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New research shifts sodium batteries from risky liquid to safe solid

Researchers from Deakin University in Victoria have announced a breakthrough in the development of new polymer electrolyte chemistries that they believe could pave the way for a safer and cheaper alternative to current lithium-ion battery energy storage technologies.
Energy Storage

Wave Swell Energy trial delivers conversion rates of up to 50%

Australian renewables company Wave Swell Energy says the time has come for wave power to sit alongside wind, solar and energy storage as part of a modern energy mix after a 12-month trial of its technology in the seas of Bass Strait produced an average r...
Energy Storage

Synergy eyes system security as installation begins on WA’s biggest battery

Construction has commenced on what will be Western Australia's biggest battery energy storage system with the first of the battery units installed for the 100 MW/200 MWh Kwinana Big Battery being built at the site of the decommissioned Kwinana Power Stat...
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Installations

India’s solar pump capacity hits 691.4 MW

The Indian government’s PM KUSUM Scheme supports farmers in installing standalone solar pumps and solarizing existing grid-connected agriculture pumps.
Markets & Policy

Weekend read: Chaos with no end in sight

We in the solar industry are used to our share of craziness. For us, business as usual is more the exception than the rule. We are used to coping with all sorts of imponderables – chaos as usual. Companies that have mastered this from years of training...
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Installations

Australian storage gets Victorian dairy farm to 95% renewables, saving ‘at least’ $70k in bills per annum

Fourth-generation Victorian dairy farmers this week commissioned their 250kW rooftop solar system coupled with 520 kWh of battery storage from Australian company Energy Renaissance. The couple are forecast to save at least $70,000 annually with the syste...
Hydrogen

Bristol Springs study paves way for low-cost green hydrogen

Frontier Energy’s plans to produce green hydrogen powered by renewable energy sourced from the potential 500 MW Bristol Springs Solar project it is developing in Western Australia has received a major boost with a study revealing the cost of hydrogen p...
Installations

CleanCo strikes renewables deal with Scentre Group

Queensland’s publicly-owned energy generator and retailer CleanCo has inked a long-term deal to supply shopping centre major Scentre Group with 100% renewable electricity for its Westfield centres across the state from 2025.

Press Releases

Federal Government announces plans to unlock power of offshore wind

The Federal Government is taking the next steps in creating a new renewable energy industry, today announcing six proposed regions that have world-class offshore wind energy potential.

Powerlink completes construction of tallest ever transmission towers as part of Kaban Green Power Hub

Powerlink Chief Executive Paul Simshauser said Neoen’s 157MW Kaban Green Power Hub was currently being built as the cornerstone project of the state’s first Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (QREZ).

Origin lifts investment in Octopus Energy

Origin Energy will invest an additional $163 million (£94 million) in Octopus Energy Group Limited to maintain its 20% equity interest and support the United Kingdom-headquartered technology and energy company to continue its rapid expansion.

Electric car discount bill introduced to parliament

The Federal Government has introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022 into Parliament with Treasurer Jim Chalmers declaring the bill is "good for motorists, good for employers and their workers, and good for climate action".

Opinion & Analysis

Featured

Recent events push NEM turnover to new heights

The story of recent times in Australia's National Electricity Market has been the significant escalation of wholesale price outcomes in the market.

The Greens have backed Labor’s 43% target – but don’t think Australia’s climate wars are over

After a decade of climate policy failure, Wednesday brought good news and slightly less good news for Australian action on climate change.

Solar is the cheapest power, and a literal light-bulb moment showed us we can cut costs and emissions even further

New research suggests we might be able to rethink the type of silicon needed to make high-efficiency solar cells, say researchers from the CSIRO, UNSW and Oxford University.

How to release the handbrake: Delivering the workforce Australia needs

To hear Prime Minister Anthony Albanese committing Australia to a clean energy future is cause for enormous optimism for those of us in the renewable energy sector. Finally, after too many years of static, the signal is clear: Australia is open for renewable business. Investors can now move forward with confidence into what is one of the greatest economic opportunities for our country in generations.

Labor introduces controversial climate bill to parliament. Here’s how to give it real teeth

The Federal Government this week introduced its hotly awaited climate change bill to parliament. Despite the attention and controversy it’s attracted, the proposed legislation – as it stands – would be almost entirely symbolic.

Lessons from Australia’s ‘climate wars’ help chart path to better climate policy

Last week, two influential environmental groups warned the Greens not to stymie progress on Australia’s climate policy. In an unusual intervention, Greenpeace and the Australian Conservation Foundation urged the Greens to “play a constructive role” with Labor or risk being blamed for holding climate policy back.

Covid-19

Featured

Elevated shipping costs to remain challenge for solar sector

Australia’s solar industry can expect to contend with elevated shipping costs and ongoing supply disruptions for at least another year before a ‘normalisation’ of the global ocean freight system.

