Saturday 29 December 2012

China to Promote Solar-Power Consolidation
19 Dec 2012

China opened the door to consolidation and bankruptcies among its troubled solar-products companies, steps that could help trim overcapacity in a global industry that has suffered losses and liquidations and has sparked a global trade spat.

In a statement late Wednesday, the State Council, China's cabinet, said it would reform the industry, such as by encouraging mergers and acquisitions. The cabinet will reduce government support and ban local governments from supporting failing domestic solar companies, it said.

The State Council also said it would make good use of a "bankruptcy mechanism", suggesting that China would make it easier for companies to declare bankruptcy--a rarity in the solar industry, as well as in China as a whole.

The statement didn't offer details, and it wasn't clear whether Chinese officials would follow it up with specific policies that could lead to shutdowns of Chinese companies and factories. Any such efforts would face considerable opposition from city, county and provincial governments that rely on the companies for tax revenue, employment and economic growth.

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Emissions sink as consumers turn off coal
20 Dec 2012

Weak demand for electricity across eastern mainland states has sparked a "dramatic fall" in greenhouse gas emissions from Australia's power stations, the latest review of data by consultants Pitt and Sherry has found. While demand for base-load electricity from black coal-fired power stations has been in retreat for about three years, the decline has extended in recent months to two of Victoria's emissions-intensive brown coal-fired plants, Hazelwood and Yallourn.

Changes in demand of electricity on this scale are unprecedented in the entire 120 year history of the electricity supply industry in Australia Hazelwood, one of the country's oldest and dirtiest power plants, was operating at only 67% capacity in November, down from the mid-80% range in May and June, Hugh Saddler, principal consultant in the climate change business unit of Pitt and Sherry, said.

The data, analysed from half-hourly reports to the Australian Energy Market Operator, also show Yallourn was operating at just 56% last month even after it announced it was mothballing one of its four units. That ratio is down from 90% capacity use in December last year, Dr Saddler said.

In NSW, power stations were operating in the 60-70% capacity range, with Eraring down to 44% and Bayswater 64% last month. The slide in coal-fired power generation means "it should really be quite easy" for the government to meet its goal of cutting Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2020 from 2000 levels, he said.

Total emissions from energy use for the year ended September 30 were 2 million tonnes of CO₂ lower than in the year ended July 2012. In November alone, CO₂ emissions from energy dropped another 600,000 tonnes based on a rolling 12 month data series.

Pitt and Sherry analysis shows demand for electricity fell 2.5% in year to November, compared with a year earlier, led by a decline of more than 5% for NSW. South Australia and Tasmania posted falls of about 3%, with Queensland and Victoria registering small retreats in demand. Higher electricity prices appear to be an important prompt to the demand drop.

"The price is a signal to consumers to use less electricity", Dr Saddler said. "There's also been a dramatic increase in residential use of small-scale reverse cycle air-conditioners, which have become very much more efficient in recent years".

Using electricity demand in 2008-09 as the base, annual demand to the end of November 2012 has seen an 11% fall in Victoria, 8% in NSW, with smaller drops in other states. "Changes in demand of electricity on this scale are unprecedented in the entire 120 year history of the electricity supply industry in Australia", the Pitt and Sherry report said.

The rapid spread of solar photovoltaic panels is also beginning to erode demand, although the full impact may not be felt until more companies rather than homes install the technology, he said. Commercial power demand typically matches solar PV output more closely than residential use.

Solar boost Meanwhile, one of Australia's biggest PV installers, Mark Group, has begun offering additional solar payments to foster demand even as state governments roll back feed-in tariffs.

Earlier this year, Victoria cut its feed-in tariff from 25¢ per kW-hour to 8¢. Mark Group, along with retailer Diamond Energy, has lifted that rate to 33¢, with plans to roll out similar programs in NSW, Queensland and South Australia next year.

A surge in Chinese PV production has seen the cost of panels drop from $1.80 to 65¢ per kW capacity in the past two years. "We're not that far from operating without subsidies", Rob Grant, chief executive of Mark Group's Australian operations, said. "The biggest uptake is going to commercial".

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Australia takes a shine to solar energy research
13 Dec 2012

The Gillard government will step up its investment in joint solar power research with the US, using additional funds from its new $2.2 billion renewable energy agency.

Martin Ferguson, Minister for Resources and Energy, will today announce more than $83 million for research as part of the United States-Australia Solar Energy Collaboration (USASEC) launched in 2010. The funding taps into money not yet spent from the $50 million Australian contribution to USASEC, managed by Newcastle-based Australian Solar Institute (ASI).

In addition, the new Australian Renewable Energy Agency will contribute about $38 million in funds to the research. The agency will absorb the ASI at the start of 2013. "These projects will leverage an investment of $140 million from industry, resulting in more than $220 million for solar research and involving over 40 organisations across Australia and the US", Mr Ferguson said in a statement. Most of the combined funding will be spent on two research endeavours.

About $33 million will go to the US-Australia Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics to develop the next generation of PV technologies and spur increases in performance and lower costs. The University of New South Wales will lead the research, supported by other universities in Australia and the US, and commercial partners including Blue-Scope Steel and Suntech Power R&D Australia.

The other major research focus, the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), will receive $35 million aimed at making Australia a global leader in so-called Concentrating Solar Power technologies. The effort will be led by the CSIRO and mostly involve Australian and US universities, and Sandia National Laboratories Corp. An additional $15.5 million will be allocated to collaborative research projects under the Open Funding Round of the USASEC, the statement said.

Projects range from developing an Australian Solar Energy Forecasting System-a venture the CSIRO had sought funding for-that will improve the integration of solar power generation, to a solar device that simplifies incorporation of solar power into hybrid fossil fuel applications.

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New wave of wind energy
13 Dec 2012

The temporary 1:8 scale wind turbine test site was installed Nov. 29 and will be in place for up to three months. Following a successful test, UMaine's patent-pending VolturnUS test prototype will be placed off the coast of Maine in two locations in 2013.

Components of the floating turbine are being manufactured at the UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, and will be shipped to Cianbro's facility in Brewer, where the unit will be assembled including hull, tower, turbine and blades, and placed in the Penobscot River in a vertical position. The floating turbine unit will be towed down the river and moored at sea for testing to evaluate the technology and environmental impacts, and to collect data to validate design tools.

