Sea research, see solar

Sea research, see solar

pv magazine Blake Matich 7 May 2020 – The Australian Institute of Marine Sciences is installing solar PV across its facilities nationwide. The Institute, which in part studies the impacts of climate change on our marine and coastal ecosystems, is on the scientific front lines of a bleached world without renewables. The Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) will see its electricity bill drop off like the Mariana Trench after the installation of a considerable $2.25 million solar array at its headquarters near Townsville.  With the help of the Australian Government’s Public Modernisation Fund, AIMS is investing in solar at all the Institute’s sites across Australia, including a system already in place at its research facility in Darwin, and a system on its way to AIMS facility in Perth.  AIMS is Australia’s tropical marine research agency, and as such its focus is on real-world outcomes in marine science, a field in which the impacts of climate change are obvious as bleach. “A significant proportion of AIMS’ research focuses on the impact of climate change on tropical marine ecosystems,’ said AIMS CEO Dr Paul Hardisty, “so we wanted to lead the way in cutting down our own emissions.”   “We are working towards a 25% reduction in our own carbon emissions..” continued Hardisty. “Not only does the system deliver environmental benefits, but it is forecast to deliver up to $400,000 a year in savings, which means we can put more money back into science.”  It is expected that the solar system will generate approximately 1000 kW per hour, reducing the Institute’s carbon footprint by 15%, a significant amount considering how much energy it requires to run aquariums and other research-related marine environs. Indeed, it is the Institute’s National Sea Simulator, the world’s most advanced research aquarium, which is capable of simulating, quantifying and predicting the effects of multifarious pressures on marine and coastal ecosystems, that is expected to reap the greatest reward for the switch to solar.  Solar panels atop the roof of the National Sea Simulator at Cape Cleveland. “The National Sea Simulator allows us to undertake complex research which was not previously possible anywhere in the world,” said AIMS COO Dr John Chappell, “including work on assessing the impact of complex environmental changes, and reef restoration.”  AIMS research has shown that the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s Elongated Eden, has lost half its coral cover since 1985, a decline unprecedented in at least the past 400 years. One of the known causes of this decline is increased sea temperature, another is storm damage, and another is unusual outbreaks in crown-of-thorns starfish. Climate Change is a key suspect in each of these cases. Moreover, we know that rising carbon dioxide levels in...

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California utility secures 770MW of battery storage to replace gas plants

California utility secures 770MW of battery storage to replace gas plants

Renew Economy Joshua S. Hill 8 May 2020v- Southern California Edison – the primary electricity supplier for much of Southern California – has signed seven contracts for 770MW worth of battery-based energy storage intended to replace ageing natural gas plants set to retire as soon as possible. As one of the largest procurements of its kind, Southern California Edison (SCE) is looking to switch the seven battery storage projects on by August 2021 – a mammoth hill to climb for projects of this size, requiring the developers to line up financing, order batteries and other equipment, complete construction, and begin providing capacity to the grid in just over a year. The seven battery storage projects – which still must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) – are intended to help meet a November 2019 CPUC call for 3.3GW of carbon-free resources to help meet California’s grid reliability needs in the face of a potential shortfall. Half of the 3.3GW solicitation is due online by August 2021 and SCE are responsible for delivering the largest share among California’s utilities and community-choice aggregators (CCAs). SCE’s solicitation for projects and the resulting seven contracts signed this month represent one of the United States’ largest energy storage procurements and will assist the integration of intermittent electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar. The projects will also fill a gap set to be left by four natural gas-fired power plants on the Southern California coast that use seawater for cooling but which have been ordered to close as soon as possible. “These new emissions-free projects will help us ensure the reliability of the grid for our customers and integrate an ever-increasing amount of clean renewable energy over the next decade,” said William Walsh, SCE vice president of Energy Procurement & Management. “Signing these contracts aligns with SCE’s Pathway 2045, continues our support of California’s goal to green the state and also encourages clean energy projects of all types, creating jobs and strengthening our economy.” The largest battery storage project contracted measures in at 230MW/920MWh, while the smallest is 50MW, with the others falling somewhere in between. Most of the projects will be co-located with adjacent solar power plants to charge the batteries using renewable electricity and will be located at the same point of interconnection and, according to SCE, are “the first of their kind on California’s grid.” The 770MW procurement “tops the entire 2019 U.S. storage market by more than 200 megawatts” according to Daniel Finn-Foley, head of energy storage for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. “The storage market is approaching a deployment acceleration over the next two years that will be unprecedented in recent U.S. electricity history,” Finn-Foley said. Floridian wholesale electricity supplier...

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States so far ahead of Australia government, it’s as if they are in a different industrial era

States so far ahead of Australia government, it’s as if they are in a different industrial era

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 7 May 2020 – Western Australia energy minister Bill Johnston reckons he’s the lucky one. “The good news is that Western Australia doesn’t much care what happens in the NEM (National Electricity Market) … or in the east. We just make our own decisions and get on with it. “The only thing we would love is the ability to rely on someone else’s generation to balance our system, because we have to be 100 per cent self-reliant and we don’t have the ability to interconnect with anybody else. So that means we have to solve our own problems. But at least we’re allowed to solve our own problems.” The fact that Johnston’s state is not bound up by the labyrinthian regulatory layers that have tied down the clean energy transition in Australia’s national grid must be a source of great envy for his state colleagues. Their plans to set their own pace in the switch to renewables and storage have been repeatedly thwarted by a lack of vision at the national level, and a corresponding lack of haste from key regulatory bodies. Four state and territory energy ministers – WA’s Johnston, South Australia’s Dan van Holst Pellekaan, Victoria’s Lily D’Ambrosio and the ACT’s Shane Rattenbury gave presentations and took part in a panel discussion – a sort of a mini COAG energy minister’s meeting without the federal minister Angus Taylor – at Wednesday’s Stimulus Summit to discuss their respective plans and visions for a clean energy future, and their frustrations. What was abundantly clear was that their individual and combined ambition – and this from a tri-partisan mix of Liberal, Labor and Greens ministers – is that the states and territories are so far ahead of the federal Coalition government on climate and energy, it is almost as though they are in a different industrial era. South Australia’s van Holst Pellekaan wants to fast track his state’s target of “net 100 per cent” renewables to be reached “by” 2030, rather than “in” the 2030s. That shouldn’t be much of a problem, given the Australian Energy Market Operator reckons the state will be at 87 per cent within four years. Victoria’s D’Ambrosio has a legislated target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030, and will have to reach 100 per cent renewables well before 2050 if she isn’t to break the climate law she designed and legislated for the state to reach zero emissions by that date. The ACT’s Rattenbury has already reached the territory’s target of delivering the equivalent of 100 per cent renewables through a series of contracts with wind and solar farms in S.A., Victoria, NSW and the ACT, and is now plotting more such contracts to ensure that the...

