Austrian agrivoltaic project includes sheep farming

Austrian agrivoltaic project includes sheep farming

PV Magazine Sandra Enkhardt 8 October 2020 – Maxsolar is building a ground-mounted, 11.5 MW solar plant near Wien where 150 Jura will graze. With Vienna hugely promoting renewables, power company Wien Energie has asked German project developer Maxsolar for an 11.5 MW photovoltaic, ground-mounted system on a former gravel dump. The project will have an agrivoltaic element as 150 Jura mountain sheep will graze between the 25,780 solar panels as “wandering lawnmowers” between April and October each year. The planners are also considering whether to include arable farming at the project. “In order to offer the sheep an optimal pasture area, special precautions are taken,” said Maxsolar. “Pasture seeds are sown, the photovoltaic modules are mounted slightly higher and all electrical components are well protected.” The modules – some of them vertical, east-west oriented bifacial panels – will offer shelter to the sheep and tractor cultivation would be possible of grains and vegetables grown between rows. The 12.5ha solar park would be Vienna’s largest and one of the biggest in Austria and Maxsolar said dual use could see the site, which is set to be commissioned in December, used 60% more efficiently. “One of the central questions of the energy transition is how the expansion of ground-mounted PV systems will have the most positive effect on environmental protection, agriculture and nature conservation,” said Maxsolar spokesman Thomas Hager. Power company MD Michael Strebl added: “Wien Energie has been massively promoting the expansion of solar power for years. Our focus is on the roofs of the city but that alone will not achieve the climate targets. Here at Schafflerhofstrasse, we are showing that ground-mounted systems also fit perfectly into the climate protection concept if they are designed...

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International report reveals that Australia should focus on renewables

International report reveals that Australia should focus on renewables

Energy Matters.co,.au 7 October 2020 – If Australia is fair dinkum (we had to) about creating jobs to lead our economy out of the COVID-19 recession, it needs to turn to renewables, not gas. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently outlined his government’s plan to use natural gas as the cornerstone of our economic recovery, stating there is “…no credible energy transition plan for an economy like Australia that does not involve the greater use of gas.” Under the Federal Government’s JobMaker plan, an Australian Gas Hub has been outlined that aims to get more gas into the market by setting enforceable supply targets in all states and territories, tapping into five key gas basins. These include the Beetaloo Basin in the NT and North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland, working with exporters to ensure there is no shortfall. Approximately 13.7 million funding will go towards the North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland and further exploration to discover more natural gas reservoirs around Australia. The plan also outlines further spending on the National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP) and reforming regulations on pipeline infrastructure, improving pipeline access and establishing an Australian Gas Hub at Wallumbilla in Queensland. “Our competitive advantage has always been based on affordable, reliable energy,” said Morrison. “As we turn to our economic recovery from COVID-19, affordable gas will play a central role in re-establishing the strong economy we need for jobs growth, funding government services and opportunities for all.” But as the Federal Government spruiks gas as the way forward when it comes to job creation, figures have emerged showing there is a better option. The International Renewable Energy Agency releases insightful figures The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released its 44-page Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review report on October 6 that proved that there are millions of jobs in renewable energy projects and that number is rising. The report showed that renewable energy accounted for 11.5 million jobs around the world in 2019 which was up from 11 million in 2018 and that solar energy makes up about a third of those jobs. IRENA said in the report those numbers could balloon out if there was a proper investment in renewable projects, instead of fossil fuel projects like Australia’s gas plan. In a separate agenda released this year IRENA estimated that another 5.5 million jobs could be created if government’s turned their attention to renewables over fossil fuels. The report also showed that renewable energy jobs were rising in Australia, increasing by 27 per cent annually from 2017/18 to 2018/19 but that still only accounted for almost 27,000 jobs – a number that could be much higher with commitment and funding from the Federal Government. That is...