Once in the Gulf of Maine, the turbine will be the first grid-connected offshore turbine in the United States, marking a critical milestone for the development of floating turbine technology. The demo project is designed to de-risk the technology and pave the way for private investment in a commercial scale-park by 2018-20, according to Habib Dagher, director of UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center. The technology was tested in a wave-wind basin at the 1:50 scale in 2011.

Following a successful offshore test next year, a small 12 MW demonstration project consisting of two, 6 MW turbines is proposed for construction in 2015-17. A commercial-scale park, expected to be in the 500 MW range, will have more than 80 turbines in a space of 4 miles by 8 miles, and will be positioned more than 20 miles off shore, beyond the horizon. "We're here at the beginning of an exciting era that could create a whole new industry in our state, and reduce our reliance on imported fuels", says Dagher.

UMaine President Paul Ferguson notes that the work of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center features a remarkable blend of student and faculty researchers, as well as public and private partners who characterize the University of Maine as a leading 21st-century research university. "The center is poised to lead the transformation in deepwater offshore wind research", Ferguson says.

The deepwater offshore wind research is a key transformative technology that the U.S, needs in order to compete globally, says Sen. Susan Collins, who has been instrumental in helping secure critical federal seed funding to advance the project's R&D efforts.

"Maine has been at the forefront of deepwater floating turbine technology, and I am confident Maine will be at the forefront of making deepwater offshore wind a hallmark of U.S, innovation", Collins says. "The Advanced Structures and Composites Center is developing cutting-edge research, providing an outstanding education for the next generation of engineers, and, best of all, spurring economic growth for our state and new jobs for our people".

UMaine formed the DeepCwind Consortium with more than 30 commercial partners in Maine and beyond who are collectively working on prototype floating wind turbines. The Maine Ocean Energy Task Force has set a goal of producing 5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. Building this 5 gigawatt network of floating offshore farms could attract nearly $20 billion of private investment to Maine and potentially create thousands of jobs, according to Dagher.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Carnegie wins EPA green light
11 Dec 2012

Fremantle-based Carnegie Corporation Energy has won the race for Australia's first environmental approval of a wave energy project, but yesterday's green light from WA's watchdog has swung the spotlight on streamlined approvals for the renewable energy sector.

The Environmental Protection Authority announced that it had approved Carnegie Corporation's $31 million, 2 MW wave energy development for the Royal Australian Navy off Garden Island, without a full public review (PER). Carnegie Corporation is backed by prominent Perth investors, including John Poynton, Tim Roberts, Dale Alcock and Tim Holmes.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel told WestBusiness any perceptions that renewable energy projects were given favourable approval treatment was misplaced, and Carnegie Corporation's plan could be managed within existing maritime planning regulations. He also said the wave-power pioneer had done a mountain of work to reassure the EPA that there would be no damage to the environment.

"Each project is assessed on a case-by-case basis on their merits", he said. "Their environmental plan needed a bit of tweaking (such as how marine trenching might be rehabilitated),,, but they did a good job of front-end loading the process and addressing all of the issues".

However, Dr Vogel said the EPA was aware of growing angst in the community about wind farm developments, as in Victoria, and it would be issuing a bulletin next year to clarify its thinking on the issue. Dr Vogel said that while it had approved wind farms in the past without full PER's, as for other renewable energy projects, they still had to meet rigorous standards.*

Sustainable Energy Association adviser Ray Wills said renewable projects should have the same, not more, rigour applied to them as other projects and said industrial developments on the Kwinana strip were not assessed for low frequency sound impacts, as for wind proposals.

Carnegie Corporation chief executive Michael Ottaviano said the company's submerged power buoys had no visual impact, an environmental footprint no different to other buoys and its project had attracted marine life to the area. Its shares closed unchanged at $0.042

*In fact there is no "growing angst" regarding windfarm developments in Victoria, there is a small group of people attempting to portray that sentiment however and it is being exploited by the Victorian government.

Feds fund four projects to simplify solar gear designs and predict power output
7 Dec 2012

The US Department of Energy said Friday it will give $29 million to four projects for reducing the costs of installing solar panels and helping utilities figure out how to manage the growing amount of solar electricity that flows into their grids.

The funding is part of an initiative called SunShot, which was launched in early 2011 to make solar electricity cheap to produce and therefore competitive against energy from coal or natural gas power plants. The goal is to cut the production costs of large-scale solar projects to $1 per watt--or about $0.06 per kW-hour-by 2020.

The department plans to dole out up to $21 million over five years to two projects that will create "plug-and-play" solar power producing equipment. The idea is to make it simpler and cheaper for homeowners to buy, install and bring online a system of solar panels, electronic equipment and wires that connect solar panels to the grid-all in one day.

The North Carolina State University ($9.1 million) will work on standardising the designs of the components and the overall solar power system for a home's rooftop. A research center in Cambridge, Mass., called Fraunhofer's Center for Sustainable Energy Systems ($11.7 million) will work on designing cabling that will make it easier for connecting the solar panels to a smart meter and the grid. Fraunhofer also will design a system to allow the solar power equipment to check itself for proper installation and to send its power generation data to the local utility.

The energy department will provide up to $8 million to two projects that will create better tools for predicting the amount, timing and location of electricity generation from solar power plants. Currently there are ways for solar power plant owners to crunch numbers to project how much electricity their power plants might generate year after year. But some of the methods aren't sophisticated or they aren't proven, particularly since the U.S, doesn't have many solar power plants that have been operating for decades.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research ($4.2 million) in Boulder, Colo., will research the impact of clouds on solar power generation and design short-term forecasting techniques. The IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center ($3.8 million) in Armonk, N.Y., will use a supercomputer to analyze various forecasting methods and figure out the best ways to predict solar power production.

Being able to forecast solar power production is crucial for maintaining the health of an electric grid. The amount of solar electricity flowing from a power plant can fluctuate, sometimes significantly, depending on the weather and other conditions. At the same time, an electric grid runs smoothly only when there is a balance of supply and demand. Making sure that a surge of solar electricity into the grid-or a big drop off of it-will not disrupt the grid and cause a blackout is a big worry for utilities and electric grid operators.

There are several ways to ensure the grid runs well. Utilities could use a type of natural gas power plants that can turn on and produce power quickly to make up for any shortfall. Using batteries or other equipment to store solar electricity and drawing on the power when needed is another way. The need to engineer energy storage equipment that could work well with solar or wind power plants has prompted many private and public investments in battery and other storage technologies.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

NextEra buys 165MW Kansas wind project
4 Dec 2012

US utility NextEra Energy Resources has completed purchase of a 165MW wind project from CPV Renewable Energy, for an undisclosed price. The Cimarron I development is located in south-west Kansas and is expected to be operational by the end of this year. Once complete, it will consist of 72 turbines supplied by German technology giant Siemens.

Power produced at the site will be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority under terms of a 20 year deal, with a subsidiary of NRG Energy will own and operate the plant. Armando Pimentel, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, said, 'The addition of the Cimarron Wind Energy Center is consistent with our strategy to add fully-contracted clean energy projects to our portfolio.

'In addition to generating clean, emission-free energy, this project will have a positive impact on the local economy for years to come. With continued public policy support for wind power generation, we look forward to bringing the economic and environmental benefits of wind power to other communities across the nation.'

Sean Finnerty, senior vice president of renewable development at CPV, added, 'CPV is extremely pleased to have worked with NextEra Energy Resources on this transaction; a company that is leading the way increasing the amount of clean, renewable resources available to power our electricity-intensive lives.

'With excellent wind resources, an ideal location, a 20 year contract with a blue-chip off-taker, and dedicated firm transmission, Cimarron Wind Energy Center is a prime example of the type of clean energy project CPV is proud to develop.'

Wind Power - A solution to the energy crises
2 Dec 2012

(Sri Lanka) The President while presenting the 2013 budget offered a basket of incentives for the renewable energy sector to attract both local and foreign investors to embark on this much neglected renewable energy sector that has not received the desired attention in its development drive for the last six decades.

He emphatically noted that promoting renewable energy is a key necessity to slash the heavy crude bill and the resultant foreign exchange savings would have a positive cushioning effect on the trade deficit. Hence, the granting of tax concessions through exemption of import taxes for solar, wind and bio mass power systems and other renewable energy equipment which could not be manufactured in the country backed by the slashing of corporate tax rates to concessionary 12% is viewed as a noteworthy incentive given for the development of wind farm projects in the right direction.

In this context it is heartening to note that a team of new investors who have had hands on experience in the construction of mega wind power plants in Europe are expected to meet government authorities this week, even before the dust of the second reading of the budget debate settles down in response to the budget proposals. These three experts-Micheal Huntings Ford, Peter Crone and Jens Dickmann who have been reportedly instrumental in setting up the world's largest off shore wind farms in Array and Bristol, UK, where there are generating 1,000 MW and 1.500 MW to the national grid of UK-, are expected to have a series of discussions with the Sri Lankan Government.

Undoubtedly, it is a herculean task for the government to convince them on the commercial viability of the off shore wind farm projects in Sri Lanka in the light of the tax concessions and other forms of incentives declared in the 2013 budget and secure their technical and financial support, as Sri Lanka is woefully lacking expertise and technology in this wind farm energy sector.

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Thursday 6 December 2012

Texas wind power sets a record, but continues to take it up a notch
30 Nov 2012

As reported in Renew Economy on Nov. 30, 2012, that a new wind power record was set by the state of Texas. The percentage of wind power utilized among the entire state grid has achieved a 26% of total supply of wind power generated for Texas.

In west Texas, wind farms generated 7,000 MW of power, and the wind turbines of the Gulf of Mexico generated around 1,000 MW. There was a total of 8,521 MW generated by wind power in early November. It was a slight rise from the previous record of which it only has risen by 150 MWs. The amount of electricity generated was enough to bring electricity to 4.3 million homes in Texas.

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, this represented 85% of the state's optimal wind power output.

We have surpassed previous wind power records several times this year," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT vice president of Grid Operations and System Planning. "While added capacity is one reason for this growth, experience and improved tools are enabling ERCOT to integrate this resource into the grid more effectively than ever before.

Texas is now considered to be the state with the most installed wind capacity in the US Consisting of 10,929 MW. There is currently a focus on wind power resources in west Texas to be channeled to the eastern high population areas where activity and energy demand is at its highest.

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Chalmers researchers develop synthetic molecules to store solar energy
29 Nov 2012

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and University of California, Berkeley have developed a system which can store solar power in chemical bonds. The system is based on a synthetic molecule that is changed by sunlight. The molecule can be transported and stored for several years and then used to generate heat on demand.

​Many researchers believe that using the sun as the energy source offers the best opportunities for developing a sustainable energy system. One challenge in this area is to find efficient storage methods for saving the captured energy and transporting it to other locations.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have made progress in developing an "all-in-one" system for the capture, storage and use of solar power. The method is known as the thermochemical process. It attracted a lot of interest during the 1980s, but researchers at the time were unable to resolve the issue. Two years ago, a group of American researchers demonstrated that the method is theoretically possible. Chalmers researchers Kasper Moth-Poulsen and Karl Boerjesson, working with researchers from University of California, Berkeley in California, have now progressed from theory to practical devices.

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Wednesday 5 December 2012

Fanning fear: the wind farm nocebo effect
28 Nov 2012

Most wind farms around the world have no history of complaints, but the few that do have seen the local area targeted by external activists who spread panic. Simon Chapman reflects on the nonsense claims of anti-wind farm activists.

Later today, the Senate will release the report of a committee into a Private Senators' Bill examining the proposal that wind turbines should not be accredited if the sound emitted exceeds 10 decibels of the background noise at any time, measured within 22 metres of a house.

The Bill was proposed by Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan and independent Senator Nick Xenophon. Both have form in expressing opposition to wind farms. Like Don Quixote who tilted at windmills, Madigan previously claimed (PDF) he was fighting a "sinister" and "dangerous" industry and Xenophon believes turbines affect brain activity.

No one following the latest historical example of what is quite plainly technophobic Luddism has any doubt that the tabling will see a minority report that the proposed standard be adopted. The bill will be defeated on party lines, with the Greens supporting the Government. But it has provided a conduit for a Niagara of mostly boilerplate protest material from the tiny but highly organised opponent groups.

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Todays's expected report will contain the equivalent nonsense about wind farms. It will make interesting reading 10 years from now.

Simon Chapman is professor of public health at the Sydney University. He tweets @simonchapman6.

Senate Environment and Communciations Legislation Committee – Report
Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment (Excessive Noise from Wind Farms) Bill 2012

Friday 30 November 2012

Renewable energy sector grows but barriers remain
26 Nov 2012

The Climate Commission's report on the state of the sustainable energy market, titled "The Critical Decade: Generating a renewable Australia (PDF)", was released as world leaders gathered for global climate talks in Doha this week. "Australia has world-class solar and wind power resources in many parts of the country", said the report, adding that investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power infrastructure could help create jobs, reduce air pollution and save consumers money. "Solar PV and wind could be the cheapest forms of power in Australia for retail users by 2030, if not earlier, as carbon prices rise", the report said.

While China has the most installed renewable energy infrastructure and is the sector's biggest investor, "South Australia's wind power per capita is higher than any major country in the world and wind is now contributing approximately 26% of the state's total electricity production", the report said. Report author and Climate Commissioner , the University of New South Wales' Professor Veena Sahajwalla, said that global investment in renewable energy reached almost $250 billion in 2011.

"A renewable energy future is inevitable we are headed in that direction worldwide", she said. "With these renewable technologies, they are only going to cheaper and cheaper". However, Mark Diesendorf, deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales, said the report failed to discuss the barriers to renewable energy sector growth in Australia, which include fossil fuel subsidies to the tune of over $10 billion a year. "obviously they are trying to put a rosy glow on the situation to avoid criticising federal and state governments", he said.

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Hot rocks cool for geothermal industry
27 Nov 2012

On paper, the potential for geothermal energy in Australia is staggering. Government data suggests that using just 1% of our hot rocks to generate power could meet Australia's energy needs for 26,000 years. But for now it seems the hot rock industry has gone cold. In August, one of Australia's largest geothermal supporters, Origin Energy wrote off its investments in GeoDynamics' Cooper Basin wells, one of Australia's only active geothermal projects. "They lost patience with geothermal", says Graeme Beardsmore from geothermal consultancy Hot Rocks. They haven't seen the returns that they anticipated ten years ago when they got involved. It's a similar story with EnergyAustralia".

In March, TRUEnergy, which recently merged with EnergyAustralia, also gave up its stake in another major geothermal project, the Paralena joint venture in South Australia. Mr Beardsmore says the decisions of both companies have a flow-on effect for all investment in the industry. "Other investors with money look at the project and say 'that project hasn't returned anything in ten years, so why should we believe that we are going to get our money back any time sooner?' "It becomes a difficult business model to raise investment on and that's the case the world-over for geothermal projects. "So the industry is at a crossroads".

Off the back of this difficult investment environment, the Federal Government downgraded the geothermal sector in its Energy White Paper, released earlier this month. Just a year ago it was predicted that geothermal would provide 23% of Australia's total electricity needs by 2050. That figure has now been revised to just nine%. "That probably was always much more realistic", says Mr Beardsmore. "It's certainly not insignificant, but it's not been a good year for the geothermal industry. "But I'm still optimistic-next year's looking much rosier. "I think we should actually have the first power generated from geothermal outside Birdsville".

The geothermal plant currently supplying power to Birdsville in Queensland was the last project to be built in Australia, over 20 years ago. Now, industry talk points to the Cooper Basin as the likely home to Australia's second geothermal power plant. Despite the loss of primary investor Origin Energy, GeoDynamics is expecting to have a new, trial one-MW-plant operational about 11 km from Innamincka by mid-2013. According to Geoff Ward, managing director at GeoDynamics, that's one geothermal project that isn't short of cash.

"We closed out our remaining insurance claims from events in 2009 when we had a well incident, and recieved that payment" he said., "We've also sold two large drill rigs,.. and are well supported by the Australia Renewable Energy Agency, and Sentient and Sunsuper groups. "But we've been exploring for hot rocks in the Cooper Basin for over 11 years now. "We've just completed our sixth deep, hot well, 'Habanero 4', in September, and we're now undertaking a major simulation to test it".

GeoDynamics are also advancing plans to provide geothermal energy to large customers like the Gove alumina refinery in the Northern Territory.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Solar and wind the cheapest sources of energy and could power Australia, the Climate Commission says
25 Nov 2012

SOLAR and wind could become the cheapest sources of energy and almost exclusively power the country in coming decades as carbon prices climb, the Climate Commission says. A report, to be released today by chief commissioner Professor Tim Flannery, notes the vast potential from sunlight and wind and "solar PV and wind could be the cheapest forms of power in Australia for retail users by 2030, if not earlier, as carbon prices rise".

Prof Flannery said improvements had driven down the cost of renewable energy so much that Australia's uptake had increased more than a decade faster than earlier imagined. He said people might find it hard to believe communities could one day be powered almost entirely by renewable energy, but people would never have believed they would one day carry around little computers in their pockets.

"It's like anything, computers or mobile phones, they started off expensive and over time the cost just declines and we've seen that with wind and now with solar,'' he said. But the report The Critical Decade: Generating a Renewable Australia (PDF) has no detail around how renewable energy and fossil fuel prices might compare in the future. Prof Flannery said technology moved so quickly, it was impossible to form concrete predictions. Renewables currently make up 10% of Australia's energy mix and the report says growth was subject to innovation, community acceptance and regulation.

Wind farm study aims for quiet achievement
28 Nov 2012

Researchers are hoping a wind turbine experiment will give them greater insight into the noise problems some people complain about. An University of Adelaide team says it is investigating precisely how the turbines produce noise, especially in the low-frequency range. They hope they can produce findings which will improve wind farm design and noise control efforts. Associate Professor Con Doolan said many questions remained about noise sources, particularly in the low frequencies.

"We have a fair amount of knowledge around the noise generation mechanisms but, particularly in the low-frequency ranges, we don't know a lot about how they combine together", he said. "This project is aimed at getting to the bottom of what is creating the noise that can cause disturbance". The team will build a small wind turbine in the University's wind tunnel in Adelaide and use advanced techniques to measure aerodynamics and acoustic factors.

"If we can understand what's creating these sounds then we can advise governments about wind farm regulation and policy and make recommendations about the design of wind farms or the turbine blades to industry", Professor Doolan said.

Sunny start for energy co-op
18 Nov 2012

New Zealand could be about to gain a new co-operative company in the form of Energyshare, which aims to make the installation of solar power arrays more financially attractive. Chris Olson unveiled Energyshare at the Greenstage Gathering in Auckland yesterday.

Greenstage is an electric vehicle developer. The gathering showcased an array of electric vehicles, including the Tesla Roadster and the GS750V-Greenstage's own lithium iron phosphate-powered electric supercar, as well as a number of other electric conversions based on open-source control platform software called Tumanako. Energyshare is designed to kickstart solar power use in New Zealand.

Olson said NZ was lagging behind Australia, where the one millionth solar array is expected to be installed in the first half of 2013, though admittedly it is sunnier there. One of the biggest barriers to solar adoption is the lack of feed-in tariffs, payments made to small generators for supplying the grid with surplus electricity. In other countries, that's enough to make the difference and encourage solar investment. Energyshare is trying to tackle that problem by reducing the cost of deploying photovoltaic cells.

Olson, whose background is in electricity trading, engineering and business analysis, both here and in the UK, describes Energyshare as an "ethical co-operative" company created to produce and deliver renewable electricity and other energy-related products and services to its members.

While a prospectus, investor statement and other documents are still being prepared, Olson said, the plan is that members will own shares in the business and have a say in how it operates, and the services and products it delivers. Energyshare will purchase, install and own and operate renewable electricity generation systems located at the point of use, so that members can use photovoltaic electricity at a lower cost than buying energy off the grid. Members also get a share of any future profits.

Installation will cost members nothing, but they will pay Energyshare, at below retail rates, for solar electricity consumed. It is planned that further down the track Energyshare will also provide members with retail energy from the electricity market to supplement their solar electricity. The cost of the solar equipment is paid for by Energyshare co-operative investors, who receive a fixed return on their money. Energyshare members can also be Energyshare investors as well.

Olson said, all going to plan, the first arrays should be being installed around February next year. But there are broader benefits from distributed solar power generation. The need for transmission lines is reduced, as is exposure to fossil fuel costs, and resilience of electricity supply will be boosted, Olson said.

Profits will be distributed to the members in proportion to the value of all purchases they make with the co-operative to ensure those who support the operations of the co-operative will be rewarded. Owners of buildings on which the solar equipment is installed will be asked to sign an agreement outlining the commitments regarding "hosting" this equipment long-term. Olson said with electricity prices rising faster than the rate of inflation, the financial benefits of membership are expected to increase over time.

Tilting towards wind energy
21 Nov 2012

AUSTRALIANS overwhelmingly want more renewable energy over the next five years and half of them want the brands they regularly buy to declare the source of the energy that went into making them. That's two of the findings in a study across 20 countries commissioned by Vestas Wind Systems, the world's biggest maker of wind turbines, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Almost three-quarters of the 1000 Australians polled prefer to have their energy supplied by renewable sources, and just 5.6% for fossil fuels-almost the reverse of the country's actual energy mix. But while the study had the support of Vestas Wind Systems, its findings also reveal Australians are less enthusiastic about wind as the renewable energy source of choice.

Almost 1 in 6 Australians, for instance, were opposed to having wind turbines ''within visible proximity of their lives'', compared with a 1-in-20 ratio globally. Those strongly in favour came in at 13.7% locally versus almost a quarter internationally. Despite the concerns, wind turbines are expected to continue to expand rapidly because of their relatively cheap cost of power generation. From about 2500 MWs of installed capacity now, the industry is likely to erect turbines with a total capacity of 1000 MWs each year for the rest of the decade, said Ken McAlpine, director of Vestas Wind Systems' policy and government relations.

Several challenges, though, remain. For starters, the government is under pressure from fossil fuel-fired generators to tinker with the renewable energy target, putting at risk $17 billion in potential investment. And New South Wales may follow Victoria in restricting wind turbines to within 2 km of a house without the consent of the owner. ''There's been a lot of interest from developers of projects in NSW, despite the anti-wind movement there,'' Mr McAlpine said. ''We have a lot of faith that the government will take a balanced approach.''

Morten Albaek, Vestas Wind Systems' group senior vice-president, in Australia to launch the Energy Transparency campaign on Wednesday, said the media magnified opposition to wind turbines. Vestas Wind Systems recently helped fund the launch of WindMade, a consumer label identifying products produced using wind power-a concept the company is in talks to introduce in Australia in the March quarter next year.

Participating companies must obtain at least 25% of their electricity from wind sources, a level that many firms-particularly those in South Australia with its soaring wind power supplies-will be eligible to apply for, Mr Albaek said. The corporate shift will be voluntary because large firms ''want to set themselves up to a commercial reality where it comes close to impossible to sell a 'black' product,'' Mr Albaek said. With the completion of two big wind farms in Victoria and Tasmania, Vestas Wind Systems will control about 60% of the wind turbines in the country.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Call for noise-based wind buffer laws
20 Nov 2012

LANDHOLDERS supporting a proposed wind farm south of Kingaroy have called on the State Government to introduce buffer zone legislation based on the noise impacts in the specific region rather than a blanket exclusion area. The State Government will finalise the approval process for wind farm development early next year as part of its six-month action plan, released in July.

The Department of Energy and Water Supply is examining a range of matters associated with wind farm developments, including those relating to noise and health. Earlier this year, the Department of Energy and Water Supply released a discussion paper for public consultation on technical issues relevant to wind farm development in Queensland.

While the issue of buffer zones has been raised in the discussion paper responses, landholders hosting the proposed AGL Energy's Coopers Gap wind farm project have held recent meetings with several Queensland Cabinet ministers to call for a buffer zone framework based on noise impacts. Among the host landholders is Ian Schafferius, whose 1000 hectare combined horse stud and Wagyu commercial properties will see nine turbines constructed if the AGL Energy project goes ahead.

The 10 host landholders were reluctant to speak up about the positives of the project, fearing most in the region were against the development after an initial outspoken criticism across the small rural community. However, since forming the Coopers Gap Wind Power Supporters six months ago, more than 420 people have joined the group.

