Climate change means more storms, bushfires and extreme weather events. Our energy system must adapt to this changing climate. Victoria is well on the way to meeting its renewable energy targets thanks to a range of policy measures.
As 2018 draws to a close, it is worth reflecting on another extraordinary year for the Australian renewable energy industry.
We owe a lot to John Howard. He may not have realised it in May 2007, but when he doubled the Photovoltaic Rebate Program value to $8000, our second longest serving prime minister set in motion a chain of events that would lead to Australia hosting 2 million rooftop solar power systems.
Coal miner Glencore is failing investors in its latest forecasts.
While much has been made of the ‘trilemma’ facing the Australia electricity network, Ray Wills from Future Smart Strategies argues that rapid change of energy technology, business models and social changes is resulting in rapid and difficult-to-predict changes.
South Australia’s largest water and sewerage services supplier has a few utility-scale solar projects coupled with energy storage in its pipeline. Three of them are currently under consideration and scheduled to commence construction this year.
In late January Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation Group took its first step into the distributed generation market, with its acquisition of Perth-based Infinite Energy. Infinite’s founder and CEO Aidan Jenkins says “after being the little guy” the Sumitomo balance sheet will allow the company to compete with the major electricity retailers – if state government in WA gives them the chance.
The Smart Energy Council has hailed today’s announcement of NSW Labor’s policy to drive 7 GW of renewable energy into the National Energy Market by 2030 as “the biggest rollout of renewable energy in Australia’s history”.
In the likely last full fortnight of Parliament before the Australian Federal election, the Clean Energy Council has thrown all political parties a lifeline in the form of 10 policy recommendations to grow renewable energy, as a low-cost source of electricity, a planet-saving emissions-reduction strategy and as a sustainable industry.
In May 2018, oil giant Shell invested in German manufacturer Sonnen. Now the 112-year-old company wants to fully acquire the business, subject to Germany’s monopoly authorities. Sonnen said it hopes the deal will accelerate its growth by expanding its market reach and capacity.
The amount and nature of desert dust determines whether daily cleaning of solar modules is a favorable option. However, frequent and water-intensive cleaning, as well as the amount of labor required, can be costly in desert installations. But the ingenuity of automation is on its way to help.
Wholesale electricity prices on the NEM can peak during heatwaves and when aging coal generators conk out. Amber Electric customers can both profit from but also bear the brunt of price spikes, but when they have solar+storage the upside is significant. Importantly solar homes can provide a valuable service to the grid, says Amber Electric Founder and CEO Chris Thompson.
Solar ‘lease-to-own’ installer ShineHub has chosen Hanwha Q Cells as preferred solar panel provider for its Community Solar Program under the South Australian battery scheme.
Shell Australia has “well advanced” plans for a 120 MW utility scale PV array to supply its QGC onshore gas operations in northern Queensland. The announcement was made Shell Australia Chairman Zoe Yujnovich during a speech today, in which she pointed to an Australian “energy transition” in which “electrons will play a bigger role”.
Backed by an estimated $15 million raised from the sale of renewable energy certificates, EnergyAustralia will install free solar PV and battery systems for participating charitable organizations, with the goal to connect them into a virtual power plant and slash their electricity bills by as much as 50%.
Australian lithium developer Neometals has taken its lithium‐ion battery recycling technology to the floor at a pilot plant in Canada. SGS Canada has been contracted to construct and operate the pilot at its Lakefield facility, and handle both the front-end feed preparation and hydrometallurgical processing/refining stages.
Belgian research institute imec has developed a new simulation framework it says can calculate the expected output of a bifacial PV system. The model could help improve developer understanding of the best system configurations for bifacial, and foster confidence among investors by providing a precise prediction of energy yields.
In the aftermath of January’s blackouts in Victoria and South Australia, public policy think thank Grattan Institute underlines that blaming renewable energy for supply failures is wrong and dangerous. The new report flies in the face of repeated claims by the Coalition government that renewables are undermining the reliability of electricity system.
A $2.2 million trial run by Jemena, AusNet Services, and UNSW Sydney will explore how existing network infrastructure can better integrate with solar power, as Australia’s rooftop PV uptake goes from strength to strength.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded $9.6 million in grants for five projects and seven studies into the role of distributed generation assets on the grid – and how to expand their penetration.
Supplier of solar inverters SMA has announced two new service offerings – plant engineering, and operations and maintenance – designed to de-risk new project investment, streamline grid connection, and drive greater ongoing performance from utility-scale solar farms.
The Ontario firm has revised figures for shipments, net revenue and gross margin after seeing better-than-expected trading in the final three months of 2018.
The Chinese module maker said the result was certified by the Photovoltaic and Wind Power Systems Quality Test Center at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The record, Jinko said, is thanks to its high quality n-type wafers, selective doping technology and advanced fine-line printing.
According to the Taiwanese analysts, JA Solar was number two, followed by Hanwha Q-Cells and Trina Solar in joint third. The ten largest module makers met around 70% of demand, with 66 GW of shipments.
Having welcomed Sol Distribution on board, Norwegian solar manufacturer REC Group hopes to expand its presence in Australia, which it sees as its key market in the APAC region.
An initial tender on Palau was won by French energy company Engie, through its unit Engie Electro Power Systems. The 100 MW microgrid project consisted of coupling 35 MW of solar and 45 MWh of storage with diesel generation.
With financial close still in the works, Sydney-based publicly listed Genex Power has moved on the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project, part of its landmark renewable energy hub in far-north Queensland, signing an early works agreement with EPC contractors McConnell Dowell and John Holland.
A Dutch start-up has designed an electric vehicle that runs solely on solar energy, and aims to deliver its first models next year. The car will also be available to lease.
The Brisbane-based battery supplier has deployed 10 of its zinc-bromine flow batteries coupled with three li-ion batteries to store solar generated power in a far-flung village in northern Thailand.
As India plans to set up large lithium-ion battery plants, the Lithium Triangle countries in South America (comprising Chile, Argentina and Bolivia) have offered to meet India’s growing demand for lithium.
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