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Off-grid portable classroom trial in operation

07 November, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

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Australia’s first solar and battery powered portable classroom is operating in a Brisbane high school as a trial of renewable classrooms expands to Queensland.

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided approximately $370,000 to Hivve Technologie to build three state-of-the-art pilot portable classrooms, including a prototype at Bracken Ridge State High School in Brisbane.

The Bracken Ridge portable classroom, developed in collaboration with Tesla, includes rooftop solar PV and a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery system that allows the classroom to operate 100 per cent off the electricity grid.

Hivve classrooms generate enough electricity to power themselves and a minimum of two other classrooms in a school, with excess power able to be stored in the connected battery.

As part of the ARENA pilot, Hivve previously installed solar-powered classrooms in two NSW schools, St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Sydney’s south western suburb of Holsworthy, and at Dapto High School in the Illawarra region.

Hivve classrooms feature energy efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning, and allow real-time monitoring of temperature, air quality, energy metering as well as solar generation, battery capacity to manage energy demand. An in-classroom dashboard provides real-time data that gives teachers control of the classroom environment.

A Tesla battery was also installed for six weeks at Dapto High School to test the potential for batteries to be incorporated into the classroom.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said the successful Hiive trials in NSW and now Queensland open the door for more Australian schools to switch to renewable energy.

“This solar-and-battery powered Hivve classroom at Bracken Ridge is both sustainable and self-sufficient as it powers itself while being completely off grid. The school avoids the significant upfront cost of grid connection while also saving on ongoing energy costs.

“Demand for energy at schools occurs during the school day, when the sun is shining. As such, there is a great opportunity to power classrooms via solar, backed up by battery storage,” Mr Miller said.

“Many schools on the Eastern seaboard are currently at capacity on grid connection. This Australian-developed solution could help schools reduce costs and emissions, while also reducing reliance and demand on the grid.”

Hivve CEO, David Wrench, said, “We are greatly encouraged by the robust trial results from the three schools operating with Hivve classrooms which confirms this Australian-developed technology has now made the transition from an idea to a commercial reality.

“The Hivve classroom concept has the potential to be a game changer in how our children are educated, providing a completely sustainable solution by powering all its own infrastructure – including air conditioning – while also feeding energy back into the school to run other classrooms.

“ARENA has been the perfect partner for this initiative demonstrating the innovative thinking around traditional energy challenges this Government has been bringing.”

The ARENA-funded pilot will run for 12 months, with the accumulated performance data used to demonstrate how renewable energy could power schools and reduce schools’ energy costs, as part of ARENA’s focus on delivering secure, reliable and affordable electricity.

Following the success of the trial, Hivve are now expecting to roll out their classrooms in NSW and are in discussion with other states.

New solar cells offer you chance to print out solar panels and stick them on your roof

19 October, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

Australia’s first commercial installation of printed solar cells, made using specialised semiconducting inks and printed using a conventional reel-to-reel printer, has been installed on a factory roof in Newcastle.

The 200 square metre array was installed in just one day by a team of five people. No other energy solution is as lightweight, as quick to manufacture, or as easy to install on this scale.

Our research team manufactured the solar modules using standard printing techniques; in fact, the machine that we use typically makes wine labels.

Each solar cell consists of several individual layers printed on top of each other, which are then connected in series to form a bank of cells. These cells are then connected in parallel to form a solar module.

Since 1996, we have progressed from making tiny, millimetre-sized solar cells to the first commercial installation. In the latest installation each module is ten metres long and sandwiched between two layers of recyclable plastic.

At the core of the technology are the specialised semiconducting polymer-based inks that we have developed. This group of materials has fundamentally altered our ability to build electronic devices; replacing hard, rigid, glass-like materials such as silicon with flexible inks and paints that can be printed or coated over vast areas at extremely low cost.

As a result, these modules cost less than A$10 per square metre when manufactured at scale. This means it would take only 2-3 years to become cost-competitive with other technologies, even at efficiencies of only 2-3%.

