4GW Walcha Energy Project in NSW powers ahead

- Vestas acquires a majority stake in first wind development by Walcha Energy – Winterbourne Wind Farm Project

- Walcha Energy submits scoping report to NSW Department of Planning & Environment for 700MW Salisbury Solar Farm, 100MW/150MWh BESS and Uralla RE Hub

- Dungowan Dam PHES - feasibility studies commence

The Walcha Energy Project, a wind, solar and pumped hydro energy storage project of up to 4GW in total, is situated around the town of Walcha in the New England tablelands, approximately 55km south of Armidale, NSW. It is in a region that benefits from complementary renewable energy resources, with night-time wind and day-time solar.

Walcha Energy is a partnership between MirusWind and Energy Estate.

- Vestas – Winterbourne Wind Farm

Global wind energy leader Vestas has acquired the Winterbourne Wind Farm from Walcha Energy. Winterbourne Wind Farm, which has a potential capacity of up to 700MW, is the first stage of the wind component of The Walcha Energy Project. The Vestas investment will accelerate development of the Winterbourne Wind Farm and will help unlock the considerable renewable energy potential of the wider New England region.

Vestas has acquired a majority stake of the Winterbourne Wind Farm and will lead the development of the project, which is located to the north east of Walcha. A small percentage of the project is owned by community stakeholders. Walcha Energy will assist Vestas with land, community engagement and grid strategy. Vestas’ development of the Winterbourne Wind Farm continues to demonstrate its commitment to growing renewable energy in Australia.

“Vestas’ acquisition of Winterbourne is a giant step forward for The Walcha Energy Project and evidences strong support and respect for the local Walcha community. We are fortunate to be working with Vestas as the world’s leading wind OEM to unlock the clean energy potential of Walcha, to foster responsible develop in the REZ and to enable new economic development opportunities in regional NSW in collaboration with the local community,” said Vincent Dwyer, Principal of Energy Estate.

“A key feature of The Walcha Energy Project is the unique community benefit model, including an ownership interest in the Winterbourne Wind Farm. We’ve been engaging with the Walcha community for more than 14 years and continued engagement, benefit sharing and responsible development are core values for our team. Vestas is perfectly aligned with these core values and to this commitment,” said Mark Waring, Director at Walcha Energy.

The development team has worked closely with the surrounding community and designed innovative arrangements that seek to balance the interests of the key landholders, their neighbours, the community and other stakeholders.

The next stage of the development of the Winterbourne Wind Farm will focus on preparation of an environmental impact assessment to support a development application in 2020. Subject to obtaining the necessary approvals, the wind farm is planned to commence operations in 2022.

- Salisbury Solar, BESS and Uralla Hub scoping report lodged with DP&E

Walcha Energy is pleased to announce that it has lodged the scoping report for the Salisbury Solar Farm, a 700MW solar farm to be located on the Salisbury Plains south east of Uralla, with the NSW Department of Planning & Environment. The scoping report also includes a 100MW/150MWh battery energy storage system, a new 330kV substation which will operate as a new grid ‘hub’ supporting the development of the New England Renewable Energy Zone (the Uralla RE Hub), and associated transmission infrastructure.  

The proposed site for the Salisbury Solar Farm has been chosen after consultation with the landowners and neighbours, taking into account any impact on visual amenity, the grid connection potential, landowners preferred parts of their land suitable for solar development and minimising the areas containing sensitive and natural heritage features. The impact on any incompatible land areas and woodland areas has also been reduced within the project sites.

The Uralla RE Hub, to be located 30km south of Armidale, will serve as the connection point for the first stage of The Walcha Energy Project. A distinguishing feature is that the Uralla RE Hub would be available as a connection point for other developers in this part of the New England REZ, helping to deliver system strength and flexibility to NSW and to reduce system costs by providing a single connection point at this critical point in NSW’s transmission network. The Uralla RE Hub is aligned with the concepts for the region outlined in Transgrid’s 2018 Transmission Annual Planning Report and in the Transgrid / Powerlink 2018 PSCR Report into Expanding the NSW-QLD transmission transfer capacity which is part of the RiT-T process for a new interconnect between NSW and QLD.

- Dungowan Dam PHES – feasibility studies commence

In November 2018, Tamworth Regional Council signed a memorandum with the developers of The Walcha Energy Project and Arup to explore the option of Dungowan Dam, owned by the Council, forming part of a new pumped hydro energy storage scheme. Arup is recognised as one of the leading designers of PHES systems globally and is working on several other schemes in Australia including the innovative Cultana seawater PHES in South Australia.

Walcha Energy has now commenced work on the next phase of the feasibility study of building a PHES around the existing 6.4 megalitre Dungowan Dam.  This work will be completed over the next 3-4 months and involves a trade-off analysis of upper and lower reservoir options. 

In view of the continuing drought in NSW and the pressures on water supply for the Tamworth/Peel Valley, the feasibility study will also assess how the water security can be enhanced through the design of the PHES scheme and expanding the existing catchment.

Source: Walcha Energy

 

Hadstone's 385 MWp Broadsound Solar Farm - now to build it...

24 June

Broadsound is a 385 MWp solar park development in Central Queensland, Australia by Hadstone Australia. As it’s now ready to build, we wanted to share the story of its development with you.

The numbers tell part of the story – 385 Megawatts-peak, 296 MVA, connecting directly to Powerlink’s 275kV transmission grid. One number stands out – with 12 square km of solar modules, the Broadsound project is roughly the same size as Sydney harbour. When fully constructed, Broadsound will be one of Australia’s largest solar farms.