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Investors are high on clean energy and decarbonisation stocks

Investors are high on clean energy and decarbonisation stocks

Renew Economy David Leitch 6 October 2020 – Back in January, I put together a global renewable portfolio. The list was arbitrary and included auto companies that seemed to me to have a material  investment  in electric cars and utilities that had decent renewables exposure. Broadly speaking, this portfolio has been incredible successful over the past 12 months. My datasource, Factset, despite being both expensive and comprehensive, is still missing a few recent share prices, so this chart below shows the 12 month performance of those shares where a September 28 closing price was available, and as compared with the price on October 2, 2019. Inverter manufacturers have done well as a group. I wasn’t to know it, but you could have made an absolute killing on this portfolio. And, of course, past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Figure 1 Source:Factset The overall portfolio had a median return of 33%, not bad during a Covid year and the average return, which includes Tesla, was 99%. More than nine stocks had returns of 100 per cent or more. The portfolio has an aggegate market capitalization of close to US$0.9 trillion, so it’s not that small. One of the many shares to catch the eye in the list was US inverter company Enphase, on the verge of bankruptcy a couple of years ago and now with a market cap over $US11 billion and a share price that has risen 250% in 12 months. The performance of Enphase actually exceeded, at least in the past 12 months, the performance of SolarEdge, another inverter manufacturer. In my view Australia has more chance of being successful at inverter design and manufacture as opposed to batteries. There is still going to be this massive opportunity in the grid forming inverter market. But anyway. Industry averages are not necessarily representative. Auto is obviously dominated by Tesla. Figure 2 Source: Factset And by country Figure 3 Source: Factset What I take from the country splits is the variety of countries and opportunities. Even relatively small economies like Denmark and Israel have been able to produce globally competitive renewable energy stocks such as Orsted and SolarEdge. In my mind, the thought bubble is that Australia’s world leading behind-the-meter market, using nearly all imported technology is very fertile ground for hardware and software developers. This is one area where the Federal Government, which does provide some grants for micro-grid development, could push a bit harder. Equally, some university research labs could have half an eye on commercialisation. UNSW is world famous for its solar cell research but other than the significant but hard to count contribution that it makes to global greenhouse gas emission reductions, it’s hard to...

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World’s biggest wind and solar producer now worth more than ExxonMobil

World’s biggest wind and solar producer now worth more than ExxonMobil

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 6 October 2020 – In yet another sign of the pace of the global energy transition – and the massive switch taking place in the investment community – the market value of company that describes itself as the world’s biggest producer of wind and solar power, US utility NextEra, has overtaken that of what used to be the world’s most valuable company, oil major ExxonMobil. The flip occurred last last week, when NextEra overtook ExxonMobil to become the largest energy company in the US by market value. As Forbes reported, an investment in NextEra a decade ago would have delivered to return of 600 per cent, while an investment in ExxonMobil would have returned minus 25 per cent. The shift is as significant as the one the world has seen in the auto industry, with electric vehicle maker Tesla overtaking the biggest car companies in the world in the last year, to the point where it is now valued at more than the next five biggest global car makers combined, despite producing just a fraction of the number of cars. “Epochal,” noted energy commentator Assaad Razzouk. “World’s largest solar and wind power generator has just surpassed ExxonMobil – a byword for Big Oil that was once the world’s biggest public company – in stock market value.” The Financial Times also took a look at the situation. It noted that NextEra reported net profit of $US1.7 billion in the first half of this year and that its wholesale customers had signed up for 14.4 gigawatts worth of renewable capacity, almost triple the amount of two years ago. Over the same period, ExxonMobil reported a loss of $US1.7 billion and found itself kicked off the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the blue-chip stock barometer which attracts institutional investors. Tesla director and the former Chief Investment Officer of the Japan Government Pension Investment Fund, the largest asset owner in the world, also noted the milestone, observing that ExxonMobil had the highest market cap in the US on the day of the Tesla IPO in 2010. “The stock market is getting it,” Mizuno noted. ITK analyst and RenewEconomy contributor David Leitch also made note of NextEra’s vision for the future in this analysis published way back in January this year, when he observed that “NextEra gets it, but Origin and AGL don’t – and their shareholders have suffered.” Leitch noted that the principal reason for NextEra’s jump in market cap (it is largely a regulated utility) has been its investment in wind and solar and, more recently, in battery storage, which it notes is a better future bet than gas (and it is a major gas generator). “NextEra Energy is a major US utility and...

