Victoria’s biggest solar farm reaches financial close, to power steel works

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Numurkah solar farm, which will help power Laverton steel works and Victoria trams, reaches financial close, with developers Neoen wondering why Australia is not more ambitious about renewables.

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The Numurkah solar farm – which at 100MW (AC) will be the largest solar facility in Victoria, at least for a while – has reached financial close and will begin construction next week.

The $198 million facility will help power the Laverton step works in Victoria, under a ground-breaking deal signed with Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, and will also take French developer Neoen to 1GW of renewable energy assets in Australia.

Numurkah, located near Shepparton in the Goulburn Valley the north of Melbourne, has also signed a deal with the Victorian government for the supply of renewable energy certificates towards its tram network.

The first panels will be installed in October, with completion expected next May.

“Numurkah is an important project for Neoen, firstly because it marks the achievement of our first Gigawatt of projects in Australia, either under construction or in operation,” Neoen Australia chief executive Franck Woitiez said in a statement.

“Secondly, because the Victorian Government and Zen energy are long-term partners for Neoen and this project proves that collectively, we are moving towards our aim of delivering sustainable, reliable and competitive energy to all Australians.”

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is providing $56 million in loans towards the project, says it is a “path-breaking example of how solar energy can deliver a cost-effective solution for Victoria’s energy-intensive manufacturers.”

CEO Ian Learmonth high grid electricity prices, high gas prices and unfavourable contracting conditions have put pressure on tight operating margins for manufacturers.

“The lower cost of solar, combined with these types of commercial power purchase agreements, offer manufacturers welcome control over their energy use,” he said.

Numurkah is just none of a number of wind and solar projects that are being signed up by big manufacturers and other energy users – including Sun Metals, Telstra, Carlton United Breweries, Mars Australia, Orora, and others.

Gupta’s GFG Alliance, through its Simec Zen Energy unit, will also build more than 1GW of solar and storage in South Australia, and contract other facilities, to provide cheap renewable power to the Whyalla steelworks and other big energy users in that state and elsewhere.

Readers may remember that the deal with Gupta was signed in May in the presence of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and French President Emmanuel Macron. Turnbull claimed the credit and gave no acknowledgement of the key role of the Victoria government.

In a statement on Friday, Victoria energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said: “We’re supporting the renewables sector to create local jobs and deliver affordable, clean energy. We’ve backed the Numurkah solar farm every step of the way to drive down energy prices, create jobs and reduce emissions.”

Neoen’s Woitiez says he is still scratching his head about the federal government’s climate and energy policies, and why it refuses to be more ambitious about emissions reductions and the transition to clean energy.

The final proposals made by the Energy Security Board and the federal government for the National Energy Guarantee this week admitted that the government’s 26 per cent target for 2030 will be delivered by 2021, because of the renewable energy target. But there is no plan to seek more emissions cuts.

“There is no point in not being ambitious,” Woitiez told RenewEconomy. “You spend a lot of time trying to convince people and parties (about policies). But this is the future. The uptake of renewables is not going to stop.”

The main reason, Woitiez says, is that more and more corporates are looking to wind and solar to lock in cheap electricity prices, which they are able to do through “firming” contracts and other financial instruments.

“There is huge interest in corporate demand. A lot of global and national organisations are looking to  buy renewable energy – they not valuing the certificates, they like the long term stability of renewables, and because it is more competitive than coal.”

Neoen has been at the forefront of renewable energy development in Australia, and Woitiez says the 1GW mark makes it the biggest IPP (independent power producer) in the country that is 100 per cent focused on renewables.

Neoen owns the Tesla big battery, also known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve, located next to the 315MW Hornsdale wind farm, and has also built the Griffith and Parkes solar farms, and the Dubbo solar hub, which have been completed.

It is also building the Bulgana green energy hub, which will combine a 175MW wind farm and another Tesla big battery to power the new Nectar Farms greenhouse facilities, and plans two other major hubs combining wind, solar and storage in north Queensland and South Australia.

