Political distractions threaten energy consensus

12 July

As the federal government attempts to land the National Energy Guarantee, politics is yet again proving to be the biggest stumbling block to long-term energy certainty.

As the economics of clean energy improve, the clean energy industry no longer needs the same level of subsidies, but it does need long-term certainty. The government is attempting to provide this with the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), but the chaotic politics around energy continue to frustrate its efforts to lock in a long-term national energy policy.

The Clean Energy Council is disappointed with the government’s current emissions reduction target of 26 per cent. Such a low target means that future investment in clean energy would be reliant on state initiatives, corporate power purchase agreements and improving economics of clean energy solutions relative to wholesale energy prices. Only a well-designed NEG that has a materially higher target and doesn’t allow the use of carbon offsets would drive new investment in parallel with these other drivers. This would of course require a NEG that allows for the emissions reduction target to be easily ramped up.

However, the underwhelming emissions reduction target is still too high for a number of conservative MPs, who are now openly arguing against the NEG, agitating for Australia to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and calling on the government to fund new coal generation. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg have so far stared down these distractions.

While all of this is going on, Minister Frydenberg is trying to negotiate the finer details of the NEG with the states and territories ahead of the COAG Energy Council meeting on 10 August. The Minister needs all of the states and territories in the National Electricity Market to commit to the policy for it to be approved, which puts him in the extremely difficult position of having to placate the conservatives within his own party while still ensuring that the states and territories remain supportive of the policy. The Minister has so far managed to successfully walk this tightrope, but there is still some way to go before he and the NEG are on safe ground.    

Beyond the political considerations, there are many other complex issues deep within the NEG architecture being considered and designed at the moment by the Energy Security Board. Some of these include:

  • ensuring that solar system owners can decide what to do with their carbon abatement
  • deciding the right level of transparency in relation to the emissions register
  • ensuring that GreenPower is treated as additional to the NEG’s abatement targets
  • ensuring that all innovative renewable energy and energy storage solutions contribute to the reliability obligation.

While these issues are far more technical than the political machinations around the NEG, they are no less important to the delivery of a policy that will provide us with the certainty that we need to continue the transition to a clean energy future.

Source: Clean Energy Council

 

Development Application approved for Rodds Bay Solar Farm

16 July

Australian renewable energy company Renew Estate has been granted planning approval to build Rodds Bay Solar Farm, a 300 megawatt (MW) project located approximately 50 kilometres south of Gladstone, near the town of Bororen.

Rodds Bay will be one of the largest solar farms in Australia , providing enough renewable energy to power approximately 88,000 homes. Construction is expected to commence in late 2018 and the project will be fully operational in Q1 2020.

Director Simon Currie stated that the Rodds Bay project will play a pivotal role in the development of Gladstone as the energy capital of Queensland, and will provide substantial opportunities to local businesses, contractors and workers.

Mr Currie said that “Renew Estate is committed to delivering tangible, meaningful and enduring benefits to the people, the businesses and the communities who are our neighbours.

"At its peak, a solar farm of this size requires about 300 workers on site. We will collaborate with local training organisations to ensure local job-seekers have the skills needed to construct and operate a solar farm, and we will prioritise the employment of locals in enduring roles once the project is operational.

"More generation and competition mean lower power prices and Renew Estate looks forward to delivering the cheap solar energy produced by this project to consumers and businesses in the greater Gladstone area.”

Mark Hogan, Managing Director of Wirsol Energy – a major shareholder of Renew Estate – said "Wirsol Energy owns the largest portfolio of solar PV projects in Australia. We are committed to Queensland and have over 200MW in operation and construction already in the state. This is an exciting time for the solar industry in Australia and Rodds Bay will help us quickly reach our target of 1GW in Australia."

Source: Renew Estate

 

PROJECT NEWS

Biala Wind Farm

The transmission line development application (DA) is progressing. In March 2017, we submitted a DA for an underground electrical transmission line linking Biala Wind Farm to our existing substation at Gullen Range Wind Farm. It is required to transmit energy generated by the Biala wind turbines to the electricity grid.

Using the existing Gullen Range Wind Farm substation would avoid having to build a whole new substation in another location. The existing substation would receive some upgrades, which are detailed in the DA.