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New trial could nix rooftop-solar export tribulations

New trial could nix rooftop-solar export tribulations

Renew Economy Natalie Filatoff 5 October 2020 – As some parts of Australia’s distribution networks threaten to blackout under the flow of rooftop solar exports, ARENA announces funding for a trial that will enable flexible exports in line with what the networks can bear. Smart software is the answer. Rooftop solar in Australia is growing at the rate of 200,000 installations per annum — how to keep that flow in the ‘hood, and support consumer choice? What if … a flexible connection technology could enable household and commercial rooftop solar inverters to export energy to the grid in direct response to network capacity to host that energy at any given time? The potential in South Australia is to double the amount of rooftop solar it can host in the electricity distribution network over the coming five years, for consumers to optimise the solar they install on their roofs, for non-solar households and businesses to enjoy safe reliable electricity supply, and for every solar enabled customer to sell their surplus solar energy at equitable levels in proportion to their investment in solar PV — no restrictions required. On Friday, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced $2.09 million in funding for the South Australian Power Networks Flexible Exports for Solar PV Trial, which could ultimately pave the way for all solar-enabled, grid-connected households in Australia to participate in the electricity market, and for local network service providers to maintain network stability at the lowest cost. “A smart and flexible solution for solar energy exports is a win-win, said Andrew McConnell of AusNet Services. He added, “It means more Australian homes and businesses can benefit from solar panels, and that our energy mix becomes cleaner overall.” Australians are installing new PV systems at a rate of more than 200,000 across the National Electricity Market each year, and the size of system output is increasing year on year. The potential for consumer foresight and investment to continue to contribute to the national energy transition rather than overwhelming the grid can be supported by responsive software-enabled connections. For the $4.84 million Flexible Exports Trial, AusNet Services and SA Power Networks have partnered with leading inverter manufacturers Fronius, SMA and SolarEdge, and SwitchDin smart software solutions to field test the flexible-control technology with 600 rooftop solar customers living in areas of South Australia and Victoria where the network is currently constrained due to very high levels of rooftop solar. Australia’s electricity distribution systems were not designed to handle reverse power flows. Having large amounts of energy flowing from the low-voltage network back through the system, says SwitchDin CEO and Founder, Andrew Mears, “causes voltage problems, which can disrupt the operation of equipment” and destabilise the...

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Solar-powered steel production from Lightsource bp’s Bighorn Project in Colorado

Solar-powered steel production from Lightsource bp’s Bighorn Project in Colorado

Renew Economy Eric Wesoff 5 October 2020 – The iron and steel sector is the “world’s largest industrial source of climate pollution.” This steel mill in Pueblo, Colorado will be the first in North America to rely on solar power. A crucial and historical steel mill in Pueblo, Colorado will be the first in North America to rely on solar power, according to Skip Herald, the CEO of steel and mining company, Evraz North America. The 300-MW Bighorn Solar Project, developed by Lightsource bp and located on mill company land, just closed on a $285 million financing package. Xcel Energy, as the power provider for the steel mill, will purchase the power generated by the solar farm under a long-term contract with Lightsource bp. It’s the largest on-site industrial solar facility, according to the developer. The deal on the solar project was made last year after Evraz, Xcel’s largest power buyer in Colorado, threatened to move out of state “without assurances of low electricity rates,” as per reporting in the Denver Post. Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas for Lightsource, said, “The more than 700,000 solar panels can provide 90% of the plant’s energy needs at peak production” and 95% of the mill’s annual energy demand, according to other reports. The plant will turns recycled scrap metal into “clean steel, including the most sustainable rail in the world,” according to Herald. Evraz is a Russian-owned steel and mining conglomerate. Decarbonizing steel? Recent studies have found that 14% of steel firms’ market value is in jeopardy if they are unable to decrease their environmental impact. The iron and steel sector is the “world’s largest industrial source of climate pollution,” according to the Cold Steel Hot Climate report, which notes that steel represented approximately 5% of final energy use and 7% of emissions worldwide in 2013. In steel-making regions, many steel plants are often the largest or one of the largest electricity customers — the exact case for the Pueblo, Colorado plant. Lightsource is GW-scale busy Utility-scale solar developers like Lightsource bp are being kept busy with the proliferation of 100 MW-plus solar projects now in development. These large solar projects are no longer driven by RPS edicts but by corporate buyers and the sheer competitive pricing of solar or solar-plus-storage compared to other generation sources. Smith, the CEO at Lightsource bp, noted that a few years ago, his buyers were almost entirely utilities — and today it’s more like 50-50 utilities and corporate energy consumers. L3Harris, a defense contractor, just signed a virtual power purchase agreement with Lightsource bp for up to 100 MW of the power from the 135-MWac Elm Branch Solar project in Ellis County, Texas. Smith added that it’s not just California, but states like Alabama and Arkansas that...

