Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

Revolutionary huge solar powered glasshouse for Hunter Valley, New South Wales

June 22, 2015

solar glasshouseMassive solar-powered glasshouse in NSW Hunter Valley to employ refugees, migrants , ABC News, By Jackson Vernon  21 June 15 Construction is underway on Australia’s biggest glasshouse, in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, which is solar powered and already providing employment opportunities for new migrants and refugees.

Excavators have started the groundwork on the vegetable growing facility at Fullerton Cove, about 40 minutes outside of Newcastle. At more than 16 hectares, it will cover the size of 20 rugby fields.Dutch investor Cor Disselkoen has developed glasshouses throughout the Netherlands and has brought in materials and labour for construction here.

Once operating, the facility will produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums every year. “We are producing 14 times more per square metre so we have a huge production compared to open field growing,” Mr Disselkoen said.

“It’s year-round, reliable, independent from whatever climactic circumstances so we can guarantee year around delivery to our clients.”

It has taken many years since the project was first announced to get to this point, after assessments in both Port Stephens Council and the Joint Regional Planning Panel. The project was mired in controversy initially, over plans to power it with a nearby coal seam gas well. But now it will be run solely on clean energy.

“We don’t get any natural gas or coal to fire or heat, we don’t use any electricity from coal fired electricity mains,” Mr Disselkoen said. “We catch the rainfall, which falls on our roof, which is enough for us to grow our plants.” “It’s the most efficient way, but environmentally the best way to do in the future.”

Glasshouse employs refugees and migrants

Refugees and migrants in the Hunter region will be among the 125 workers employed at the glasshouse…….the farm would be a major employment opportunity for dozens of people starting lives in Australia…….

Government welcomes growth to agriculture industry

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the new facility would help ensure more local produce was grown and consumed.

“[It] means that we can grow different crops out of season and capitalise on some of the markets that traditionally we may have had to rely upon imported products for,” Mr Blair said.

Mr Blair said the alternative farming method worked side by side with traditional practices and will help grow the $15 billion primary industries sector.

“When we look at glasshouse and intensive production it’s something that we’ve done a lot of investment and research into through the Department of Primary Industries,” Mr Blair said.


South Australia headed to be an Australian, and world, leader in renewable energy

June 21, 2015

Rooftop solar to cut total grid demand to zero in South Australia,
REneweconomy  By  on 18 June 2015 
See also Rooftop solar to overtake coal capacity before 2030

The Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that the growing uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses will reduce grid demand in South Australia on certain occasions to zero by 2023, highlighting the rapid change in the nature of energy markets, and the growing shift from centralised baseload generation.

The predictions from AEMO came in its 2015 National Electricity Forecasting Report, released on
Thursday. It says that the near 575MW of rooftop solar is already accounting for one-third of total grid demand on certain days in the state.

But within a decade this total could treble, pushing minimum demand required from the grid in the whole state to below 0MW (zero) on some occasions in 2023-24, and for several hours at a time by 2024/25 – when AEMO expects 1864MW of rooftop solar.

It says zero demand from the grid could last from 11.30am to 2.30pm local time on some days………..

South Australia will be a test case for Australia, and indeed the world, because of its high level of “variable renewables” such as wind and solar in its energy mix. 

It already stands at more than 40 per cent and AEMO expects this to grow as the renewable energy target encourages more wind generation and households continue to take up solar. One in four homes in the state already have solar PV……………

It explains why Alinta this week announced the imminent closure of its two base load coal-fired generators, giving the state the opportunity to move towards high renewable penetration, possibly 100 per cent.

Renewable proponents suggest that the two coal plants should be replaced with solar thermal and storage facilities, which have the flexibility to provide power when needed, and to store it when it is not required……..

In South Australia, the minimum load has already shifted from the early morning to the middle of the day, and peak demand has been shunted from the late afternoon to early evening, around 6.30pm. This is expected to move to 7.30pm as more solar is put into the grid.

South Australia is considered to be one of the prime markets for battery storage in Australia, given the high penetration of rooftop solar, and the difference between grid prices and payments for solar exports. Large-scale storage, at grid level, is also being considered in a trial co-sponsored by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and AGL Energy.

See this story for state by state breakdown of AEMO solar PV forecasts.

Australia’s Prime Minister Abbott quite open about his aim to stop renewable energy development

June 12, 2015

‘Noisy compared to what?’: Tony Abbott’s claim wind farms awful and noisy dismissed, Abbott-destroys-renewablesThe Age June 11, 2015  National political reporter Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described wind farms as “visually awful” and boasted slashing the Renewable Energy Target will restrict growth in the industry.