In early 2017, Hadstone identified Powerlink’s Broadsound H20 275kV switching station as one of the best places in Queensland to connect a solar project. Unfortunately a dozen other developers had reached the same conclusion! One landowner owns all suitable nearby land, so we were delighted when he quite quickly chose Hadstone as the preferred developer. 

The 25,000 acre Manly cattle station is inland of the dividing range, and so doesn’t generally suffer cyclones. However, cyclonic depressions can drench the site and fill the brownstone creeks suddenly, so selecting the right site on the farm was crucial.

The final layout involved over a million solar modules, so over two million square metres of silicon.

Broadsound is between Rockhampton and Mackay on the Marlborough-Sarina State highway.

Only when you compare it with more familiar landscapes does the true scale hit you. If Broadsound were transferred to Sydney’s eastern suburbs, it would reach from Rushcutters’s bay to Randwick Racecourse and from Central Station nearly to Coogee.

How do you do surveys on such an immense site? The answer is slowly, and expensively. Too big for a drone survey, the topographic survey was done with seven passes of a LIDAR-equipped fixed-wing plane. Full Geotech and resistivity surveys and pile pull tests resulted in over 250 pages of information on where it’d be ok to drive piles and where to pre-drill the underlying weathered andesite.

Surveys done, the Planning approval process (or Development approval, to use the correct term) was thorough but straight-forward. Approval was given by Isaac council in 2017, with no objections either during the approval process or during community consultations.

However, more daunting by far was the cultural heritage walkover with Hadstone staff and consultants and members of the Barada Kabalbara Yetimarala People in October 2018. While Queensland’s solar irradiance is great for power generation, it’s not great for people spending all day searching for artefacts, so the walkover had to finish before the summer heat started to kick in in November.

Just to check that the irradiance is what we think it is, a small weather station was commissioned on the site in 2018 and it’s now just a couple of months short of a full year’s data – the photo below was taken when it was being commissioned.

The other unique aspect of Australian renewables is of course the transmission connection process. An application to Powerlink for a 275kV connection was made in 2017 and after 18 months of heroically intense simulation modelling by three consulting firms and by Powerlink (with a special shout-out to inverter manufacturer, SMA) we finally got there in May 2019.

So there you go – a guide on how to go from cattle station to ready-to-build solar farm in two-and-a-half intense years. Located half-way between Rockhampton and Mackay right next to the Marlborough-Sarina highway, it should be straight-forward to build. All we need to do now is build it!

Source: Hadstone Australia

 

Kogan.com to launch Kogan Energy

24 June

Signs partnership with Powershop Australia, part of the Meridian Energy Limited group Kogan.com Limited (Kogan.com, Kogan; ASX:KGN) has entered into a multi-year agreement with Powershop Australia Pty Ltd (Powershop), a part of the Meridian Energy Limited group (Meridian; ASX:MEZ | NZX:MEL). The agreement will see Kogan.com offering competitive power and gas services to Australian households under a new brand, Kogan Energy.

Kogan Energy is expected to launch before the end of the 2019 calendar year and will focus on simplifying the provision of power and gas for millions of Australians and making these essential services more affordable through digital efficiency.

Details of the offering will be released by Kogan Energy closer to the launch date.

The Kogan brand is synonymous with price leadership achieved through leveraging digital efficiency, and has demonstrated success in its portfolio of businesses.

David Shafer, Executive Director of Kogan.com, said the partnership with Powershop will help reduce the cost of power and gas for many Australians:

“Kogan.com is excited to partner with Powershop, which is part of Meridian Energy - Australasia’s largest 100% renewable energy generator. This partnership will enable Kogan.com to offer Aussies low cost power and gas, and a first-class customer experience using technology that will enable customers to easily track their energy usage at any time.

“Meridian Energy Group provides world class generation from some of Australia’s leading wind farms and hydro power stations, and Powershop Australia was ranked Australia’s Greenest Power Company from 2014-2018 by Greenpeace.

“With well over one and a half million active customers, Kogan.com is proud to be able to offer a genuine win-win-win for Meridian, for Kogan’s shareholders and, most importantly, for Kogan.com customers who will get access to low prices on power and gas, and a seamless digital experience.”

Meridian Energy Australia and Powershop Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Ed McManus, said the company was pleased to be working with Kogan to continue to bring choice and transparency to Australian energy consumers.

“We generate some of the cleanest and greenest energy in Australia. Together with Kogan, we believe we can make a real difference to the energy space by delivering simple, great value, energy offerings through Kogan Energy.”

Source: Kogan

 

NEW PROJECT

Atherton Solar Farm

Location: Near Tolga in Atherton Tablelands region of North Queensland.

Capacity: 81 MW

Developer: NESI Australia

LGA: Tableland Regional Council

Status: Development approval submitted to council in December 2018

Description: Located on 125ha of cleared farming land, ~16km from the major bulk supply substation (Turkinje SS).  Negotiations are underway with Energy Queensland regarding the required 66kV Connection Agreement. The project will use panels mounted on fixed structures (not a tracking system).

Contact: Project Team

NESI Australia

Tel: 1300 197 222

Email: enquiries@athertonsolar.com.au

Web: http://www.athertonsolar.com.au/

 

CWP Renewables enables SolarShare's community solar farm near Canberra 

24 June

In a nice link to the Sapphire Wind Farm, CWP Renewables is pleased to announce that it is helping to enable the largest community solar farm to be built in Australia with an $800,000 debt facility. 