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Enough new wind and solar locked in to kill three coal generators by 2025

Enough new wind and solar locked in to kill three coal generators by 2025

Renew Economy David Leitch 1 October 2020 – There is enough new wind and solar capacity  locked in to take Australia to a share of about 42 per cent renewables by the end of 2025, and that might be enough to spell the end of the road for up to three incumbent coal generators. The capacity of new utility-scale supply of wind and solar projects is about 7.3GW. This consists of the uncommissioned part of currently commissioning capacity, projects under construction, a couple of projects that have reached financial close, and some big projects that have announced PPAs with, say, the Queensland government, but have not yet got to financial close. ITK estimates that there is a total of 4.2GW of wind and 3.1GW of solar in those combined categories. The expected energy from those projects is about 21 terawatt hours, or about 10 per cent of current demand on the National Electricity Market. That’s greater than the combined output of say Yallourn (9.4TWh) and Vales Point B (7.4TWh) but the pain will be spread across generators of every class and every state. Behind the meter adds another 10TWh by 2025 But wait, there’s more! Even assuming behind the meter slows down to, say, an average capacity add of 1.5GW per year over the next 5 years, that’s still a cumulative 7.5GW of new rooftop solar capacity, delivering about 10TWh a year at a 15% capacity factor. This will more than offset the anticipated business-as-usual demand growth of 3TWh. Of course, demand might grow more if the numbskull federal government would incentivise electric vehicles as any security conscious government would already have started to do now there is an alternative technology. However, I hold no great hopes on that score and ITK forecasts total demand growth of 0.5% per year. Over 40% renewable market share in 2025 is locked in We can summarise the above the discussion in the following table: This could force three coal generators to close within 5 years, but the pain will be spread out So in total we anticipate that even without the addition of more announced winding solar projects between today and the end of 2025, thermal generation output will nevertheless decline by about 26TWh (from 145TWh in 2020 to 119TWh in 2025). That’s enough to close three coal generators, eg Vales Point, Yallourn and one in Queensland, say parts of Tarong. However, gas generation might lose some of the little market share it has left and the other coal generators might all cede market share as an oligopoly and try to keep prices up. There is a lot more to be said on this but in this note we only get to the...

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Queensland’s 25th large scale solar farm registered and sending power to the grid

Queensland’s 25th large scale solar farm registered and sending power to the grid

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 29 September 2020 – The Warwick solar farm has become the latest latest large scale solar project to be registered in the state of  Queensland, and has been sending its first power to the grid as it begins the detailed and complex commissioning process with the Australian Energy Market Operator and its local transmission network. The 64MW Warwick solar farm is the latest of an estimated 25 large scale solar farms to be built so far in Queensland, with more to come, including the country’s biggest at Western Downs, and was actually completed and energised in June, and has been generating small amounts under Notifiable Exemptions since then. However, the formal registration process is now complete (September 18) and, armed with its new electrical identities, it has sent the first generation to the grid as it begins to work its way through the commissioning process. The solar farm is actually split into two distinct generating unit of 32MW each – WARWSF1 and WARWSF2 – and the power is contracted to the University of Queensland, helping it claim a 100 per cent renewable energy supply. “We’re looking forward to continuing to work closely with Energy Queensland and AEMO during Hold Point commissioning on the ramp up to full commercial operation,” project director Andrew Wilson told RenewEconomy. The process should take several...