These printed solar modules could conceivably be installed onto any roof or structure using simple adhesive tape and connected to wires using simple press-studs.

The new installation at Newcastle is an important milestone on the path towards commercialisation of the technology – we will spend the next six months testing its performance and durability before removing and recycling the materials.

We think this technology has enormous potential. Obviously our technology is still at the trial stage, but our vision is a world in which every building in every city in every country has printed solar cells generating low-cost sustainable energy for everyone. This latest installation has brought the goal of solar roofs, walls and windows a step closer.

Ultimately, we imagine that these solar cells could even benefit those people who don’t own or have access to roof space. People who live in apartment complexes, for example, could potentially sign up to a plan that lets them pay to access the power generated by cells installed by the building’s owner or body corporate, and need never necessarily “own” the infrastructure outright.

But in a fractured and uncertain energy policy landscape, this new technology is a clear illustration of the value of taking power into one’s own hands.

NT to develop competitive electricity market

10 October, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

The Northern Territory will develop its own competitive wholesale electricity market as part of the state government’s plan to deliver lower power prices.

In the next 12 months, a Northern Territory Electricity Market (NTEM) will be developed, consistent with recommendations made by the independent panel in the Roadmap to Renewables report.

This will ensure the growing interest in renewable energy can be facilitated in the Darwin-Katherine power network in a way that will deliver lower cost generation and reliable power to Territorians.

The Northern Territory Government announced the electricity market reforms to deliver reliable power and meet the state’s target of its 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said creating local jobs was his number one priority.

“Our election commitment of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 is already paying dividends by creating local jobs in the growing renewable energy sector,” he said.

“We have kept our promise to stabilise power prices after massive hikes under the CLP.

“The fact we have also kept public assets in public ownership means we are perfectly placed to transition to more renewable energy while maintaining system reliability.”

The NTEM is expected to be up and running within 12 months, and government will work closely with stakeholders on design and implementation.

The state government will also begin consultation shortly on a review of supply and feed-in tariffs to encourage behind the meter energy storage for those with rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) and stimulate greater take-up of energy efficient technologies.

This was also one of the recommendations made by the renewables panel to increase system reliability and enable Territorians to reduce their electricity costs during the most expensive times of the day.

In a major step towards reaching the 50 per cent renewables target, the government has approved a 25MW solar photovoltaic electricity plant to be developed near Katherine.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) between Jacana Energy and Katherine Solar will enable the construction of the $40 million project, create more than 100 jobs during construction and be the largest renewable energy generator in the Northern Territory.

Epuron executive director Martin Poole said the company was pleased to sell its energy to Jacana.

“We look forward to the Katherine solar project moving into construction in the coming months,” he said.

“The NT has great potential for solar energy, and it is exciting to see the Territory Government’s initiatives to enable investors to compete to generate the lowest cost solar power for the grid.”

NT Minister for Renewables and Essential Services Dale Wakefield said the PPA would increase renewable energy use in the Territory by between 3 and 4 per cent.

“It’s a huge step towards our renewable energy target and will put downward pressure on electricity prices,” he said.

“There are lessons learned from the National Energy Market that we have incorporated into the design of this policy.

“This is a common-sense and best practice approach tailored for the Territory’s unique circumstances.”

New Guidelines for Battery Products

23 July, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

New guidelines for battery products

A new best practice electrical safety guide for battery systems will give consumers increased confidence about the quality of the products that are being installed in their homes and businesses.

Clean Energy Council director of Smart Energy Darren Gladman said the new guidelines for battery products would put Australia “at the head of the pack worldwide” when it comes to battery product safety.

“The best practice guidelines for battery products released this week combines the best of international and US standards, along with a few other belts and braces,” Gladman said.

“They are the result of consultation and collaboration across the energy storage industry and beyond, including input from CSIRO, Australia’s leading scientific research organisation. The safety of consumers should always be the first priority, and it is has been great to have the storage industry working together in this spirit as batteries increase in popularity.”

