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THURSDAY 24 JULY, 2014 | RSS Feed

Lord Howe Island's Clean, Renewable Energy Future


Lorde Howe Island - ARENA
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is helping to fund a hybrid renewable energy project on Lord Howe Island that will include energy storage.
ARENA will contribute $4.5 million in support for the 1 MW, $11.6 million wind, solar, storage and diesel hybrid system that will reduce the Island's consumption of diesel by 70%.
"Lord Howe Island is 600 km off the east coast of Australia and, like other remote off-grid communities across the country, is heavily reliant on diesel generators that are costly to run and subject to volatile fuel prices," said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknech.
"It is another significant project to come out of ARENA’s Regional Australia’s Renewables Initiative, which is focused on increasing the uptake of renewables in offgrid Australia."
It's been a long road to reach this point according to Lord Howe Island Board CEO Penny Holloway; who said said the community had been working towards a renewable energy future for more than ten years and ARENA's support means it can now become a reality.
The Lord Howe Island Group is part of the state of New South Wales; administered by the Lord Howe Island Board.
NSW Environment and Heritage Minister Rob Stokes congratulated ARENA and the Lord Howe Island Board for their vision and commitment.
"Lord Howe Island was included on the World Heritage List because of its unique natural and heritage values and this initiative is a powerful way of protecting these into the future," he said.
In other recent news from ARENA, the body announced it is also providing $500,000 to the Clean Energy Council (CEC) to support the execution of the first stage of a project to future-proof Australia’s energy system and improve the electricity grid to support the growth of clean energy.
The CEC  will be working with industry, government, regulators and consumers and commissioning various related analyses; with the first stage of the future proofing project due to be completed by the middle of next year.


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Wind Power Growth In EU Slips (Slightly)


European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has released a report forecasting slower than expected growth in Europe’s wind power sector by 2020, citing a financial downturn and regulatory instability in key markets as causes for the trend. 
In findings released this week, EWEA predicts European Union countries to install 192.4 GW of wind energy by 2020 – below previous 2011 estimates of 230GW by 2020. Despite the slump, wind power capacity will expand by 64 per cent in the next seven years and up to €124 billion in wind farm investments across the EU are expected by 2020, creating 100,000 additional jobs. 
By 2020, wind power will generate 442 TWh of electricity, supplying nearly 15 per cent of Europe’s electricity.
EWEA reviewed its 2020 scenarios in light of new developments in economic activity, energy consumption and changes to renewable energy policies across the EU. 
It found that Europe’s overall energy demand would not rise above 2008 levels until 2027, impacting the pace of wind power uptake. While some nations were shrugging off the burden of the global financial crisis, retroactive and retrospective changes to subsidies for wind energy projects in key markets would continue to curtail growth in the sector.
Although the rate of installations revised over the forecast period, the report noted this would not necessarily affect Europe’s 20 per cent renewable energy target, because of demand for electricity would also fall:
"As the 20% target is a consumption target, and with consumption being lower than expected, meeting the target with fewer installed MW producing fewer TWh is feasible."
Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said: "A cocktail of regulatory uncertainty, ongoing climate and energy discussions at EU level and rapidly evolving national frameworks has contributed to these new scenarios."
"However, while regulatory stability is still recovering in Europe, onshore markets such as Germany, France, United Kingdom and Poland will remain key for wind power installations," Wilkes added.


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Build A Better (Smaller) Inverter - Win A Million Bucks


Shrinking solar inverters - Little Box Challenge
Google wants to see the size of inverters shrink - and will award a million dollars to the person or team that comes up with the best design.
An inverter in a grid connected solar power system is the largish box separate from the solar panels that takes the DC current produced by the modules and converts it to AC; suitable for use in the home or for exporting to the mains grid. 
In an off-grid solar system, the solar inverter performs a similar function, but converts the DC power from a bank of deep cycle batteries.
Google's "Little Box Challenge" isn't looking for slightly smaller inverters, but a unit that is around the size of a notebook computer - a reduction of more than 10 X in volume of standard solar inverters today.
While microinverters are already available, these are module level electronics and rated to up to just a few hundred watts. Competition participants will need to develop a kW-scale inverter with a power density of at least 50 Watts per cubic inch.
"We expect that the innovations inspired by this prize will have wide applicability across these areas, increasing efficiency, driving down costs, and opening up new uses cases that we can’t imagine today. It also doesn’t hurt that many of these improvements could make our data centers run more safely and efficiently."
Interested parties need register their team by September 30, 2014. By July next year, a technical approach and testing application must be completed. In October 2015, 18 finalists will be selected and the winner will be announced in January 2016.
Google will not require any IP (intellectual property) or licenses to be granted to it, except a non-exclusive license that it says will be used only for the purpose of testing the inverter and publicizing the prize. The company says it may also choose to make public "some or all of the teams’ high-level technical approach documents".
Not All Solar Inverters Are Equal
Microinverters Vs Power Optimizers


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Spotlight On Solar Mounting Systems At Clean Energy Week


Solar panel mounting systems
Good quality and properly installed mounting frames are a crucial part of a solar power system; but this critical element is sometimes not given the attention it deserves.
The new CEC best practice mounting system framing list was launched at a Clean Energy Week event on Wednesday. 
The list will help installers choose a framing system that has "clear install instructions and has a valid engineering certificate that includes a declaration from the engineer. This will reduce the use of non-compliant framing systems," says the CEC.
One of the concerns regarding some mounting systems brought into Australia is the lack of clear detail for installers. Some installation manuals are also incomplete; leaving installers to "wing it" in certain scenarios - a less than ideal situation when a substantial investment and consumer safety are involved. While imported systems may have been signed off by a structural engineer; that engineer may not be based or trained in Australia.
One of the mounting systems on the CEC's best practice list is the Australian designed and manufactured SunLock range.
Robust, fast to install and compliant with relevant standards including AS/NZS1170.2:2011/Amdt 2:2012; the engineering and compliance certificates that accompany the highly detailed installation manual are supplied by Australian registered structural engineers. The SunLock continuous professional development (CPD) course has also been accredited by the Clean Energy Council.
For installers, the SunLock system provides a strong, economical and easy to work with product to help ensure the job is done right. For the end-consumer, it offers peace of mind.
Given the concerns associated with some imported mounted systems, consumers should be asking a prospective installer "what brand of mounting system will you be using?" - and doing their own due diligence on the product identified.
Further information about the SunLock range can be viewed on the SunLock web site. SunLock is available for purchase from Apollo Energy (wholesale) and Energy Matters (retail). SunLock is part of the Energy Matters group of companies.


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