Mr Abbott also said the Howard government would never have introduced the clean energy policy if it had its time over again.

In a wide-ranging interview on Sydney radio station 2GB, Mr Abbott said he was prevented by the Senate in his desire to further cut the growth of new wind farms. Mr Abbott made the remarks after the conservative broadcaster Alan Jones asked why the government had agreed to subsidise wind farms when residents living near them claim to suffer health problems.

Victorian cattle farmer Hamish Officer lives a good deal closer to wind turbines than most people.”You don’t need to lift your voice to have a conversation under a wind turbine nearly as much as you would in a city street,” Mr Officer said.

“For someone like the Prime Minister to stand there and say they’re noisy – it’s a very blanket statement. Noisy compared to what?”

 Mr Officer’s property between Hawkesdale and Macarthur hosts the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm: AGL’s Macarthur wind farm. Beef cattle run between the 140 turbines spread across 5,500 hectares of farming land in western Victoria……..

Mr Abbott told broadcaster Alan Jones: “I do take your point about the potential health impact of these things. When I’ve been up close to these windfarms, not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise.”

He said the government’s deal to scale back Australia’s renewable energy target was designed to reduce the number of turbines in Australia, contradicting numerous government statements that it was due to concern about power prices.

The Australian Wind Alliance said Mr Abbott had exposed the government’s true intentions on the renewable energy target.

The Prime Minister told Alan Jones, “What we did recently in the Senate was reduce, Alan, reduce, capital R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future.

“We got the best deal we could out of the Senate and if we hadn’t had a deal, Alan, we would have been stuck with even more of these things.”

The Prime Minister’s office said Mr Abbott had visited a wind farm, but could not say which one. ………

Solar farm in Victoria – independent of any tax-payer funding

March 26, 2015

what makes the Mildura plant so special is that it was built without a cent of government grants being tipped in.

helps illustrate how solar’s smaller, highly modular scale and fast construction time could allow it to play a far greater role in ensuring the target for the large-scale RET is met

Belectric have a developed a standardised 3MW solar power installation system they call the 3.0 MegaWattBlock (pictured below) which they roll-out across the globe.


Australia’s biggest solar farm powers-up but solar’s potential shines elsewhere, Business Spectator, TRISTAN EDIS  23 MAR 

Australia’s largest ever solar power plant, AGL’s 102 megawatt Nyngan – has begun feeding power into the grid. But there’s a far more interesting solar power plant no one is talking about in Mildura.

The Nyngan plant in Western NSW now has its first 25MW of capacity, involving 350,000 solar modules made by First Solar, generating power that is exporting power to the grid. Further generation will progressively be brought online over the next three months as the remaining three sections of the plant are individually commissioned.

It’s unambiguously good news, yet I’m far more excited about the solar power plant in Mildura even though it’s substantially smaller – 3MW of capacity versus Nyngan’s 102MW. In fact it’s quite astounding that the completion of the Mildura plant has received no press whatsoever, because when it started feeding power to the grid in April last year it was the second largest operational solar power plant in the country at the time, and remains comfortably the largest in Victoria.

Of course 3MW is nothing special; in the overall scheme of things it’s actually tiny. Over the last few years we’ve averaged over 800MW of solar installations per annum (mainly household installations of 5 kilowatts or smaller). Indeed the average coal power station is typically 200 times the size of the 3MW plant in Mildura.

But what makes the Mildura plant so special is that it was built without a cent of government grants being tipped in. Meanwhile AGL will receive $166.7 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and a further  $64.9 million from the NSW Government to build Nyngan and its associated 53MW plant in Broken Hill. In addition, other large-scale solar plants like FRV’s 56MW plant in Moree, the 10MW plant in Carnarvon and the 6.7MW Rio Tinto plant in Weipa are all recipients of significant government grants covering around half the capital cost. Other solar projects in the ACT benefit from government feed-in tariffs which pay a significant premium over the market price of the electricity and renewable energy certificates the projects create.

Yet the Mildura solar farm will operate based solely on the revenue it earns from the large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the electricity it produces, via a long-term power purchase agreement with Diamond Energy – an upstart power retailer focussed on renewable energy.

In this respect the Mildura project provides a vastly more convincing case that solar PV could be a significant player in not just competing at the retail level on rooftops, but also the wholesale electricity market. The project also helps illustrate how solar’s smaller, highly modular scale and fast construction time could allow it to play a far greater role in ensuring the target for the large-scale RET is met than many currently expect…..