Other than the CEFC, the Numurkah solar project sourced funds from Vantage Infrastructure, an independent specialist investment manager, as well as German Landesbank NORD/LB.

Downer EDI has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the power plant. At the peak of construction, the solar farm is expected to create up to 300 new jobs for the Numurkah region.

The solar farm is rated 100MW (AC) and 128MW (DC) and will generate more than 255GWh a year.

 

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65 Comments
  1. GlennM 11 months ago

    Brilliant,
    the pipeline is so big now, over 35 GW, that the only real projects that matter are those like this that reach “financial close”. Then they will actually happen.

    There needs to be another 10GW shift from pipeline to Financial close ASAP then the war is all but over. Hopefully over the next 12 months that will occur.

    • Paul Surguy 11 months ago

      The war is not over until the next election it is not far away,love your comments guys

      • Hettie 11 months ago

        Saturday’s results blow any chance of an early election right out of the water. Malfoy knows he is doomed, and will hang on to the bitter end, unless the party dumps him, and then he could well resign from Parliament. The best we can hope for is an early May poll.
        Worst case, a half Senate only election before May 18, and a House of Representatives poll by November 2nd, next year.
        Absolute bastardry, of course, but isn’t that what they do best?

    • Bazz12 11 months ago

      I suspect that it is beginning to be realised just how many wind/solar installations spread all over Australia are needed to reach 100% renewables.
      Some figures reach 7000 times the national maximum demand. Some others suggest closer to 100,000 times to get comparable reliability.
      If these calculations are anywhere near correct then 100% is an impossible dream.

      • David Osmond 11 months ago

        About 30 GW of wind and 60 GW of solar, paired with 6 hours of storage should get us to 95% renewable on the NEM. The last 5% will be more difficult.

        • GlennM 11 months ago

          And the last 5% is irrelevant at present. 95% is an acceptable outcome

          • phillyc 11 months ago

            Exactly. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good / action.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            So Glenn you are you saying that if we fall short of enough generating capacity 5% of the time that is OK. Do you live/work above the third floor ?

          • Peter F 11 months ago

            We can keep the 14 GW of gas/diesel and run it less than 5% of the time just like the 1 GW of diesel we have now

        • Peter F 11 months ago

          upgrading our existing hydro and putting behind the meter batteries in half the rooftop solar installations will do the job

      • GlennM 11 months ago

        Bazz fortunately there are people whom paid attention in school and went on to higher education and have done these calculations and simulations. David is correct you are out by a factor of 6998.5

        • Bazz12 11 months ago

          Hmmm, Glenn surely you do not suggest that the wind will
          blow for full output of a windfarm 24 hrs a day ?
          You are suggesting 1.15 times full nameplate rating.
          Have you ever watched Sth Aus wind generation production ?
          Most do ot take into account that batteries have to be recharged.
          Don’t buy a flat above the third floor.

          • Ben C 11 months ago

            even assuming the wind stopped blowing for a whole week it certainly wouldn’t take 7000X the maximum electricity demand in capacity to hit 100% renewables… have you actually heard of storage? your statement: “surely you do not suggest that the wind will blow for full output of a windfarm 24 hrs a day ?” suggests that you have literally never heard of energy storage

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Of course I have heard of storage, great for filling in lulls in the wind, but not much good to fill in a week of light winds.
            That was what happened in the UK modelling of the UK grid to see how many Sth Aus size batteries would be needed to back up the wind & solar in the UK.
            Turned out 14,000 would be needed.
            Great that it is now getting attention but unless a solution can be found it means the costs will escalate.

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            The UK doesn’t havethe Solar resources that Australia has.
            Stop being ridiculous.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Who said it did Hettie. They do have nuclear which for your purposes can be considered as solar.