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Bangladeshi solar module companies seek Covid-19 stimulus package

Bangladeshi solar module companies seek Covid-19 stimulus package

pv magazine Syful Islam 5 May 2020 Industry representatives call for a $59 million, five-year package of grants, loans and tax incentives from the government after Dhaka extended a coronavirus-driven industrial shutdown into the middle of the month. A government official said solar companies could apply for a compensation package applicable to medium-sized businesses already opened by prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, right. Solar manufacturers in Bangladesh have asked for government support after being crippled by a 40-day Covid-19 industrial shutdown. Module makers have demanded BDT5 billion ($58.9 million) worth of grants; interest-free, long-term loans; and tax incentives over the next five years to help them weather the crisis. Industry representatives have also called for a program to drive solar rooftop installation on public buildings to be fast-tracked to generate work for solar manufacturers and installers now the government has extended the industrial shutdown until at least May 16. “We want the assistance to minimize the financial losses the sector incurred during the shutdown and keep afloat the investment opportunity,” wrote Munawar Moin, president of the Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh, in a letter to the Ministry of Finance and Commerce. Employment Moin also cited a shortage of solar panel raw materials during the Bangladeshi lockdown period. The president of the industry body said 10,000 people are employed by the industry in Bangladesh and the halt to productivity had also reduced foreign currency generated for the treasury by exports. The Covid-19 crisis dashed hopes for the industry after it had earlier designated solar panels the nation’s product of the year, raising interest among investors. Bangladesh has nine solar companies which, combined, can produce more than 100 MW of modules per year. Dipal C Barua, president of the Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association, told pv magazine urgent government action was necessary. “We have no work now,” he said. “We are even failing to pay salaries to employees during the prolonged shutdown.” The industry association president said his organization was assessing the extent of the financial damage suffered by members and would soon approach the politicians for assistance. Rooftop solar “There is huge potential for setting up solar rooftop panels on public buildings which can generate thousands of megawatts of electricity,” said Barua, adding: “If the government quickens and eases the procedures, we can get some jobs in this crisis moment.” A senior official at the Ministry of Finance told pv magazine prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed had already announced BDT1 trillion worth of stimulus packages to help industrial sectors cope and recover. “Renewables is now a government priority sector,” said the official. “They can get funds from … Incentive Package-2, which [was] formed to provide working capital to medium [-sized] enterprises.”   Bangladesh generates 629 MW of renewable energy, of which 395.17 MW comes from solar. The government aims...

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Morning Brief: solar is ‘essential’ in New Jersey, renewables generated more electricity than coal in April

Morning Brief: solar is ‘essential’ in New Jersey, renewables generated more electricity than coal in April

pv magazine Eric Wesoff 5 May 2020 – Solar construction has been deemed ‘essential’ in New Jersey, following some confusion around Gov. Phil Murphy’s Public Health Emergency declaration. Solar projects, in terms of the declaration, fall under Executive Order 122, which stipulates “utility projects, including those necessary for energy and electricity production and transmission’’ may continue construction during the emergency. This order also covers single-family home residential  projects, but does not specifically mention commercial and industrial. Source: NJ Spotlight In a first for any month, renewables generated more electricity than coal on every day in April, new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows. This impressive stretch actually began on March 25, when utility-scale solar, wind and hydropower collectively produced more than coal-fired generation, and has continued for at least 40 straight days through May 3, according to preliminary figures from the EIA’s Hourly Electric Grid...

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Study shows coal plant closures dramatically cut asthma cases, as Trump loosens pollution controls

Study shows coal plant closures dramatically cut asthma cases, as Trump loosens pollution controls

Renew Economy Michael Mazenbarb 4 May 2020 – The closure of coal-fired power stations has been linked to dramatic declines in asthma cases and hospitalisations, new research has found. In a paper published in the journal Nature Energy, health researchers based in the United States found that asthma attacks and asthma-related emergency department visits in communities nearby coal-fired power stations fell in the years after those power stations closed. The researchers were able to study the impacts of the closures of four coal-fired power stations located in the US region of Louisville, Kentucky, where the power stations were either closed altogether, transitioned to using gas, or had strict sulphur dioxide emissions controls installed. Sulphur dioxide is a leading trigger of asthma attacks, and other respiratory symptoms, including those that may lead to hospitalisation, and is produced from the burning of coal. Without a means to remove sulphur dioxide from coal power station exhaust, it can be released into the atmosphere and impacts upon surrounding communities. The researchers said they had an opportunity to study a “natural experiment” when the four Louisville coal-fired power plants either closed or transitioned between 2013 and 2016. The researchers were able to compare the rates of asthma inhaler use, and respiratory related hospitalisations in the surrounding Jefferson County, home to more than 700,000 people and host to the four power stations studied. In the month immediately following a major cut in sulphur dioxide pollution caused by a coal-fired power station, the nearby community reported a 17 per cent reduction in monthly average use of asthma inhalers. The improvement continued to grow in subsequent months, with a further 2 per cent fall in inhaler use on an almost ongoing basis. “This study was unique in its ability to measure asthma morbidity based on both hospitalisations and daily symptoms, and to leverage an abrupt change in environmental exposure to more directly attribute changes in asthma exacerbation to changes in coal-fired power plant emissions,” report lead author and assistant professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Joan Casey said. For the participants studied who were highly reliant on inhaler use, an even greater improvement was recorded, with an average 32 per cent reduction in monthly inhaler use. On a postcode wide basis, the study observed a significant drop in hospitalisations for major asthma attacks. In Louisville’s Jefferson County, which was host to the four power stations closed, the researchers estimated that there were as many as 400 fewer hospitalisations each year related to power station triggered asthma attacks. “We hope this evidence will encourage government officials to support stricter standards when regulating coal-fired power plants and encourage us towards cleaner power options, thereby protecting the health...