Essentially, they [The Germany company that built the project – Belectric –] approach it as a simple electrical installation rather than a large customised construction project. Belectric have a developed a standardised 3MW solar power installation system they call the 3.0 MegaWattBlock (pictured above) which they roll-out across the globe.

By keeping projects at a moderate size and employing simple, standardised equipment and framing, the project becomes a cookie-cutter exercise – not unlike like a household solar installation – just repeated over and over again. This enables them to employ local, small electrical contractors, keeping competition high and pricing sharp, avoiding the union-dominated, high-cost labour typically involved in large-scale construction projects in Australia. It also means they’ve become very quick at rolling these projects out because they’ve done them several times before. It’s utility scale power as mass production rather than one-off construction project……..

Floating solar energy farm for South Australia – a national first

March 6, 2015

Australian-first floating solar farm due to begin construction in SA ABC News By Matthew Doran, 5 Mar 15 An Australian-first floating solar power plant is expected to be operational in South Australia by early April, with construction about to begin. (Below – a floating solar energy plant in France) 



The plant will float on a wastewater treatment facility in Jamestown in the state’s mid north. Felicia Whiting of Infratech Industries said the plant was designed so that much of the construction could be carried out offsite and slotted together at the facility. “We should see some plant on the site within about two weeks,” Ms Whiting said.

She also explained that as the solar panels were floating they would be kept cool by the water mass, making them about 57 per cent more efficient than land-based solar panels. “It prevents water evaporation up to 90 per cent of the surface area covered, and for dry states and dry climates that’s a big water saving measure,” Ms Whiting said.

“It prevents the outbreak of blue-green algae by keeping the surface water cool, which is for treated wastewater an issue in water quality. “By preventing photosynthesis, the energy from the sun goes into the panel rather than into the water.”……

Ms Whiting said that once operational, the plant would become Infratech’s showpiece for export around the world.”We’ve invested our whole research and development program in this technology over the past two years in South Australia,” she said.

“We have other councils waiting to have a look at this and see how it might be adapted to a water basin or a community wastewater management scheme.

“We are using Australian engineering and it’s an Australian supply chain – that will be taken internationally.”

Will Tony Abbott stop Australian Renewable Energy Agency, because it is so successful?

February 1, 2015

Australian Renewable Energy Agency Funding More Than 230 Projects January 30th, 2015 by  

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has invested $1 billion into more than 230 projects, fellowships, and scholarships throughout the country “that are paving the way for a more diverse energy future for Australia.”

In a press release on its website, the government agency publicized their efforts, despite the obvious roadblocks currently in place in Australian energy politics.

The news comes only a few days after the country’s Bureau of Meteorology and science agency, CSIRO, released a report which claimed Australia will be subject to massive current and future climate impacts.

According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), it has invested $1 billion in a number of projects, of which 31 are already complete, and “with many more scheduled to reach key milestones and/or completion in 2015.”

“Each of these projects is producing valuable knowledge and outcomes that are being shared with the energy industry to help overcome challenges and advance renewable energy in Australia,” according to its site.

ARENA makes mention of several such projects it is involved with, including the South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research’s project which has produced a reliable tool for accurate, pre-drilling predictions of geothermal energy reservoir characteristics. More projects ARENA is involved with include a University of Newcastle project creating a working prototype of a thermionic energy converter, and a project delivered by CSIRO in partnership with Abengoa, which is exploring cost-effective ways to collect and store thermal energy.

However, there are other projects which we have covered here at CleanTechnica as well.

Reposit Power is planning to install battery storage in six homes in and around Canberra, the country’s capital, to run a six-month pilot project of its technology, known as GridCredits — to which ARENA is contributing $445,000 to the $900,000 project.

The country’s largest solar power project is receiving ARENA support, as is the first solar PV power project with single-axis tracking features.

Despite continual funding cutbacks, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency is pushing ahead, and investing in projects which will change the face of Australia’s energy market — if the government allows it for any longer.

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Move to make renewable energy essential in new home building

December 13, 2014

Perth council to seek mandate on renewable energy for new homes, ABC News, 10 Dec 14 720 ABC Perth  By Emma Wynne A Perth council is hoping to radically alter its planning scheme to require new homes to have their own energy supply.

Nedlands council, which covers some of Perth’s wealthiest suburbs, will apply to the WA Planning Commission to alter their planning scheme to require installation of onsite power generations, such as solar panels or wind power, in all new home building…….

Forget public opinion: Abbott intends to wreck the Renewable Energy Target

August 18, 2014

Abbott’s plan to axe RET Financial Review, PHILLIP COOREY Chief political correspondent, 18 Aug 14 The federal government is moving towards abolishing the Renewable Energy Target rather than scaling it back in a move that will cost almost $11 billion in proposed investment and which is at odds with the views of its own Environment Minister.

