrate the use of innovation across different housing markets, with Carseldine Village featuring terrace homes and Songbird at Oxley catering for traditional detached homes. “We’re hoping to inspire more home builders and developers to design and build sustainable, net zero emission homes across Queensland.” The construction of new housing developments, and indeed whole new suburbs, with solar and batteries included off the plan is nothing new in Australia, but neither is it anywhere near as common as it should be. In this case, the fact that the developer is the state government, via Economic Development Queensland (EDQ), offers a promising sign that policy-makers might be close to pushing for higher standards from industry. Certainly, this would be good news for consumers. The combination of the batteries, alongside the solar PV and other energy smart and efficient features – including being “electric vehicle charger ready” – is expected to save home owners at both the Brisbane developments between $1,600 and $2,000 a year on energy costs. “All the Carseldine Village terrace homes and the Oxley Songbird detached residential dwellings homes will come with solar PV, battery storage systems, heat pump hot water systems, WiFi air conditioning and will be electric vehicle charger ready,” said Miles, who is also Queensland’s minister for state development. “This could save owners up to $1600 per year off their power bills.” That figure comes from an energy assessment that compared an average existing Brisbane home to a similar sized energy efficient terrace home at the Carseldine Village development, which will pair solar with an AlphaESS battery system. The Oxley Songbird development, meanwhile, will tap a “landmark deal” with Natural Solar and Tesla that will offer on- and off-grid capability, and the option to link into a virtual power plant to generate extra revenue for the homebuyer, said Miles. “This is incredible technology which will mean that in the event of a Queensland storm or power-outage in Oxley, these homes will still have power, so they will be able to use their fridge, lights, and favourite...

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Community battery “solar sponges” to be trialled across Melbourne network

Community battery “solar sponges” to be trialled across Melbourne network

One Step Off ‘The Grid Sophie Vorrath 27 January 2021 – A series of community-scale batteries will be installed across the inner-city suburbs of Melbourne, in a joint venture between local network distribution company CitiPower and the not-for-profit Yarra Energy Foundation. The project, which is currently in its first phase of modelling and planning, aims to develop and roll out a “new” model of community battery ownership that will provide customer, community and network benefits, including acting as a “solar sponge” in areas of high rooftop PV uptake. On the customer side of the equation, the newly announced project will help to overcome one of the key barriers to home battery uptake in Australia – prohibitive cost. “Shared batteries are a smart solution to give households and businesses reliable and affordable energy when they need it,” said Yarra Energy Foundation CEO Dean Kline in a statement on Tuesday. For the network, said Kline, the shared battery network would work absorb excess rooftop PV generation during the day and release it during peak times and at night, offering a grid balancing service that would also deliver benefits to the broader community, in terms of grid and price stability. For Australian network companies, finding ways to manage the rapidly growing share of rooftop-generated solar power has become a race against time, particularly in hotspots like Western Australia and South Australia, the latter of which has seen solar provide more than 100 per cent of local demand. CitiPower says the penetration of rooftop solar on its Melbourne low-voltage network is currently relatively low, at around 5% of 332,000 customers, but was expected to reach 24% by 2026. “With this renewable energy source growing it is a good time to be investigating the potential for connecting batteries to support the whole community,” said CitiPower’s general manager of electricity networks, Mark Clarke. “By sharing the batteries, customers can make the most of their investment in solar. It benefits all CitiPower customers, even if they don’t have rooftop solar, as batteries help reduce the cost of building network capacity to accommodate more power and manage localised peak demand, particularly in summer.” The first battery is expected to be trialed later in 2021. Financial modelling has commenced and the project has already received interest from investors. The project is said to be a first for Victoria, but a similar community battery program has been rolled out in Western Australia as part of a state government bid to improve the electricity supply to parts of the Western Power grid without adding more poles and wires while also offering virtual home energy...

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Home solar and batteries “the norm” in new Brisbane property developments