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Westpac to shed thermal coal investments by 2030, switch to renewables and EVs

Westpac to shed thermal coal investments by 2030, switch to renewables and EVs

Renew Economy Michael Mazengarb 4 May 2020 – Westpac has announced plans to offload its thermal coal investments over the coming decade, as the bank looks to align both its investments and its operations with a net zero emissions goal. As part of an updated ‘climate change position statement for 2023‘ published on Monday, Westpac said that it would look to wind down its investments in the thermal coal sector, as well as setting a target of up to $3.5 billion in lending to climate-friendly investments over the next three years. Westpac joins the Commonwealth Bank as the second of the ‘big four’ banks to plan their exit from the thermal coal sector, as financial institutions increasingly acknowledge that climate change represents an emerging financial risk. Westpac said that it would still offer financing to metallurgical coal projects, but that it was “continuing to assess” whether investments in the oil and gas sector could continue in light of the bank’s commitments to a net zero emissions economy by 2050. The bank has said that it has accepted that a transition to net zero emissions will be required by 2050, and will develop plans to align its portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement. “The sooner we can reach net zero emissions, the more opportunity we have to meet the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal. The path to net zero emissions needs to be well planned and occur in an orderly fashion to reduce transition risks,” the Westpac position statement says. The bank says that under a scenario aligned with the Paris Agreement goals to reach net zero emissions by mid-century, Australia is expected to reach a market share for renewable electricity of around 90 per cent by 2050. According to Westpac, this will be achieved through “investment in solar and wind, supported by grid-scale storage technologies”, while electricity demand continues to rise as sectors shift to greater electrification of energy use, including a shift towards electric vehicles. The commitment to strengthen its climate change position comes despite Westpac recording a significant hit to its earnings in half-year results also published on Monday. Westpac recorded a 62 per cent drop in net profit, driven by a $2.34 billion impairment charge that accounts for the impacts of both Covid-19 and the potential impact of an ongoing AUSTRAC legal proceeding. In its latest climate position statement, Westpac highlighted that it viewed economic growth and emissions reductions as complementary goals and that investments in an early transition away from fossil fuels will lead to a stronger and more resilient economy over the medium and long term. “While there is an upfront investment required to decarbonise the global economy, our research indicates that...

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Recipe for cheaper electricity? Try 90 per cent renewables by 2040

Recipe for cheaper electricity? Try 90 per cent renewables by 2040

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 28 April 2020 – For the better part of the past decade, the federal Coalition’s key weapon in its inexplicable ideological war against renewable energy (and climate action) has been the threat of runaway electricity prices. Barely a month into his role as federal minister for energy and “getting prices down,” Angus Taylor told Sky News that edging out Australia’s coal plants too quickly, with “too much” cheap wind and solar, would “drive up the price of electricity” and “make the whole system… far less affordable.” One election victory and just over 19 months later, a new report from energy market analysts Reputex, has made the case that the exact opposite would be true. The report, published on Wednesday, finds that the faster the shift to a power market dominated by renewable energy – and the more aggressive the action on climate change – the greater the downward pressure on future wholesale electricity prices. A slower transition, on the other hand, guided only by “current policy” – or lack thereof, at the federal level – would have the inverse effect. That is, a failure to properly incentivise investment in new clean energy generation ahead of the inevitable retirement of Australia’s ageing coal-fired fleet would to lead to higher wholesale electricity prices. And that’s where we’re headed under the Morrison government’s current settings. Under a business-as-usual scenario, Reputex says, short-term commissioning of renewable projects, alongside investment driven by state schemes and rooftop solar uptake, would still manage to get Australia to around 75 per cent renewables by 2040. And while an electricity market transition on this ort of trajectory would keep wholesale power prices down around $50-$70/MWh for most of the 2020s, the wholesale market would take a sharp turn for the worse from there. “With no effective NEM-wide framework to guide new investment prior to coal-fired retirements, a return to elevated wholesale prices will be required to incentivise new capacity additions beyond 2030”, said Reputex head of research Bret Harper. “This reflects current policy uncertainty, with renewables investment likely to become reactive to coal-fired closures, and higher prices, rather than being proactively incentivised by policy ahead of expected retirements.” Happily, there is an alternative – and even more happily, it has already been mapped out. Reputex models its “orderly transition” case on the Step Change scenario outlined in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s draft Integrated System Plan of 2019-2020. According to RepuTex, under AEMO’s more ambitious scenario, the addition of larger volumes of renewables and advances in energy storage technology would prove a “fatal combination” for coal, with two-thirds (63%) of Australia’s thermal capacity forecast to exit the market by 2040. “This will see Australia reach 70...

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Solar, wind and battery storage now cheapest energy options just about everywhere

Solar, wind and battery storage now cheapest energy options just about everywhere

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 28 April 2020 – Further cost reductions in both large scale solar PV and onshore wind projects mean that these two technologies are now the cheapest form of new build energy generation in areas that count for two thirds of the world’s population, and 85 per cent of the globe’s electricity generation. The latest benchmark report from research company BloombergNEF show that in just the last six months the levellised cost of electricity (LCOE) for onshore wind has fallen a further nine per cent, its most significant drop in five year. The cost of utility scale PV, already down 90 per cent over the past decade, has fallen a further 4 per cent. The takes their respective benchmark, or global average costs taking into account the varied wind and solar resources, to an average of $US44/MWh for wind and $US50/MWh for utility scale solar. BloombergNEF also points to the plunging costs of battery storage, down half over the last two years, which means that batteries are now the cheapest new-build technology for peaking purposes (up to two-hours of discharge duration) in gas-importing regions, like Europe, China or Japan. In Australia, where the conservative Coalition government can barely utter the words wind and solar, and is under huge pressure to build new coal plants, and wants to expand its gas reserves, the difference is even more marked. The best LCOE for solar in Australia is $A40/MWh and for wind it is $A50/MWh, according to BNEF. “In Australia, renewables are by far the cheapest new source of bulk generation,” says the Sydney-based BNEF analyst Lara Panjkov. “Our analysis also suggests that co-locating renewables and batteries can be attractive for the provision of new dispatchable power.” And that is starting to show in the number of projects that are combining both, where the costs of wind and storage is down to as low as $A77/MWh, and solar and storage to $A90/MWh. Battery storage alone is beating open cycle gas on price in Australia. “Today we estimate that approximately 711MW of new renewable energy plants with paired storage have secured financing,” Pakjkov says. The cost estimates for technologies in Australia are (all figures in US dollars). Tracking PV $26-67 per MWh Fixed-axis PV $29-80 per MWh Onshore wind $32-83 per MWh Combined cycle gas turbine power plant $66-96 per MWh Onshore wind plus storage $50-124 per MWh Fixed-axis PV plus storage $58-178 per MWh Utility-scale battery (four-hour storage duration) $145-167 per MWh Open cycle gas turbine power plant $146-309 per MWh The BNEF studies add to the growing weight of evidence about cheap wind and solar, and the falling cost of battery storage, be it from the combined assessment of...