We’ve volunteered to put this cable underground to minimise its visual impact and to ensure minimal restriction on farming activities. To avoid disrupting traffic and damaging the road surface, we’re proposing to use directional drilling to install the cable under Grabben Gullen Road.

Upper Lachlan Shire Council referred the DA to the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) who reviewed the application on the 14th March 2018 and requested more information from us. We submitted the additional information and Upper Lachlan Shire Council placed the updated DA on public exhibition from 17th April 2018 to 15th May 2018.

Council received several submissions, which were given to us. We've responded to Council on each submission. The Council will now prepare a report for the JRPP. The JRPP will then organise a date to sit again to consider our application.

Approvals, design work and surveys are now expected to continue until end of September 2018.

Source: BJCE

 

AEMO releases inaugural Integrated System Plan for the National Electricity Market

17 July

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has today released the inaugural Integrated System Plan (ISP) – a comprehensive evaluation of the likely changes that will be occurring over the next 20 years across the National Electricity Market (NEM). 

As the independent market and system operator and national transmission planner, AEMO’s role is to promote efficient investment in, and efficient operation and use of, electricity services for the longterm interests of consumers. The ISP builds on the work of AEMO’s annual National Transmission Network Development Plan, and has been developed in response to the COAG Energy Council’s decision in 2017 to adopt the recommendations made in the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, specifically pertaining to the need for a strategic national plan. 

“AEMO’s analysis confirms that we are in the midst of transformative and unprecedented rate of change in this sector. We are witnessing disruption across almost every element of the value chain. Due to the vital importance of affordable, reliable and secure power as the engine of a strong economy, care must be taken now more than ever to manage this transformation in order to minimise costs and risks and maximise value to consumers,” said AEMO Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Audrey Zibelman.

The ISP’s analysis is predicated on sound engineering and sequenced approaches to investments in the transmission system, providing an identified least cost pathway to managing the transition. The ISP applies probabilistic scenario-based analysis and system optimisation to project the reliability and security needs of the power system while simultaneously identifying the lowest cost combination of resources to meet system and consumer needs. The ISP also incorporates projected Federal emissions policy and State renewable policies. 

“The reality of the NEM is that the energy sector is strengthened by an approach that allows regions to work together to take advantage of diversity and size to deliver the best outcome for consumers. The ISP demonstrates that in the future, this feature becomes even more critical due to both the footprint required to support renewables, and the value of diversity to support resiliency,” said Ms Zibelman.  

AEMO’s analysis displays the fundamental changes occurring in the energy sector:

- Grid demand is flattening due to the growth of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) and increasing use of local storage, as well as overall increases in energy efficiency. This is true even with the anticipated electrification of the transport sector over the period.

- Over the next 20 years, approximately thirty percent of the NEM’s existing coal resources will be approaching the end of their technical lives, and will likely be retired, which highlights the importance of mitigating premature retirements as these resources currently provide essential low-cost energy and system support services required for the safe and secure operation of the power system. 

- The investment profile and capabilities of various supply resources have changed and are projected to continue to change radically.

- In particular, costs of new renewable plant continue to fall, and advances and availability of storage technologies, particularly pumped hydro, flexible gas-powered generation and distributed energy resources (DER) are emerging as core components to a low cost and reliable energy future.  

The ISP finds that a portfolio approach of supply resources includes both retention of existing resources and continued growth of utility-scale renewable generation, energy storage, DER, flexible thermal capacity, including gas-powered generation, and transmission development to be the most efficient approach.  

AEMO looked at various transmission reinforcement options, assessing the costs and time to implement these relative to modelled benefits, to determine the optimum immediate investments and staging of future development. The ISP delivers economic benefits under all scenarios. The timing of some elements varies under different assumptions, particularly relating to the rate of change and the progress of proposed major energy storage initiatives.

Group 1: Near-term construction to maximise economic use of existing resources

- Immediate action is required to maximise the economic use of existing low-cost generation. - Investment is also required to facilitate the development of projected new renewable resources to replace retired and retiring resources, and to provide essential system security.

- Immediate investment in transmission should be undertaken, with completion as soon as practicable, to:

- Increase transfer capacity between New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria by 170-460 MW.

- Reduce congestion for existing and committed renewable energy developments in western and north-western Victoria.

- Remedy system strength in South Australia.

