Signs promising for 2020

Welcome back to a new year which promises to be another intriguing and eventful 12 months. In this edition you will find some of the news from the Christmas/NY period, which has been dominated by Australia’s bush fire crisis and reactions to the government’s response to it.

This situation has a long way to play out but with opinion polls out this week showing a collapse in support for the Prime Minister it seems inevitable that the government will be forced to pay more attention to climate change policy in general. This should translate into more support for renewable energy in one form or another, although nothing can be taken for granted.

Even without any possible additional federal government support, however, the impetus provided by state government targets and private markets will drive the industry forward, with NEG capacity/connection constraints being the major handbrake on project development.

Here at AltEnergy we have allocated more staff resources to our database and news services with the aim to provide more comprehensive, accurate and timely information to subscribers. But as usual we do appreciate your eyes and ears to inform us of any changes or corrections to our data.

So buckle up and enjoy the ride!


Initial support terms for two new generation projects agreed

23 December

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to ensure Australian households, businesses and industries get a fair deal on energy with the agreement of key initial support terms to underwrite the first two projects from the shortlist of the Underwriting New Generation Investments program (UNGI):

- APA Group’s proposed 220MW gas generator in Dandenong, Victoria will provide much needed fast-start, reliable generation to balance the significant increase in intermittent renewables in that state; and

- Quinbrook’s proposed 132MW gas generator, in Gatton, Queensland will provide new capacity to help meet peak periods in both Queensland and New South Wales, increase competition and compliment the Commonwealth and NSW Government’s QNI interconnector upgrade.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor said the projects are well advanced, have demonstrated financial viability and would secure the grid and put downward pressure on prices.

“We are taking action to bring power prices down and keep the lights on,” Minister Taylor said.

“We’re delivering immediate relief through our new price safety net and banning sneaky late payment fees but we’ve also got our eye to the future with projects like these.

“We are working to deliver an energy system that isn’t a roadblock to businesses growing and employing more people and that isn’t stinging family hip-pockets.”

“The Government will now enter detailed underwriting and contractual negotiations with the project proponents ahead of their financial investment decisions,” Minister Taylor said.

The selection of the two projects was based on expert advice and careful consideration of the potential impacts. Consideration included the stage of development, the financial viability and the benefit to energy market customers of the projects.

Final agreement is expected to be reached in 2020, with construction to commence shortly after the projects secure private sector finance.

Electricity supply is precarious in some states, with blackouts in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia over the last three summers. Victoria has a real risk this summer of being exposed to more blackouts and very high prices because of their projected reliability gap.

Through UNGI, the Retailer Reliability Obligation and the $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund, the Commonwealth is providing targeted support to unlock new investment in the reliable generation needed to increase competition, keep the lights on and bring prices down.

These are important initiatives in the Government’s A Fair Deal on Energy policy and will contribute to meeting our $70 per MWh price target and maintaining and increasing reliable supply of electricity.

View the energy policy blueprint here:

Source: Federal Government


Waste to energy facility reaches financial close

24 December

The consortium developing the East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility has today announced the successful financial close of its Waste to Energy (WtE) project.

The development consortium of New Energy Corporation, Tribe Infrastructure Group and HZI was established in 2016 and has since won a series of competitive tenders for long-term contracts with local and regional government authorities in the Perth metropolitan area.

Financing of the $511m project has been supported by an $18m grant from ARENA and $57.5m subordinated debt from the CEFC alongside a mix of Australian and International lenders and equity investors including John Laing, HZI and ACCIONA.

Justin Bailey, John Laing’s Regional Managing Director for Asia Pac, said the investment continued its push to partner responsible infrastructure projects around the world. “We are proud to be working alongside our partners to make this state-of-the-art resource facility a reality, not just as a sustainable waste management solution, but also as critical contributor towards Australia’s wider emissions reduction commitments,” Mr Bailey said.

The project encompasses the design, construction, financing and operation of a greenfield WtE facility in the Rockingham Industry Zone 40km south of the Perth Central Business District. The new facility will treat approximately 300,000 tonnes per year of residual waste from municipal, commercial and industrial sources. The facility will also recover around 70,000tpa of bottom ash which will be further processed for use in road bases and other construction materials. The WtE facility will generate 29MW of baseload renewable energy, enough to power over 36,000 homes and reduce emissions by more than 300,000 tonnes CO2-e per year, the equivalent of taking almost 64,000 cars off the road.

An EPC consortium formed by ACCIONA and HZI will deliver the project over a 35-month contract period, starting in January 2020 It is expected to employ around 300 workers, including apprentices, during construction, and up to 50 operations staff on an ongoing basis when complete.