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Kauai was 56% renewably powered in 2019

Kauai was 56% renewably powered in 2019

pv magazine Tim Sylvia 23 April 2020 – The island of Kauai’s journey to 100% renewable power reached an important milestone in 2019, with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) reporting that for the year, the island achieved 56% renewable energy generation. This benchmark, impressive in its own right, puts the island considerably ahead of Hawaii’s state mandates of 30% renewable by 2020 and 40% renewable by 2030, as well as ahead of the island’s independent and already aggressive goal of 50% renewable by 2023, set in 2008. KIUCs president and CEO, David Bissell, attributes this massive step in renewable generation in large part to the completion of the AES Lawaʻi facility. The project, which accounts for roughly 11% of Kauai’s generation is comprised of a 28 MW solar installation and a 100 MWh, five-hour duration energy storage system. The island’s generation mix for 2019 included 35% solar, 11% hydro and 10% biomass, with more than one-third of that solar figure coming from residential and commercial cooperative members. To put this feat into perspective, the Kauai grid supports an estimated 100,000 people, including visitors, at any given time, which is roughly the same size as a large college football stadium. Building on the past to look forward Since the turn of the new year, Kauai is continuing to take home some of the nation’s most impressive renewable achievements. In 2020, the cooperative has logged 441 hours at 100% renewable energy, which works out to an average of five hours per day for a total of roughly 90 days. For a period of 32 cumulative hours over 11 days in November and December of 2019, the island ran on 100% clean energy, for an average of nearly three hours a day, becoming the second American region to achieve such a feat, beaten only by California in April 2019, though Kauai has achieved the feat for much longer stretches. Since the new year, the average hours per day of 100% renewable generation on the island has gone up 66%. While the island easily reached Hawaii’s goal of 30% renewable generation by 2020, the island will likely have that mark doubled before year’s end, with the completion of the AES PMRF solar-plus-storage project. Located on a landfill in the wonderfully-named Barking Sands, the AES PMRF solar-plus-storage project is a 14 MW solar installation, coupled with a 70 MWh, five-hour duration storage system. The installation is expected to increase the island cooperative’s renewable portfolio standard by...

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Fitch rates 550 MW First Solar-installed Topaz project notes at ‘C’ despite superb performance

Fitch rates 550 MW First Solar-installed Topaz project notes at ‘C’ despite superb performance

pv magazine Eric Wesoff 23 April 2020 – Image:  Topaz Solar Project, San Luis Obispo California – The credit rating of the Topaz project has been at “C” since 2019 because of the liability of having a bankrupt offtaker — PG&E. In the meantime, the ratings document affords some insight into mega-project finance and power generation performance. The Fitch Ratings glossary defines a “C” rating as “exceptionally high levels of credit risk” meaning “default is imminent or inevitable, or the issuer is in standstill.” The credit rating of the Topaz project has been at “C” for more than year — because of the looming liability of having a bankrupt offtaker, PG&E — although the utility could emerge from chapter 11 in June of this year, pending a decision from the California Public Utility Commission. In the meantime, the ratings document affords some insight into mega-project performance. History of Topaz In 2014, the 550 MW Topaz Solar project achieved full commercial operation and, for a while, was the largest solar plant on-line in the world. PG&E purchases the electricity from the Topaz project under a 25-year fixed price power purchase agreement. First Solar installed more than nine million thin-film cadmium-telluride solar panels at a fixed tilt of 25-degrees across 9.5 square miles of disturbed farmland in San Luis Obispo County on California’s Carrizo Plain. Construction of the MidAmerican Solar-owned project began in 2011. First Solar continues to operate and maintain the plant. Followers of ancient history will recall that this project was originated by OptiSolar in the aughts and that some of the Topaz real estate was once intended for an Ausra CSP solar power plant. Project performance details According to the ratings document, Topaz’s “very stable” operational performance “has exceeded the base case forecasts for over four years of commercial operating history and exhibits healthy financial metrics, with modest leverage and strengthening debt service coverage ratios.” According to the Fitch document, in 2019: Actual output from Topaz was 103% of the P50 forecast and above Fitch’s base case. Availability was steady at 99% (compared to Fitch’s base case estimate of 97%). Energy lost due to maintenance and soiling did not impact operations significantly. PG&E-directed curtailment was ~11,600 MWh in 2019 — less than 1% of generation. Topaz is not undergoing adverse impacts to operations or staffing due to the coronavirus. Fitch’s base case utilizes the P50 electric generation estimate, 97% availability, 0.9% annual panel degradation, a 2% energy output reduction, and a 2% inflation assumption. Financial performance details The Topaz plant had strong performance in 2019. The plant posted $199.2 million in revenue in 2019, down 10% from 2018 due to lower insolation and other factors, according to unaudited financial data....

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Thousands pile in to S.A. home battery scheme before subsidy winds back

Thousands pile in to S.A. home battery scheme before subsidy winds back

Once Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 23 April 2020 – More than 5,000 South Australian solar households have piled into battery storage in the space of just five weeks, in a last-minute rush to access a $6000 discount through the state government’s $100 million home battery scheme. South Australia’s Liberal government announced in early March that it would begin a step-down of its generous and highly successful home energy storage policy, reducing the maximum subsidy from $6000 to $4000 from April 15. State energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says the announcement sparked a flood of new applications to the HBS scheme, boosting the total uptake of subsidised systems to 12,334, so far. “Home owners have been banging down the doors of the system providers to get themselves a home battery during the last five weeks,” van Holst Pellekaan said in a statement on Friday. “South Australia will have an additional 146MWh of additional storage when the 12,334 home batteries are installed which will help reduce electricity bill for all other household customers.” Not that participation in the scheme needed any boosting. As the minister said last month, it had been a “strong surge” in the number of households taking up the subsidy, and pushing numbers past 7000, that had sparked the decision to start winding it back. As One Step reported earlier this week (and see the SunWiz chart below), South Australia was already at the head of the pack on home battery storage uptake at the end of 2019, and this latest surge in uptake should keep it there for some months longer, at least. “South Australia is light years ahead of the other Australians states when it comes to the adption of the electricity cost saving and environmentally responsible home batteries,” said van Holst Pellekaan. “The massive uptake of the HBS has also created a mini jobs boom for home battery installers at the very moment we need as much work as we can possibly get in South Australia. “The installation of the remaining 6,700 batteries and associated solar panels will provide the equivalent of 150 full time jobs in the growing green energy industry in South Australia during the next 6 months.” The scheme has also been instrumental in the establishment of local manufacturing facilities by global battery storage giants Sonnen and Alpha ESS – both of which now have factories up and running in Adelaide. And it has paved the way for the roll-out and testing of virtual power plants, seven of which have now been established as part of the home battery scheme by AGL, ShineHub, Simply Energy, EnergyAustralia, Stoddart Group, sonnen, and Tesla. “By getting on the front foot, South Australians have been the big winners through...