Group 2: Developments in the medium term to enhance trade between regions, provide access to storage, and support extensive development of Renewable Energy Zones (REZs)

- The ISP shows that an interconnected energy highway would provide better use of resources across the NEM, through both access to lower-cost resources and realising the benefits of diversity from different resources in different locations with different generation profiles.

- Action should be taken now, to initiate work on projects for implementation by the mid-2020s which would:

                - Establish new transfer capacity between New South Wales and South Australia of 750 MW.

                - Increase transfer capacity between Victoria and South Australia by 100 MW.

                - Increase transfer capacity between Queensland and New South Wales by a further 378             MW.

                - Efficiently connect renewable energy sources through maximising the use of the existing          network and route selection of the above developments.

                - Coordinate DER in South Australia.

- AEMO will coordinate work with project proponents on a design for transmission networks to support strategic storage initiatives (Snowy 2.0 and Battery of the Nation). 

Group 3: Longer-term developments to support REZs and system reliability and security

- In the period from 2030 to 2040, a significant amount of the NEM’s coal-fired generation is expected to reach end of technical life and retire. As noted, given the scale of the investment and building time required, it will be important to retain existing coal-fired generators until the end of their technical life to maintain reliability. 

- In the longer term, to the mid-2030s and beyond, the capability of the grid should be enhanced to:

                - Increase transfer capacity further between New South Wales and Victoria by approximately    1,800 MW.

                - Efficiently connect renewable energy sources through additional intra-regional network            development.  

“The NEM is at a critical point, and the 2018 ISP is a first, and very significant, step in adapting the national transmission system to meet current and future needs,” said Ms Zibelman.  

AEMO will continue to work with fellow market bodies, industry and governments to progress developments that will enable an affordable, reliable, and secure energy system for Australian energy consumers now and into the future. 

To view the full Integrated System Plan report, click here

Source: AEMO

 

Alliance to develop $100m bioenergy portfolio finalised and 1st investment completed

17 July

Highlights

  • All conditions precedent for the establishment of the Alliance between ReNu Energy and Resonance Industrial Water Infrastructure Fund (RIWIF) to develop A$100m bioenergy portfolio finalised.
  • RIWIF completes 1st Alliance investment by acquiring a 70% interest in the Goulburn Bioenergy Project for A$2.8 million.
  • Due diligence for the AJ Bush Bioenergy Project proceeding well, with final investment decision and execution of development agreements by all parties still anticipated in Q3 2018.
  • Pipeline of additional Alliance bioenergy project opportunities rapidly developing.

ReNu Energy Limited (ASX: RNE) is pleased to announce that all conditions precedent to establish the Alliance with RIWIF, including Foreign Investment Review Board approval for the A$2.8 million acquisition of a 70% interest in the Goulburn Bioenergy Project by RIWIF, have been satisfied and both agreements have completed.

As previously announced, the purpose of the Alliance between ReNu Energy and RIWIF is to jointly develop a A$100 million bioenergy portfolio on a 30% ReNu Energy, 70% RIWIF basis.

ReNu Energy CEO Craig Ricato said: “The Alliance with Resonance Industrial Water Infrastructure Fund is strongly aligned with our strategic plan and sets our bioenergy business on a strong path for growth for the coming years.

“The introduction of a 70% equity partner will greatly assist ReNu Energy in more rapidly developing its portfolio of bioenergy projects, enabling us to look at opportunities that would have otherwise been beyond our current financial capabilities. We have some great projects currently under review, which we are looking to present to the Alliance over the coming months and are poised for what we anticipate to be a busy 2018/2019 financial year. With an Alliance target of establishing a portfolio of up to $100m of bioenergy investments in Australia and New Zealand over the next four years, we are at the start of what will be a transformative period for ReNu Energy.”

In addition to the development of its bioenergy portfolio under the Alliance, ReNu Energy is also continuing to progress all other aspects of its business and further develop pipelines of opportunities in its three other key growth areas:

  • Solar PV Power Purchase Agreements
  • Solar PV Embedded Networks
  • Solar PV grid connected operations

ReNu Energy – RIWIF Alliance Agreement

Under the Alliance Agreement, ReNu Energy has agreed to provide RIWIF with a first right of refusal over the next four years to take a 70% interest in the development of its next $100m of bioenergy projects in Australia and New Zealand. For all projects developed by the Alliance, ReNu Energy will be engaged as head engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and to provide ongoing operations, maintenance and management services (O&M Services).