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CSIRO signs up for 100 per cent solar power with Garnaut’s Zen Energy

CSIRO signs up for 100 per cent solar power with Garnaut’s Zen Energy

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 29 September 2020 – Australia’s major scientific research organisation, the CSIRO, has turned to solar to power its operations in Victoria, NSW and the ACT, via a long term energy contract with the Ross Garnaut-led retailer Zen Energy. The 10-year contract will mean the bulk of CSIRO’s electricity supply for its 26 different operations in these states – with predominantly daytime demand – will come from the Numurkah solar farm in Victoria and the Nevertire solar farm in NSW. The sites include the iconic Parkes Observatory in regional NSW, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Centre in Tidbinbilla and the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness in Geelong, the site of key research in the rapid global response to COVID-19. It is believed to be the largest deal of its type in place for a Commonwealth Government agency. CSIRO says it will halve its emissions from electricity as a result of the deal. CSIRO already has a total of more than 5MW of rooftop solar on ten of its different sites. “This is a very significant step towards being net-zero in our operations, and is in line with our broader remit to help Australia navigate to a low emissions future,” said CSIRO’s head of business and infrastructure services, Dave Agnew. “As a world leader in sustainability research, CSIRO is committed to innovative science and technology that reduces emissions and global climate change impacts,” Agnew said. “We aspire to be an organisation that promotes and demonstrates sustainable operations and practices that are consistent with our science and innovation impact. The key point here – and perhaps an ironic one – is that the CSIRO is delivering steep reductions in emissions using existing technologies, rather than the ones identified in the federal government’s much criticised “technology roadmap.” As part of the deal, CSIRO and Zen Energy will also exploring opportunities to undertake collaborative renewable energy science projects. “This landmark agreement demonstrates that 100 percent renewable energy can be highly competitive in price and reliability,” Garnaut said in a statement. Garnaut said Australia has the natural conditions to be a renewable energy superpower. “It is up to us to use those advantages for our own prosperity and the world’s containment of climate change,” h said. We  will meet all of the CSIRO’s power needs in VIC and NSW across the National Electricity Market with 100% renewable electricity from the Numurkah solar farm in Victoria and Nevertire solar farm in New South Wales, while working with the CSIRO on research and development to benefit...

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Wind and solar hit record levels of production, gas the big loser

Wind and solar hit record levels of production, gas the big loser

Renew Economy David Leitch 29 September 2020 – Wind and solar production and share of demand surged to new all time highs in Australia’s National Electricity Market, reaching an annualised 44 terawatt hours, or 23.5% of total demand. Figure 1 Source: NEM Review The number represents the last 30 days total multiplied by 365/30 to get the annualized total. Statistically, it’s not the entire story because it doesn’t take seasonality into account. Only a month ago in August the share was down at 15%. Even so as Fig 1 shows clearly annual production of wind and solar continues to rise. It’s strong at the moment because these are the windy months and also solar output starts to improve. Figure 2 Source: NEM Review Coal fuelled generation is actually up compared to the previous corresponding period, particularly in Victoria of all  places, and demand is down 3% and so the increased wind and solar share has come at the expense of gas where the market share has dropped by half. Figure 3 Source: NEM Review In our view this is the start of the gas transition from a significant provider of electricity generation energy, to its new role as a reserve supplier of power. Just as many maybe even more megawatts of capacity will be required, but quite a lot less PJ of gas will be burned. Less gas means lower electricity prices, but does little for carbon The wellbeing of our children and their children and the human race’s duty of care to leave the world in as good a place as we find it, requires eliminating carbon emissions. Getting rid of gas and not coal is not very effective at reducing carbon. As everyone who has looked at this issue for the past 20 years could tell you in a heartbeat the way to get the carbon emissions down is to put in a carbon price. That would raise the cost of coal fuelled electricity quite a lot more than the cost of gas fuelled electricity. It would also incentivise carbon capture and storage, encourage more efficient gas fuelled generation over less efficient and incentivise hydrogen relative to fossil fuels, without the Government having to make any bets. The point is from a carbon perspective you need a stick as well as a carrot. From an electricity price perspective getting rid of gas is a great idea. In the short term at least. The spot price in South Australia averaged $14/MWh for the last 30 days, and just $33 /MWh n Victoria. Figure 4 Source: NEM Review Even allowing for the bushfires the calendar year to date averages are well down, pretty much half last year. Figure 5 Source: NEM...

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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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