Kangaroo Island gets 55kW solar array
Ingenero has won a contract and has started construction of a 50kW dual axis tracking solar system to service the Kingscote Airport on Kangaroo Island, and provide charging stations for electric vehicles. The project has been supported by a Renewables SA grant, and will be the largest dual-axis tracking solar installation in the state. Ingenero installed the nation’s largest, a 235kW facility at the airport in Alice Springs, and the company says the ability to track the sun will lift output by 30 per cent more than fixed modules.
The charging stations for two EVs will be located at the airport and at the local council offices, which will have a 5kW solar array. Ingenero CEO Steve McRae said the combination of these two clean technologies in one solar installation would be a real asset to the island’s ecotourism credibility. He said the council will be able to save on fuel costs, and the airport will be able to reduce its power bill and carbon emissions. The solar array will offset all of its electricity needs, although it will continue to draw from the grid.
Community farm issues solar bond
In a sign of the maturing markets for solar, the Lancashire County Pension Fund has has invested in a 23.5 year, £12 million ($18m) solar bond, issued by the Westmill Solar Co-operative, which owns and operates the first community owned solar farm in the UK. The 5MW solar farm, also believed to be the largest community owned solar project in the world, is owned by 1,600 members. The bond is being used to refinance existing debt. According to market analysts, the bond will give the Lancashire pension fund a return above comparable bonds.
Japanese banks fight over solar market
On a larger scale, Bloomberg reports that Japan’s biggest banks are following the likes of Goldman Sachs and financing investments in the solar market, anticipated to grow eight fold in the next three years to nearly $20 billion. A subsidy program is expected to turn Japan into the world’sthird-largest market for solar power in 2013 behind China and either the US or Italy, and Mizuho Bank, the second biggest lender in Japan, is already evaluating solar projects worth 600 billion yen. Solar developers typically borrow to finance at least 70 percent of project costs, suggesting loans to the industry may top 1.2 trillion yen over three years, according to calculations made with data from New Energy Finance.
Bloomberg said that the pace of expansion forecast for the solar companies contrasts with declining support for other industries from the banks. Lending to manufacturers for plant investments has fallen 30 percent from the fiscal year ended in March 2009 to 1.98 trillion yen in the year through March 2012, and Bloomberg said banks are competing for control of the solar market.
Meanwhile, bond yields on Chinese solar companies have fallen dramatically since the air-quality in Beijing hit hazardous levels on 20 days last month. The yield on convertible notes for the world’s biggest maker of solar wafers have fallen 109 basis points to 5.793 percent in the last month, reflecting the belief that government efforts to combat high pollution levels will lead to increased investment in solar and other clean energy industries.
Brisbane gets largest street lighting retrofit
The federal government has announced the largest street lighting retrofit project in Australia, with $5 million awarded from its Community Energy Efficiency Program to replace 25,000 of the city’s street lights with more energy efficient lamps. The Brisbane City Council will contribute a further $5 million to the project over the next two financial years. The new lights will use 40 per cent less electricity,and are expected to reduce the council’s overall electricity consumption by 2.5 per cent, and deliver annual savings of $500,000. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said improving energy efficiency was a central element of the Gillard Labor Government’s Clean Energy Future plan, to boost productivity and move Australia towards a low-carbon future. Applications for round two of the program are currently being assessed.