Melbourne trams to run on sunshine as state launches 75MW large scale solar tender | RenewEconomy

Melbourne trams to run on sunshine as state launches 75MW large scale solar tender

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Victoria has announced a tender for 75MW of large scale solar to be constructed in the northwest of the state.

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Victoria has announced a tender for 75MW of large scale solar to be constructed in the northwest of the state, with 35MW of these arrays will “linked to” Melbourne’s tram network.

Melbourne is the location for the largest electric tram system in the world, in terms of distance covered. It is now set to see its 410 trams be powered by solar PV, with the state government looking to build 75MW of solar farms, part of which will tapped to power the network.

The PV array or multiple arrays will be the first utility scale solar to be developed in Victoria.

The move has been mooted for some time, with the Australian Solar Group having proposed developing two 20MW solar arrays to both the Coalition Baillieu/Napthine governments and then again to the current Andrews Labor Government for the same purpose.

The status of this existing proposal in light of the tender unannounced today is unclear. The initial proposal was for the two solar farms, in Swan Hill and Mildura, which were to deploy tracking, to generate 80GWh of electricity annually, sufficient to meet the Yarra Trams’ electricity needs.

Solar power proposal for Melbourne trams challenges coal generators

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will run the tender and will release a Request for Tender in the first half of 2017. The 75MW of capacity is expected to be installed in 2018.

“We will use our purchasing power as a large energy consumer to boost investment in renewables and create new jobs for Victorians,” said Victorian Energy and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, in a statement. “We’re positioning Victoria as a leader in climate change, by reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts.”

Similarly to the ACT Government with its solar tenders, the Victorian Government plans to voluntarily surrender the large scale renewable certificates generated by the PV arrays. This means that the projects won’t count towards Australia’s national Renewable Energy Target. D’Ambrosio did not comment on the cost of this to Victorian taxpayers.

The Victorian Government expects to attract $150 million in investment for the projects and to create 300 new jobs.

The government has already signed contracts for two wind arrays. A 30MW project located 50km northwest of Horsham will be developed by Windlab and a 66MW wind farm Winchelsea is being developed by Acciona Energy.




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  1. Ian 4 years ago

    This great news, every little bit counts towards a carbon-free economy goal. As electricity generation by renewables becomes more economical and reliable and the momentum gains to oust the old fossil fuel generators, the need to support renewables becomes less pressing. Transportation is the next vexing problem: How to switch transportation in all its forms to renewables generated energy? This story illustrates the viability of renewables powered transportation : trams and solar farms – how good is that!

    City centres like Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane are already very car-unfriendly, and public transportation is so amenable to electrification, so concentrating on this sort of synergism will go a long way towards decarbonising transportation.

    • Tobias J 4 years ago

      It is good news; strong baby steps in the right direction. We are going to have widen criminality in regards to environmental protection laws. More regulation is required here to ban things, like fossil-fueled engines and to suppress mining. People and their cards are like junkies and their “medicine”. We can’t have millions of vehicles emitting into the 30s, just like we can’t have the Carmichael coal mine.

      Its not just a matter of converting existing systems either. Urbanisation has to be questioned. You have to be joking about our cities being car-friendly. The whole three cities you mentioned have a landscape that is massively influenced by cars. Its the same on the Gold Coast where the tramway is being expanded without renewables. Yet the Gold Coast with its low lying canals is readily threatened by sea level rise.

      Most of our cities are intensely criss-crossed by a network of electricity poles. These poles and wires dominate our cityscapes. They are unattractive much like the endless roads and noisy cars. They both seem old school to me. I’d support some sort of replacement with millions of micro renewable stations. I imagine a tall combined wind/solar tower with underground cabling.
      Durable hybrids of these managed by a blockchain and serving internet as well.

      The next time the Australian Greens form government they should make it mandatory for all government projects to source as much as possible from renewable energy. That’s the way it has to be. The alternative will become increasingly counter-productive. Its a mammoth task no doubt; for a monumental challenge.

  2. Alastair Taylor 4 years ago

    Surely it follows that the train network is next?

    This document from 2015 provides insight into power requirements for the metro network (second last page) –

    “The Melbourne Railway System is a major customer of Electricity Distribution Businesses in Victoria. It consumes 377MWh per annum and has a coincident maximum demand of approximately 100MW”.

    With SA and NSW perhaps looking at a new interconnect, that’s bound to run through the “happy place” for solar – the Mallee/Riverlands/Far West of NSW – perhaps an opportunity to expand it to Victoria as well, with all three governments using their market power to shift all their rail networks over to buying from new renewable sources in this region?

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