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Solar Victoria expands battery rebate scheme to pave way for VPPs

Solar Victoria expands battery rebate scheme to pave way for VPPs

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 23 April 2020 – The Victorian government has flagged plans to expand its battery storage scheme, to pave the way for the establishment of virtual power plants made up of the state’s growing number of home solar and storage systems. In its latest notice to market, published late last week, Solar Victoria said it would begin encouraging the aggregation of batteries funded under the Solar Homes Program to broaden the reach of the benefits of battery storage. As it stands, Victoria’s solar battery rebate currently offers a rebate of $4,838 on a range of CEC approved battery systems for households in more than 250 postcodes across the state. Starting July 01, the notice said the rebate amount would be reduced to $4,174 and households would be encouraged to participate in aggregation programs. This would involve those houeholds agreeing to allow a power company to access stored energy from their battery system during peak energy events. “Aggregation will increasingly become a vital tool to enable the increased visibility of energy usage across the grid, enabling technology to be deployed in key areas where there may be already high penetration of solar PV, and resulting in the increased reliability and security of the grid,” the notice says. Already the rebate scheme requires subsidised battery energy storage systems to be on Solar Victoria’s Approved Battery List which are comprised of energy storage solutions considered ‘Virtual Power Plant (VPP) capable.’ The move follows in the footsteps of the South Australian Liberal government, whose hugely successful home battery scheme has so far resulted in the establishment of seven virtual power plant projects throughout the state, via “aggregators” including AGL, ShineHub, Simply Energy, EnergyAustralia, Stoddart Group, sonnen, and Tesla. South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme initially offered a $6000 discount on energy storage, but just last week reduced the maximum subsidy to $4000, sparking a last-minute rush of more than 5,000 applications to the already popular scheme. Uptake of discounted batteries has been much slower in Victoria, but is expected to begin to take off more as the state’s booming number of solar households look to get better value from their rooftop generation investments, and as battery costs come down. Solar Victoria hopes to sweeten the battery deal even further by encouraging participation in virtual power plants. “By expanding the battery program to include approved aggregators, Solar Victoria aims to maximise the benefits of solar batteries and support participating households to realise additional energy savings,” the notice says. “By supporting the roll-out of aggregation programs we will work in partnership with providers of aggregation services to ensure additional benefits to non-solar households and the future of our energy...

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Navajo Power CEO sees 10 GW renewable potential across the Navajo Nation

Navajo Power CEO sees 10 GW renewable potential across the Navajo Nation

pv magazine William Driscoll 22 April 2020 –   Workers building the Kayenta Solar Project, owned and operated by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority Image: Navajo Tribal Utility Authority  –   While an Arizona utility solicits bids for a 200 MW solar project within the Navajo Nation, the near-term potential is 10 GW, says Navajo Power CEO Brett Isaac. “We believe you can go to 10 gigawatts of renewable resources” across the Navajo Nation, as coal plant retirements in the area open up transmission capacity, said Navajo Power CEO Brett Isaac, in a pv magazine interview. The Navajo Nation extends across parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Navajo Power is preparing a bid to build 200 MW of solar power, after the Arizona utility Salt River Project issued a bid request specifying solar on Navajo Nation lands. The solar project selected by the utility will help make up for generation capacity lost last November when the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station closed; the utility will pay the Navajo Nation for the use of its transmission lines. The 10 GW renewables potential, Isaac said, will emerge as three other coal plants in the area retire, largely due to the “price competitiveness” of solar, wind and storage projects. The three plants are the San Juan Generating Station, which is scheduled to close in 2022, the Cholla Power Plant, “just off the Navajo Nation along I-40,” where one of the three units will retire this year, and the Four Corners power plant on Navajo Nation lands. The Four Corners plant is scheduled to close in 2031, but Isaac said “the economics will probably force” an earlier closure. Solar capacity could exceed the capacity of the transmission lines fanning out from these coal plants, if storage were added or if a high inverter loading ratio were used. Solar-friendly approval process Navajo Power’s proposed 200 MW project would be sited on lands currently used for grazing in the Coalmine Canyon Chapter—chapters are the community level of government within the Navajo Nation—and would need transmission access across the Cameron Chapter to interconnect to the grid, according to reporting by Rima Krisst for the Navajo Times. The company’s project has obtained “overwhelming” approval from both chapters to proceed to the next stage of development, Isaac said. The company is also pursuing the protocols to obtain Navajo Nation approval, he said. Looking to the future, the Navajo Nation “can play a very strong part in the Southwest” if it becomes “a friendly environment for the development of these resources, because we have the land base and the transmission,” said Isaac, a member of the Navajo Nation. “But all those elements need to be carefully thought about and prioritized by the government’s own regulatory side,...

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South Australia could reach stunning 87 per cent wind and solar in four years

South Australia could reach stunning 87 per cent wind and solar in four years

Renew Economy Giles Parkinson 20 April 2020 South Australia – already leading the country, if not the world, with the amount of wind and solar in its electricity grid – could reach a level of 87 per cent renewables within four years, according to the latest scenarios published by the Australian Energy Market Operator. The AEMO document outlines three core scenarios on how the South Australia generation mix could change over the next 10 years – a central scenario based on current policy settings and known investment commitments, a slow change based on slow economic growth and disinterest in emissions reduction, and a “step change” where real efforts and investment are made to reduce emissions. South Australia already sources more than 50 per cent of its generation from wind and solar – the highest percentage of “variable” renewable sources in Australia by a long shot, and bettered only by Denmark in the world. South Australia, however, is at the end of a long skinny grid with a single connection to the neighbouring grid, putting its share of renewables at the world’s leading edge. The AEMO report assumes that the state will source around 57 per cent of its generation from wind and solar in the current financial year, and dials in the addition of the Lincoln Gap battery, the second stage of the Lincoln Gap wind farm, and the retirement of several ageing gas units in coming years. But it is the proposed new interconnector (Project Connect) to NSW from June 2023 that act as the “game-changer” for the state’s generation mix. Either way, the outlook for local gas generation is not good – it is either rapidly replaced by imports from NSW under the “central scenario” or replaced by big leaps of wind and large and small scale solar in the “step change” scenario. In the step change scenario, the addition of the new interconnector encourages a massive amount of new build wind and solar, and an increased update of distributed energy resources (DER) that takes the share of wind and solar to 87 per cent of the state’s generation by 2023/24. It relegates gas and diesel to a minor share of just 13 per cent, and with the level of imports and exports to Victoria and NSW about equal. Over the following few years, the share of renewables continues to grow – about 1,200MW of large scale solar will be added and a further 1277MW in large scale wind. This means that by the 2027/28 financial year, gas contributes little more than just 5 per cent of total generation in the state. Wind and solar provide the rest – augmented by big batteries and “virtual power plants” (linked household...