          • David Osmond 11 months ago

            The 60 GW of solar and 6 hours of storage will fill most of the gaps when it is not windy.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            David, can you explain if the 60GW is to
            support the grid on say a still day ? Then the 6 hours of storage is to support the grid from sunset till the next morning and hopefully the wind will have picked up and the storage can then be recharged.
            Is that the way you see it operating.
            Of course that is theoretical because as an example it is not grid connected, which changes everything.

          • David Osmond 11 months ago

            yes, that is approximately how I see it operating, though obviously the solar will be providing power on all days, not just when there’s not much wind. However the solar will be grid connected. Something like half will be utility solar, the other half rooftop solar, but both still grid connected.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Thanks David. It seems that some people just expect it to all work without considering the cost of the whole system.
            The government will have to see the costing before giving the go ahead.
            I have proposed a way to get reasonably close to a real answer. I do not think that answer can be obtained by guessing the weather patterns over the whole country.
            Thanks

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            No need to guess. The Bureauof Meteorology gives excellent forecasts.
            As to cost, renewables plus storage now are significantly less costly than fossil fuels. That’s why more and more big energy users are investing in large scale renewable projects, to reduce their escalating energy costs.
            Do try to keep up.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            No need to use forecasts, they are daily snapshots. use measurements by weather stations as input. Measure wind speed in real time 24hrs, in places where virtual wind farms could be placed, then trial them in better locations and the same with solar.

            The performance vs wind speed is known. Connect to a virtual grid and find what capacity is need by the grid and where to power has to go so you do not overbuild the grid.

            Run for two or more years then data will be proven and then the number of wind farms will be known, the amount of backup will be known and the best locations also known therefore installation and maintenance costs can be calculated.
            That would settle whether wind & solar plus batteries really are the cheapest and whether we have to go nuclear.

            We have time to do all this, as the ERoEI of coal and oil have not yet reached the point where ww it will no longer be profitable to get them out of the ground.

          • Peter F 11 months ago

            Been done by a number of Universities, the outcome depends on the relative cost and CF of various technologies. If you did the exercise four or five years ago you might have used 30%CF for wind and 15% for solar and built 45 GW of wind and 45 GW of solar and 25-28 GW of backup.
            If you do the exercise today you might build 2-5 GW of solar thermal, 35 GW of high CF wind. (target of 50-55% CF is doable in the best locations) 15 GW of tracking solar at 28-32%. If you use bifacial modules on a northerly slope with white gravel on the ground you might achieve 34-35% CF. That plus existing solar will provide more annual generation than we use
            But because T&D and retail costs dominate the power cost, an East/North/ West solar array on a roof might only have 10% CF but cost less than buying power from the grid. Net result is we will have about 70-75 GW of wind and solar, 8-10 GW of hydro and keep 10-12 GW of gas which will run 1-12% of the time depending on the year contributing <1 to 5% of annual generation but occasionally 40% of instantaneous load. Nameplate capacity will be about 100 GW or roughly 3 times peak load vs 2.1 times peak load in 2005, but the cost of the new grid at overnight investment cost will be about $120 bn current dollars vs the replacement cost of the old grid at about $150 bn Running costs will be about $20/MWh vs a weighted average of $70-95 with a gas and coal grid

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Thanks Peter, interesting figures regarding grid connections.
            To get to 99.9% reliability might require such an enormous
            expenditure in a grid that was capable of NW Australia supplying SE Australia that the power is unaffordable.

            Glad it is not me that will have to make that decision.
            There seems to be too much state orientated thinking.

            Thanks

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            Your comments show that you are ignoring many facts.
            SA is part of the National Electricity Market, NEM, the National Grid. It doesn’t stand alone, and is now a net exporter of power.
            If you are old enough to remember when power was all coal fired, with a little hydro, you will remember that there were frequent power cuts in winter, when demand exceeded supply. Virtually no one had air-con in those days. Temperatures were not nearly as high as they are now, and air-con was a great luxury, as well as being noisy and inefficient.
            We have far fewer blackouts now, and those we do have are mostly caused by trees falling across power lines, or gale force winds blowing down the pylons that carry major links. SA 2016.
            The highest demand peaks now are on hot summer afternoons, when all the air-con is running flat out, and whoops! a coaler, or 2, or 3, designed for lower temperature, fails suddenly, without warning, and 500 mW drops from the grid.

