Plans for a $900 million, 105-turbine wind farm in South Australia’s mid north have been handed to the state government for final approval, after being green-lighted by state development authorities. The Adelaide Advertiser reports that the Hornsdale wind farm – a 100-turbine (approx.) facility that is being developed by Investec Bank between 8 and 24km north of Jamestown in South Australia – would become one of the state’s biggest with 315MW of production capacity, if it gets a final sign-off from SA planning minister John Rau. The project’s website says the Hornsdale wind farm would produce 1,050,000MWh of electricity per annum – enough to power about 180,000 homes – and would cut emissions by 1,250,000 tonnes per annum – equivalent to taking 290,000 cars off the road every year for the life of the wind farm.
The Advertiser, whose story today invites readers to take part in an online poll – “Would you feel comfortable living near a wind farm?” (at time of publication, the results were Yes 63.4%, No 36.6%), reports the Northern Areas Council will demand Rau commission an independent noise analysis before granting approval, based on some “fears” in the community that the proposed wind farm would create noise and health problems. “The majority of people seem happy with it,” said Council chairman Ben Browne. “It’s a very big wind farm and there is anecdotal evidence about the noise.” The state’s Opposition planning spokesman, meanwhile, told the paper the government’s love of wind power had driven up power prices. “There is a direct link between the amount of wind farms we have and the cost of electricity,” David Ridgway said. The first hearing of a parliamentary inquiry into wind power will be held today. State Development Assessment Commission documents show the project’s application was lodged on October 26, just days after former premier Mike Rann relaxed wind farm restrictions. The project was provisionally approved at a closed Development Assessment Commission meeting late last month.
Flooding hits Vic coal plant
In Victoria, meanwhile, the coal-fired Yallourn power station – which is managed by TRUenergy and supplies 22 per cent of the state’s electricity and eight per cent of the national electricity market – is operating at reduced capacity after floodwaters began leaking into an open-cut coal mine at the site. Ten flood warnings were issued across Victoria on Tuesday afternoon, eight of them in the Gippsland region, after a weather system over the state delivered a month’s worth of rain in one day. The Age reports that TRUenergy said the Yallourn mine had suffered “significant leakage” from floodwaters from the adjacent Morwell River, which was affecting the conveyor system used to transport coal from the mine to the power station. As a result, the baseload power station was operating at 25 per cent capacity, instead of the current maximum of 75 per cent capacity, with one of its four units already out of action for scheduled maintenance. With water levels expected to decrease in the couple of days, TRUenergy spokesman Carl Kitchen said that the state’s power supply was not under threat. “The market is really designed to manage these types of issues,” he told ABC Radio. “We have access to other power stations that we can bring into the system.”
Panasonic charges EU solar market
Japan’s Panasonic Corporation announced on Monday that it would start, this month, mass-producing a compact long-life lithium-ion battery system the company has developed for rooftop solar on European homes. In an announcement on the company’s website, Panasonic said the move by governments in Germany and other EU countries to rein in demand for solar PV was expected to increase demand for off-grid solutions, that allows consumers to optimise the use of solar energy generated on their rooftops. “Towards a coming era where people generate energy for their own use, Panasonic is strengthening its storage battery business and the development of large-scale storage battery systems whose demand is expected to expand rapidly,” the company said.
Panasonic says its lithium-ion battery storage systems – which consist of the Panasonic battery module with nominal capacity of 1.35kWh and a battery management system designed to control charge and discharge of the battery in accordance with customer needs – were ready to be mass produced, having been tested in Germany – they were supplied for the S10 household energy storage system developed by German engineering firm E3/DC, last year. The technology stores excess energy generated from PV power systems during peak hours of generation and discharges the energy as needed. It will also enable households to reduce the dependence on grid power and facilitate the further spread of solar.
“In Germany, there is a concern that the integration of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, into the power grid could cause instability in power distribution because of their unpredictable nature,” said Fumitoshi Terashima, Panasonic’s director of the Energy Company’s Smart Energy Systems Business Unit. “With our state-of-art lithium-ion battery technology and high-quality battery management systems, we will promote self-consumption of solar power generated by households as well as reduction of load during peak hours. In so doing, Panasonic aims for a leading position in providing a solution to protect the power grid system.”
CBD to distribute “class-leading” US solar technology in Australia
Just under a month after the merger between US-based designer and manufacturer of integrated rooftop solar power systems, Westinghouse Solar, and ASX-listed CBD Energy was made official, the two companies have announced plans to begin distributing Westinghouse Solar Power Systems in Australia. CBD managing director Gerry McGowan said that a key reason for his company pursuing this merger was the strength of Westinghouse Solar’s “class-leading” technology. “When coupled with the significant brand awareness the Westinghouse name provides, one of the first items on our agenda was to bring these integrated ‘plug-and-play’ solar power systems, with fewer parts, superior safety and faster install times to the Australian market. McGowan said that other key features of the Westinghouse systems – such as the web-based monitoring and better energy collection – would also be important advantages in the Australian market.
Westinghouse Solar CEO Margaret Randazzo said in a joint release on Wednesday that Westinghouse was attracted to the Australian solar market because it enjoyed “a sound regulatory environment” and provided an opportunity for the US-based company to grow revenue in a non-US market “devoid of risk of punitive tariffs.” Westinghouse Solar plans to begin shipping to CBD in the third quarter of this year, and the companies are working on future plans to assemble Westinghouse Solar products in Australia using CBD’s newly established solar panel manufacturing facility. The announcement follows last week’s news of the settlement of all disputes between Westinghouse Solar and Zep Solar.
Solar plane completes intercontinental leg
The Solar Impulse has completed the world’s first intercontinental flight powered by the sun, landing in Morocco on Tuesday after after a 19-hour flight from Madrid. Reuters reports that the project’s co-founder and co-pilot Andre Borschberg (this leg was piloted by Swiss Bertrand Piccard) said that the aircraft had now proved its capability and sustainability, as well as the potential for pollution-free air travel. “The aircraft can now fly day and night. It’s quite a show … It’s a technology we can trust,” Borschberg told reporters. The plane, which requires 12,000 solar cells, embarked on its first flight in April 2010 and completed a 26-hour flight, a record flying time for a solar powered aircraft, three months later. On Tuesday, the aircraft crossed the Gibraltar Strait separating Africa and Europe at one of its narrowest points. The flight is said to be crucial for the project’s developers, because it will help improve the organisation of a world tour planned in 2013. It made its first international flight last month when it completed a 13-hour flight from the western Swiss town of Payern to Brussels. The project began in 2003 with a 10-year budget of €90 million.