Renewable energy news
I’m reminded of my school days when our German teacher on the last day of term used to read us tales of Baron Münchhausen, who on one occasion jumped on his horse and rode off madly in all directions. There is so much going on, fully covered at RenewEconomy, so it is difficult to select the most significant. I’ll try a couple of themes, and include some AFR coverage, which is trying to keep business informed.
The South Australian tender for 100MW grid-scale storage has received 90 expressions of interest from 10 countries, demonstrating an established global industry.
There were 100+ expressions of interest for a Victorian 100MW tender. Ben Potter in the AFR reports on Carnegie Clean Energy’s bid. Carnegie’s CEO Mike Ottaviano said grid-scale batteries are on the verge of mass adoption in Australia. He sees them as akin to the early days of rooftop solar. Carnegie’s 2.6MWh battery, the largest so far assembled in Australia, will be used at the CSIRO’s Square Kilometre Array telescope project near Murchison in WA to back up solar and diesel generators.
The article also mentions the $1 billion solar-battery farm to be built by Lyon Group and Downer EDI in South Australia’s Riverland which will be the world’s largest and ready by Christmas. RenewEconomy story here.
Metricon, a major Melbourne-based home builder, will offer rooftop solar and storage as an optional extra in a range of its new-build homes in Queensland, via a new partnership with local installer and Tesla battery reseller CSR Bradford. The firm is hoping to make this standard fare within a few years.
A team from The University of Texas, in Austin, claims to have come up with a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life, has fast rates of charge and discharge and at least three times as much energy density as today’s lithium-ion batteries.
2. Behind the metre energy
Ben Potter in the AFR’s monthly BOSS magazine (it’s free with an AFR subscription) writes about Powershifters: a clutch of energy entrepreneurs is harnessing new technologies to empower consumers. He likens them to Uber and Airbnb:
- New technology is transforming the traditional centralised grid of big power stations, peaking plants and radial, one-way transmission and distribution networks. Overlaying it is a new decentralised, but interconnected grid that includes the distributed energy generated in people’s homes and business premises. This “behind-the-meter” energy includes solar panels, batteries, energy management software and smart thermometers which control energy-hungry appliances such as airconditioners, pool pumps and electric vehicle chargers.
The emerging digital platforms are akin to Airbnb and Uber because they promote sharing or use of assets that would otherwise not be exploited to their best advantage.
Startups are moving into the space. Here is a bunch in their mandatory black T-shirts:
3. Threat of government takeover
Moves like the $550m SA energy plan, the announcement of Snowy Hydro 2.0, and the Xenephon boondogles in exchange for votes for the company tax cut are scaring business into inaction, according to some. For example, Fleur Anderson talking to Jennifer Westacott of the Business Council of Australia who was reacting to the Xenephon boondogles.
Angela Macdonald-Smith talks about the issue generally, including the Snowy 2.0 pumped storage initiative, saying power project plans are being shaken by government push into energy.
She also reports that AGL in particular has shredded plans for a new gas-fired station in SA specifically because of Weatherill’s plans. Although the government gas-fired station is intended for backup emergencies only, AGL reckons they’ll fire it up at other times to make a few bucks.
All the parties disagreed in the report of the Senate inquiry into the resilience of electricity infrastructure in a warming world chaired by Sarah Hanson-Young. ON senator Malcolm Roberts said there was no warming world, as you would expect, but this was the effort from LNP Senators Chris Back and Jonathon Duniam:
- Coalition Senators say that wind turbines are likely to cause greenhouse gas emissions to increase, and insist that the best thing that Australia can do to combat climate change is to export more thermal coal.
Rooftop solar had been in decline after an initial boom stimulated by feed-in tariffs. The trend changed about a year ago:
Stuff like this image of a car park at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba is breaking out all over:
- The findings, from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), show 139 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity was built in 2016.
This was an 8% increase on the year before, largely driven by the steeply falling costs of renewables, even while investment fell by 23%.
A survey by the Australia Institute shows that the Turnbull Government is seriously out of whack with the people on renewable energy policy, even with its own voters. Here are the first two tables:
- The survey, conducted by The Australia Institute, found that 67 per cent of respondents believed Australia was moving “too slowly” into renewable energy, with 35 per cent saying it was “much too slowly.” Only 9 per cent said Australia was moving too fast.
Voters also want higher renewable energy targets.
8. Record year for large-scale projects in prospect
- More than 20 major renewable energy projects are already under construction or will start this year, delivering an unprecedented program of works which will create almost 3000 direct jobs and generate more than $5 billion of investment, according to new analysis from the Clean Energy Council released today.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said more than 2250 MW of new large-scale renewable energy would be under construction in 2017, the most since the Snowy Hydro Scheme more than 50 years ago – one of the most iconic nation-building projects in Australian history.
This graph via RenewEconomy shows that projects in NSW and Queensland predominate: