A Few Rays Of Sunshine For Clean Energy In The Australian Budget  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , ,

The Clean Energy Council is mildly pleased with last night's budget announcements from the government - New renewable energy funding a step in the right direction.

Australia’s clean energy industry has welcomed the Rudd Government’s increased investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the 2010 Federal Budget, but says much work is still required.

The Federal Government will provide $652.5 million over four years to establish a Renewable Energy Future Fund as well as $1.8 billion for the Resource Exploration Refundable Tax Offset, under which technologies such as geothermal and wave will be eligible. ...

Mr Warren said it was important that government support recognized the different stages of clean technology development, which may require different types of financial support. “Until we have some clear carbon price, Australia’s climate strategy will need to focus on developing and deploying clean energy technologies, development of a comprehensive and effective energy efficiency strategy and more dynamic electricity networks that enable these new clean power stations to get their energy to market,” he said.

John at Crikey's "Rooted" blog is less enthusiastic (for offshore readers, "rooted" means "f*cked" in Australian) - Rooted budget.
This Budget is rooted. It puts and end to the pretense that the Rudd Government is serious about tackling environmental issues. It is a Budget dominated by short-term thinking and an almost complete abandonment of climate change as an issue of national importance.

With the recent backlflip on the CPRS, many were expecting some new, serious initiatives to fill the void. Instead, funding to environmental programmes has been cut, fossil fuel subsidies remain untouched, and the only sweetener is a new $652 Million renewable energy fund- another piecemeal and inadequate response. One suspects that it was only included so that Mr Swann could say the words “renewable energy” repeatedly in his budget speech.

As if to disguise their failure, the Budget announcement was followed with rapid fire announcements that had the word “solar” in them – to try to create illusion of climate action. However, these announcements were all just about existing programmes, including the shortlist for projects under the Solar Flagships Programme.

It is clear that Rudd and Swann just don’t get it. One-off injections of funding in to renewable energy projects or R&D are useful, but the transition of renewable energy from a small market player to the ubiquitous source of energy that it needs to become is going to require long term incentives and mechanisms to drive investment. A well designed feed-in-tarrif would do the job, as would well designed tax credits, combined of course with a carbon tax or properly designed ETS.

My co-editor Phil at TOD ANZ has a post on the funding announced for the "Solar Flagships" program, with Wizard Energy being one beneficiary - Renewable Energy Development Program Projects & Solar Flagships Shortlist.
The Australian Government has awarded $92 million to two large-scale solar energy demonstration projects

The two projects are:

- 23 megawatt solar boost to coal-fired turbines at Kogan Creek, near Chinchilla in western Queensland ($32 million), using Ausra (now Areva) Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology; and

- a 40 megawatt concentrated solar thermal demonstration plant at Whyalla, South Australia, using Australia's own "Big Dish" technology ($60 million).

Combined with investment from the successful applicants, the two projects will deliver about $320 million in solar energy investment in Australia and more than 60 megawatts equivalent of solar peak load generation capacity, within the next four years.

These projects will save almost 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

Additional details of the projects follows:

• CS Energy Pty Ltd - $31.8 million

The CS Energy project at Kogan Creek in Queensland will demonstrate the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar array technology developed in Australia by Ausra Pty Ltd. This technology is now being marketed world-wide by the Areva Group. The project will be attached to the existing Kogan Creek A Power Station to provide a 23 megawatt equivalent superheated steam solar boost to the coal-fired turbines. This will allow an increase in energy output as well as saving around 35,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. CS Energy is a Queensland Government-owned corporation.

• N.P. Power Pty Ltd (Whyalla Solar Oasis Consortium) - $60.0 million

The Whyalla Solar Oasis Consortium will demonstrate Wizard Power's ‘Big Dish’ concentrated solar thermal power generation technology developed at the Australian 2 National University in 1994. The 40 megawatt demonstration plant at Whyalla will utilise 300 ‘Big Dish’ solar thermal concentrators that will be built on site using Wizard Power Pty Ltd’s proprietary factory-in-the-field concept. The technology is easily scalable and a successful demonstration of the ‘Big Dish’ technology will open the way for further deployment of the technology, both within Australia and overseas. The project will generate power for about 9,500 average households and save about 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. The Whyalla Solar Oasis Consortium consists of N.P. Power Pty Ltd, Sustainable Power Partners Pty Ltd and Wizard Power Pty Ltd.

AuSES welcomes this funding announcement, and congratulates the two projects selected. We look forward to seeing the emergence of large scale solar as a result of this announcement. ...

Solar Flagship Shortlist Announced

The Australian Government has announced eight projects that will be invited to participate in the second stage of assessment for Round One of the $1.5 billion Solar Flagships Program.