Mr Schafferius said the group was formed to publicly address some of the "rumours and untruths being peddled by opponents". He said he strongly believed the majority of the region supported the development of the AGL Energy wind farm. "It's clean and it's green and it is better than a big open cut coal mine", he said. "I think people can see it will bring a lot of benefits to the region".

Debate over wind farms continues to rage across Australia amid concerns over property devaluation, potential health impacts, "shadow flicker'' and "blade glint''. Anti-wind farm advocates claim infrasound sound emissions from wind turbines in frequencies below human hearing range can harm the health of nearby residents.

Despite the concerns, the National Health and Medical Research Council has stated that while a range of effects such as annoyance, anxiety, hearing loss, and interference with sleep, speech and learning have been reported anecdotally "there is no published scientific evidence to support adverse effects of wind turbines on health".

Furthermore, wind power looks set to become a major agenda item in the push for alternative power sources with the Federal Government amending the Renewable Energy Target (RET), which has bipartisan support in Canberra, to provide 20% of Australia's electricity generation from renewable energy sources by 2020. While opposing the Federal Government plan, the NSW government has also pledged in September to triple the amount of energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels over the next eight years.

According to a CSIRO report released this year, community acceptance of wind farms could be increased by developers intentionally adopting a 'social licence to operate' approach, or similar frameworks for transparent and well-structured community engagement. The report found there was evidence that increased community acceptance from such approaches would result in more approvals and installations of wind farms, and would thus increase the possibility of achieving Australia's renewable energy target in a cost-effective way.

Mr Schafferius said he believed AGL Energy had been on the front foot in its interactions with the region. A Community Consultative Committee (CCC) was formed this year which meets monthly to discuss a range of concerns and benefits relating to the project, with academic experts often brought in to answer landholder questions.

He said the host landholders had met with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and representatives for Minister for Energy and Water Mark McArdle in recent weeks to discuss the group's preference for a buffer zone based on noise impacts as opposed to a designated distance, such as the two-km distance between any residence and a wind turbine which is being called for by the South Burnett Regional Council.

"The distance of 2 km is excessive when looking at the scientific data available to us from credible technical experts, which you will no doubt be seeing throughout this process", the landholders wrote in a letter to the State Government earlier this year. "If a buffer zone is put into guidelines, we believe that an allowance should be made for an agreement between the resident owner and the developer to allow the turbines to be built closer. "We feel noise levels should be the overriding criteria pertaining to distance from a residence. "Many factors determine how and where noise carries".

Solar cuts should mark end of Renewable Energy Target review

Clean Energy Council
16 Nov 2012

Today's reduction of solar incentives by the Federal Government removes the need for further changes to the small-scale part of Australia's 20% Renewable Energy Target, according to the clean energy industry. Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh said the cost cuts stemming from the announcement should effectively mark the end of the review of Australia's 20% Renewable Energy Target.

"The changes remove the effect of the multiplier for solar panels and erode all arguments for further changes to the Renewable Energy Target", Mr Marsh said. "The solar industry now urges the Federal Government to wrap up the current review of the scheme to deliver much-needed stability to the sector". Mr Marsh said the solar industry was disappointed with the timing of today's announcement to halve the level of support for solar panels six months earlier than planned, as it followed considerable reductions in support from state governments over recent months.

"This cut further contributes to massive uncertainty and change within the solar industry. Despite the constant changing of incentives for solar, the resilience of the industry-along with the determination of consumers to protect themselves from rising energy bills-has contributed to ongoing cost reductions for solar panels in Australia.

"We would have expected the government to have more regard for the sense of investor uncertainty today's announcement creates, right at the time when both major parties are seeking to demonstrate that Australia is a reliable place in which to invest, with stable and consistent market rules. "Despite this uncertainty, the solar industry continues to outperform all expectations. While it is appropriate that governments continue to review the level of incentives, it's important that this is handled carefully and timed sensibly", Mr Marsh said.

The costs of supporting schemes for solar have been overstated, according to Mr Marsh. "Just last week the Climate Change Authority revealed that the cost of incentives for small-scale solar (through the Renewable Energy Target) were less than 2% of retail electricity bills. This small cost has delivered both solar panels and solar hot water to over a million Australian homes and helped protect them from rising energy bills".

Welcome momentum provided by renewed Kyoto commitment

Clean Energy Council
9 Nov 2012

Australia's decision to sign on to the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol will give the next round of global climate talks in Doha some much-needed momentum, the Clean Energy Council said today. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green said signing on to the next period of the treaty was an important symbolic move and a demonstration of international leadership on an issue where global agreement had been elusive.

"Although slower than most would like, progress towards a binding global treaty is being made, as can be seen from initiatives such as the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol", Mr Green said. "Signing Kyoto 2 will cement Australia's commitment to its bipartisan target of a 5% reduction in emissions below 2000 levels by 2020. This bipartisan support is important and very welcome".

Mr Green said all sides of politics recognised the economic opportunities available through renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that can create jobs and investment while reducing emissions.

"This new commitment supports the efforts of the Australian clean energy industry to export its knowledge, skills and experience to other countries, and play an important role in the Asian Century", he said. "Australia is not acting alone. Our own 20% Renewable Energy Target is in step with the majority of our trading partners, and more than half of the world's countries have introduced targets of their own.

"Our Renewable Energy Target is currently being reviewed by the Climate Change Authority, and it is vital that this target remains largely unchanged in order to unlock billions of dollars in investment potential between now and the end of the decade. "Signing on to Kyoto 2 and linking our carbon price with the European Union's emissions trading scheme sends a strong message to the international community that we are open for investment".

CEC Media Release: Cleaner, smarter energy system a step closer with Energy White Paper

Clean Energy Council
8 Nov 2012

A cleaner, smarter energy system is a step closer following the release of the Federal Government's Energy White Paper today, according to the Clean Energy Council. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green welcomed the paper's recognition of the central role for renewables and energy efficiency in our energy system out to 2050.

"These new industries provide a rich economic opportunity for Australia, helping manufacturers, households and businesses make more efficient use of the energy we all need to use, while creating jobs and investment for regional areas of the country through clean energy projects", he said. Mr Green said the final white paper also had a welcome focus on providing a better deal for consumers by recommending measures such as smart meters and time-of-use pricing.