Canberra’s SolarShare will build its flagship 1MW solar farm in the Majura Valley after receiving over $2.36 million from more than 400 Canberra-based community investors. To reach the full $2.8 million fundraising target, CWP Renewables will provide a limited resource debt facility of $800,000. This will enable construction to begin in August. 

Chief Executive Officer of CWP Renewables, Jason Willoughby said “Following the ACT Government’s support for the development of the Sapphire Wind Farm in 2016, CWP has established its national operation and asset management centre in Canberra, servicing projects throughout NSW.  We are pleased to be able to repay support we received from the ACT Government for the Sapphire project by supporting the Majura Project and we congratulate SolarShare on this significant achievement”.

Once complete, SolarShare’s solar farm will generate enough clean energy to power 260 homes and will prevent over 1,700 tonnes of atmospheric CO2 pollution.

The Sapphire Wind Farm community investment initiative will close on 30 June (and there will not be any further extensions). If you are interested in investing please act now so you don't miss out. This offer is open to all residents of NSW and ACT to participate. Your application form must be filled out by midnight on Sunday evening. 

If you would like to invest now, please click here to go directly to the application form.

Source: CWP Renewables

 

Rest to become the sole owner of Collgar Wind Farm in Western Australia

24 June

Rest has agreed to fully acquire the Collgar Wind Farm in Western Australia, which will make it one of the largest Australian renewable energy projects directly owned by an Australian superannuation fund.

Rest has been involved with Collgar since construction began in 2010, and previously held a 40 per cent stake in the project. Rest has agreed to acquire the remaining 60 per cent from UBS Asset Management's Real Estate & Private Markets Infrastructure business. The acquisition was negotiated and concluded by Rest’s internal investment manager, Super Investment Management.

“Collgar Wind Farm is a premium infrastructure asset that has been delivering strong returns for Rest members. Renewable energy projects like this will continue to play an important role in Australia’s future,” said George Zielinski, Chief Investment Officer for Super Investment Management.

“As an existing owner, Rest has been able to monitor and assess the wind farm’s operational performance since construction was completed in 2011. Taking full ownership is a great opportunity to drive further value from the asset and strengthen Rest’s infrastructure portfolio.

“The project has and is expected to continue to generate sustainable cash flows. We are confident it will help grow members’ retirement savings into the future.”

Collgar is the largest wind farm in WA, built on 18,000 hectares of land with a total capacity of 206 Megawatts.

Collgar generates, on average, between 40 and 50 per cent of the state’s renewable electricity. This is enough to power up to 170,000 average WA households per year and displace up to 690,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The project holds a five-star Global Real Estate Sustainable Benchmark (GRESB) rating for 2018.

Collgar is located near Merredin in the Wheatbelt region, about 250 kilometres east of Perth.

Source: Rest Super

 

Giant blades power Coopers Gap Wind Farm

24 June

Coopers Gap Wind Farm began generating electricity today, with the first two turbines feeding energy into the National Electricity Market.

The $850 million project involves 123 wind turbines in total, which are equipped with blades that are up to 67 metres long.

AGL CEO, Brett Redman, said achieving first generation for a project this size involves an enormous effort by the many teams who have worked on the wind farm.

“The size and scale of a project like this is extraordinary, and today’s milestone is thanks to the hard work of so many people,” Mr Redman said.

“This is a significant project for AGL and the timing of bringing new generation into the grid is crucial for all energy users.

“It’s another great example of our commitment to investing in new generation to deliver affordable and reliable power for customers.

“We appreciate the support we have received from Government agencies in Queensland to navigate the logistic issues experienced during construction,” Mr Redman said.

AGL General Manager of Gas and Renewables Operations, Colin Mills, said each turbine has a tip height of up to 180 metres, while a rotor diameter of up to 137 metres.

“Throughout the construction process, around $56 million has been spent on local businesses and services providers,” Mr Mills said.

“The Coopers Gap Wind Farm, north-west of Brisbane, has a total capacity of 453 MW which makes it the largest wind farm by MW capacity currently operating in Australia.

“The project is owned and constructed by the Powering Australian Renewables Fund, a landmark financing initiative created by AGL and QIC. The $2-3 billion fund aims to develop and own approximately 1,000 MW in large-scale renewable generation projects.

“I’d like to thank PARF for its work in this achievement.

“I’d also like to recognise the efforts of the Australian Energy Market Operator and Powerlink as project partners who helped us get here, along with the support of the local community and local councils,” Mr Mills said.

About Coopers Gap

The second greenfield project developed by the Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF), the Coopers Gap Wind Farm has a capacity of 453 MW and produce around 1,510,000 MWh of renewable energy – powering approximately 264,000 average Australian homes.

Location

Coopers Gap Wind Farm is 250 km north-west of Brisbane near Cooranga North, between Dalby and Kingaroy. The site is located on land that’s mainly used for cattle grazing and other farming activities.

It will connect to a new Powerlink substation along the Western Downs to Halys 275 kV transmission line built by Powerlink.

Source: AGL Energy

 

VivoPower International PLC Announces US Solar Portfolio Sale Update and Major Contract Wins in Australian Solar and Data Centers

24 June

VivoPower International PLC (Nasdaq: VVPR) (“VivoPower” or the “Company”), an international solar and power services company, is pleased to provide an update on the status of its US solar portfolio sale. Since the last update, the sale process has progressed further with new international parties now engaged. In addition, the Company has secured a power purchase agreement (“PPA”) for one of its projects and has started to engage with large corporates with a view to securing additional PPAs directly. This strategy could drive a significant increase in the average value per watt of the whole portfolio.