Home solar and batteries “the norm” in new Brisbane property developments

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 25 January 2021 – Two residential developments being built in suburban Brisbane will feature “futuristic” new homes fitted out with rooftop solar, battery storage and heat pump hot water systems, a standard the Queensland government hopes will become “the norm” in the state as it aims for net-zero emissions by 2050. The state Labor government-led developments, one in Carseldine in Brisbane’s north and the other in the south-western suburb of Oxley, will include AlphaESS and Tesla Powerwall home batteries, respectively, with the Powerwalls offering the option to link to a virtual power plant. Queensland deputy premier Steven Miles said both developments would demonstrate the use of innovation across different housing markets, with Carseldine Village featuring terrace homes and Songbird at Oxley catering for traditional detached homes. “We’re hoping to inspire more home builders and developers to design and build sustainable, net zero emission homes across Queensland.” The construction of new housing developments, and indeed whole new suburbs, with solar and batteries included off the plan is nothing new in Australia, but neither is it anywhere near as common as it should be. In this case, the fact that the developer is the state government, via Economic Development Queensland (EDQ), offers a promising sign that policy-makers might be close to pushing for higher standards from industry. Certainly, this would be good news for consumers. The combination of the batteries, alongside the solar PV and other energy smart and efficient features – including being “electric vehicle charger ready” – is expected to save home owners at both the Brisbane developments between $1,600 and $2,000 a year on energy costs. “All the Carseldine Village terrace homes and the Oxley Songbird detached residential dwellings homes will come with solar PV, battery storage systems, heat pump hot water systems, WiFi air conditioning and will be electric vehicle charger ready,” said Miles, who is also Queensland’s minister for state development. “This could save owners up to $1600 per year off their power bills.” That figure comes from an energy assessment that compared an average existing Brisbane home to a similar sized energy efficient terrace home at the Carseldine Village development, which will pair solar with an AlphaESS battery system. The Oxley Songbird development, meanwhile, will tap a “landmark deal” with Natural Solar and Tesla that will offer on- and off-grid capability, and the option to link into a virtual power plant to generate extra revenue for the homebuyer, said Miles. “This is incredible technology which will mean that in the event of a Queensland storm or power-outage in Oxley, these homes will still have power, so they will be able to use their fridge, lights, and favourite streaming...

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Largest New York City solar project – with battery – set for JFK Airport

Largest New York City solar project – with battery – set for JFK Airport

One Step Off the Grid Joshua Hill – The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced this week that California solar company SunPower would develop a 13MW solar and 7.5MW battery storage project at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City – a project described as “a major step forward in meeting the agency’s aggressive sustainability goals.” The 13 MW/7.5 MW project will include a 6.1MW community solar generation facility providing access to solar energy for local communities at reduced rates. The remaining output from the project will be used onsite at JFK airport to help offset the Port Authority’s purchase of conventional electricity sources. When operational, the JFK International Airport Solar Photovoltaic Project will be the single-largest solar project in New York City and the largest planned community solar project at any airport in the United States. The project will also play a large part in the New York Port Authority’s efforts to implement solar and other renewable energy sources to power its operations around the city and honour its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. Specifically, the Port Authority expects the project will reduce JFK Airport’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10%, or 6,699 tonnes annually – the equivalent of taking 1,422 cars off the road each year. In the long term, the Port Authority is hoping to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent by 2025, and by 80 per cent by 2050. “As the first transportation agency in the country to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement, the Port Authority is committed to integrating clean energy technology at all of its facilities,” said Port Authority chairman Kevin O’Toole. “The Port Authority is excited to be part of this collaborative effort bringing together community stakeholders, government and private business to advance our regional sustainability goals.” The JFK International Airport Solar Photovoltaic Project is being developed by SunPower in partnership with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Goldman Sachs Renewable Power Group – the latter holding the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the project. However, Boston-based solar company BlueWave Solar will assist in providing communities in the vicinity of the airport with access to affordable clean electricity produced by the new solar system and managing the associated subscriptions and billing. “This is a landmark project that we are excited to support, and we commend the Port Authority and the New York Power Authority for bringing clean, affordable energy to JFK and the surrounding community,” said Jon Yoder, head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Renewable Power Group. The project will be built atop Building 141 – which will host 1 MW of rooftop solar – and the Long Term Parking Lot 9...

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New year, new solar beer as Moon Dog Brewing taps the sun

New year, new solar beer as Moon Dog Brewing taps the sun

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 11 January 2021 – Melbourne-based Moon Dog Brewing has joined the ranks of Australian beer makers powered by solar, with the installation of just under 100kW of rooftop PV at the Preston craft brewery and pub. The 99.8kW system, which was actually commissioned almost a year ago in the early part of 2020, was designed and installed by PV outfit Energis, using 317 PV panels and one Fimer PVS-100 inverter. The system also uses Fimer’s Aurora Vision monitoring program, which allows the craft brewery to keep constant tabs on how much power it is generating and offers the possibility to coordinate periods of high energy demand with high PV output. “Our site, like many other food and beverage sites, is power hungry, we have boilers, chill units and big packaging lines,” said Karl Van Buuren, Moon Dog’s co-founder. “Using Fimer’s monitoring solution allows us to see how much our solar is producing, which helps offset the large energy using equipment on-site. “We can see what time of day we are generating the most solar energy, plus see reporting on how much we are producing and consuming on a month-to-month basis.” Moon Dog numbers among a growing cohort of brewers, large and small, Australian and international, that are choosing to power their operations with renewable energy, ranging from onsite solar to wind and solar farm offtake deals. Big hitters include Lion Nathan, XXXX, and global heavyweight Anheuser Bosch In-Bev, which is the parent company of Fosters Group and CUB, to name just a couple of Australia’s biggest brewers. On the smaller side of the equation, One Step Off The Grid did a virtual tour of Australian solar craft breweries back in 2018. Obviously, an update is required. According to Moon Dog Brewing, its rooftop PV system – since being commissioned – has generated more than 110MWh of solar, cutting the business’ energy costs and emissions and inspiring the release of a limited edition India Pale Ale (IPA) called “The Future Is Bright.” Bottoms...