EPC giant warns of workforce shortage challenge for large-scale solar

Global renewables contracting giant Sterling and Wilson Solar has warned Australia’s large-scale solar PV industry faces a significant workforce shortage as the nation shifts away from fossil fuels towards renewable power.

Rooftop solar price to keep rising this year

British analyst GlobalData has predicted residential and commercial rooftop panels will not return to a declining price trend until next year, with post-Covid logistics headaches the cause, rather than a polysilicon shortage.

90 MW Sebastopol Solar Farm near Wagga Wagga reaches commissioning phase

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures Australia’s 90 MW (AC) solar farm outside Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, has reached the commissioning phase after less than a year of construction. Barring no obstacles, the project should start exporting solar energy to the grid in a matter of months.

Module and shipping cost inflation could cost the world 50 GW of solar next year

The input costs of the two biggest contributors to solar plant development expense have gone through the roof since the world began to come out of Covid-19 lockdowns, to leave project developers with some difficult choices.

2020 Year in Review

Soon 2020 will only be a worry to future high-school history students. But when they ask us if anything good at all happened in 2020, remember this review and tell them that solar PV shone in the darkness. Despite the mess of it all, 2020 has been another good year for Australian solar. The industry has demonstrated resilience, and significant progress has been made in the fields of energy storage, green hydrogen and others.

Markets & Policy

Featured

ACT details plan to ditch gas in shift to electric future

The Australian Capital Territory government has unveiled plans to phase out the use of fossil gas by 2045 at the latest and move the market towards a net zero emissions future by “electrifying Canberra with renewable electricity over the next two decades”.

High-voltage sodium-ion batteries with up to 15% higher energy density

Researchers in Russia have developed a new sodium-vanadium phosphate fluoride powder. It has a particular crystal structure that provides superior energy storage capacity in the battery cathode.

Albanese points to certainty for renewables investors after climate change bill clears first hurdle

New legislation to enshrine Australia’s 2030 and 2050 emissions reduction targets into law has cleared the first hurdle with the Federal Government’s climate change bill passing through the parliament’s lower house.

World to install 250 GW of solar this year says Bloomberg analyst

The latest modelling from Bloomberg senior clean energy analyst Rob Barnett indicates a 30% increase in global PV deployment this year, and double-digit growth through 2025.

Malaysia energy major targets early closure of coal plants

Malaysia’s largest electricity provider Tenaga Nasional Berhad has announced plans to fast track the closure of its coal-fired power plants to hasten the transition of its generation fleet from fossil fuels to renewable sources including large-scale solar PV and green hydrogen.

Company behind Australia’s most advanced vanadium project embroiled in leadership fight amid shareholder activism

Australian mining technology company TNG Limited, which owns the world’s most advanced vanadium project – the Mount Peake Project in the Northern Territory, is having its leadership team formally challenged by a shareholder campaign criticising the project’s setbacks and slow progression.

Installations

Featured

Wirsol secures approval for hybrid solar-storage power plant

New South Wales has given the green light for another large-scale solar PV and battery project with German-owned renewable energy developer Wirsol Energy announcing it has secured amended development approval for a 445 MW solar and energy storage hybrid power plant in the state’s central west.

Kidston Solar Farm retains place atop large-scale performance rankings

Just days after Genex Power rejected a proposed $300 million takeover offer, claiming it undervalues the company, the developer’s 50 MW Kidston Solar Farm has once again been ranked Australia’s best performing large-scale PV asset.

Toshiba energises PV-powered hydrogen refuelling station in Japan

The system is reportedly able to refill about eight hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, each in three minutes. It is also able to supply electric power by using hydrogen produced with renewable energy within the station.

India’s solar report card for FY 2021-22

India installed 12.3 GW of solar in the 12 months ending March 31, 2022. The nation is expected to add a record 20 GW in the current fiscal year.

BHP begins shift to solar to power WA mining operation

International mining giant BHP has pushed forward with its first large-scale off-grid renewable energy project, installing the first solar PV panels at a 10.7 MW solar farm that will help power the company’s estimated $1 billion Nickel West mining operation in regional Western Australia.

Solar power target eclipsed in Queensland schools program

The Queensland government has exceeded its own expectations with 200,000 PV panels installed at more than 900 schools across the state as part of a $168 million solar installation program designed to help slash electricity costs and cut carbon emissions.

Technology

Featured

World’s largest underground hydrogen storage project

Mitsubishi Power Americas and Magnum Development are set to begin construction on a 300 GWh underground storage facility in the US state of Utah. It will consist of two caverns with capacities of 150 GWh, to store hydrogen generated by an adjacent 840 MW hydrogen-capable gas turbine combined cycle power plant.

Rechargeable silicon redox battery for renewable energy storage

Israeli researchers have developed a device that combines a reversible Si anode with halide cathodes and uses hybrid electrolytes to enable cell recharging. In the proposed system configuration, silicon is dissolved during the battery discharge process, and upon charging, elemental silicon is deposited.