"This will ultimately benefit vulnerable households and businesses who are suffering from the spiralling costs of energy, provided it is introduced carefully to ensure it does not inadvertently penalise these groups", he said. "Liberalised energy markets would also increase competition and give consumers more power to make smart choices based on better information about their electricity use".

Mr Green said the Energy White Paper rightly highlighted the need for long-term policy stability if major investments are to be made in cleaner energy. "Stability is required to attract major investment under policies such as Australia's 20% Renewable Energy Target. This policy is currently being reviewed by the Climate Change Authority and, if it is to realise its investment potential, it is paramount that it remains largely unchanged", he said.

"We look forward to working with all sections of the electricity industry and governments of all levels to make many of the important reforms outlined in the Energy White Paper a reality".

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Infigen, Suntech scale back plan for solar farm in Australia
16 Nov 2012

Infigen Energy and Suntech Power Co. cut the size of a solar plant proposed for Australia's New South Wales state to about a quarter of the original plan as they vie for federal funds.

The Australian company and China's Suntech Power want to develop a 35 MW solar project after failing in an attempt to get a government grant for a 150 MW plan, Miles George, managing director of Sydney-based Infigen Energy, said in a phone interview yesterday. The solar plant would be located next to Infigen Energy's 140.7 MW Capital wind farm, George said. "It's significantly smaller, but nevertheless a reasonable-scale project by world standards", he said, declining to provide a cost estimate for the plant.

The Infigen Energy and Suntech Power venture was referred to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency by Resources Minister Martin Ferguson in June after losing a bid for funds in the government's Solar Flagships Program. The government agency is in talks with Infigen Energy and Pacific Hydro Pty, about funding projects as the country moves toward a target of getting 20% of its power from renewable energy by 2020.

While the government in June awarded A$129.7 million to AGL Energy Ltd. and FirstSolar Inc. to build a 159 MW solar project in New South Wales, it scrapped a plan to provide A$464 million to an Areva SA venture after the Queensland government pulled funding for the 250 MW project.

Potential Projects
The renewable energy agency, set up last year to help the industry expand, is targeting smaller, "sensible-scale" solar power projects, George said in an e-mail. The government previously set the 150 MW requirement for solar plants seeking grants, said George, whose company has interests in 24 wind farms in Australia and the US

A program in Australian Capital Territory to develop as much as 40 MWs of solar power is a model, the renewable agency's chief executive officer, Ivor Frischknecht, said in a Nov. 12 phone interview "Smaller, not quite as ambitious, very clear in terms of what's intended", he said.

Infigen Energy has slumped 7.4% this year in Sydney trading following a 50% drop in 2011 as low prices of Renewable Energy Certificates discourage investment in new wind farms. Electricity retailers are required to purchase the certificates from developers of wind and solar plants as part of the government's policy to expand the industry.

Certificate Prices
Infigen Energy shares climbed 14% today to 25 ¢, the biggest gain in 13 months, compared with a 0.3% decline in Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index. The government last year revised its renewable energy program after an increase in household solar installations led to a glut of the certificates that pushed down prices.

Infigen Energy expects prices will rise next year, allowing some of the company's 1,300 MWs of potential projects to go ahead, according to George. Infigen Energy's plans include the Bodangora, Capital 2 and Flyers Creek wind farms in Australia. The price of Australia's Renewable Energy Certificates is forecast to rise toward A$50 ($52) by the end of the decade from about A$36 currently, Kobad Bhavnagri, a Sydney-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said yesterday.

U.K. biggest solar plant cleared for construction at airfield
15 Nov 2012

Lark Energy, a unit of the homebuilder Larkfleet Ltd., won planning permission to develop a 32 MW solar park that will become the UK's largest photovoltaic plant.

The company intends to complete the 35 million-pound ($55 million) plant before April, when subsidies are due to be reduced, according to a statement on its website today. It will install 125,000 solar panels on 150 acres between the runways of a former military airfield in Wymeswold, which is between Leicester and Nottingham in central England.

The project covering the equivalent to about 87 soccer fields has more than six times more capacity than any U.K, solar park in operation. Its development is an indication that the cost of solar panels has fallen so much that developers are working on utility-scale plants too big to qualify for the most lucrative subsidies in Britain.

"Lark Energy has played a leading role in demonstrating how large scale renewable energy can be deployed quickly and with the support of the local community", Jonathan Selwyn, managing director of Lark Energy, said in a statement.

While the scale of the facility is big for Britain, it's less than half the size of the largest plants in Germany and Italy, which are the leading markets worldwide for solar power. The U.K, guarantees above market rates for solar power coming from plants smaller than 5 MWs, a cap intended to limit the cost to consumers of power from utility-scale plants.

Biggest Plants
TGC Renewables Ltd., another developer, said in June that it won approval for an 8 MW project in Devon that at the time was the biggest in the UK. Inazin Power Ltd., Hive Energy Ltd, and Good Energy Group Plc (GOOD), a U.K, retailer of clean energy, have announced plans for projects with 25 to 40 MWs this year, though those don't yet have planning permission.

Projects of this size qualify for two tradable green certificates, or ROCs, for each MW of solar power. The certificates currently pay about 39.5 pounds each during 15 years, which add up to one of the lowest solar subsidy rates in Europe. Under government proposals, solar plants will get 1.5 ROCs from April, a cut that's prompting a surge of larger-scale facilities before the changes come into force.

Lark's Wymeswold solar project received planning approval from Charnwood Borough Council on Nov. 8, the company said. The financing will provided by Hazel Capital LLP, a London-based investment manager. "We are delighted to be involved in this large, first-of-its-kind project in the UK", Ben Guest, Hazel Capital's managing partner, said. "We believe that larger industrial sites make great locations for solar projects going forward in the U.K".

Nanosolar Completes 10.63 MW Solar Installation in Valencia Region of Spain
14 Nov 2012

Nanosolar Inc, today announced its largest solar photovoltaic (PV) installation to date, a 10.63 MW project in the town of Alfarrasi, which is located in the Valencia region of Spain. Developed by Smartenergy Invest AG and Advanta Capital Ltd., the new solar field is now the region's largest PV power plant to date. The plant was energized earlier this month and is expected to produce energy to power 4,000 households per year.