The Best Practice Guide: Battery Storage Equipment – Electrical Safety Requirements will work in tandem with a risk matrix to provide important guidance for professionals installing energy storage units. The risk matrix will help professionals working with battery storage technology to identify and manage any risks and ensure a safe installation of battery systems.

The guide and the risk matrix were developed by the Clean Energy Council, the Australian Industry Group, the Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association, CSIRO and the Smart Energy Council.

“There is now a robust Australian system of standards and guidelines in place for batteries being installed in Australia. What is missing is this framework being a pre-requisite for state and federal government battery programs. The clean energy industry is working with all governments to ensure this framework is in place to protect consumers as the rollout of battery technology accelerates,” Gladman said.

The Best Practice Guide: Battery Storage Equipment – Electrical Safety Requirements and associated risk matrix are online and available for download at batterysafetyguide.com.au.

Risen Energy starts construction of Yarranlea Solar Farm in May

22 June, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

To commemorate the start of construction of the 121 megawatt DC Yarranlea Solar Farm, Risen Energy conducted a Ground Breaking Ceremony with Mr Patrick (Pat) Weir MP, LNP, Member for Condamine, and Paul Antonio – Mayor Toowoomba Regional Council.

This ceremony reinforces the importance of the working relationship between the State, Council and Risen Energy in developing such a significant project within the region.

Initially construction will involve bulk earthworks to prepare the site for installation of the solar panels and substation equipment.  Planting of screening vegetation will also be undertaken at this early stage.

As owners of the Yarranlea Solar Farm project, Risen Energy will progress the project from detailed engineering design, through construction, commissioning and ultimately the operation of the solar farm.

Full construction of the solar installation is expected to start mid-year and continue through to early 2019.

Yarranlea Solar will be working with Ergon to develop a switching station which will allow the solar farm to connect to the existing 110kV network.

Around 200 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the plant which will have approximately 400,000 solar panels installed at the site.

The Yarranlea Solar management team is currently finalising accommodation arrangements within the town of Pittsworth.

Yarranlea Solar Farm is located near Pittsworth, approximately 50km west of Toowoomba on the Darling Downs.  The farm will be approximately 250ha in area and have a generation capacity of approximately 121 megawatt DC, being sufficient to power up to 32,000 homes.

The project will connect to the power grid using the existing Ergon Energy infrastructure, located adjacent to the development site. This will allow transmission of power into the Middle Ridge Bulk Supply Substation for ultimate use in the Toowoomba and Darling Downs area.

Yarranlea Solar Farm will use the latest Risen Energy PV panel technology and eventually integrate battery storage to allow it to supply power to the grid during periods of peak demand. The completed facility will have an operating life of 30 years, with the option for extensions.

At the end of the facilities useful operating life, all physical infrastructure will be decommissioned, and the land returned to its former agricultural use.

The project received development approval from the Toowoomba Regional Council in February 2017. Detailed studies and plans for the project can be accessed through the Yarranlea web site.  www.yarranleasolar.com.au

Mars goes 100% solar for all six Australian factories

19 June, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

 

Barry O’Sullivan General Manager, Mars Petcare Australia picture at the Wodonga factory.

Mars Australia is going 100 per cent renewables, and will source all the power for its six Australian factories and two offices from a 200MW solar farm in Victoria.

Mars announced on Thursday that it has signed a 20 year power-purchase agreements (PPA) with Total Eren to produce the equivalent of all its electricity needs from the new Kiamal solar farm when it is complete in mind 2019.

Mars has contracted for energy – through the solar farm and a “firming contract” from TFC Green – to match the electricity requirements of its six Australian factories (Asquith, Ballarat, Bathurst, Wacol, Wodonga & Wyong) and two sales offices (Melbourne & Sydney).

“Mars is thrilled to be flicking the switch to solar energy,” says Barry O’Sullivan, the head of sustainability at Mars Australia, which makes confectionaries such as M&Ms, brands such as MasterFoods, EXTRA and Pedigree dog food.

“It’s about making a long-term commitment to a sustainable, greener planet that will benefit our customers, our consumers and the local and global community.”