NT’s first hydrogen-fuelled generator piloted by Charles Darwin University

The Northern Territory is set to install its first hydrogen energy storage system as part of a pilot being operated by the Charles Darwin University in Darwin.

CSIRO steps in to provide expertise for SA natural ‘gold’ hydrogen rush

West Australian natural hydrogen startup H2EX will work with Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, to study natural hydrogen systems in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, describing the research as a “pivotal first step” for the nascent industry. Natural hydrogen proponents believe projects could deliver some of the world’s cheapest hydrogen quickly and with a minimal footprint.

Cooling down solar modules with cotton wicks immersed in water

The novel technique consists of attaching cotton wicks immersed in the water (CWIWs) to the backside photovoltaic module. The water is supplied to cotton wicks from top to bottom by gravity which the scientists said helps the effective absorption of cotton and reduces water consumption.

Reverse bias – a hidden challenge for perovskite solar cell stability

Research from renowned PV scientist Martin Green and colleagues at UNSW reveals that perovskite solar cells may struggle to deal with reverse-bias caused by uneven shading or other issues likely to appear in the field. Both the reverse-bias itself and resulting build up of heat can cause several of the materials commonly used in perovskite solar cells to degrade, and these issues have received only limited attention in research published to date. Solutions, however, are at hand.

Manufacturing

Featured

New residential lithium-ion battery from China

Chinese manufacturer Bslbatt has unveiled an upgraded version of its residential battery. The device has a storage capacity ranging from 5.12 to 12.8 kWh and is reportedly able to provide steady operation for up to 6,000 charge cycles.

‘Game changing’ electrolysis technology from NSW closes $42m funding round oversubscribed

Australian hydrogen tech company Hysata has raised over $40 million in funding, attracting backing from major institutional players including CEFC, Hostplus and Bluescope. Hysata is seeking to commercialise a breakthrough made at the University of Wollongong which CEO Paul Barrett describes as “brand new category of electrolyser” with 95% system efficiency.

Solarwatt obtains ‘cradle-to-cradle’ certification for its glass-glass solar modules

The ‘cradle-to-cradle’ certification is considered a globally recognised holistic product quality standard. The assessment is made for five categories: material health, recyclability of materials, energy management and CO2 emissions, water management and social responsibility

PV industry needs 12 times more polysilicon production capacity by 2050

New research from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) predicts cumulative polysilicon demand of 46-87 Mt will be required to achieve 63.4 TW of PV installed by 2050.

Start-up unveils solar thermal panel for large-scale applications

The panel has an absorption area of 1.96 m2 and a weight of 27 kg per square metre. According to the manufacturer – Swiss start-up TVP Solar – it may be a real booster for thermal output, by combining it with photovoltaics and heat pumps to provide enhanced output per square meter, in particular for low-temperature applications such as district heating.

New kind of black silicon shows improved light-trapping properties

Scientists in Russia have developed a new wide-band optical absorber called ‘black silicide’ which they claim is more adjusted to match AM-1.5 solar spectrum with theoretically higher photogenerated current density. It could be used for tandem operation in photovoltaic devices.

Energy Storage

Featured

Greenspot gets green light for 1,000 MWh battery

New South Wales is a step closer to adding another big battery to its network with Greenspot securing planning approval from state government authorities for a massive 500 MW/1,000 MWh grid-connected battery to be developed at the site of the defunct coal-fired Wallerawang Power Station near Lithgow.

Big week for Neoen, Australia’s big battery daddy

French company Neoen has seen its storage revenue “more than tripled” as a result of its recently commissioned Victorian Big Battery coupled with Australia’s energy crisis. In other news, the company signed a 10 year power offtake agreement with Flow Power for its “flagship” Goyder Renewables Zone project in South Australia.

Australia ranks 4th in ‘staggering’ global storage markets

Wood Mackenzie places Australia fourth on its list of the globe’s top 10 storage markets, coming in just behind Germany, with the US and China unsurprisingly topping the list. The analyst expects the world’s cumulative storage deployments to reach 500 GW by 2031, according to its Global Energy Storage Outlook released today.

Construction begins on world’s largest integrated green hydrogen, ammonia plant

In other news, German energy company Uniper said it will test a new salt cavern built for hydrogen storage, while Serbia and Hungary signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on renewable hydrogen.

Hornsdale big battery begins providing inertia grid services at scale in world first

South Australia’s 150 MW / 193.5 Hornsdale Power Reserve, more commonly known as the Tesla Big Battery, will now provide inertia services to Australia’s National Electricity Market after securing approval from AEMO. Neoen says it is the first big battery in the world to deliver the service at such a scale.

Five things to consider in designing and commissioning high performance solar-plus-storage projects

No two projects are alike, and sharing the lessons learned from working on these highly complex systems can help accelerate the deployment of energy storage with essential clean energy assets.

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