Acquisition of a 70% interest in the Goulburn Bioenergy Project by RIWIF

RIWIF has acquired a 70% interest in the existing Goulburn Bioenergy Project for a total consideration of $2.8 million. The ownership and management of the Project is governed by a shareholders’ agreement which will also govern the operation of the Alliance and future Alliance projects. ReNu Energy will provide O&M Services for the Goulburn Bioenergy Project under a longterm O&M Services Agreement with the Alliance.

Proposed 2nd Alliance project – AJ Bush Bioenergy Project, including acquisition by RIWIF of a 70% interest in the exiting operation and the 'G4' Expansion Project

Due diligence for RIWIF’s investment in ReNu Energy’s other existing bioenergy asset, the AJ Bush Bioenergy Project, together with the Alliance investment in the AJ Bush ‘G4’ Bioenergy Expansion Project is continuing with all parties anticipating finalisation of an investment decision and execution of development agreements in Q3 2018.

Source: ReNu Energy

 

NEW PROJECT

Buronga Energy Station

Developer: Renew Estate

Location: Wentworth, approximately 5km northeast of the Buronga township in south-western NSW

Capacity: Up to approximately 400 MWac (500 MWp), with battery system of approximately 250 MW / 500 MWh

LGA: Wentworth Shire Council

Description: Key elements of the proposed infrastructure include PV modules mounted on tracking arrays, power conversion units (PCUs) containing inverters and electrical switchgear, a battery energy storage system, operation and maintenance (O&M) facilities, an onsite electrical substation, and a 220 or 330 kilovolt (kV) transmission line for connection to the existing Buronga Switching Station. The proposed site for the development is approximately 1,200 hectares in size.

Estimated cost: $625mil

Construction jobs: 400

Operational jobs: 10

Contact: Byron Serjeantson

Renew Estate

Email: byron@renewestate.com.au

 

Battery of the Nation - an integral part of national energy planning

17 July

Hydro Tasmania welcomes the first release of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan (ISP) and its support for developing the Battery of the Nation initiative.

Battery of the Nation is one of two major existing energy storage proposals (along with the Snowy 2.0 project), identified in the ISP released by AEMO.

Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation Project Director, Chris Gwynne, said the business supports strategic national energy market planning, as the ISP seeks to provide.

“There’s major uncertainty and risk in the future NEM. As the ISP notes, the market needs credible options (like Battery of the Nation) ready to deploy when needed,” Mr Gwynne said.

AEMO supports the continued development of the Battery of the Nation initiative to ensure it can be made available to the market, when needed, with the shortest possible lead times.

“We’ll keep working with AEMO, TasNetworks and others to deliver the most reliable and affordable clean energy future for Australia,” Mr Gwynne said.

Battery of the Nation is about locking-in energy security and giving Tasmanians the lowest possible power prices. It offers a future that’s clean, reliable and affordable.

“As our recent analysis has shown, Tasmania has huge natural advantages - including our existing hydropower system, exceptional wind resources and our existing expertise.

“Doubling Tasmania’s clean energy capacity, and introducing pumped hydro storage, would also create plenty of surplus energy to support mainland Australia as it phases out coal power,” he said.

Early modelling shows Battery of the Nation would create billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs in regional Tasmania over 10 to 15 years.

Battery of the Nation was recently added to Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List. The Tasmanian and Australian Governments have committed to pursue the next stage of a business case for a second Bass Strait interconnector.

Source: Hydro Tasmania

 

AEMO backs Turnbull Government’s energy plan

17 July

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated System Plan for the National Electricity Market is an important step towards ensuring our energy system is based on engineering and economics rather than ideology.

The Turnbull Government welcomes today’s release of the plan, the first of its kind, which was a key recommendation of Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Independent Review in order to achieve better system planning.

The report underlines the significant transition underway in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM), the world’s longest interconnected energy system, with an unprecedented level of disruption and distributed energy resources entering the system.

In order to maintain an affordable and reliable energy system into the future, the report underscores the importance of energy storage projects, flexible thermal capacity and greater interconnection which could result in potential savings of around $1.2 billion over the next 20 years.