The Company would also like to announce that its Australian power services businesses, Kenshaw Electrical Pty Limited (“Kenshaw”) and J.A. Martin Electrical Pty Limited (“J.A. Martin”), have won additional contracts relating to solar farms and data centers worth US$22.6m. With these new contracts, VivoPower’s forward order book for power services has now increased to US$51.5 million on the back of this and previous contract wins in the data center, solar, agriculture, transport, mining, and utility sectors. This represents an increase of 53% in the last seven months and is another new all-time record high forward order book. It is expected that these contracts will be fulfilled within the next 12 months.

Kenshaw has been awarded additional contracts worth US$18.9 million for the supply and installation of power generators to one of Australia’s leading data center groups. J.A. Martin has been awarded a US$3.7 million contract as part of the construction of a new solar project in New South Wales, Australia. This is the second significant contract win in less than a year for J.A. Martin in solar project construction, a key strategic focus to accelerate growth.

“In relation to our US solar portfolio sale, it has become clear that if we are able to secure corporate PPAs for projects, this could potentially drive a significant increase in value per watt. We are also pleased with the continued momentum for our power services business in Australia. Our Kenshaw and J.A. Martin teams have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to building long-term relationships with customers through excellence in engineering, design, manufacturing, construction and service, delivering projects as promised, establishing themselves as trusted partners to a diverse range of commercial, industrial, and public sector customers,” said Art Russell, Interim Chief Executive Officer of VivoPower.

Adam Malcolm, General Manager of Kenshaw, said, “We are pleased to have been awarded this additional work by a long-time data center customer and very much respect the trust our customers place in us to deliver our commitments on time and budget. These contracts are a testament to the reputation we have built in the data center sector and more broadly across our customer base to deliver value for money.”

Phil Lowbridge, General Manager of J.A. Martin, said, “We are very pleased to secure our second major contract for construction of solar projects in under a year. With over US$138 billion forecast to be invested in renewable energy in Australia over the next 30 years, we see solar as strategically important for our future growth. In addition, with the opportunities and support provided by VivoPower’s solar development team in Australia, combined with our own capability, experience, and reputation developed over the last 50 years in business, we are excited by the potential for our business.”

Source: Vivo Power

 

Media response: Possible early closure of Yallourn power station

25 June

The front page of today’s Herald Sun reports Yallourn power station could close much sooner than its scheduled 2032 retirement.

Comment from Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle:

“Yallourn power station is the dirtiest in the country and one of the most unreliable. It is responsible for around 15% of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“If we intend to do anything about the climate crisis facing us, Yallourn and other coal-burning power stations like it will need to close much sooner than currently anticipated.

“The key now is to ensure we are building enough renewable energy and storage capacity to replace Yallourn’s output before it closes, and to scale up efforts to create new sustainable jobs in the Latrobe Valley.”

Source: Environment Victoria

 

No faith in coal

In an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, over one hundred and fifty faith leaders have declared that the climate situation is an emergency and urged a halt to all new coal and gas projects, starting with the proposed Adani mine.

Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Congratulations on winning office. We wish you well as you form your new Government.

We are from many faith communities and from all across Australia. Today, we are speaking with one voice.

As you set your agenda, we ask you to make addressing the problem of climate change your number one priority.

The climate situation is much more than a political or even a scientific issue. It is a profoundly moral one.

These are times unlike any known before. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns us that nothing short of strong and immediate action on all fronts will avert massive threats to the climate system on which life on Earth depends.  It is no overstatement to call this an emergency.

Many faith leaders around the world have made their views on this matter known. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called climate change a “moral crisis” and “the human thumb on the scale, pushing us toward disaster.” A group of senior Buddhist leaders including His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to world leaders in 2015 saying that “through our lack of insight, we are destroying the very life support systems that we and all other living beings depend on for survival.” Pope Francis stated in his famous encyclical, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony and disdain.”

The part played by Australia in the response to this emergency is crucial. The IPCC has now told the world that global thermal coal use must drop by at least 59 per cent in the next 11 years if we are to avoid 1.5 Degree C warming. Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, so we clearly have a particular moral responsibility to stop developing polluting coal mines.

Simply put, opening up new coal reserves for mining is not compatible with any global response to avoid catastrophe. We call on you to show true moral leadership.

As you know, thousands of school students have been protesting in our streets about this emergency. They have three demands. We are writing to urge you to agree to them:

- Stopping the proposed Adani coal mine

- Committing to no new coal or gas projects in Australia

- Moving to 100% renewable energy by the year 2030.

We understand this will be challenging. To start with, the people who live in those communities where employment would be affected clearly need good reliable jobs. Yet a courageous leader would come up with a jobs plan based on renewable energy instead of coal, an industry with an uncertain future which is now threatening our very survival.

The Adani mine in Central and North Queensland is an excellent example. People there need new, reliable jobs. Yet serious investment in solar would yield far more jobs than the Adani mine would, as it is less automated. And rejecting new coal will also help to protect jobs that depend on the Great Barrier Reef. There are currently 60,000 people whose livelihood depends on the Reef.

We also know that the Adani mine would use huge volumes of scarce water from the underground aquifers including the Great Artesian Basin. Furthermore, it would add to the likelihood of droughts by fuelling climate disruption.

Despite the differences in our faith, we all regard addressing the climate emergency as our shared moral challenge. We stand together for our common home, the Earth.

Will you and your Government have the courage to agree to this simple threefold agenda? We pray that you will.