Bede Noonan, ACCIONAs Managing Director, said: “This is another landmark project for WA and our country as a whole. ACCIONA is a global leader in sustainable solutions for infrastructure, renewable energy and water treatment projects, and this facility will contribute to the creation of more resilient societies and designing a better planet. Energy-from-Waste is gaining traction quickly, and it’s great to see New Energy, Tribe and our EPC partners HZI developing the second large-scale plant here.”

SUEZ will lead the delivery of 20-year operations and maintenance service to the project in partnership with HZI.

Mark Venhoek, SUEZ Australia & New Zealand CEO said, “The project is SUEZ’s first energy-from-waste development in Australia and we are very pleased to become a partner in this landmark transaction. This will significantly accelerate the improvement of waste treatment practices in the Perth region as well as reduce the city’s environmental footprint.”

The project has entered into a power purchase agreement for 25MW of its generating capacity.

It has also secured long-term supply contracts for a significant portion of its waste from the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council and the City of Cockburn.

Importantly, the facility is the first of its kind in Australia to use “waste-arising” contracts to provide flexibility to councils to help them meet their ambitious waste reduction targets without overcommitting waste volumes to the project. This type of innovative contractual framework will help to support Western Australia’s Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030.

New Energy Corporation Chairman Enzo Gullotti said the model meant that councils would only pay for the capacity they used and would not be penalised if they successfully implemented waste reduction schemes. “This is a win for the environment and represents real value for money, for ratepayers who will be protected from the rising cost of landfill, particularly through the State’s landfill levy,” Mr Gullotti said.

The facility will use proprietary moving grate combustion technology supplied by HZI, a global leader in technology supply and turnkey delivery of WtE projects. HZI’s technology has been successfully installed in over 600 projects worldwide and meets the most stringent environmental requirements.

Source: New Energy Corporation, Tribe Infrastructure Group and HZI



Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park

Spain’s Iberdrola announced $500mil investment in the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park, being developed by DP Energy. The proposed total installed capacity in stage 1 is up to 375 MW, including up to 220 MW of wind generation capacity from 59 wind turbines and 150 MW power from approximately 1.6mil solar modules. Stage 2 includes additional solar capacity as well as battery storage capacity of nominally 300MW and 400MW respectively. Construction is expected to start this year.


Risen Energy’s speedy construction of the Merredin Solar Farm is progressing well

7 January

Construction of the 132 MWdc Merredin Solar Farm is progressing well and at an extremely speedy pace.

The speed of the solar farm’s civil and mechanical construction has been enabled by good management of finances, great teamwork and strong cooperation between Risen Energy and partners.

They used innovative methods and organisational efficiencies to accelerate the completion of the civil and mechanical works of the solar farm in the span of 3.5 months, making it a remarkable feat.

Efficient procurement processes and Risen Energy’s large capacity allowed rapid delivery of equipment to the site.

Pilecom, a Western Australian company installed the last of the 46,563 steel post foundations on November 8th.  The tracking system and solar panels are mounted on these piles.

By early December, the solar farm’s civil and mechanical works were completed by the principal construction contractor, Monford Group.  354,452 PV panels and 4,249 torque tubes were installed, with approximately 60km of cable trenching laid and 22 inverters placed onto their foundations.  On-site labour peaked at 425 staff and the speed at which they completed the works was exceptional.

Once the field assembly was complete, 300 labour staff demobilised from the site in early December. 

Approximately 150 staff remain on-site to continue with electrical works and completion of the solar farm. From now to February 2020, the planned work will include the electrical installation, substation install, electrical testing, O&M Building install and connection to the existing high voltage system. After completion, approximately 100 staff will be demobilised. The remaining staff will stay on to complete the final electrical installation and testing. This part of the work will continue through to Q2 2020.

Throughout all stages of the project Risen Energy has been working closely with the Merredin Shire Council, the Commander of the local police as well as the Merredin Fire Chief, ensuring a great working relationship.

The Merredin Shire Council gave praise to how Risen Energy were able to manage such a large work force in their town.

The construction staff have used about every business in the town including the newsagent, bottle shop, butcher, hair salons, restaurants, gift shops, pharmacy and hardware.

Merredin Solar Farm

Risen Energy (Australia) is developing the Merredin Solar Farm, the largest solar farm committed to construction in Western Australia.  Once completed, the solar farm will have an expected output of 281GWh of electricity annually, generating enough green energy to power approximately 42,000 Western Australian homes.

The Merredin Solar Farm is located on 460ha of former farming and grazing country adjacent to the Western Power Merredin Terminal and will connect to this facility at 220kV.

A diesel power station is also located adjacent to the terminal on Robartson Road.

Full construction of the solar installation will continue through to early 2020. Merredin Solar Farm will commission and commence power sales in Q2 2020.

