Corporations to lead charge into wind, solar and storage

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Nearly half Australian businesses considering wind, solar and storage, and one-third of them will make it major source of power. Could business take over from governments to lead push into renewables?

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Sundrop

Renewable energy production from Australian businesses has more than doubled over the last two years, and nearly half are making the switch to wind and/or solar to take control over their electricity bills and to help reduce emissions.

A new survey from the Climate Council says the massive shift to wind and solar is happening because electricity bills are soaring and wind and solar and storage offer an affordable and reliable solution.

In Australia, 46 per cent of businesses are looking to turn to wind and solar, many are looking for those technologies to provide the bulk of their power needs, and they are also looking at storage and electric vehicles.

“This report shows that the rising cost of energy is the number one concern for Australian businesses over the next decade,” says the Climate Council’s Greg Bourne, a former chair of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

“So it’s no surprise that a variety of businesses from bakeries to breweries, and tech agencies to chilli and chicken farms, are all turning to affordable renewable energy and storage solutions.

“These businesses are actively investing in renewable energy in a bid to cut costs and take control of their power bills, while also playing a crucial role in transitioning the nation away from ageing, polluting and unreliable fossil fuels.”

The role of corporations is expected to be one of the key factors in the future of large-scale and distributed renewable energy projects over the coming decade, particularly if the federal government fails to lift its emissions reduction targets for 2030.

Right now, the government is seeking to lock in a 26 per cent cut in electricity emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, through its National Energy Guarantee.

But most independent analysis say this target will be largely met by the renewable energy target by 2020 – meaning little incentive for further construction in the following 10 years.

That leaves only state-based targets such as Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory, and the underlying push from households and businesses turning to renewables and storage to address their electricity bills.

A total of 46,000 Australian businesses have already installed solar energy, and this has mostly been in relatively small-scale rooftop arrays, although the pace of this uptake has accelerated dramatically in the last 12-18 months, as this graph below illustrates.

According to the Clean Energy Regulator, the amount of rooftop solar installed by businesses (arrays of up to 1MW) will increase five fold in 2018 to around 100MW.

The other more recent phenomenon is the decision by very large businesses and energy users to turn to large-scale wind and solar project to lower their bills in response to the doubling of electricity prices and soaring gas bills.

Some companies, such as Nectar  Farms, have chosen to electrify their businesses so they can use cheaper wind energy and battery storage, rather than expensive gas.

Nectar Farms will build the country’s largest vegetable greenhouse, powered by wind and solar, on an old gold mine in Stawell in Victoria, as part of a $550 million project with Neoen and Tesla.

In South Australia, Sundrop Farms turned to solar towers and solar thermal to provide power, heat and desalinated water for their tomato growing operations (pictured top).

In Queensland, Sun Metals will soon become Australia’s first major refiner to go solar with the imminent opening of its 124MW solar farm, which will help underpin a $300 million expansion of the refinery by locking in low electricity costs.

Other major corporations that have signed contracts for large-scale solar or wind farms include Telstra, CUB, Westpac, Foster’s, ANZ, and CC Amatil. There are many others in the pipeline.

The Climate Council quoted a recent Baker & McKenzie survey of business intentions which shows that 40 per cent of its respondents are looking at renewables, and 40 per cent are also considering some form of storage.

Other key factors include changing business models to align with renewables and storage, and also preparing for the widely anticipated uptake of electric vehicles, and infrastructure such as charging networks.

One-third of businesses said they were considering using renewables as their main source of energy in the next 18 months – that’s a big development from businesses putting on small amounts of rooftop solar to support their “green messaging”.

A total of 138 global corporations have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’, including food producers, car manufacturers, data centre operators, breweries, real estate companies, banks and fashion brands .

These 100 per cent renewable companies include Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Wells Fargo, Johnson & Johnson and Amazon. They also include Anheuser-Busch, the owner of Australia’s Carlton & United Breweries, which is also going 100 per cent renewable.

In the US, nearly two-thirds of Fortune 100 and nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have set ambitious renewable or sustainability targets.

“This is a world-wide transition, with businesses around the globe taking advantage of the investment opportunities associated with renewable energy,” Bourne says.

Climate Council Energy and Climate Solutions Analyst Petra Stock said businesses were naturally transitioning to renewable energy and battery storage, with wind and solar now the cheapest forms of new-build energy generation, far cheaper than a new coal power station.

“This transition is good for the pockets of business owners and good for our climate, it really is a win-win.”

“This report showcases a range of Aussie businesses who are benefiting from making the switch to solar and wind, including eight New South Wales chicken farms that are saving an astonishing $2,000 a day,” said Stock.

“It simply makes good economic sense for businesses to make the switch to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and battery storage. Renewables are taking care of Aussie businesses facing high electricity prices.”

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19 Comments
  1. Damien Johnston 4 months ago

    Giles, you state, 10 days instead of 10 years in the article

    • john 4 months ago

      I read that and realized it was for the next 10 years after 2020, while the target will be filled inside 2 years.

  2. john 4 months ago

    The last quote;
    “This report showcases a range of Aussie businesses who are benefiting from making the switch to solar and wind, including eight New South Wales chicken farms that are saving an astonishing $2,000 a day,” said Stock.

    “It simply makes good economic sense for businesses to make the switch to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and battery storage. Renewables are taking care of Aussie businesses facing high electricity prices.”
    Sums up why business is using solar and wind with storage because it is cheaper.
    These large systems come in with low LCOE figures.