            At those times, Solar output is very high, and smooths supply/demand. There may also be high windsin some areas, also smoothing. Storage projects are startingto be built, and by the time the penetrationof renewableshas

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Thanks for the reply Hettie.
            Those blackouts after the war were I believe to rapid expansion of the economy and neglect during the war for obvious reasons. However after that there were no blackouts, at least in NSW, on a regular basis. The reliability up to the present time has been very good.
            So perhaps you know how many sequential still and overcast days have been built into the storage design ?
            All the previous discussion has been about 100% renewable supply and how to get it by use of weather differentials across the country.
            As far as baseless worry, you can see where she’ll be right no worries has got us.

      • Ben C 11 months ago

        I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying… you’re saying you would need 7000x our peak electricity demand in renewable capacity to cover 100% of our needs? what about storage? where are these figures you speak of? please send links

        • Bazz12 11 months ago

          Yes Ben that is what several articles I have seen are suggesting this. The range of multiplication figures can depend on the physical size of the country. The bigger the country the more variable the weather and so the better chance of getting some wind.
          The Europeans are talking of having solar farms in Nth Africa. There is an article on OLO by Geoff Carmody ;

          ‘Reliable’ renewables roulette
          He does not take into account country size but probably because he is talking of Australia only.
          I am no mathematician but I suspect that the multiplication number rises exponentially as the country get smaller.
          There now seems to be a few people taking this factor into account.
          The big problem becomes cost and batteries just make it worse as you have to provide more generation capacity to recharge them, you may not be able to wait for off peak time to recharge.

          It is a major problem but hopefully it is now getting attention.

          • neroden 11 months ago

            This is very silly. Provide capacity equal to roughly 100% to 200% of peak demand, then build some batteries. It works and anyone who can do math (unlike you, since you are “not a mathematician”) knows that it will work.

            I studied math. I can tell you you are wrong.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Oh yes, then please calculate for poor me the size of the battery bank to cope with three still, overcast days.

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            Do wake up, Bazz. Batteries are not the only form of storage. Yes, they are by far the quickest to build, but the lowest cost is small scale pumped hydro, PHES, and that has the advantage of being able to operate at zero marginal cost when excess solar and wind power is used to push water uphill, for release at times of low wind and/or Solar output.
            You should know this.
            You should also learn to respect the expert knowledge of the Renew Economy writers, and stop making a Pratt of yourself.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Well, it seems I have touched a sore point.
            Of course batteries are not the only backup. Any storage to be usable has to behave like a battery, which is what pumped hydro does, even to having the same losses close enough at 30%.
            My purpose on being here is to ascertain whether anyone can show that 100% renewables is in fact feasible.
            What I have discovered is that there is no definition of what is meant by 100%.

            So why are you so touchy ?

            Not used to being questioned ?

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            Far too used to being questioned by one eyed morons like you. Exhausted and fed up. Now bugger off.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Oh dear, sorry if I have upset you.
            Are you a school teacher ?
            That might explain it.
            Take a Bex and have a nice lie down.

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            Have you, like Tony Abbott, suffered frequent blows to the head?
            That would explain it. Go see a neurologist.

