The South Australian government has granted approval for what will be one of the largest wind farms in the state, a 105-turbine development Hornsdale facility near Jamestown in the state’s mid north. The 315MW project, owned by Investec Bank, is expected to create up to 250 local construction jobs. Investec Bank Australia CEO David Clarke said South Australia has stood out as an ideal investment destination. “We also believe South Australia will be a leading centre for commercial opportunities in renewable and low carbon intensity power and we are committed to growing our presence here.” The project is expected to cost around $900 million and will be completed in 2014/15.
Last minute solar surge in Queensland
Queensland solar companies say they are experiencing a surge in applications ahead of the July 9 cut-off date for the state’s feed-in-tariff, which will drop from 44c/kWh to just 8c/kW. Stuart Stratton of Green Initiatives told AAP his company had installed four times as many systems it normally would in the lead-up to the July 9 deadline. However he said it was “very concerning” to think what would happen to the industry. “Come Tuesday, we expect the phones to go silent and everything to turn off for a while.”
AAP reported that one company, Jasmin Solar, had been offering its remaining 10,500 systems for an upfront cost of $1 each. However, CEO Matthew Starr said the biggest problem was that some customers thought it was a scam. “We find that absolutely tragic,” he told AAP. “We’ve made it clear what we get out of it, but we’re also helping customers save, and helping the environment.”
Perth zoo goes solar
Perth’s largest solar installation, a 146.5kW solar PV array at Perth Zoo, was formally opened today. The project, featuring 452 Sunpower panels mounted on a 102m long solar pergola, was jointly funding by the WA Government and the Australian Government through the Perth Solar City program. This and another 90.9kW array will provide around one-third of Perth Zoo’s current energy needs and save the zoo more than $100,000 a year in energy costs.
Professor Ray Wills, chief advisor for the Sustainable Energy Association, said energy efficiency is a key component of the project, a “demonstration that government buildings, community centres, and businesses can better manage energy use and generate electricity for their own use, and minimise the impact of the inevitable future rises in electricity prices. ‘For anyone with a mortgage, savings from installing solar redirected to mortgage repayments can take years off of your mortgage, and any business on standard business tariffs will find that the price of electricity from solar panels will prove much cheaper, and guaranteed carbon free,’ Wills said.
Global award for Hepburn Wind
The community owned Hepburn Wind Farm in Victoria has won the World Wind Energy Award 2012 at the World Wind Energy Conference in Bonn. The award was made by the World Wind Energy Association in recognition of its contribution to “introducing large scale community wind power to Australia, as part of a citizen’s movement aiming at a fundamental energy transformation.”
The WWEA also noted that other communities in Australia are now using the ‘Hepburn Model’ to develop their own community power projects, and the work of its sister organization Embark. WWEA secretary Stefan Gsänger said the 4.1MW project may appear mall but it stood for “a social movement outside the strong fossil lobby in Australia.”