The Turnbull Government is taking a technology-neutral approach to energy policy. AEMO confirms the need to retain existing coal-fired generation as the cheapest current form of generation, finding that the continued operation of existing coal delivers the lowest cost outcome.

It endorses the Turnbull Government’s focus on storage, including through major investments such as Snowy 2.0 and the Tasmanian Battery of the Nation, and makes the case for a more integrated energy system as a means to harness these projects and deliver the best outcomes for consumers.

The report lends strong support to the National Energy Guarantee which AEMO says will provide enduring policy and investment certainty, resulting in efficient investment decisions as well as removing risk premiums on investment.

Following recent advice received from the Energy Security Board and Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), this report provides another independent expert input into the Turnbull Government’s energy plan which is focussed on better consumer outcomes.

The report will be discussed at the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Energy Council meeting on 10 August.

Source: Federal Government

 

Australian PV installs a record 1.3GW of solar capacity in 2017, and is on target to eclipse that in 2018

16 July

2017 was a record year for Australian PV installations, with 1.3 GW recorded according to a report to the report to the IEA, released by the Australian PV Institute. The report by the APVI is the latest annual update to the IEA on Australian market statistics and shows solar energy generation to be meeting 3.9% of Australia’s electricity demand.

Australia boasts the highest per-capita number of PV systems internationally, with 20% of households hosting one of 1.8 million PV systems – over 160 000 of which were added in 2017. At the end of 2017, the cumulative installed capacity of Australian PV installations was 7.25GW, accounting for 13% of national electricity generation capacity and 3.9% of electrical energy generation.

The average PV system size continued to grow steadily as residential system sizes increased and as a growing number of businesses purchased PV. Panel prices continued to decline, and system prices reached record lows.

Residential installed capacity was declining year-on-year from 2012 until 2016 when it stabilised at 541MW. 2017 saw a marked turnaround in the residential market, growing 44% to 779MW. The small-commercial (10-100kW) segment grew by 60% to reach a record 331MW. The large commercial and industrial sized systems in the 100-5000kW range grew by 123% to a record 76MW. 114MW of solar farms were commissioned in 2017, though a far greater volume were under construction at the end of 2017.

Further growth in the Australian market is expected in 2018. Mid-way through 2017, 1.1GW of PV has been commissioned, including 560MW of solar farms. With over 1900MW of solar farms currently under construction and 35GW at various stages of development, 2018 looks certain to be another record year for Australian PV.

Some key findings from the report include:

- Cumulative installed PV capacity was over 7.2 GW

- PV now accounts for 13% of national electricity generation capacity and 3.9% of total electrical energy demand

- The value of the solar industry to Australia was 1.6 Billion dollars, creating 8170 direct jobs.

- Panel prices continued to decline, and system prices reached record lows

- 160,000 new PV installations took the total number of PV installations to over 1.8 million by the end of 2017

- Residential penetration levels exceed 20% and are over 65% in some areas.

The report also provides an overview of policy mechanisms and incentives as well as a summary of research activities related to photovoltaics carried out at institutes and companies around Australia.

Source: APVI

 

PROJECT NEWS

Crowlands Wind Farm

17 July

Construction progress

Most of the civil works to establish roads and hardstands are now complete at the Crowlands Wind Farm. Eight concrete foundations are now complete. These have been constructed using concrete from the on-site batching plant, and quarry products sourced from local suppliers. Each foundation used over 750 tonnes of concrete, which is more than 50 truckloads.

Movement of Large Components

In the coming weeks, major components (blades, hubs, and nacelles) will begin to arrive at the Port of Portland. This will be a major milestone for the project. Between now and the end of this year, there will be some large “over-dimensional” truck movements on local roads accompanied by escort vehicles to deliver these components.

Source: Pacific Hydro

 

NEW PROJECT

Chaff Mill Solar Farm

Developer: FRV Services Australia

Location: 3.5km north-east of Mintaro

Capacity: 100 MW with a 50 MW battery

LGA: Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council

Description: An application made by FRV Services Australia for consent to construct a solar farm and associated infrastructure, including arrays of solar panels mounted on single-axis tracker framing, inverter stations, a 50MW battery energy storage system, substation (containing a minimum 100MVA transformer), overhead line from substation to existing 132kV transmission line, site office, onsite parking, refuse storage area, internal access roads and perimeter security fencing. The development site is situated on 380 hectares of vacant farming land adjacent to the existing Mintaro substation.