The shortlisted projects will share up to $15 million in feasibility funding going into the second stage of assessment:

Solar photovoltaic

o AGL Energy proposes a multi-site project using thin film cadmium telluride solar photovoltaic technology generating up to150MW at multiple sites across Australia including ACT, NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia;

o TRUenergy proposes a single site near Mildura, using thin film cadmium telluride solar photovoltaic technology to generate up to 180MW;

o Infigen Suntech’s crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic technology would be deployed at up to three sites in New South Wales or Victoria to generate up to 195MW; and

o BP Solar proposes a single axis tracking photovoltaic system to generate 150MW from plants constructed at several locations in New South Wales.

Solar thermal

o ACCIONA Energy Oceania proposes to generate 200MW using solar thermal parabolic trough technology at a single site in either Queensland or South Australia;

o Parsons Brinckerhoff proposes to construct a 150MW solar thermal parabolic trough power station at Kogan Creek in Queensland;

o Wind Prospect CWP proposes to use linear fresnel technology at Kogan Creek in Queensland to construct a 250MW power plant; and

o Transfield proposes to convert the Collinsville coal-fired power station in Queensland into a 150MW solar thermal linear fresnel power plant.

The Solar Flagships Council has also made recommendations relating to the siting of photovoltaic projects.

There is also some additional funding for the Australian Solar Institute.
The latest Australian Solar Institute (ASI) funding for solar energy has announced five projects will receive grants worth a total of $18.5 million.

The latest grants are:

• $5.0 million for a $24.1 million project run by the University of New South Wales in collaboration with Silex Solar and Suntech Power to improve the performance of screen printed solar PV cells;

• $2.25 million for a $5.4 million project run by BT Imaging Pty Ltd to improve the performance of photovoltaic manufacturing;

• $2.25 million for a $15.6 million project run by Sapphicon Semiconductor Pty Ltd to develop a high-efficiency solar module on a wafer based thin film;

• $4.0 million for a $9.0 million project run by CSIRO and the Australian National University to develop advanced solar thermal energy storage technologies; and

• $4.95 million for an Australian National University led $13.4 million applied research project in collaboration with industry partner, Transform Solar (an Origin Energy JV) to help develop the next generation of solar cells.

It was interesting to see that Areva (who I've speculated previously will give up on nuclear power and switch horses to solar power) is one of the companies involved in the CSP projects. Giles Parkinson has a column on this at the Business Spectator - The giant backing Australian solar.
The French nuclear giant Areva might have made one of the deals of the year when it snapped up Ausra, the solar thermal energy company founded by Australian researcher David Mills.

Areva bought a cash-strapped Ausra for an estimated $US200 million in February and plans to use the technology to lead a major push into the solar thermal energy market, which it wants to dominate in the same way as it does the global nuclear industry.

The purchase has paid early dividends in Australia, with its technology being chosen for a $32 million grant to build a 23MW solar-boosting project for the coal-fired Kogan Creek power station in Queensland, and short-listed for one of two projects to get substantial backing under the $1.5 billion solar flagships program.

When the idea of the Kogan Creek solar booster was first unveiled by the Bligh state government last year, it was said that it was not warmly embraced by the power station’s operators, CS Energy.

But a 'change of culture' at the largely coal-fired power utility has seen it become heavily involved in the development of solar projects. Perhaps it has seen the future. Apart from the solar booster plan with Areva, it is involved in two other projects that were yesterday short-listed in round one of the federal government’s $1.5 billion solar flagships project, announced on the same day as the government revealed its withdrawal from the FutureGen clean coal alliance.

CS Energy has teamed up with the European-based Wind Prospect CWP to use Ausra’s linear Fresnel technology to build a massive 250MW solar plant at Kogan Creek. It will be boosted by the use of gas from the huge coal seam methane reserves in the surrounding Surat Basin.

CS Energy is also involved in a consortium led by the US engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff that proposes to construct a 150MW solar thermal plant using parabolic trough technology at Kogan Creek.

Indeed, the Surat Basin may emerge as a major centre for solar energy developments because of its strong solar resources and its CSG reserves. The wind prospect consortium is believed to be toying with the idea of building a solar-boosted gas plant, although the economics of this and the solar flagships proposal will depend – to a large extent – on the existence of a carbon price.

Another hybrid proposal to make the short-list is Transfield’s plan to convert the Collinsville coal-fired power station in Townsville to a gas boosted solar plant, using linear fresnel technology developed by Novatec Biosol, a German-based company majority owned by Transfield.

As a sign of the government’s inherent conservatism on these matters, none of the big name US and Spanish proponents of the new generation solar tower technologies, such as BritghSource, e-Solar and Cobra, made the short-list.

The Solar Flagships program aims to build one large scale solar thermal plant and one large scale photovoltaic plant in round one, with a further two plants to be built in round 2.

In the solar thermal section, the other short-listed project proposed by Spanish group Acciona, for a yet-to-be decided location in either South Australia or Queensland, will use parabolic trough technology.


An observation: given that a large percentage of what the miners export is coal, is the 'super profits tax' a carbon tax for all real intents and purposes? (a carbon tax on everybody essentially)

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