Source: ARRCC

 

PROJECT NEWS

Gilgandra Solar Farm

Neoen applied for a development approval modification for its 40 MW Gilgandra Solar Farm proposal in NSW. The modification includes an amendment to the proposed generation capacity of the solar farm from 40 MW to 50 MW, and the proposed maximum height of the solar panels from 3 metres to 4.2 metres. The amendment to the proposed generation capacity of the solar farm is proposed as after consultation with Essential Energy determined that there was capacity to accommodate a 50 MW solar farm, the proposal is subsequently refined to increase the generation capacity to make use of the full connection capacity available. The number of solar panels constituting the project would need to be increased by a further 6,000 (approximately) to 158,000 to enable the corresponding increase in generation capacity, although all panels would still be located within the approved areas.

A modification to the approved project is sought, comprising an amendment to the maximum height of the solar panels, from 3 metres (m) to 4.2 m, change in type of panels, and improved panel arrangement. The amended solar panel arrangement will allow greater surface area and increased solar energy generation efficiency. The type of solar panels proposed to be used are bifacial modules instead of monofacial modules. The bifacial panels, as provided by the construction contractor, have a height of 3.9 m when the panel is at maximum tilt. To allow boundary buffer and to account for the topography of the land, a maximum height of 4.2 m would need to be assessed as part of this modification.

 

Commissioner to convene roundtable on solar farm safety

25 June

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has today asked the Electrical Safety Commissioner to convene an urgent industry roundtable to discuss safety in large-scale solar farms.

The Minister made the request after the Court of Appeal dismissed an application by the State Government to overturn a recent ruling which invalidated solar farm safety regulations which came into effect last month.

“The Palaszczuk Government accepts today’s decision of the Court of Appeal but is disappointed by the result,” Ms Grace said.

“Today’s decision is about a technical legal ruling and does not deal with the substantive safety reasoning behind the making of the solar farms regulation.

“The Government acted on the advice of an expert safety panel and Crown Law in relation to the making of the regulation.

“My department is currently considering the full extent of the decision, including whether legislative changes are required."

Ms Grace said today’s decision clearly highlighted that Queensland’s electrical safety laws had not kept pace with new and emerging technologies, including large-scale solar farms.

“The Electrical Safety Act has not undergone any significant changes in 17 years. A great deal of technological change and the emergence of new industries have occurred since this time,” she said.

“It is important our safety laws reflect contemporary industry and are able to respond to new and emerging industries, such as large-scale solar farms.”

Ms Grace said claims by the Opposition and industry that regional jobs were under threat by the solar regulations were unfounded.

“Labourers jobs were never under threat. What the regulations did was to provide clarity on the safety standards for electrical work on solar farms to ensure the safety of all workers and the community at large. There were many jobs that labourers could continue to do under the regulations,” she said.

“The safety risks for workers installing solar panels on large-scale solar farms, including electrical shock and fire, are very real and remains a significant concern for the Government.

“The evidence is also very clear – the Electrical Safety Office and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland have conducted more than 200 audits of large-scale solar farms across Queensland and issued 81 statutory notices for a range of breaches of work health and safety and electrical safety laws.”

“There are no second chances when it comes to electrical safety,” she said

These breaches included unlicensed electrical work, non-compliant electrical installations and inadequate safe work method statements and emergency plans.

Electrical Safety Commissioner Greg Skyring also expressed disappointment and concern over the today’s decision.

“The solar farm regulations provided clarity and guidance for the industry and it is great shame it has been knocked out by a technicality – the safety risks remain despite today’s decision,” Mr Skyring said.

“During the stakeholder consultations I was very concerned to hear that unlicensed workers were commonly ‘creeping’ into the territory of performing electrical work, such as the earthing of installations, cabling and removal of connected panels.

“I continue to support the Government in their efforts to ensure this industry and the jobs it creates can grow but not at the cost of safety”, Commissioner Skyring said.

The Electrical Safety Office will continue to actively monitor compliance at solar farms throughout the state and ensure that work is conducted safely and electricians undertake electrical work in-line with the current legislation.

Source: Queensland Government

 

Regional jobs and communities the big winners from court of appeal decision on solar

25 June

A Queensland Court of Appeal decision today to uphold a Supreme Court ruling striking out a state government regulation for solar farms is good news for regional jobs and communities in the state, the Clean Energy Council said.

Under the legislation, licensed electrical workers were required to locate, mount, fix and remove unplugged solar panels at solar projects above 100 kilowatts, adding significant costs and red tape for no clear benefit. This is work that has been performed successfully on dozens of projects by skilled labourers and trades assistants.

The Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 (Qld), which came into force on 13 May, had been ruled invalid by the Supreme Court of Queensland on 29 May, following a challenge by Maryrorough Solar – owners of the Brigalow Solar Farm near Pittsworth in southern Queensland.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the development and introduction of the state government’s regulation had been rushed.

“The industry should never have had to go through the courts to resolve something that could easily have been worked out with a full and proper consultation process,” Mr Thornton said.

“Queensland’s courts have now determined twice that the government’s regulation requiring licensed electricians to do the work of labourers and trades assistants is inconsistent with the Electrical Safety Act. That is because it is not electrical work. This decision is good news for regional jobs and communities, and good news for the clean energy transition in Queensland.

“After three months of chaos and uncertainty in the large-scale solar sector in Queensland, we look forward to being able to get on with the job of building and investing in new clean energy projects worth billions of dollars that the state needs to meet its renewable energy target.

“The solar industry recognises that safety is paramount. We look forward to working collaboratively with the government and all relevant stakeholders to achieve our shared aims of safely delivering its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030,” he said.