“As owners of the Merredin Solar Farm project, Risen Energy (Australia) is progressing the project from detailed engineering design, through construction, commissioning and ultimately the operations.  We are using our latest PV panel technology to allow it to supply power to the grid. Ultimately, integrated battery storage will be incorporated in the solar farm to provide continuous power during periods of peak demand” said Eric Lee, General Manager Risen Energy (Australia).

The Merredin Solar Farm has endeavoured to use as many local resources as possible including labour, equipment, contractors and accommodation. At the height of construction, over 400 personnel have worked on the solar farm site.

Local businesses are benefitting from this work in the area including Topline Earthmoving, Merredin Freightlines, Holcim, Wheat Belt Uniforms, Signs and Safety, Landmark Agriculture, Two Dogs Hardware, Merredin Crane Hire, Ron Bateman & Co, Wheatbelt Liquid Waste and Merredin Skip Bins. Perth-based principal construction contractor Monford Group and subcontractor Pilecom are contracted for the construction of the Merredin Solar Farm. Monford Group have hired a local company to clean and maintain the construction site facility on a weekly basis.

Monford and Risen Energy will continue to seek local services as the project progresses and further services are required.

22 houses were rented to accommodate the solar farm personnel.

Once operational, the solar farm will require 3-5 full time workers to maintain the installation.

Source: Risen Energy


Regional South Australia key to SA Water’s zero cost energy future

8 January

Regional areas across South Australia will play a key role in SA Water’s ambitious goal of achieving a zero cost energy future, with 242 gigawatt hours (GWh) of solar photovoltaic panels to be deployed across the state.

SA Water will invest more than $300 million to install the new solar arrays and 34 MWh of energy storage devices on the utility’s locations across the state, including the Adelaide Hills, South East, Eyre Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula, Far North and Riverland.

SA Water Senior Manager Zero Cost Energy Future Nicola Murphy said the panels will be installed over the next 12 months, to help neutralise electricity costs which reached nearly $83 million in 2018/19.

“We’re delivering initiatives to keep our operations as efficient as possible to help keep customers’ water prices as low and stable as possible,” said Nicola.

“Large operational circuit breakers like this are essential to achieving savings and future price reductions.

“Our water and wastewater treatment and pumping operations provide up to 1.7 million people across South Australia with safe, clean drinking water, every day, but are very energy intensive and make us one of the biggest electricity users in the state.”

The investment in more than 500,000 solar panels across 35 sites will also deliver significant positive environmental outcomes, reducing CO² emissions by more than 89,000 tonnes a year – equivalent to planting seven million trees or removing more than 32,000 cars from the road per year, every year of operation.

Mrs Murphy said that big goals are only achieved with even bigger commitment.

“We’ve set ourselves an ambitious goal, but this kind of innovative thinking can shake up traditional models and deliver sustainable savings – and we’re backing ourselves and our key partners to deliver it,” she said.

“Through a range of energy initiatives like biogas and hydroelectric generation, and trading as a market participant, we’ve already cut more than $3 million a year from our electricity bills since 2013, so we know it’s within reach.”

SA Water will generate and store energy on site to reduce its reliance on expensive grid electricity and create a revenue stream from carefully timed sales back to the market, to offset the cost of electricity that will need to be purchased at times of peak demand or low solar productivity.

“Locating generation behind the meter will improve our resilience to grid interruptions, significantly reduce our network charges and isolate our business from electricity market price volatility, in both the short and long-term,” said Nicola.

“We’ll always need to use and buy some electricity, but we can be smart in our approach to managing it as we work towards a zero cost energy future.”

The Australian water industry is energy intensive, requiring approximately 3,000 GWh of electricity annually, with SA Water consuming almost one fifth of the national total.

“Importantly, our progressive leap forward will help demonstrate the way renewable generation can be integrated at large utility scale, and help the global transition to a low-carbon future.”

Source: SA Water


Big battery bobs up at the Bohle

8 January

Queensland’s first community-scale battery is a step closer to reality with the arrival of the main battery unit and kiosk in Townsville.

Once it is connected to the grid next month, the battery will power up at Bohle Plains on Townsville’s northern outskirts providing valuable back-up power supply to the local community.

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the 4MW Tesla battery would be charged up on excess solar power fed into the electricity grid during the day and would be used to help out during evening peak demand and temporary disruptions, including summer storms.

“With about 21,000 residential rooftop solar systems in Townsville, battery storage technology will help ensure power quality and reliability in our local network,” he said.

“The battery will also take pressure off our substations and other power assets and will explore how such technology may allow Ergon to push back spending on some network infrastructure.”

Acting Energy Minister Mark Ryan said battery storage technology was the next wave of Queensland’s renewable energy revolution.

“Queensland is are already a world leader in rooftop solar installation, with one in three Queensland households having solar,” he said.

“Batteries are now being installed at a rate of 300 per month, including 2750 under one of our Affordable Energy Plan incentive schemes earlier this year.