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Utility-scale solar roundup: Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Arkansas develop record-size projects

Utility-scale solar roundup: Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Arkansas develop record-size projects

pv magazine Eric Wesoff 17 April 2020 The number of large solar projects is increasing in the U.S. — and pv magazine is keeping track. We’ve rounded up this week’s big news in big solar and included bonus news of a 100 MW battery project. If there’s one solar segment that can weather a pandemic, it’s utility-scale photovoltaics. Utility-scale supply chains are delayed, not broken — and it’s easier to work safely on a 1,000-acre solar project than on a home. Solar construction firms like Rosendin continue to construct big solar projects. Once humanity emerges from this calamity, there’s still 30.4 GW of new utility-scale solar contracted in the U.S., according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. The analyst firm suggests that even with a a 26% shortfall from its forecast, “2020 would be the biggest year for utility solar.” Although utility-scale projects come in many sizes and shapes, there is a trend towards really big, with power fed to the grid, supplying a utility with electricity through a power purchase agreement that guarantees its energy for a fixed term. WoodMac forecasts that the number of solar projects larger than 120 MWac commissioned in the U.S. will grow from 11 in 2019 to 32 in 2021. We’re rounding up and tracking these big projects. Here’s a collection of 100 MW and larger (mostly) projects that made news just this week. There’s also a bonus 100 MW battery project. *** 220 MW university solar project will be biggest in the Commonwealth The University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1740, signed a Power Purchase Agreement for the creation of a 220 MW solar project that is expected to be the largest solar power project in the Commonwealth. The project developer is Pennsylvania-based Community Energy. Until now, the largest solar array in the state was a 70 MW solar array being developed by Lightsource BP. Pennsylvania has installed a total of 491 MW of solar through Q4 2019 to rank 22nd among U.S. states, according to SEIA. The University will purchase all the power produced at the two sites in Central Pennsylvania – equivalent to about 75% of the total electricity demand of the campus and the University’s Health System – for 25 years at a rate competitive with conventional electricity prices. *** 100 MW Sunflower project, the biggest in Mississippi Mississippi ranks 30th by state with 242 MW deployed through Q4 2019 — but big solar is coming. Canadian Solar subsidiary Recurrent Energy won approval from the Mississippi Public Service Commission on the $138.4 build-transfer agreement with Entergy Mississippi for the 100 MWac Sunflower project. Canadian Solar will build the project on approximately 1,000 acres in Sunflower County, Mississippi for Entergy which will own the project once it’s operational in 2022. Charley Patton died in Sunflower...

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Oil Companies Are Collapsing, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing

Oil Companies Are Collapsing, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing

New York Times Ivan Penn 7 April 2020 – A few years ago, the kind of double-digit drop in oil and gas prices the world is experiencing now because of the coronavirus pandemic might have increased the use of fossil fuels and hurt renewable energy sources like wind and solar farms. That is not happening. In fact, renewable energy sources are set to account for nearly 21 percent of the electricity the United States uses for the first time this year, up from about 18 percent last year and 10 percent in 2010, according to one forecast published last week. And while work on some solar and wind projects has been delayed by the outbreak, industry executives and analysts expect the renewable business to continue growing in 2020 and next year even as oil, gas and coal companies struggle financially or seek bankruptcy protection. In many parts of the world, including California and Texas, wind turbines and solar panels now produce electricity more cheaply than natural gas and coal. That has made them attractive to electric utilities and investors alike. It also helps that while oil prices have been more than halved since the pandemic forced most state governments to order people to stay home, natural gas and coal prices have not dropped nearly as much. Even the decline in electricity use in recent weeks as businesses halted operations could help renewables, according to analysts at Raymond James & Associates. That’s because utilities, as revenue suffers, will try to get more electricity from wind and solar farms, which cost little to operate, and less from power plants fueled by fossil fuels. “Renewables are on a growth trajectory today that I think isn’t going to be set back long term,” said Dan Reicher, the founding executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University and an assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration. “This will be a bump in the road.” Of course, the economic slowdown caused by the fight against the coronavirus is taking a toll on parts of the renewable energy industry just as it is on the rest of the economy. Businesses that until recently were adding workers are laying people off and putting off investments. Among the hardest hit are smaller companies that sell solar panels for rooftops. Their orders have dropped steeply as customers put off installations to avoid possible contact with the virus. Image: A sharp drop in the price of solar panels has helped the industry expand.Credit…Deanne Fitzmaurice for The New York Times Luminalt, a solar and electricity storage company based in San Francisco that employs 42 people, recently told most of its installers to seek unemployment benefits as the company’s residential jobs...

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Australian solar owners are saving more while staying at home because of Covid-19

Australian solar owners are saving more while staying at home because of Covid-19

pv magazine Marija Maisch 20 April 2020 – Analyzing its fleet of solar sites, Solar Analytics has found that energy consumption in households due to Covid-19 confinement is up only slightly, if at all. While this is good news, the great news is that the onsite consumption of free solar power in these households is up significantly. Those who are doing their part by staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic may be unpleasantly surprised by their energy bills at the end of the month. However, this does not apply to solar households that are actually saving on their power bills while working and schooling from home. Solar Analytics, a smart-monitoring company that helps rooftop PV owners manage their energy consumption and solar generation, found that, since staying home, 20% of households in its 35,000 strong fleet of solar sites have increased their self-consumption of free solar power by 20%. In dollar terms, this means an approximate extra saving of about $62 a quarter on top of the savings from solar already being made. The situation is even better for 10% of households that have increased their free solar self-consumption by at least 37% compared to the beginning of March. Their consumption pattern translates to an extra $1.70 in savings per day (based on average tariffs), or a further $153 in savings over three months, Solar Analytics finds. Households with Solar Analytics energy monitoring have their solar self-consumption data served to them on a platter, as shown in the graphic below. The yellow circle shows solar consumed on site, the purple one – energy imported from the grid and the orange one – solar exported to the grid. Electricity consumption As Australia still enjoys mild weather, energy consumption is expected to increase in the coming winter months when households will be turning on the lights and the heating for more hours every day. However, Solar Analytics sees this as an opportunity to further capitalize on rooftop solar. “We suspect that while solar energy production will have its usual seasonal reduction, the potential value of solar energy to households could be just as big in winter, offsetting much larger household energy consumption,” the company said. This week, Melbourne-based energy consultancy RepuTex warned households were set for a shock when they received their next power bill. However, it also predicted the short-term spike should be counterbalanced by lower wholesale electricity prices over the next two years due to the impact of a “perfect storm” of Covid-19 demand cuts, lower domestic gas prices and large renewable energy projects being commissioned. As already seen in Europe and the U.S., the spread of Covid-19 has slowed down electricity demand and depressed wholesale power prices as shutdowns...