Source: Clean Energy Council

 

Tilt Renewables announces strategic review of Snowtown 2 

26 June

Since  the  establishment  of  Tilt  Renewables  as  a  standalone  business,  a  key  strategic  priority  has  been delivering maximum value  from  our  development  pipeline.  This  demands a  constant  focus  on  balance sheet efficiency to ensure shareholder capital is available to execute on our highest value opportunities.

Consistent with this strategy, Tilt Renewables has decided to conduct a strategic review of its ownership of the operational Snowtown 2 wind farm in South Australia.  As an industry leading developer and long term owner  and  operator  of  renewable  generation  assets,  Tilt  Renewables  completed  construction  of  the Snowtown 2 Wind Farm in 2014, which now has a successful operating history of more than 5 years.   At 270MW the project is currently the largest asset owned by Tilt Renewables and is one of the largest in the Australian market.    Importantly, the project has a long term offtake contract in place for all electricity and renewable energy certificates produced, providing price certainty out until 2035.  

Over the last two years Tilt Renewables has progressed two further projects from its development pipeline, with the construction of the 54MW Salt Creek Wind Farm successfully completed in 2018 and the recent commencement of construction of the 336MW Dundonnell Wind Farm, which is due to be completed in 2020.  Both of these projects have long‐term offtake contracts in place (100% of electricity at Salt Creek and circa 87% of electricity and renewable energy certificates at Dundonnell) and the level of contracted revenue across Tilt Renewables’ asset base will remain above 80% once Dundonnell is operational.

Considering  the  strong  revenue  contracting  position  and  the  near‐term  investment  options  potentially available from Tilt Renewables’ high quality development pipeline, this is an appropriate time to consider strategic options from the existing asset base, including changes in ownership.   At this stage, no decisions have been made and there is no certainty that the review of Snowtown 2 will lead to any transaction.  

Tilt Renewables will update the market with any material outcomes from the strategic review in due course. 

Lazard has been engaged to assist in undertaking the strategic review and MUFG is providing debt advisory services. 

Source: Tilt Renewables

 

New Warada joint entity to target clean energy investments with backing of CEFC, Ironstone

26 June

The CEFC and Ironstone Capital have signalled their intention to increase their commitment to clean energy investments through the creation of a specialist joint venture, Warada Capital.

Warada is a new, integrated development and fund management company that will draw on the established experience and networks of its two founders.

It will focus on investments in early stage greenfield projects across a range of renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities, recognising such projects can struggle to raise essential early-stage risk capital.

Warada will also invest in operating brownfield assets where there is a capacity to improve returns and sustainability through technology enhancements.

Warada CEO Alistair Craib said: “We see investment potential across early-stage solar and wind projects, energy storage, electricity network enhancements and the use of distributed energy technologies across the built environment.

“We’re also targeting clean energy related investments in the natural resources, transport and agriculture sectors which involve sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy and low carbon opportunities.

“Through Warada, we will provide end-to-end project development and investment management services to achieve robust sustainability outcomes while maximising returns for our clients.”

Warada is an indigenous word for Waratah, an iconic Australian flower known for its adaptability. The CEFC, which is acquiring a 50 per cent equity stake in Warada, is committing up to $100 million for potential investment in projects identified by the new entity. Ironstone is a leading adviser in the renewable energy sector.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “By investing development equity through Warada, we can become more closely involved in project conceptualisation, design and implementation, while ensuring a pathway for potential further investment in projects at financial close.

“This also provides us with the opportunity to further develop the Australian domestic capabilities in the local renewable energy sector, which is currently dominated by offshore participants. This is pivotal to our policy objective of supporting the orderly transition of the Australian economy to a decarbonised future.”

Ironstone Director Michael Siede said: “Warada is an excellent example of how Ironstone develops innovative solutions to serve and support our clients. We are wholly committed to assisting our clients meet their investment objectives across the full breath of our financial services capabilities.”

Ironstone Director Aaron Simcock added: “Ironstone is excited to be developing this initiative with the CEFC. We have developed a market position as one of Australia’s leading financial advisors in the renewable energy sector and this initiative further highlights our commitment to the sector”.

The CEFC has developed a $1.2 billion equity portfolio since it began investing, working alongside 11 key fund managers.

CEFC Equity lead Rory Lonergan added: “This investment approach is key to developing institutionally-focussed clean energy investment opportunities across broad areas of economic activity, beyond the important area of renewable energy.

“Our investment in Warada will give the investment community access to a strong pipeline of clean energy investment opportunities, particularly those with an appropriate balance between investment returns, innovation and decarbonisation. As an experienced equity investor, we can also help project proponents overcome early-stage capital constraints and positively shape emissions outcomes.”

As Warada CEO, Mr Craib brings deep experience and a long history of working in the renewable energy sector in Australia and internationally. Mr Craib has led numerous transactions in the renewable energy sector, including the contractual negotiations to finalise the development of the 206MW Collgar Wind Farm in Western Australia. Mr Craib was CEO of the company during construction and its first two years of operations, successfully leading the company to complete construction ahead of schedule and significantly ahead of budget.

Source: CEFC

 

Risen Energy progressing construction of the Yarranlea Solar Farm

26 June

The construction of Risen Energy (Australia)’s 100 megawatts AC Yarranlea Solar Farm is progressing to schedule.

The solar installation is located near Pittsworth, approximately 50km west of Toowoomba on the Darling Downs. The solar farm is approximately 250ha in area, consists of over 360,000 Risen 360/365W Mono 1500VDC solar panels mounted on a single axis tracking system and will generate and deliver clean, renewable electricity to power up to 32,000 homes.

