Victoria’s Renewable Energy Bonanza Continues

Wind and solar farms - Victoria

Victoria’s Andrews Labor Government has received accolades for its latest renewable energy efforts as the state continues to shrug off its brown coal focused past.

Victoria’s first renewable energy auction was initially expected to deliver 650MW of capacity, however it was announced yesterday 928MW will be built – enough to supply electricity needs of  the equivalent of 646,273 households. Based on 2016 Census data, that works out to be around 25% of all households in the state.

” When it comes to energy, Liberal politicians in Canberra like to talk and bluster and dither and propose endless complicated reforms that achieve nothing,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. “Down here, we prefer to just get things done.”

Around 254MW of the 928MW capacity will be solar farms.

The projects are:

  • Global Power Generation: Berrybank Wind Farm  (Geelong region) – 180MW.
  • Canadian Solar: Carwarp Solar Farm (Mildura region) – 121.6MW.
  • Enel Green Power Australia: Cohuna Solar Farm (Kerang region) – 34.2MW.
  • Tilt Renewables : Dundonnell Wind Farm (Warrnambool region) – 336MW.
  • Acciona: Mortlake South Wind Farm (Mortlake region) – 157.5MW.
  • Fotowatio Renewable Ventures: Winton Solar Farm (Benalla region) – 98.8MW

Combined, the projects are expected to create more than 900 jobs, including 270 apprenticeships and traineeships. The reverse auction was an element of the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET). More information on each of the successful projects and the reverse auction can be viewed here.

“Renewable energy creates jobs, drives growth, and protects our environment – and most importantly, helps drive down power prices for Victorian households and businesses,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

Great Example Of Political Leadership : CEC

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton welcomed the announcement.

“As coal-fired power plants continue to retire from the system, the 928 MW of new renewable energy which will be built under the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) will help to push down power prices while creating hundreds of regional jobs and $1.1 billion of investment,” stated Mr. Thornton.

Brushing Off The Brown Coal Dust : Climate Council

The Climate Council said the state was “doing its bit” to address pollution and climate change, while at a Federal level, Australia’s climate and energy policy missing in action

‘This is a major boost for what was once the nation’s Brown Coal Capital,” said Climate Council Acting CEO Dr Martin Rice. “Renewables are the cheapest form of new energy generation, so for Victoria to embrace clean energy such as wind and solar, transitioning away from ageing, polluting and inefficient fossil fuels such as coal, just makes economic sense.”

A Bright Day For Renewables : Solar Citizens

Solar Citizens was likewise impressed with the announcement.

“It’s great to see the Victorian Government creating jobs and lowering power bills in one fell swoop by backing clean energy projects,” said Joseph Scales, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

VIC Battery Rebate Announced

At the small-scale level and in addition to the recently announced VIC Solar Homes rebate, the Andrews Labor Government has committed to providing generous rebates on batteries for 10,000 Victorian households with solar power systems. One catch is this will only happen if Labor is returned to power after the November election. Another catch:

The battery program will be available in growth areas where there are already a large number of homes with solar panels. “

Under the scheme, a 50 per cent rebate on solar battery storage would be available, capped at $4,838 per household in the first year, then gradually reducing to $3,714 by 2026.

While on the topic of battery incentives, across the border in South Australia the Marshall Liberal Government announced a generous battery subsidy for SA a few days ago – but that’s also not without a few devils in the detail.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. I think battery storage is still going to be a hard one to get over the line. A decent sized battery system is still going to cost at least $10 000. If rebates cover close to half, that is still a layout of over $5000 for the individual.
    If you could get the battery system to last 10 years (a stretch) that would require a return of $500 a year (not counting cost of money etc.) just to break even.
    Given that a lot of people who have solar systems already have an annual electricity bill in the region of $500, it will be very difficult for them to reduce their electricity bill to $0 per annum with a $10 000 battery system. Even if they could, that would still just result in a break even situation. It would not be worth the effort. In my personal situation, even with the subsidy, I do not believe I could achieve a positive ROI.
    It would thus probably require a very specific energy use profile to actually get a return on investment.
    Given this context, I am not sure that the battery subsidy will deliver a lot of value.

    • If (big if) you fully cycle your 10kWh battery every day, and the difference between your Feed In Tariff and your usage tariff is 20c, then you will save $2.00 per day. $730 per year.
      That gives a simple 7 year payback on a $5,000 purchase.

      But that is absolute best case scenario assuming 100% efficient battery and no battery degradation.

      Some vendors (Hello sonnen and Reposit!) are claiming their battery-systems can be cycled up to 3 times a day which would smash the payback. Shame it is impossible in practice. Every time I ask them to send data showing a battery consistently averaging more than 1 cycle per day all the vendors make their excuses and change the subject!

      • Finn, I like the fact that you are an optimist!

        In winter I draw about 12kWh from the grid each day, so I could cycle a 10kWh battery, but only if I added more panels in order to generate enough to fully charge the battery (I would probably need at least 50% more panels). In Summer, on the other hand, I draw at most 8 to 9kWh from the grid each day.
        The difference between my FIT and consumption tariff (incl GST) is closer to 10c.
        Even if I could sort out those issues, I would still need a battery that is 100% efficient, doesn’t degrade and which lasts longer than 7 years.
        I would say a positive ROI on a battery system is about as real as the Ferrari in my garage.

  2. Smaller/cheaper batteries might make start some sense for households with smaller panel arrays. In summer months, I take next to nothing out of the grid, while in winter I have days when I produce less than 3 kWh over the entire day. (And in order to add more panels, I’ll have to convert to 3 phase power.)

    That said, I presume the logic behind this is to move towards a virtual power plant model. If battery owners were able to sell into the grid at peak times – and be reimbursed accordingly – only then would the economics start to make sense. This is also good from the perspective of empowering the people – something all the coal lobbyists of the Liberal party are fighting to prevent.

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