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Falling power prices could benefit mega-sized solar and wind projects

Falling power prices could benefit mega-sized solar and wind projects

pv magazine Marija Maisch 20 April 2020 – The Covid-19 pandemic will create a “perfect storm” for the wholesale electricity market as lower demand comes together with lower gas prices and large-scale solar and wind being commissioned to depress power prices, finds a report by Melbourne-based consultancy RepuTex. Wholesale power prices in the National Electricity Market (NEM) are forecast to fall 20% over the next two years due to the impact of a “perfect storm” of Covid-19 demand cuts, lower domestic gas prices and large renewable energy projects being commissioned, according to new research from energy market analysts Reputex. Such circumstances are likely to shift sands in renewable energy investment. While electricity consumption volumes are not yet depicting a steep decline, such as those seen in Europe and the US, the analysts assume a drop in demand over April and May as industrial facilities continue to close or reduce consumption, with restrictions eased by July 2020 and a return to ‘normal’ electricity consumption levels 12-months later. How far prices drop would depend on the extent and duration of lockdown restrictions. According to RepuTex, the country-wide lockdown is expected to lead to a 10 to 40% cut in electricity consumption. This could see the weighted average NEM wholesale price “around $69 per megawatt-hour (/MWh) for 2019-20, declining toward $55/MWh over the next two years before recovering back above $60/MWh, slightly higher than current futures prices,” the consultancy finds. On the supply side, around 1.6 GW of solar and wind capacity has been commissioned in FY19-20, RepuTex notes. “Although we expect utility-scale solar and wind commissioning could hibernate for the next one to two quarters due to Covid-19 disruptions, we continue to forecast a total of 6.1 GW of solar and wind to be commissioned over the next two years, along with the contribution of another 1.2 GW of new rooftop PV,” it said. However, the new circumstances will not have a uniform impact across the renewable energy industry with smaller capacity projects likely to be more adversely affected. “Impacts are more likely to be felt at the lower end of the market, with smaller projects more adversely affected by negative factors such as the lower Australian dollar and associated higher supply chain costs, with the low wholesale electricity price environment to potentially disrupt the economics of these projects,” RepuTex said. According to Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy, the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to the postponement or cancellation of financial close on some 3 GW of solar and wind project capacity, as the falling Australian dollar renders projects uneconomical. Since capital expenditure costs have increased in recent months – with rising hardware costs typically priced in US dollars – developers will be challenged to profitably...

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Australia’s big battery market set to add “at least” 500MWh in 2020

Australia’s big battery market set to add “at least” 500MWh in 2020

Renew Economy Sophie Vorrath 17 April 2020 – Australia’s grid-scale battery market had a record year in 2019 and is expected to sail past 500MWh in 2020 and add at least double the amount of new energy storage capacity as the nation’s residential sector. The latest annual Australia Battery Market report from SunWiz (available here) says a total of just over 143MWh of commercial and grid-scale batteries was installed in 2019, eclipsing the 69MWh installed in 2018. Not only did this number combine with residential installs to deliver a whole-of-market record for 2019, but it was a record for non-residential scale deployment, with four projects combined delivering as much capacity as the Hornsdale Power Reserve – South Australia’s Big Battery. “This was a record year for battery installation,” said SunWiz managing director and report author Warwick Johnston. “The residential capacity decreased, but this was offset by an increase in non-residential battery capacity to reach a new record year.” And while the cumulative tally for Australian battery installations for 2015-2019 puts residential storage well ahead of non-residential at 738MWh and 361MWh respectively, this trend is expected to be flipped in 2020. According to the report, and as detailed in the table below, SunWiz expects “at least 500MWh of non-residential storage to come online in 2020, dwarfing the 143MWh record commissioned in 2019. “This could almost double if Kiamal adds storage,” the report notes, and further projects could be driven by the NSW Emerging Energy program RenewEconomy notes there are a number of projects that did not make the SunWiz list that are a chance to come online this year, or next, including the 600MW Victoria Big Battery (no MWh details yet) proposed by Neoen and Mondo Power. The NT government has also recently reveled plans to tender for a $30 million battery likely to be sized around 35MW and with around 30 minutes of storage, to save on the costs of gas for what’s known as “spinning reserve”. And as RenewEconomy has reported, major utility Origin Energy has told investors it is considering battery storage for four of its existing facilities – the Darling Downs gas generator in Queensland, the Eraring coal and Uranquinty gas generators in NSW, and the Mortlake gas generator in Victoria. A fifth project, a 300MW solar plus battery proposal called Morgans, is located in South Australia, where there is a growing number of similarly-scal battery projects proposed to support new wind and solar developments. Origin’s rival AGL Energy is also looking at a variety of big battery projects, and has signed a contract for 200MW/400MWh of batteries with the renewable energy developer Maoneng. EnergyAustralia is also looking at batteries, and currently has contracts for both the Gannawarra and Ballarat batteries in...

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Thousands pile in to S.A. home battery scheme before subsidy winds back

Thousands pile in to S.A. home battery scheme before subsidy winds back

One Step Off The Grid Sophie Vorrath 17 March 2020 – More than 5,000 South Australian solar households have piled into battery storage in the space of just five weeks, in a last-minute rush to access a $6000 discount through the state government’s $100 million home battery scheme. South Australia’s Liberal government announced in early March that it would begin a step-down of its generous and highly successful home energy storage policy, reducing the maximum subsidy from $6000 to $4000 from April 15. State energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says the announcement sparked a flood of new applications to the HBS scheme, boosting the total uptake of subsidised systems to 12,334, so far. “Home owners have been banging down the doors of the system providers to get themselves a home battery during the last five weeks,” van Holst Pellekaan said in a statement on Friday. “South Australia will have an additional 146MWh of additional storage when the 12,334 home batteries are installed which will help reduce electricity bill for all other household customers.” Not that participation in the scheme needed any boosting. As the minister said last month, it had been a “strong surge” in the number of households taking up the subsidy, and pushing numbers past 7000, that had sparked the decision to start winding it back. As One Step reported earlier this week (and see the SunWiz chart below), South Australia was already at the head of the pack on home battery storage uptake at the end of 2019, and this latest surge in uptake should keep it there for some months longer, at least. “South Australia is light years ahead of the other Australians states when it comes to the adption of the electricity cost saving and environmentally responsible home batteries,” said van Holst Pellekaan. “The massive uptake of the HBS has also created a mini jobs boom for home battery installers at the very moment we need as much work as we can possibly get in South Australia. “The installation of the remaining 6,700 batteries and associated solar panels will provide the equivalent of 150 full time jobs in the growing green energy industry in South Australia during the next 6 months.” The scheme has also been instrumental in the establishment of local manufacturing facilities by global battery storage giants Sonnen and Alpha ESS – both of which now have factories up and running in Adelaide. And it has paved the way for the roll-out and testing of virtual power plants, seven of which have now been established as part of the home battery scheme by AGL, ShineHub, Simply Energy, EnergyAustralia, Stoddart Group, sonnen, and Tesla. “By getting on the front foot, South Australians have been the big winners through...