O’Sullivan said the recent big rise in electricity prices in Australia accelerated its plans to join Mars sites in the US, UK and nine other countries in moving to renewable electricity.

“We acted quickly because the price volatility of energy in Australia made renewables the best option for our business, in addition to getting us closer to our commitment to eliminate greenhouse gasses from our operations by 2040.”

O’Sullivan said the company will also be talking to its extensive local supplier network “about how they can help further reduce emissions in our supply chain.”

It is the second innovative deal for the Kiamal solar farm, which is to be built near Ouyen in western Victoria.

Earlier this year, it announced a PPA with PowerShop, which enabled that retailer to announce a fall in retail prices to be passed on to consumers.

Total Eren, partly owned by one of the biggest oil companies in the world, also has council approval for a huge battery installation at the site – 100MW/380MWh – which the company will build once there is a “compelling proposition.”

Total Eren CEO David Corchba said the move by Mars Australia “sends a strong message to the rest of the market that now is the time to capitalise on the opportunities offered by renewable power purchase agreements.”

Total Eren says the success with the Kiamal solar farm means that it can no go ahead with a second solar farm in NSW.

Mars partnered with Commodity Risk Solution, LLC, a global energy market advisor, to structure and deliver an innovative corporate PPA that will provide a lasting economic advantage.

The deal was brokered by TFS Green, which has developed a marketplace for buyers and sellers of renewable energy, along with new “firming” contracts, under a new product known as the Renewable Energy Hub.

Essentially, this allows renewables to be presented as transactional firm contracts to the wholesale energy market, and builds liquidity for renewables to function with the wholesale contract market.

“The future of the renewable energy market will require firming solutions for intermittent generators to transact advantageously, says  Chris Halliwell, the head of renewable energy and environmental markets at TFS Australia.

The electricity from the Kiamal solar farm will be exported to the main grid.  Mars will receive the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) created by Kiamal Solar Farm, which are transferable for all Mars’ electricity use in all of its Australian facilities.

The PPAs are part of a broader Mars journey to become Sustainable in a Generation, with plans to reduce greenhouse gasses across the supply chain by 67% by 2050.

Redeployable solar system could replace diesel generators

19 June, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

Redeployable solar system could replace diesel generators

Pop-up mobile solar PV could soon replace diesel generators as temporary power supply for military operations, disaster relief efforts and music festivals, thanks to an Australian-made innovation.

ARENA has announced $289,725 in funding for Canberra-based ECLIPS Engineering to design, manufacture and test its rapidly redeployable Container Roll Out Solar System (CROSS).

CROSS is a factory assembled, relocatable solar array that has been developed to reduce the logistics challenges associated with deploying solar PV generators. Designed to fit inside a standard shipping container, the CROSS units can be stacked up to seven units high.

The $703,468 total project opens up markets not previously available to the renewables industry, including defence, disaster recovery, humanitarian, construction and temporary network augmentation.

The systems come available in 20ft and 40ft configurations, with a maximum output of 2,175W and 4,350W delivered in minutes ready for connection to an inverter.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the CROSS units could see solar energy delivering temporary power is required in a remote location or an emergency situation.

“CROSS units can be deployed in off-grid and fringe-of-grid areas, displace or offset diesel consumption and improve the security of existing networks.”

“These renewable options can reduce some of the barriers to entry for potential renewable power users in remote locations, including short project durations and where power systems need to be periodically relocated,” Frischknecht said.

“Renewable energy can provide an emissions-free, silent energy system that could replace diesel generators in the long run.”

ECLIPS managing director Shaun Moore said that the original objective for CROSS was to improve power self-sufficiency for defence.

“One of our early objectives was to provide rapidly deployable utility scale PV generators to improve the self-sufficiency of Defence’s deployed forward operating bases. Diesel consumption related to the provision of electricity can account for up to 70% of deployed forces’ fuel usage and is a significant cost driver. More importantly, deploying CROSS to forward operating bases also reduces the frequency of convoys for fuel resupply, which reduces the threat to soldiers in contested environments.