Contact: Damien Hegarty

FRV Australia

Email: Damien.Hegarty@frv.com

 

PROJECT NEWS

Springdale Solar Farm

EIS for Renew Estate’s proposed Springdale Solar Farm placed on exhibition by NSW Department of Planning and Environment until 15 August. The EIS is for a project including solar generation equipment and associated infrastructure. The project has a capacity of up to 120 megawatts of direct current (MWdc) and 100 megawatts of export capacity (alternating current) (MWac). The project site (the Site) is generally greenfield and is located approximately 3.5 km north of the border with the ACT, and approximately 7 km north west of the Sutton village.

The project would include the following key components:

- Photovoltaic (PV) solar modules on a single-axis tracking system mounted on steel piles

- Approximately 22 containerised power conversion stations, containing electrical switchgear, inverters and transformers

- An electrical switchyard and substation that would be connected to the existing 132 kilovolt (kV) TransGrid transmission line that traverses the Site

DC and AC cabling for electrical reticulation

- A control building including office, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, operation and maintenance (O&M) facilities, staff amenities, and associated carpark

- Two meteorological stations

- Internal all-weather access tracks

- Security fencing

- Landscaping

- Subject to the execution of a Voluntary Planning Agreement with Yass Valley Council (YVC) and agreement with YVC on the relevant works, construction of a new public road connection between Tallagandra Lane and Tintinhull Road

- Subject to the execution of a Voluntary Planning Agreement with YVC and agreement with YVC on the relevant works, subdivision of Lot 202 DP754908 to create a proposed new lot to be dedicated as a public road for the proposed Tintinhull Road re-alignment

- Subdivision of Lot 209 DP754908 to create a new lot for the proposed substation

 

NT Utilities Commission’s 2016-17 Power System Review

The following is an extract from the Northern Territory Utilities Commission’s annual Power System Review for 2016-17.

The full report is available here.

Challenges

Increased levels of renewable energy are likely to increase system costs, especially in the provision of ancillary services necessary to ensure system security. However, new solar generation will potentially increase generation capacity, investment and diversity of supply. Existing higher-cost generation capacity may be retired earlier than planned as it is displaced by new low-cost generation.

This will impact both returns to the asset owner and future system reliability.

If left to grow unmanaged, solar generation will detrimentally affect the secure operation of the power system. This is a significant issue when system demand is reduced to the spinning reserve requirements, and also when system demand is being met primarily by large-scale solar generation and the level of online dispatchable synchronous generation (for example gas or diesel generation) reaches the spinning reserve requirement. Spinning reserve is generation in addition to system demand to ensure a secure system. Where system demand or the amount of dispatchable generation drops further, System Control may have to constrain solar generation, to ensure there is sufficient levels of dispatchable synchronous generation online. In the longer term, investment may be required in equipment such as batteries and synchronous condensers to maintain a secure system, leading to higher operating costs.

Careful coordination of solutions to these issues will be required to ensure an efficient outcome. This will include understanding the trade-offs between strengthened Generation Performance Standards (GPS) currently being considered by System Control, ancillary services and network investment.

It is noted that the three regulated systems have different levels of solar PV penetration, and weather patterns. It is likely that the regulated systems may require different solutions at different times. This may include different pricing regimes in the individual systems, to provide appropriate incentives for customers.

The modelling highlights that, with a continuous growth in solar generation, there will likely be technical issues in a few years in Alice Springs. For simplicity, the modelling has assumed that the 50 per cent renewable energy target is achieved on a pro rata basis across the various systems. However, in practice and taking into account the technical issues of each system, it is likely that a more holistic approach will be required to achieve that target.

 

PROJECT NEWS

Snowy Hydro 2.0

The federal Department of the Environment & Energy gives Snowy Hydro the go ahead to conduct exploratory works in support of the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project in NSW. The proposed works, including the construction of an exploratory tunnel to the site of the underground power station for Snowy 2.0, was declared not a controlled action under the EPBC Act. Other proposed geotechnical and geophysical exploratory works activities include:

  • the establishment of a construction pad and portal
  • excavated rock management
  • subaqueous rock placement
  • the establishment of an accommodation camp
  • the construction of a road and upgrades to the road to provide access to the proposed construction areas
  • construction of barge access infrastructure on Talbingo reservoir
  • establishment of supporting power and communication infrastructure
  • a program of geotechnical investigation to inform the detailed design

 

Bluescope underwrites investment in 500,000 panel solar farm

20 July

Offtake equivalent to 20% of BlueScope’s total Australian electricity purchases

At a signing ceremony today at BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks, BlueScope and its partners ESCO Pacific and Schneider Electric announced a landmark 7-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), where BlueScope will offtake 66% of the 133MW of energy generated from ESCO Pacific’s Finley Solar Farm.