The Australian Financial Review understands Prime Minister Tony Abbott has asked businessman Dick Warburton, whom he handpicked after the election to review the RET, to do more work on the option of terminating the target altogether. This was after Mr Warburton’s review leant towards scaling back the RET.

Sources said Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who advocated scaling back the RET as a compromise, has been sidelined from the process and is understood to be unhappy. They said Mr Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann are pushing the issue now.

A government source said when the government announced its decision, possibly before the end of this month, it was now “more likely’’ the RET will be abolished under a so-called “closed to new entrants scenario’’ in which existing contracts only would be honoured.

Given Clive Palmer has vowed to block any change to the RET until after the 2016 election, it remains unclear when the government could declare the RET terminated.

Independent modelling commissioned by the Climate Institute and other environmental groups, and which will be released Monday, found that under the termination scenario, coal-fired power generators would reap an extra $25 billion in profits between 2015 and 2030.

There would be no reduction to household power prices and carbon emissions would climb by 15 million tonnes a year on the back of a 9 percent increase in coal-fired power.


Abolishing the RET would diminish investment in renewable energy by $10.6 billion, said the modelling, conducted by consulting firm Jacobs…….

Miles George, managing director of renewable company Infigen Energy, said either scaling back or terminating the RET “would be devastating”.

He said the creation of sovereign risk would be significant and the very issue had been raised by prospective foreign investors, including Canadian pension funds which Mr Abbott sought to woo when abroad in June.

“Infigen’s shareholder base of over 20,000 investors has invested in ­renewable energy in Australia on the basis of a fixed target of 41,000 GWh by 2020,’’ Mr George said. “This is no different to investors in private public partnerships acquiring a toll road ­concession, or a port lease.

“If the Government pulls the rug from under institutional investors in renewable energy we shouldn’t expect those investors to come back to buy other infrastructure assets here, ­including the electricity networks and ­generation assets that the governments of NSW and Queensland are proposing to sell or lease.”

Overwhelming support for keeping Australia’s Renewable Energy Target as it is

August 18, 2014

RET review swamped by pro-clean energy submissions, The Age,  August 17, 2014    Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The overwhelming majority of submissions received by the Abbott government’s hand-picked panel reviewing the Renewable Energy Target back its goals.

Analysis by the Clean Energy Council of the 865 detailed submissions found 754, or more than 87 per cent, in favour of the RET being retained or expanded. Of the rest, 55 were mixed or neutral, and 56 called for it to be abolished.

When the 23,272 community submissions are added, support swells closer to 99 per cent, the council said.

“Five years ago when the [RET] was expanded with bipartisan support, Australians overwhelmingly wanted more clean energy – and that is more apparent now than ever,” Kane Thornton, the council’s acting chief executive, said.

Meanwhile, a separate Senate inquiry into the government’s plan to scrap the Australian Renewable Energy Agency found 125 of the 127 submissions in favour of retaining the body, the council said. ARENA provides grants to emerging clean energy technologies….

3 years on, and Sundrop Farms expanding its cutting edge solar technology

August 14, 2014

sundrop-farms-David-PrattSundrop Farms’ greenhouse expansion project approved by council | PHOTOS,The Transconntinental By Steph Say and Ryan Smith Aug. 13, 2014, 

Sundrop Farms gets the green light  Sundrop Farms’ innovative greenhouse expansion project has been given the green light with the support of Port Augusta City Council.

Provisional development approval was granted at Tuesday night’s Development Assessment Panel meeting.

Sundrop Farms will now start making detailed designs for the 20 hectare expansion before getting a final construction price from a selected contractor. This process is expected to take two months when the final decision on whether the development will go ahead will be made.

If the expansion does go ahead it is expected to create 200 ongoing jobs for the city and a major economic boost.

Sundrop Farms chief technology officer Reinier Wolterbeek said the provisional approval was one of the major boxes that needed to be ticked to get the expansion underway. “It’s a major milestone, we’ve worked a long time to get to this stage,” he said. We’ve worked with the .2 hectares here [inPort Augusta] for about four years…with ups and downs but we’ve achieved the yields we are after.”

Sundrop Farms uses cutting-edge solar thermal technology to desalinateseawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses.The expansion would involve the building of a 20 hectare, four greenhouse facility which will produce more than 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year for metropolitan markets across Australia.

Solar energy will be harnessed using a power tower which absorbs heat reflected from a field of mirrors………