          • Peter F 11 months ago

            One wind is never zero and two the whole NEM is never heavily overcast so on a cloudy winters day tracking solar will provide probably 7% of its capacity vs an annual average of 28-30% and wind will still provide at least 10% more like 15% over the day. Over 3 days solar will be 10% and wind probably 20%. The technology is changing all the time a 90 m rotor will provide about 500 kW on an 80 m mast at a ground wind speed of 5 m/s. A 136 m diameter rotor on a 110 m tower will provide 1,800 kW at the same ground wind speed so as new generation wind turbines dominate the fleet and we have 35 GW installed the minimum 3 day CF will rise above 20% so with 40 GW of solar and 35 GW of wind the minimum 3 day generation will be an average of 12 GW from wind and solar, 6 GW from existing hydro (with an extra basslink) and therefore 6 GW from backup. That will probably include an average of 1.5 GW from 2.5 GW of solar thermal and 2 GW from Snowy 2 and that leaves 2 GW from all other sources including pumped hydro, renewable hydrogen Power to gas batteries etc. If we are silly enough to get even half of it from batteries we would need 72 GWh from batteries. If 5 m electricity customers put in 15 kWh each and each wind and solar farm puts in 50 MWh/ 100 MW of nameplate capacity or 10 x 40′ containers of flow batteries per 100 MW, then the total battery storage would be 115 GWh. Added to that the proposed up grade for Shoalhaven and the five currently proposed plants in SA +Kidston that is another 12 GWh. Job done. Increase in cost for wind and solar farms about 25%

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            Great work, Peter. That should shut him up.

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Thanks Peter, I will try grinding up those figures.
            I was of course considering a closed loop system
            so as to get a grip on it all.
            I wonder why some people have to be so rude.
            They must be unpleasant to live with.

        • Bazz12 11 months ago

          Perhaps I should explain what I mean by 100%. To me it means no shortage of power no matter what the weather, not a
          system that that can supply 100% when the wind blows at maximum.
          Sth Aus have a max about 1200 Mwatt with strong wind. First thing of a morning Sth Aus wind is often about 25Mwatts. Looking at that they would need 48 times the number of turbines to have 1200 Mwatt in the morning when everyone is getting ready for school & work.

          At those times SA gets its electricity from Queensland coal and Tasmania Hydro.
          Hope I made myself clear this time.

      • Hettie 11 months ago

        Don’t be stupid.

    • phillyc 11 months ago

      As more projects come on line, I can see storage is going to be a necessity for some to get the economics to work.

  2. Jason Van Der Velden 11 months ago

    Watch tony have a meltdown over this lol

    • Rod 11 months ago

      Another meltdown? Too many punches to the head from his boxing days.

      • howardpatr 11 months ago

        George Pell wasn’t on hand to give him guidance.

      • rob 11 months ago

        Can’t stop loving that vid!

      • Joe 11 months ago

        Hi Rod, you might be onto something with the hits to his head from his Boxing Blue days. I’m not a doctor but I noticed a bit of body trembling there by Toned Abs, the onset of Parkinsons?

  3. lin 11 months ago

    “he is still scratching his head about the federal government’s climate and energy policies”
    We all are. Corruption is the most plausible explanation, but it might be as simple as stupidity, greed, or a refusal to accept facts that do not align with strongly held religious/political/economic beliefs. We can only hope that they get the big A soon so we can get on with it.

  4. howardpatr 11 months ago

    The quick answer to Neoen question, “wondering why Australia is not more ambitious about renewables”, is the LNP and its overwhelming RWRNJs, led by Mad Monk Abbott.

  5. Jack Moore 11 months ago

    have a look at the live electricity generation graphs you morons. At night there is no solar of course and next to no wind. Almost all is generated by gas/coal. With out storage wind/solar is next to useless at night. With most coal stations closing down in the next decade hope you lot like to go to bed early and only work during the day

    • Rod 11 months ago

      Most one here will be fine in their abode.
      Most on here have the intelligence to start first with energy efficiency.
      Most on here at least have solar on their roof.
      Most on here know how little BTM storage they would require to go off grid.
      Most on here understand no private investor is stupid enough to build a coal burner.
      Most on here read outside of their little regressive news sources and understand RE is the future.
      It sounds like you don’t fit in. Meh.