The 500,000 solar panel farm to be located at Finley, 100km West of Albury in the Riverina of NSW, is expected to be online by mid-2019. The ground-mounted solar farm will be located on a 300 Hectare (Ha) site which is almost half the size of BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks.

BlueScope’s, Chief Executive, Australian Steel Products, John Nowlan said:

BlueScope’s approach to energy has always been about balancing the ‘Trilemma’, whereby we have access to affordable and reliable energy whilst reducing emissions where we can – which is why we support the intent of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

“This PPA is one of Australia’s largest corporate offtake agreements, and is the largest with a solar farm to date, and complements our firm electricity supply arrangements, which provide the reliable electricity supply we need for manufacturing processes that must operate 24/7. The PPA will help keep downward pressure on our energy costs, and will support the gradual transition to renewable energy. The volume under the agreement is equivalent to 20% of BlueScope’s total Australian electricity purchases.

“BlueScope supports Australia’s 2030 emissions target, including the government’s target to reduce electricity sector emissions by 26% on 2005 levels by 2030. By investing in solar energy, we are helping accelerate the decarbonisation of the electricity grid by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 300,000 tonnes of CO2e each year. This is comparable to taking 90,000 cars off the road and is enough to power 60,000 homes.”

Attending the signing ceremony was NSW Energy Minister, the Hon. Don Harwin, who said:

Delivering affordable and reliable energy for households and businesses is a priority for the NSW Government. NSW takes a technology neutral approach to energy and we want to see a diverse range of generation sources to ensure the reliability and affordability NSW needs for the future.

“I applaud the innovation, industry leadership and example set by BlueScope, ESCO Pacific and Schneider Electric in taking advantage of the opportunities of our evolving energy market as they enter into this historic agreement. This is one of many great opportunities for NSW industries to harness the power of our state's abundant natural resources.”

The Solar Farm will provide 130 jobs during the construction phase and create 8 permanent jobs (2 full-time and 6 part-time) once fully operational. Investment in the project is expected to exceed $250m.

ESCO Pacific, Managing Director, Steve Rademaker, said:

ESCO Pacific is delighted to be partnering with BlueScope, an iconic Australian company that has identified the substantial energy cost savings that a solar corporate PPA can deliver to its business.

“By transacting directly with ESCO Pacific’s Finley Solar Farm, BlueScope’s PPA will enable the project to commence construction later in the year, creating jobs and injecting much needed value into the local economy.

“ESCO Pacific strategically identified the site at Finley as an ideal location for a solar farm due to its high solar resource and direct connection to the existing TransGrid owned Finley substation. These factors were critical in helping deliver to BlueScope a cost effective solar corporate PPA.

“As a leading Australian solar developer, ESCO Pacific is seeing significant inbound interest from a diverse range of corporates looking to secure low cost electricity. With a substantial pipeline of projects at an advanced stage of development in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, we are well placed to bringing more of our solar projects to market.”

Schneider Electric’s, Managing Director, Gareth O’Reilly, said:

As the world’s largest renewable energy and cleantech consultant, Schneider Electric has long been committed to helping businesses benefit from adopting low-cost renewable energy sources through PPAs and other projects. Today, we are delighted to see our partnership with BlueScope come to fruition in the form of a landmark renewable energy PPA with ESCO Pacific, and to see them join a growing cadre of local and global companies committed to sourcing renewable energy.

“Australian businesses have been left struggling with inflated energy bills and budgets, with both wholesale electricity and LGC prices more than doubling between 2015 and 2018. Through Schneider Electric’s leading Energy & Sustainability Advisory Service, we worked closely with BlueScope Steel to identify a longterm renewable energy PPA as a strategy to reduce cost in the short term and reduce volatility over the longer term.”

Source: BlueScope Steel

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