The Yarranlea Solar Farm will connect to the power grid using the existing Ergon Energy infrastructure, located close to the development site. This will allow transmission of power into the Middle Ridge Bulk Supply Substation for ultimate use in the Toowoomba and Darling Downs area.

The bulk earthworks were completed earlier this year by Sedl civil contractors, a local Toowoomba based firm and the substation installation is being progressed by Yurika, the “commercial” arm of Energy Queensland.  All civil works, including upgrading of some roads adjoining the site have been undertaken in accordance with Council issued Operational Works Permits.

To ensure the project complies with environmental and planning requirements and minimises potential environmental impacts, a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) has been prepared for the project.  This CEMP includes specific requirements to reduce impacts from erosion and sedimentation, dust, traffic , flora and fauna impacts, weeds and other environmental elements.

The Monford Group, a construction firm with sound solar farm experience is the primary construction contractor. Yarranlea Solar Farm is a construction site which adheres to strict occupational health and safety rules.  Monfords have recently completed the installation of the mechanical elements of the solar farm.  This included the  pile driving of the supports for the panel trackers, the assembly of the trackers and the mounting of the Risen Energy solar panels.

“The project is currently in the electrical installation phase.  This includes the placing and cabling of the container mounted SMA inverters and routing of cables to connect the inverters to the solar farm substation. Approximately 110 workers are currently on site” said Andrew Owen, Renewable Development Manager, Risen Energy (Australia).

The Yarranlea Solar Farm is utilising local resources where ever possible and we are working with the local community to deliver the project with a minimum of disruption.  To date, approximately 65% of the workers have been sourced from the Darling Downs area.  Once operational, the solar farm will require 3-5 full time workers to maintain the installation.

Local nursery identity Penny McKinlay is co-ordinating the planting of screening vegetation surrounding the solar farm.  Penny has arranged the propagation of 7,000+ seedlings and these will be planted once weather conditions are favourable.

Construction of the Yarranlea Solar Farm is scheduled to be completed in October 2019 and once commissioned will supply green power to homes, businesses and industries in the Toowoomba and Darling Downs area. The completed facility has a projected life of 30 years. At the end of the facility’s useful operating life, all physical infrastructure will be removed, and the land returned to its former agricultural use.

The Yarranlea Solar Farm will contribute to the green footprint of the state in support of the Queensland Government’s Green Policy. As owners of the Yarranlea Solar Farm project, Risen Energy (Australia) is progressing the project from detailed engineering design, through construction, commissioning and ultimately the operation of the solar farm.

“As owners of the Yarranlea Solar Farm project, Risen Energy (Australia) is  progressing the project from detailed engineering design, through construction, commissioning and ultimately the operation of the solar farm.  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).

Source: Risen Energy

 

Hydro to deliver more power to the people

26 June

Thousands more households are a step closer to accessing clean and reliable electricity after the NSW Government approved the first stage of the $300 million Shoalhaven Hydro Expansion project.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes today announced geological works for the major upgrade have been given the go ahead.

“This transformative project on the South Coast has the potential to significantly boost energy security in NSW, while also delivering renewable power to consumers across the State,” Mr Stokes said.

“The upgrade would see an additional 235 MW of clean energy generated, bringing the site’s total output to 475 MW, or enough energy to power 160,000 homes.”

The expansion of Shoalhaven Hydro was declared a Critical State Significant Infrastructure project late last year.

Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said the project would help the NSW Government achieve its target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“The Shoalhaven Hydro Expansion project would go a long way in helping NSW transition to a clean energy future,” Mr Kean said.

“Pumped hydro stations act like a battery. They provide firm energy when intermittent sources of power like solar and wind are offline.”

The applicant, Origin Energy, will now need to submit an Environmental Impact Statement to the NSW Government before the main upgrade works, involving the construction of a hydroelectric pump and power station, can begin.

Source: NSW Government

 

Genex announces successful capital raising of $16.2m to advance the Jemalong Solar Project

27 June

Genex Power Limited (ASX: GNX, Genex or Company) is pleased to announce the successful undertaking of a Share Placement (Placement) of 67,482,878 new Fully Paid Ordinary Shares (Shares) to both existing and new sophisticated and institutional shareholders to advance the Company’s Jemalong Solar Project (JSP) in New South Wales.

The Placement was oversubscribed.

The shares under the Placement will be issued at a price of $0.24 per Share, with EL&C Baillieu Limited (Baillieu) and Euroz Securities Limited (Euroz) acting as Joint Lead Managers to the Placement.

The funds from the Placement will predominantly be used for:

- Reaching financial close of the JSP;

- Working capital; and

- Costs associated with the Placement.

Commenting on the completion of the Placement, Genex CEO, James Harding said:

“Genex is delighted with the strong response to the placement and would like to acknowledge the support shown by existing and new investors to the Company’s strategy of growing cash flows from its expanding portfolio of diverse renewable infrastructure projects across New South Wales and Queensland. Funds raised from the placement will complete the equity funding requirement for Jemalong which, we believe, has the potential to double Genex’s revenue following generation commencement in 2020.

Following the signing of the share subscription agreement with J-POWER earlier this month, which is subject to the approval of shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting to be held in early August, Genex has now secured, subject to conditions, the equity funding requirements for financial close of its other key growth project under development, the Kidston Pumped Hydro Project (K2-Hydro). Completion of the final milestones is expected to see Genex funded to reach financial close for JSP and K2-Hydro in the next quarter.”