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Tesla unveils standalone inverter, “completing” home solar product line-up

Tesla unveils standalone inverter, “completing” home solar product line-up

One Step Off The Grid Michael Mazengarb 11 January 2021 – Tesla has unveiled the latest addition to its suite of energy products – launching a standalone solar inverter that fills a key gap in its household solar, storage and electric vehicle offering. Tesla quietly updated its website to include new details about its standalone inverter product – a device that converts the direct current (DC) power produced from rooftop solar panels and batteries into useful alternating current (AC) power, allowing solar energy to be used by household appliances or exported to the grid. The addition of the standalone inverter to the Tesla product line up is a key step towards establishing a completely integrated solar energy, battery storage and EV charging solution from Tesla. Tesla, which has offered solar panels as part of its energy products business since the acquisition of SolarCity in 2016, has had a slightly complicated relationship with inverters in the past. The company’s original Powerwall home battery offering required a separate inverter to be installed alongside it, while the Powerwall 2 heralded the arrival of the AC-coupled version of the battery that included an inverter, as well as a DC version that didn’t. Not long after that, Tesla killed off the DC version entirely. In the update this week, Tesla says the new inverter product “completes the Tesla home solar system” and reduces the need for third-party products to manage a household energy system. Tesla says that the new standalone inverter system has drawn upon the integrated inverter technology developed for the Powerwall 2 battery and is able to achieve a 97.5% conversion efficiency. Teslaalso  said that the new inverter would be compatible with both standard traditional solar panels, as well as Tesla’s own solar roof technology, which integrates solar cells into roofing tiles. According to specifications published by Tesla, the inverter will be offered in two sizes, with a 3.8kW and a 7.6kW capacity inverter being offered. The system will be built for both indoor and outdoor installation. Models will include wi-fi, ethernet and cellular connectivity, allowing the system to interact with the Tesla app and to receive over-the-air software updates. The inverter will measure at 660 mm in height and 411 mm in width, coming in at around one-third the size of the full Powerwall 2 system. The inverter will also come with a 12.5 year warranty, which is at the higher end of warranties offered for inverters from other manufacturers. It is not yet known if and when the inverter product will be available in...

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Rooftop solar market ends tricky 2020 by smashing records, surpassing 13GW total capacity

Rooftop solar market ends tricky 2020 by smashing records, surpassing 13GW total capacity

One Step Off The Grid Michael Matzengarb 11 January 2021 Australia’s rooftop solar market has defied a challenging 2020 to set a number of new installation records, with the market overcoming disruptions to grow by a massive 39 per cent year-on-year, new analysis from consultancy SunWiz has detailed. In its latest annual assessment of the rooftop solar market, SunWiz found that the industry had overcome disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and some tricky government policy settings, to record almost 3,000MW of new installations throughout 2020, with installation rates increasing as the year progressed. According to data collected on system registrations, 2020 ended the year with its strongest ever rate of new rooftop solar installations, with virtually every Australian state and territory recording the highest level of new small-scale solar installations in the month of December. Registration data was collected for systems with a capacity of up to 100kW based on the registration of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), with SunWiz noting that when medium scale commercial systems were taken into account, which are eligible for Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs), the rooftop solar market would have well exceeded the 3,000MW milestone in 2020. Credit: SunWiz “The year ended on a massive high, with a record-smashing 324 MW registered in December. Over 100MW of this was in NSW, and every major state contributed a record monthly tally,” SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston told RenewEconomy. “The capacity registered in the sub-100kW STC market fell a whisker short of 3GW, at 2.97GW. However, when you add in the commercial LGC rooftop market, well over 3GW of rooftop capacity was installed in 2020.” The end of year surge meant that several jurisdictions, including New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT setting new installation records for their second consecutive month, having already achieved unprecedented highs in November. New South Wales became the first state to register more than 100MW of new rooftop solar installations in a single month, surpassing the milestone in December. Credit: SunWiz SunWiz noted that the trend towards larger rooftop solar installations also continued throughout 2020, with growth in the number of commercial scale installations, as well as residential customers opting for larger systems as prices continue to fall, seeing the average system size approach 9kW. “As occurs each year, average system size also skyrocketed in December, as solar companies rushed to complete commercial installations before the STC subsidy reduced. COVID impacted commercial solar far greater than residential solar, so businesses servicing this segment will be glad of the strong end to the year,” Johnston added. Sunwiz’s analysis shows that while the Covid-19 pandemic had slowed installation rates in the first few months of the year, rooftop solar installations had quickly returned to...

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