"Our installation supports Spain's national renewable energy action plan, which calls for renewable sources to account for at least 20% of the final energy consumption by 2020", said Stephan Hansen, executive vice president of Global Sales for Nanosolar. "The natural conditions in the Valencia region are excellent for photovoltaic and we expect Spain to be among the first countries to provide competitive solar electricity in Europe".

The Alfarrasi installation will be capable of producing 16,500 MWh per year. The total amount of electricity produced by this Nanosolar project represents a savings of more than 5,528 tons of CO₂ emissions each year, and is equivalent to planting approximately 142,000 trees.

"Nanosolar's innovative Utility Panel design made installation of our Alfarrasi system quick and simple", said Jose-Fidel Roig Agut, CEO of VALFORTEC, S.L., the Castellon, Spain-based EPC. "We were able to achieve a very cost-effective installation because of the unique design of Nanosolar's panels, and the ease with which they can be interconnected".

Bringing Clean Energy to Alfarrasi
The town of Alfarrasi is an ideal location for this solar installation, which encompasses over 50,000 panels across 65 acres of former agricultural land. The region features a semi-arid climate with very mild winters and long warm to hot summers. Solar irradiance is above-average with a typical annual temperature of 22.3° C (72.1° F) during the day and an annual irradiation of approximately 1,650 kW/m2.

"As businesses and consumers look for ways to be more reliant on clean, sustainable energy sources, multi-MW solar installations, such as the one in Alfarrasi, become even more important", said Horst Mahmoudi, senior partner at Smartenergy AG. "Nanosolar has been a great technology partner to work with on this project, providing cutting-edge utility panels with superior energy yields that will enable us to deliver the benefits of abundant solar across the Valencia region".

About Nanosolar Nanosolar designs, engineers, and manufactures innovative thin-film solar cells and panels based on printing CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenium) proprietary inks on low-cost aluminum foil. The company's current product, the Nanosolar Utility Panel, enables competitively priced peak power and installed system economics at utility-scale. Nanosolar operates the industry's first roll-to-roll solar cell printing factory at its headquarters in San Jose, Calif., and a panel-assembly factory in Luckenwalde, Germany. For more information, please visit

Lights fade: $700m Mallee solar park misses out on federal funding
13 Nov 2012

PLANS for a $700 million Mallee solar park, described as one of the largest solar power station projects in the world, may be scuttled after the proposal again failed to attract federal funding. Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) yesterday said it would not pursue the EnergyAustralia (formerly TRUEnergy) project despite an available funding increase of half a billion dollars.

The agency said it was forced to make "tough decisions" to increase renewable energy uptake in regional and remote Australia. Member for Mildura Peter Crisp last month said he was "genuinely worried" about EnergyAustralia's bid to establish the Mallee Solar Park south of Mildura, despite the State Government committing $100 million towards the proposal.

Under the banner of TRUEnergy, the Federal Government had twice rejected funding for the project, which Mr Crisp said would have provided "a very substantial investment in Mildura". Mr Crisp yesterday said he hoped the project would have attracted federal funding.

"But we do have another solar power station under way with Silex Systems, as well as a number of other companies who have shown interest", Mr Crisp said. "The solar park was going to be a pretty major investment, but it was always a concern when it missed out on the main funding rounds. "Naturally, I'm disappointed, but the opportunities and credentials of Mildura are so good that I am confident that someone else will come along.

Monday 26 November 2012

Australia to decide on funding solar projects within six months
13 Nov 2012

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which plans to allocate A$2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) in government funds to help the industry, expects to decide within six months whether to invest in two solar projects. The government agency, set up last year, said it's in discussions with Pacific Hydro Pty and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures about funding their proposed solar plant in New South Wales and is talking with Infigen Energy (IFN) and Suntech Power Co. (STP) about another solar project in the state.

While a venture including Areva SA (AREVA) abandoned plans for a A$1 billion solar thermal project in Australia after failing to get funding from the renewable agency, other solar ventures are going ahead as the country moves toward a target of generating 20% of its power from clean energy by 2020. "Why hasn't more solar happened?" Ivor Frischknecht, who started as chief executive officer of the renewable energy agency in August, said in a phone interview yesterday. "Large-scale solar today still needs a subsidy, and various subsidy programs haven't been as successful as everybody would have hoped, but I think we've learned a lot from the past".

FirstSolar Inc. (FSLR) and AGL Energy Ltd. (AGK) in June won A$129.7 million in government funds to build a 159 MW solar project across two sites in New South Wales. Silex Systems Ltd. (SLX) announced last year it would get as much as A$75 million in federal funds for a solar plant in the state of Victoria.

‘Waiting to Happen’
"There are a number of projects out there waiting to happen or proceeding on schedule", he said. Decisions on the solar photovoltaic ventures in Australia's most populous state will be made "as soon as possible", he added. Australia had 1,936 MWs of solar projects using photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into electricity, including just 19 MWs at large-scale plants, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said last month. A large-scale solar project is defined by BNEF as having capacity of more than 1 MW.

By comparison, Germany and Italy installed more than 7,000 MWs each last year, making them the world's two biggest markets for the technology. The Australian renewables agency released its funding strategy yesterday, seeking to encourage clean energy projects in locations where consumption is forecast to increase and fossil fuel-based generation costs are the highest. "We're trying to further the penetration of renewable energy particularly into diesel-powered areas of remote Australia", said Frischknecht, previously investment director of Australian venture capital fund Starfish Ventures.

Solar PV
ARENA's board decided it wouldn't fund the 250 MW Solar Dawn Project proposed by Paris-based Areva and Wind Prospect Group Ltd, partly because the Queensland government withdrew A$75 million of funding, said Frischknecht, who started as the agency's CEO in August. "The relative cost of PV to solar thermal has moved so dramatically, and that was such a large project, it just didn't seem fantastic value for money", Frischknecht said.

The agency also plans to make smaller investments, potentially A$10 million or less, in emerging renewable energy technologies across the country, he said. "There's a lot of activity at the smaller end of town", he said. "We are getting applications on a weekly basis, if not more frequently, and I would be disappointed if we weren't able to announce some of those in the next few months".