Bioresources Hub in the Hunter, Sunshine Coast Council Solar Farm and EDQ’s Aldoga Solar Farm

Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables and Simon Crock from the Sunshine Coast Council at the RDAC 2018
Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables and Simon Crock from the Sunshine Coast Council at the RDAC 2018

Last week, Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables proudly chaired the Renewable Energy and Energy Supply stream at the Regional Development Australia Conference in Tweed, NSW.

Mayor Katie Milne from Tweed Shire Council kicked off the conference, followed by the Hon. Ben Franklin, Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Northern NSW, who talked about the NSW Government’s perspective on regional development. Barbara had the pleasure to chair three presentations on renewable energy projects across New South Wales and Queensland.

Case study 1: Building a Bioresources Hub in the Upper Hunter

The first presentation was ‘Building a Bioresources Hub in the Upper Hunter’ by Gerry Bobsien from Muswellbrook Shire Council. The talk focused on the energy transition underway in the Hunter region and the opportunity this presents for renewable energy. The two coal-fired power stations located in the Muswellbrook Shire will be retired in 2022 (Liddell) and 2035 (Bayswater).

Muswellbrook Shire Council has an active economic diversification agenda and is working with a range of regional stakeholders to foster new energy jobs in the region. The purpose of establishing a bioresources hub in the Hunter is to create an innovation incubator to drive biorenewable research through to commercial deployment. Muswellbrook Shire Council supports an initiative being driven by the University of Newcastle’s International Centre for Balanced Land Use, to promote the region as a ‘BioValley’ with valuable assets such as:

  • Skills (close proximity to a major university)
  • Biomass (large underutilised land associated with mine buffers and rehabilitation sites)
  • Grain transport rail corridor to the port of Newcastle.

According to a recent federal government report, there are 5 million tonnes of underutilised biomass resources in NSW. Access to the rail corridor could potentially deliver these feedstocks to the Upper Hunter to support a biorenewables industry.

Case study 2: Sunshine Coast Solar Farm

The second presentation was on the ‘Sunshine Coast Solar Farm’ by Simon Crock from Sunshine Coast Council. Between 2014 and 2017 Queensland paid one of the highest prices for electricity compared to other states and the Sunshine Coast Council’s expense on electricity kept rising. At the same time, renewable energy became cheaper which led Council to build their own solar farm to supply them with affordable renewable electricity.

The Council went to market for an Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) contract for the 15MW Valdora solar farm in FY13/14 and signed the contract with Downer in 2016. At the same time, Council went to market for retail electricity services and selected Diamond Energy for their Electricity Supply Agreement and Power Purchase Agreement.

Figure 1 below shows the Business-As-Usual load profile for Council. As can be seen, Council’s daytime consumption exceeds their night time usage. Council pays higher rates during peak times, compared to offpeak. Such a load profile is ideally suited to a solar farm.

Typical BAU load profile for Council.
Figure 1: Typical BAU load profile for Council.

Figure 2 shows the typical generation output profile of the solar farm. The renewable energy plant delivers the most energy in the middle of the day when insolation is strongest.

2: Typical solar farm renewable energy generation
Figure 2: Typical solar farm renewable energy generation

Combining the solar farm’s output with Council’s load profile results in the renewable energy generation offsetting Council’s daytime usage. Excess electricity that is being generated is sold to the market at the spot price.

How the Solar Farm offsets Council's electricity consumption
Figure 3: How the Solar Farm offsets Council’s electricity consumption

At night, Council still has to buy electricity to cover night-time use. Streetlighting was kept on a separate, fixed-price contract to avoid the risk of offpeak electricity spot price spikes.

Electricity revenue and expenses
Figure 4: Electricity venue and expenses

Case study 3: Delivering Solar Differently in the Sunshine State

The third presentation was on ‘Delivering Solar Differently in the Sunshine State’ and was held by Lavinia Dack and Brooke Walters by Economic Development Queensland (EDQ).

Queensland has a target to supply 50% of its electricity needs from renewables by 2030. It has an average of over 300 days of sunshine a year, which makes it ideal for the development of solar farms. As part of the Queensland Government’s Advancing our cities and regions strategy, which aims to renew underutilised state land to generate jobs and drive economic growth, EDQ embarked on an analysis of current land holdings to identify if there was a site suitable for renewable energy.

A 1,250-hectare site in Aldoga, Gladstone was identified as favourable due to its proximity to a cost-effective, high voltage network, suitable land conditions and good solar irradiance. Acciona Energy was selected as EDQ’s partner. Key aspects of the agreement are the

  • Delivery of a 265MW solar farm
  • Lease period of 30 years that maximises interim land use with ongoing income
  • Improvements to the land with services and roads ideal for future industry attraction
  • Giving back to locals through a community benefit fund for the life of the project

 

It was a pleasure to be the chair of these wonderful presentations. If you are interested in your clean energy becoming a case study for others, why not consider working with 100% Renewables. We are experts in energy efficiency, renewables and net zero, and help is just a short phone call away. Call Barbara if you’d like more information. 1300 102 195.

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