“These same logistics efficiencies and benefits are transferable to commercial and utility customers in remote areas of Australia,” said Moore

Record year for solar and renewables, but still not fast enough

15 June, 2018
    
Annie Sherring
      

A record amount of solar capacity and renewable power was installed across the world in 2017 – as the cost of both wind and solar became competitive with fossil fuels – but it still is not enough, a major new report has found.

The annual Renewables 2018 Global Status Report from REN21, a renewables policy organisation, notes that a record 98GW of solar capacity was added, as well as 52GW of wind, and a total of 178GW of renewables.

Including large hydro, this amounted to $US310 billion of new investment, nearly twice that of new fossil fuels and nuclear capacity, and the global share of renewables is now at 23 per cent, with wind and solar providing 7.4 per cent.

But while the growth in renewables electricity was pleasing and continues the transformation of the electricity sector, REN21 says it is concerned by the lack of change in transport, cooling and heating, which means the world is lagging behind its Paris climate goals.

“We may be racing down the pathway towards a 100 percent renewable electricity future but when it comes to heating, cooling and transport, we are coasting along as if we had all the time in the world. Sadly, we don’t,” said Randa Adib, executive secretary of REN21.

Adib’s concern was shared by investors representing $26 trillion of assets under management, which used the prelude to the G7 Summit in Canada to call for governments to step up their ambition and action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low-carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks,” investors wrote in a joint statement.

Emma Herd, the CEO of the Investor Group on Climate Change, the Australian chapter of this group, says investors are stepping up in unprecedented numbers, but could do so much more if governments acted too.

“Investors could do even more if governments delivered the policies required to effectively manage climate risk and accelerate investment in low-carbon solutions.”

Labor’s Mark Butler said this was a clear reproach to Australia’s Coalition government, which refuses to lift its weak 2030 target even though most analysts say it will be largely met – in the electricity sector at least – by 2030.

“The Turnbull government’s weak National Energy Guarantee is projected to deliver no new large-scale renewable energy investment over the 2020s,” he said in a statement.

“And far from being on track to delivering their weak targets, according to the government’s own data emissions are projected to increase all the way to 2030.”

The REN21 report said of particular concern was  global energy demand and energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which rose for the first time in four years in 2017, by 2.1 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.

“In the power sector, the transition to renewables is under way but is progressing more slowly than is possible or desirable,” it says.

“A commitment made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels makes the nature of the challenge much clearer.

“If the world is to achieve the target set in the Paris agreement, then heating, cooling and transport will need to follow the same path as the power sector – and fast.”

The scale of the problem is illustrated in this chart above, which shows all energy usage, including the oil-dominated transport sector, and the traditional biomass for heating and cooking.

The heating, cooling and transport sectors – which together account for about four-fifths of global final energy demand – continue to lag behind the power sector.

Around 92 percent of transport energy demand continues to be met by oil and only 42 countries have national targets for the use of renewable energy in transport.

However, increasing electrification is offering possibilities and more than 30 million two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles are being added to the world’s roads every year, and 1.2 million passenger electric cars were sold in 2017, up about 58 per cent from 2016.

Currently, electricity provides just 1.3 per cent of transport energy needs, of which about one-quarter is renewable.

There is little change in renewables uptake in heating and cooling. National targets for renewable energy in heating and cooling exist in only 48 countries around the world, whereas 146 countries have targets for renewable energy in the power sector.

Small changes are under way. In India, for example, installations of solar thermal collectors rose approximately 25 per cent in 2017, as compared to 2016. China aims to have 2 per cent of the cooling loads of its buildings come from solar thermal energy by 2020.

“To make the energy transition happen there needs to be political leadership by governments,” says Arthouros Zervos, the chair of REN21.

“For example by ending subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear, investing in the necessary infrastructure, and establishing hard targets and policy for heating, cooling and transport.

“Without this leadership, it will be difficult for the world to meet climate or sustainable development commitments.”  

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