    • Ken Dyer 4 months ago

      And the more the better. Then when Labor gets in, they can re-introduce a carbon tax, and make it stick. And when that happens, the big emitters will have to seriously think about shutting down all those coal fired power stations.

      https://www.theage.com.au/business/the-economy/who-are-australia-s-largest-carbon-emitters-20180514-p4zf43.html

      • john 4 months ago

        As you know and so do I the LCOE of Renewable Energy is so low that it is a total no question as to what to build.
        No new FF plant can compete with the outcome using RE.
        Frankly I do not think we need a Carbon Price the simple fact is RE is the cheapest source of energy.
        Yes i know there are about 20 odd FF plants all of which will slowly close and all of which will be replaced with RE and the RE will be put at points adjacent to major substations so that the energy loss is not too large to make them uneconomic.
        As to should we put in place a cost on Carbon?
        Possibly yes especially when you look across the whole spectrum of using FF for instance and this is an ancillary outcome the emissions of Diesel Powered Vehicles with the detrimental small particulate and NCX which are detrimental to the health of people.
        So on balance considering all aspects of carbon emissions and the ancillary emissions from the use of FF yes a simple carbon tax should be put in place.
        As to the emissions from vehicles what is happening is that Diesel vehicles will be banned in major urban areas.
        Not a tax just a sensible outcome from the dismal emissions from these vehicles.

        • Joe 4 months ago

          John, have you heard that Diesel has been given a lifeline. Bosch have developed…..’Clean Diesel’. Another ‘Dieselgate’ ?

          • john 4 months ago

            No I have not heard that.
            However as I very much doubt that they have suddenly magically made some advance.
            It will still put out high levels of PM2.5 to PM10 as well I expect NOX particulate matter.
            No doubt it will meet the test requirement in place and pass and will continue to emit the detrimental aspects of its emissions.
            What this tells me is put in place a sensible test system so it picks up the emissions from a vehicle not some joke test.

        • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

          Just tighten NOx and particulates will put them out of business including old steam boilers. Brisbane still has several coal fired boilers which is hard to comprehend

        • DogzOwn 4 months ago

          But action needed ASAP cannot afford delay

      • Joe 4 months ago

        Ken, nice link to The Age. I see that the AGL is top man on the list. Aren’t we all so very lucky that AGL is geting out of Coal. Oh, wait, the getting out bit is by what..2049?

  3. Joe 4 months ago

    Meanwhile The MOANash Forum, The COALition, . Rupert and his newsrags, they all dream of a Coal-fired Future.

    • john 4 months ago

      Yes well one may say deluded.
      One may say dismal.
      One must say this mob of people will be put in the dust bin of best forgotten transitional on the way to a future for the country.
      These will not be the ones to point the future direction; companies have got it; and this will slowly filer through to these poor deluded few.

  4. Edgar 4 months ago

    Looks like the only shot left in the LNP magazine would be to ban the installation of wind and solar…

    Can’t imagine the convoluted logic required to foist that one on us though.

    Maybe coal is necessary for life on account of us being a carbon-based life-form!

    • john 4 months ago

      Well just remember lots of people do not want Solar Farms or Wind Farms because hmm no idea honestly but there are objections.
      I know the Solar will suck up all the sunshine.
      I know the wind farms will give me a head ache.
      or it is infra noise .
      Fact is more low and high noise from traffic, rail, wind, and ocean waves than any wind farm turbine.
      Believe me I have figures that show the low and high figures for Decibel Noise from the 1970’s which show inaudible both low and high which in the high area which were over 110 DB if only we could hear it.
      Funny you and I both drove these cars and did not suffer some kind of head ache or any other health problem.

    • Joe 4 months ago

      ….and Wind Turbines look ugly ( Abbott & Hockey ) and you can’t make the Steel from solar ( Abbott )

    • MacNordic 4 months ago

      Oh, please, do show some mercy:
      Fire and burning stuff has been the hottest thing since the stone age – you really cannot expect them to transition away from that ingrained reflex within a few short centuries, that is simply cruel!
      Yabba Dabba Doo!!

    • Nick Kemp 4 months ago

      “Can’t imagine the convoluted logic required to foist that one on us though.”

      When did logic (or science) ever form one of their arguments?

  5. Ian 4 months ago

    ‘According to the Clean Energy Regulator, the amount of rooftop solar installed by businesses (arrays of up to 1MW) will increase five fold in 2018 to around 100MW.’

    Is that 100MW per month? Looks like the mid year monthly figure is about 27MW. All told for the year the business tally could be 500 to 1000MW

  6. Cooma Doug 4 months ago

    I recall the way products emerged from 1996 as the energy market evolved. It was a big surprise to most of the people in the centre of the market. So many things we used to provide for nothing were now being sold.
    Im not saying it was an emerging scam or gold mine. It was the industry adopting market forces to balance supply and demand.
    Prior to the market, the energy production was so very inefficient in all aspects and there was no incentive to be efficient.

    The products that emerged were a shock to us. Wow are we being paid to just sit here on line doing nothing? Are we being paid just because we can come on line in 5 min? And so the questions emerged to the extent where we sold stuff we never knew we had and it took a while for it to make sense.

    I suggest here now that there are more products emerging on the load side. Most customers dont realise they are there. They are yet to be utilised by the market rules. The 5 minute closure rule changes will unlock many. Most people investing in substantial renewable assets at home and business are unaware.
    For example, in a business, with a large number of employees, they could use the load shifting potential between work and home hours.
    They could make minor adjustments to work schedules in coordination with neighbouring business to utilise load shifting opportunities. These adjustments being totally non disruptive and real market value.
    Bottom line to all this is that customers disconnection from the grid is a choice to reduce potential investment returns.

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