“To date, our interest-free loans and grants scheme has encouraged around 4000 Queensland households to register for the installation solar and batteries, reducing their power bills and their emissions.

“It’s all ensuring that we remain on target to reach our target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.”

The battery will be connected to the virtual power plant (VPP), a high-tech control room at Ergon’s CBD headquarters. One of Queensland’s publicly owned electricity businesses, Yurika, which is part of Energy Queensland, manages the power plant.

Ten suppliers around the state are currently contracted to provide their excess energy to the VPP, which then uses that power to bolster supply to the National Electricity Market during peak demand. Currently 135.95 MW of electricity supply is connected to the VPP.     

Townsville was chosen for the grid-connected battery because of the high number of rooftop solar systems and its proximity to electricity infrastructure.

Source: Queensland Government


Funding for studies to kick-start hydrogen industry

8 January

- McGowan Government allocates $1.68 million to fund seven renewable hydrogen feasibility studies across WA

- Projects being investigated have potential to kick-start job-creating renewable hydrogen industry

The McGowan Government will invest $1.68 million to support feasibility studies across seven proposed renewable hydrogen projects for Western Australia to support development of the fledgling job-creating industry.

The studies, funded through the McGowan Government's Renewable Hydrogen Fund, include examining creating solar hydrogen for waste collection and light vehicle fleets in Cockburn, a hydrogen refuelling hub in Mandurah and the potential for an electrolysis hydrogen production plant in the Great Southern or Wheatbelt.

Other proposals include a standalone power system for an indigenous community in the Pilbara using 100 per cent renewable energy; a hydrogen production facility near Kununurra using existing hydro generation; examining the compatibility of the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas transmission pipeline with blended hydrogen and looking at the integration of renewable hydrogen with isolated power stations.

The fund is a key part of the McGowan Government's Renewable Hydrogen Strategy which aims to position the State as a major producer, user and exporter of renewable hydrogen.

The seven studies align with the strategy's four Strategic Focus Areas of export, remote applications, blending in natural gas networks and transport.

Project applications through the fund's project funding stream have closed and will be announced in coming months.

Comments attributed to Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan:

"Western Australia needs to explore how we can produce, use and provide energy to our international partners through clean and reliable sources - renewable energy via hydrogen provides a means to do this.

"This feasibility studies will facilitate significant private sector investment and leverage financial support for a job-creating renewable hydrogen industry in WA. We received 19 feasibility study applications of which seven have been selected: confirming there is strong interest in developing a renewable hydrogen industry in WA.

"The projects being investigated have the potential to create new jobs, skills and training opportunities - particularly in regional WA."

Source: WA Government


Delivering a cleaner, greener energy solution for Esperance

9 January

Horizon Power has announced West Australian based business, Contract Power Australia (CPA) will be awarded the Power Purchase Agreement for the supply of electricity to the town of Esperance for the next 20 years, commencing 2022.

The awarding of the contract follows a comprehensive and rigorous two year, three stage procurement process undertaken by Horizon Power.

Horizon Power’s CEO Stephanie Unwin said Horizon Power has been able to achieve a long term power solution for Esperance which will include a new power station, battery storage system and renewables hub.

“This is an excellent outcome for our Esperance customers,” Ms Unwin said.

“The construction of a new, more efficient power station will reduce carbon emissions by almost 50 per cent per annum compared to the existing power supply arrangements.  That’s the equivalent of removing 6,458 cars off the road annually.

“A new renewables hub will be constructed as part of the project, bringing together solar and wind power to generate up to 46 per cent of Esperance’s electricity annually.

“This will include a 4.0 megawatt solar farm and two new wind turbines, each capable of generating 4.3 megawatts of power,” she said.

Improvements in design and technology mean the new wind turbines will have more power and higher capacity, producing 58 per cent more wind power than the combined output of the existing six wind turbines.

The construction of the new solar farm will comprise of more than 10,000 solar panels, making it the largest solar farm in Horizon Power’s renewables portfolio.

“Horizon Power recognises the Esperance community’s strong support for renewable energy,” Ms Unwin said.

“Not only are we doubling the amount of renewable energy being provided to our customers, we will also be exploring, in consultation with the community, their interest in, and the possibility of, a future shared ownership model for the solar farm.”

Construction of the new assets is due to begin in September 2020, with commissioning scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.

Horizon Power will work with CPA, a subsidiary of Pacific Energy, to ensure, wherever possible, goods and services are procured from local businesses in the Goldfields Esperance region. 

“We are very excited about the short and long term benefits this new power solution will provide the Esperance community,” Stephanie said.

“CPA is very proactive in engaging with the communities where it works, and has set a target to source 15 per cent of new construction jobs from the Goldfields Esperance region.

“It’s really important that we partner with organisations such as CPA who share our commitment to create and support thriving communities.”

Source: Horizon Power