Source: Genex Power

 

Biala Wind Farm primary contractors announced

27 June

We’ve made a big step forward this month toward construction of the Biala Wind Farm. We have appointed the construction contractors who will complete the work. Three different contractors have been awarded contracts.

Consolidated Power Projects Australia or CPP will complete the electrical works, including installation of the underground high voltage cables on the wind farm and across to BJCE’s existing substation at Gullen Range Wind Farm. They will also extend the existing substation so that the electricity from Biala Wind Farm can be passed on to the electricity grid. CPP has completed the electrical works on 35 wind farm projects and 19 wind farm substations. We are confident they will do an excellent job.

CATCON will complete the civil works on the wind farm site. This includes upgrading site junctions on Grabben Gullen road, new unsealed tracks to each of the wind turbines and a concrete foundation for each wind turbine.

The wind turbines will be supplied and maintained by Goldwind, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer in 2018. Goldwind turbines are also installed at our Gullen Range Wind Farm. Goldwind is headquartered in Beijing and the Australian arm has grown rapidly, employing 212 people nationally. Goldwind Australia employ fourteen locally based maintenance technicians at Gullen Range Wind Farm and when Biala Wind Farm construction is complete, this crew will be expanded to maintain the Biala wind turbines.

If you are a sub-contractor who is interested in taking part in the project, you can register your details on our website. We will pass your details on to our primary contractors (www.bialawindfarm.com).

Construction of Biala Wind Farm will take approximately 18-months to complete. It is expected the wind farm will commence exporting energy to the national grid in July 2020 and will be completed in November 2020.

Source: BJCE

 

Interconnector gets major project status

27 June

In another significant step towards the proposed SA-NSW interconnector, the Marshall Liberal Government has granted the nation-building infrastructure Major Project Status.

Major Project Status recognises the economic significance of the interconnector to South Australia and delivers a rigorous whole of government assessment process.

The $1.5 billion SA-NSW interconnector will deliver cheaper electricity to consumers in both states whilst improving reliability across the network.

Modelling released today shows that small and medium businesses with significant electricity consumption will save many thousands of dollars each year when the interconnector is energised.

“Significantly reduced electricity bills for small businesses will be good for jobs, investment and the local economy,” said Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“The SA-NSW interconnector also delivers an average $66 savings for households and will deliver a raft of renewable energy projects and hundreds of local jobs along its proposed route.”

Steve Masters, ElectraNet chief executive, also welcomed the awarding of Major Project Status to the SA-NSW interconnector.

“Receiving Major Development status highlights the significance of the proposed electricity interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales, which will reduce power prices, improve energy security and support the transition to a lower carbon economy,” said Mr Masters.

“This announcement is an important milestone for this project, which will be the first interconnector built between any Australian states in 15 years.

“ElectraNet welcomes the State Government’s decision as this will ensure a single, integrated and streamlined assessment of the development by all relevant authorities, agencies and stakeholders.

“We will continue with our comprehensive stakeholder engagement and preparing for regulatory approvals with the support of the South Australian Government, in conjunction with our New South Wales project partner, TransGrid.”

“South Australia currently only has interconnection with Victoria which puts us at the end of the line and vulnerable to the type system risks that saw the entire state blacked out in 2016,” said Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

“This new additional interconnector will bring South Australia into the loop with the rest of the national energy market, bringing cheaper power, greater reliability and increased export opportunities for our renewable energy.”

Source: SA Government

 

Transmission investments set to unlock new capabilities in Victoria's energy systems

28 June

AEMO has today released the 2019 Victorian Annual Planning Report (VAPR) which assesses the adequacy of the Declared Shared Network (DSN) to meet reliability and security needs over the next 10 years.

The report finds that Victoria's energy landscape is continuing to undergo unprecedented change, with strong investor interest in western parts of the state and rapidly increasing uptake of non-synchronous generation changing the technical characteristics of the system.

“The growth of renewable resources in western Victoria means that the geographic diversity of generation resources is now shifting away from the Latrobe Valley into parts of the state where the network is less developed and able to cope with the new forms of generation” said Chief System Design & Engineering Officer, Dr Alex Wonhas.

“AEMO is working closely with the Victorian State Government and industry to progress significant network investment projects, including the Western Victoria Renewable Integration Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T), which will help improve supply availability, manage voltage control challenges, and unlock the high-quality renewable energy zones detailed in our 2018 Integrated System Plan,” said Dr Wonhas.

These network investment projects also include the transmission upgrade recommendations in our Victorian Reactive Power Support RIT-T Project Assessment Draft Report (PADR), which will improve AEMO’s ability to manage voltage control challenges and deliver net benefits to our energy markets.

The VAPR concludes that under normal operating conditions, Victoria’s transmission network remained secure in 2018-19, however, record-breaking high temperatures coupled with a tightening supply-demand balance, contributed to periods of supply shortfall. 

“Data from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology shows that this January was the hottest month ever recorded in Australian history. The operational challenges these extreme weather conditions produce support our need to optimise Victoria’s transmission and infrastructure systems, which will ultimately help deliver energy supply where and when it’s needed most,” said Dr Wonhas. 

The VAPR notes that weather patterns were not the only record-breaker for the 2018-19 year, with Distributed Energy Resources (DER), such as rooftop solar and home batteries, contributing to new record periods of minimum demand. 

“For the first time in Victoria’s history, minimum demand occurred in the early afternoon rather than overnight. This supports AEMO’s analysis that residential rooftop solar will continue to be a major energy resource in Australia’s National Electricity Market, forever changing the demand patterns,” said Dr Wonhas. 

To view the full VAPR or PADR report, please visit the AEMO website.

Source: AEMO

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