A $1.7 million solar thermal demonstration plant has been launched at Newcastle’s Wallsend Pool – a first of its kind in Australia that will generate 30kW of electricity and 150kW of heat for the swimming pool. The small-scale plant combines showcases heat engine technology developed by the University of Newcastle and the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources. The Australian-designed GRANEX heat engine combines with the solar thermal field, increasing its efficiency and generating more electricity. If the tests prove successful, the technology is expected to be used in remote and regional communities and to have significant export potential.
Solar booming in Victoria, despite policy hurdles
Solar growth in Victoria is continuing at quite a clip, despite cutbacks to government support, according to newly released data. The data, released by The Greens on Tuesday, shows the state’s solar installations are booming in the first two months of 2014, and show no sign of slowing down, despite subsidy cuts from both state and federal governments. “Another 2,352 homes and businesses went solar in January and 2,476 in February,” said Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber, adding around 9-10MW each month. According to Barber, mortgage belt suburbs like Cranbourne led the way, followed by Craigieburn, Hoppers Crossing and Tarneit, Werribee and Point Cook, Narre Warren, Berwick, Bendigo, Waurn Ponds and Mernda; putting paid to the myth that rooftop solar is an upper-middle class indulgence.
In other news…
US-based solar infrastructure company Enphase Energy has followed up the launch of its Melbourne headquarters in March with the appointment of former GE executive Nathan Dunn to head up a major expansion of the Nasdaq-listed company’s Asia Pacific operations. Dunn is expected to focus on building scale into the APAC business, and to expand Enphase’s “core value proposition of quality and innovation.”
Smart solutions company ET Solar Energy Corp has also come down under, announcing this week the establishment of ET Solar Australia. The new subsidiary will meet end-user needs for Asia-Pacific region customers, with a focus on development, finance and investment, EPC, and operations and maintenance for the commercial and utility market. It also has plans to launch new financial solutions, such as leasing, to meet the energy needs of homeowners.