It’s time to update you on Energise Gloucester activities. Unfortunately, progress has been slow over the last few months, but things are happening as you will see in the Project Updates below. We are working towards making a number of important decisions before the end of the year with regard to the Solar Farm. This will make for a great start in 2021.
There have been a lot of developments in other aspects of renewable energy. So we have included some news on these for your information.
Yours with energy
South Australia's Rooftop Solar Power
For just over an hour on Sunday, 11 October 2020, 100 per cent of energy demand in South Australia was provided by solar panels alone.
Australian Energy Market Operator, chief executive Audrey Zibelman said, "this is truly a phenomenon in the global energy landscape. Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run by solar power, with consumers' rooftop solar systems contributing 77 per cent."
Large-scale solar farms, like the ones operating at Tailem Bend and Port Augusta, provided the other 23 per cent. Any excess power generated by gas and wind farms on that day was stored in batteries or exported to Victoria via the interconnector.
The Government is forecasting that an additional 36,000 new solar rooftop systems will be installed in South Australia over the next 14 months. This is on top of the 288,000 homes already generating their own electricity and is about 35% of households in the State.
Pumped Hydro Fast-Tracked for NSW
A billion-dollar Oven Mountain pumped hydro project, west of Kempsey, was announced in October. It is part of the New England Renewable Energy Zone, which also includes wind and solar farms in various private and public investments.
The design is for two reservoirs, tunnels and an underground power station. This will enable water from the lower reservoir to be pumped into the upper reservoir using excess power from other renewable energy sources. This hydro project is expected to generate 600MW of hydro-power during periods of peak demand. It is planned that the project will be operational by 2026, following a three-year construction period.
Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said, "we know that our coal-fired power stations are coming to the end of their lives, we need to ensure that they're replaced before they close, and we need to replace them with cheap, reliable power"
Victoria’s Very Large Battery
A 450 megawatt-hour battery to be built in Victoria will make it home to the largest battery in the southern hemisphere. This is part of the Victorian Government's push to transition to renewable energy.
This Tesla battery will be installed at Moorabool, near Geelong by private investors. It is twice the size of the battery installed last year at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia. The company says it will have enough energy to power half a million homes for one hour. Its main role will be to feed power into the grid in order to stop blackouts when it is unstable.
Goulburn Solar Farm
The Community Energy for Goulburn group was successful in obtaining an NSW Regional Community Energy Fund (RCEF) grant like we did. They have been developing their solar farm for much longer then we have. So several weeks ago they released an Information Package for share investments. The need was to raise $2.1m and have so far they achieved about half of this.
Their system will generate 1.2MW of electricity and have a battery storage component of 800kWh. It contains 4,000 PV panels on 2ha of land close to town. They will be selling electricity directly to the grid and through the battery at various times to maximise income. The Goulburn Co-op will distribute dividends to shareholders in the same manner as we will in Gloucester.
The Haystacks Solar Garden Co-op Ltd also received a NSW RCEF grant. They are building a solar farm at Grong Grong near Wagga Wagga using a different ownership and financial model to Goulburn and to ours. For more information see: https://haystacks.solargarden.org.au/
Solar gardens work by installing a large array of solar panels in a central location (the solar garden) and then inviting electricity customers to pay for a 'plot'. The participating household receives a similar financial outcome to having solar on their own roof, as long as they purchase their electricity from the solar gardens retailer. This means any electricity customer including people renting a property or in a strata title, can participate in and benefit from owning solar.
Energise Gloucester is negotiating with a company experienced in solar farm development. This will help us finalise the design for the facility, obtain the necessary regulatory approvals to connect to the grid and sell the electricity. These steps are linked, so experience can help work it through in an efficient and timely manner. Our plan is to have a contract for project management finalised in the next few weeks. We are undertaking key steps to progress the project to a stage where we can apply to Mid Coast Council for development approval.
We have met with the Mid Coast Council representatives and obtained full support from the officers involved. Essential Energy has given their preliminary approval for grid connection. We will need to apply for a full study and pay the necessary fees when the site and design are final.
Gloucester Community Solar Co-operative Ltd has been approved and registered with NSW Department of Fair Trading. Co-op Board members have met and commenced applications for a bank account, company and tax registrations. They are in the process of developing an Information Pack to explain the share issue and invite the community to join the Co-op.
Disclaimer: These Projects are support by a grant from the NSW Government’s NSW Regional Community Energy Fund. The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the NSW Government. The NSW Government does not accept responsibility for any information or advice contained herein.
NSW Fair Trading has advised that due to the Covid19 circumstances, we can postpone our AGM until November 2021.