      • rob 11 months ago

        Unfortunately for me and my home business Rod I probably need another 25Kw system to go with my 10 Kw system……gunna cost me a fortune in building works( ie a massive new shed/ carport, the system plus several fronius inverters and 3 Tesla 12.5 Kw batteries…. total cost approx 100K before I’d be happy to go off grid…..oh and the cost to move to 3 phase……ouch…. but yes thinking of making the investment!
        And then hopefully my dream of owning a TESLA

        • Rod 11 months ago

          No doubt about it, energy intensive businesses and high energy use households have little choice but to remain on grid.
          But with PV now so cheap, energy efficient appliances like heatpumps for water and heating/cooling, inverter type refrigerators, a bit of solar gain and good insulation (as well as shading) many households could seriously consider pulling the pin.
          Of course that is not an altruistic attitude but to many it is the only way to “beat the bastards”.
          This is my split for Winter thus far from an under performing 2.5kWp array. I’m working on eliminating the solar HWS boosting. As you can see, even in Winter I am energy positive (green usage, blue exported, aqua off peak) for a very frugal 3 adult household. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4a61f6228c04468b3caa4f00fd07ae214c5a70b819b844ea8098e7a5019c77b0.png

          • rob 11 months ago

            I hate you! Lol
            But seriously well done!

          • Rod 11 months ago

            Staying with the serious theme. Have you had an energy audit? There are some Gov. incentives available for businesses like lighting upgrades.

            https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/energy-and-environment/using-saving-energy/retailer-energy-efficiency-scheme

          • rob 11 months ago

            No Rod I haven’t but thanks for the heads up.I will check it out! thank you

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            What happened about the insurance companies refusing to insure when the lithium batteries are close to the house/building and require a separate shed or building ? Does it still apply ?

          • Rod 11 months ago

            The suggestion for outdoor enclosures was knocked back.
            I’ve not heard anything about insurance.

          • Joe 11 months ago

            He just making up another scare story.

          • Joe 11 months ago

            Bazza, you need to try harder with your scare tactics. The business of Standards Australia and the idea of home battery inside a bunker or battery plonked down the bottom of the backyard was canned some time ago. Bazza, please feel free to now go install your home solar plus battery system…its all good!

          • Bazz12 11 months ago

            Thanks Joe I will try harder.
            Why is this site plagued with people who want to jump down your throat at the simplest question.

          • Hettie 11 months ago

            We could alsoask why this sits is so plagued by people who refuse to accept patient, polite explanations of the facts, and persist in stupid, erroneous assertions until they are slapped down.
            Read and Learn, everyone will be happy to explain. Keep on with repetitious crap, and you will cop a bollocking.

    • Nick Kemp 11 months ago

      ” hope you lot like to go to bed early and only work during the day”

      Early to bed
      early to rise
      makes a man healthy
      wealthy and wise.

      You are obviously not doing that. It’s usually best to try and understand a subject before commenting – you should know it’s better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you’re an idiot than open it and prove them right

    • My_Oath 11 months ago

      With out storage wind/solar is next to useless at night.

      Yes! Absolutely this!

      So the answer to “not enough storage” is “build more storage”. Now get back in your box, moron.

    • Hettie 11 months ago

      Last time I looked, wind tends to be stronger overnight. Certainly as the ground warms in the mornings and cools in the evenings, the air is on the move. Then there is the valley effect. A light breeze in open country is greatly accelerated through valleys. This big country offers many sites where wind is relatively constant.
      The two systems, Solar and wind, are complementary. And far more reliable than aging coal plants, which have a nasty habit of failing when demand peaks.
      There is time yet for storage projects to be built, using excess wind and sun power to push water uphill when there is plenty, releasing supply when sun and wind are not producing.
      In the meantime, let me observe that your ignorance is exceeded only by your rudeness.

    • Joe 11 months ago

      No light at night, OMG. The take your own advice and just go to bed, have a good sleep to relieve your anxiety about the darkness.

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