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Rio Tinto urges climate action despite pandemic and recession

Rio Tinto urges climate action despite pandemic and recession

pv magazine Blake Matich 10 April 2020 – Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson is urging governments to take “urgent” action on climate change despite the twin evils of Covid-19 and economic recession. The call comes amid criticism that Rio Tinto’s own emissions reductions schemes are too weak. Global mining giant Rio Tinto, which recently disclosed that $6.2 billion of its $7.6 billion global tax bill was paid in Australia, is urging governments to act on Climate Change not just despite the twin evils of Covid-19 and economic recession, but because of them. According to the Australian Financial Review, Simon Thompson, chairman of Rio Tinto, believes governments must take “urgent” action on climate change in the face of the twin crises.  Thompson is not alone in his call for “urgent” action even in these unprecedented times, but it is telling that Rio Tinto can see a golden sky at the end of the storm, and relieving to know that the mining industry is finally learning the value of golden skies. Last month Rio Tinto announced a $1 billion investment toward its 2050 net zero emissions goal.  However, it must be said that Rio Tinto is not yet cleansed of its sins. Environmental finance group Market Forces, a subsidiary of Friends of the Earth, recently criticised Rio Tinto via a shareholder resolution for setting out emissions reduction targets not in line with the Paris Agreement.  “We have already prepared the paperwork to lodge a resolution at Rio Tinto’s 2020 Australian annual general meeting,” said Market Forces executive director Julien Vincent. “Nothing short of the release of Paris-aligned targets for all of Rio’s emissions will result in this resolution being withdrawn.”  “Rio Tinto’s current emissions plan falls embarrassingly short of the Climate Action 100’s demands,” added Vincent.  Nevertheless, Thompson has a lot of other shareholders to worry about and customers who will no doubt feel the price pinch from ambitious emissions reduction. Governments, on the other hand, have only their responsibility to their citizens and, it seems, a very weak grasp of the obvious.  Perhaps it is the pressure of this position that encouraged Thompson to urge climate action in the company’s telephone conference shareholder meeting on Wednesday. “As the world confronts the immediate crisis of Covid-19, it is vital that we do not ignore the longer term challenge of climate change,” Thompson implored. “If the world is to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, urgent, co-ordinated government action is essential,” he continued. “To create incentives, such as carbon pricing, for the industry to invest in new low-carbon technology for these ‘hard to abate’ sectors. And to maintain the competitiveness of trade-exposed industries during the energy transition.”  It may be surprising to hear this...

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West Australia puts community batteries at top of new energy roadmap

West Australia puts community batteries at top of new energy roadmap

One Step Off the Grid Giles Parkinson 9 April 2020 – The West Australia Labor government has unveiled a new energy roadmap that puts community battery storage at the top of its proposals to embrace a wholesale switch to distributed energy sources such as rooftop solar panels, household and community batteries, electric vehicles and microgrids. The Distributed Energy Roadmap – nearly a year in the making – was unveiled on the weekend by state energy minister Bill Johnston, and it forms a key part of its Energy Transformation Taskforce, charged with dealing with the switch from coal and then other fossil fuels, to a grid dominated by renewables and storage. W.A., thanks largely to the disinterest of the previous conservative government, has trailed the rest of the country in the installation of large-scale wind and solar – although it is beginning to catch up, both on its main grid and through miners in off-grid and in private networks. But the state has been among the leaders in the uptake of rooftop solar, which has been installed by one in three households, meaning the output of rooftop solar is three times as much at certain times than that of the biggest coal generator, and accounts for up to 45 per cent of demand. Johnston notes that the uptake of rooftop solar is expected to lift to one in two households, and at least that for business. That has particular implications for Western Australia because it is an isolated network, and the question has been how to manage a distributed and largely uncontrolled and nearly invisible source that will likely present a threat to grid stability without a proper integration plan,  as the Australian Energy Market Operator has highlighted. See our story: Rooftop solar throws massive curve ball to world’s most isolated grid. “A major transformation of Western Australia’s electricity sector is underway,” Stephen Edwell, who chairs the Energy Transformation Taskforce, said in a statement. “Rooftop solar is a great source of power, but changes are needed to ensure that it helps, rather than hinders the operation of our energy supply system. “Households and businesses can help make the most of our abundant solar generation by moving some of their electricity use from the evening to the middle of the day.” The focus of this report is a suite of 36 different actions that cover technology integration, removing barriers to DER participation (including battery storage),piloting alternative electricity tariffs, and relating customer protection and engagement. Edwell says it is not a wish list, as each recommended action is considered essential. The one that has caught most attention from clean energy advocates is the community battery proposal, which is considered the most urgent. It proposes new community batteries be installed...

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2020: When the great disruption began

2020: When the great disruption began

Renew Economy Paul Gilding 2 April 2020 – It was always going to come to this. Whether it was a pandemic triggering a shutdown, a climate emergency bursting the carbon bubble, a populist backlash against inequality, wars over water or countless other possible triggers, this moment has long been inevitable. COVID-19 is just like a match thrown on a tinder dry forest floor on a hot windy day and starting a wildfire. The match isn’t the key – it’s where it lands. While of course a pandemic would always be an enormous economic and health challenge, the context in which it lands is the key to our ability to manage it. Thus, we now see our economic system’s inherent instabilities clearly exposed. The house of cards is collapsing. Won’t this all pass? We’ll find a cure, develop a vaccine, boost the economy and then everything will get back to normal. It’ll take a few years, but we’ll get back on track. Right? Wrong, very wrong. We are at the beginning of a process with an uncertain end. It could be a major recession, a full-scale depression, or a slide into systemic collapse. Or it could be a turning point – where we recover and build a very different kind of economy, one defined by sustainability and resilience with a focus on improving human well-being. This range of outcomes is uncertain. What is certain is that we are not going back to how things were. Why? We should always remember the true meaning of the word ‘unsustainable’. You can never be sure when, or how it will happen, but one thing you can be very sure of is this: when things are unsustainable….they will stop. When I wrote my book “The Great Disruption” in 2011, I laid out this argument. At that time, I thought the climate crisis was the most predictable trigger point for a crisis that would drive system change Basic physics showed that increasing emissions would, in the end, force an existential crisis. But like the match, the trigger is not the key. The book’s main focus was the broad global system and its inherent unsustainability – and why a major disruption was inevitable. In summary the argument I made was this. An economy and human society built on the concept of infinite compound economic growth was, by itself, obviously ultimately unsustainable. It’s like COVID-19 cases doubling several times a week – in a short time you go from a worrying number, to a collapsed health system and social chaos. On a longer timeframe, it’s the same with infinite economic growth. On top of that, I argued there were a series of ‘system overload’ points built into our economy...

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