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$6000 Battery Grants

NT just approved procurement of grid-scale batteries and $6000 battery grants for home owners

Posted by Jason Cartwrighton April 5, 2020

The Northern Territory Government has announced two major programs that will help achieve their plan for 50% renewables by 2030. 

The first relates to grid-scale battery storage, while the second is a great incentive for home owners to invest in batteries at home.

Batteries are used to store the energy captured through solar panels and the Northern Territory has one of the highest numbers of hours of sunlight per day, across the year, of anywhere in Australia.

Battery energy storage system (BESS) for the Darwin – Katherine System

The NT Government has approved the procurement of a large-scale battery for the Darwin-Katherine grid at a project cost of $30M. It is estimated that investment will pay for itself in approximately five years.

Major benefits of the BESS include:

  • Increased stability and reliability of power supply. Fluctuations caused by the increasing levels of household and business behind-the-meter solar can be managed quickly and efficiently.
  • Reduction in carbon emissions for the Territory and costs for Territory Generation.Reducing the need for gas-fired spinning reserve can deliver both cost savings of around $6.4M and emissions reductions of about 50,000 tonnes per annum.
  • Enabling more renewable energy from large scale solar projects. The potential provision of system services from the BESS to the private sector will be considered. 

Energy storage increases the reliability and security of energy and has the potentially to provide system services to the private sector. Therese are actions recommended by the Road Map to Renewables report commissioned by the Government. 

The procurement will take place over the coming months with the BESS expected to become operational in the second half of 2022. While there’s likely to be multiple applicants for the battery storage, the success of Tesla’s PowerPack in South Australia places them in a very nice position to tender for the job, with runs on the board.

Household and Business Battery Scheme (HBBS)

Home owners and businesses are also getting a break, with the NT Government offering a $6,000 subsidy off the price of batteries over 7kWh to significantly reduce costs. This cost reduction over the long term is achieved by significantly reducing the amount of power that has to be purchased from the grid.

Tesla Powerwall 2 features 13.5kWh of usable capacity, with 7kW peak and 5kW continuous. This places it as a prime candidate for the program. Right now the Powerwall 2 costs A$10,000 + another A$1,700 for supporting hardware and install. This means a discount of A$6,000 would more than halve the cost of the battery, dramatically reducing the ROI.

Of course, there’s a number of other battery storage options for your home in Australia, including LG Chem, Sonnen Batterie and more. If you’re considering it, I’d suggest you take a look at the great information on Solarquotes.com.au.

If you’re a family or business that already has solar, a discount of this magnitude, now looks incredibly inviting.

While a reduction in your energy bills is certainly one object, for the NT that is familiar with extreme weather and even cyclones stored power could provide much needed power in the event grid supply is interrupted.

A new standard Feed in Tariff (FiT) of 8.3 cents per kWh will be offered by Jacana Energy and will apply to all new businesses and households with behind-the-meter solar installations of up to 30kW in size.

All businesses and households who currently receive the premium one-for-one FiT will continue to do so. They will only surrender the premium FiT if they upgrade the capacity of their system, move premises or take advantage of the battery subsidy.

Households and businesses who have already submitted an application to Power Water for the installation of solar will also be eligible for the premium FiT. The scheme will be funded by savings from the introduction of a reduced FiT.

An initial allocation of $800,000 will be provided for the scheme, funding grants for about 130 batteries. That means you need to act fast as the applications for the $6000 grants under the scheme will open Tuesday April 14.

“We’ve backed renewables and so have Territorians – they know renewables means lower prices.

Our new $6000 solar and battery grants will see even more Territorians choose the sun and lower power prices – and create more jobs.

Doing whatever it takes to save lives from coronavirus means throwing the kitchen sink at saving jobs and preparing the Territory for the rebound.

I’m backing Territorians, solar and lower prices to get it done – we have a bright future if we all stick together.”

Chief Minister, Michael Gunner

Further details on the BESS and the HBBS can be found at www.business.nt.gov.au  

What is the National Energy Guarantee and what does it mean for consumers?

By political correspondent Louise Yaxley and Lucy Sweeney Updated 14 Aug 2018, 5:06pm

Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled his shiny new energy policy, complete with its own three-letter acronym to replace the doomed Clean Energy Target.

The Government claims the new plan — including a National Energy Guarantee, or NEG — will be kinder to hip pockets and will reduce emissions enough for Australia to uphold its end of the Paris climate change agreement.

Here's what it all means:

So what's new?

The Government is effectively putting the onus on retailers to guarantee (the G in NEG) two things: reliable supply and emissions reduction.

The first part of that means power companies would be required to use a percentage of electricity from sources such as coal, gas, batteries and pumped hydro.

What is 'base load power'?

Base load power is a term we're hearing a lot in discussions about our energy future. But what does it mean, and is it really relevant?

This would be ready to use at short notice to stop blackouts like the one seen in South Australia last year.

It would also keep the power system stable at a lower price because it would be done via long-term contracts, not the short-term spot price.

The second part — reducing emissions — means they'll be scrapping subsidies and incentives for renewables and instead expecting retailers to ensure the power that they're buying is efficient enough to help Australia meet its international obligations (i.e. what we signed up to do during the Paris climate change conference).

It is not yet clear what the penalty would be for companies who fall short of that, but it is likely they would be able to make up a shortfall the following year.

Will my power be cheaper?

Malcolm Turnbull says: YES.

Spruiking the new plan, the Prime Minister said: "Your power bills are too high and rising too fast."

So how much are we talking? The typical household could save between $110 and $115 each year for a decade from 2020, according to the Energy Security Board, which costed things for the Government.

Separate modelling by Frontier Economics predicts savings of up to $120 a year, and a 23 per cent drop in wholesale electricity prices between 2020 and 2030.

BUT … the head of the Energy Market Commission, John Pierce, who is *also* a member of the Energy Security Board, said that figure was an average over the decade, leaving open the possibility it would be much lower in the early years.

Mr Pierce has also said that some modelling showed the saving could be as low as $25 a year in 2020.

When the PM was asked whether the Energy Security Board had provided any lower figures, he said the only information he had was the figure quoted in the Security Board's letter to him; that's where the $115 figure came from.

But keeping the power bills down is reliant on a range of measures including state government policies.

What about reliability?

"Keeping the lights on" is a key element of the Government's mantra.

It insists that the scheme is designed to ensure that the electricity supply will be more reliable because power companies will have to use "dispatchable" power.

The Government is already backing chief scientist Alan Finkel's call for more investment in batteries. His aim is to make solar power more reliable because the energy could be stored and released to prevent shortages, and the Government has adopted that plan.

This goes much further by making the power companies source some of their power from sources like coal, gas, pumped hydro or even encouraging ways to reduce demand.

Will it bring down emissions enough?

In November last year the Government promised to reduce emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent by 2030 as part of the Paris climate change accord.

The NEG means the electricity sector has to cut emissions by 26 per cent by 2030, but analysis shows emissions would drop by 24 per cent if no policy change was made.

So really, the NEG in and of itself would only cut emissions by 2 per cent over 10 years.

That provides little incentive for the energy market to invest in new renewable energy power sources

With the electricity sector expected to cut emissions by 26 per cent, other parts of the economy like agriculture and transport will have to find ways to do more if Australia is to meet its Paris target.

What is the Paris Agreement?

Here's a simple explanation of the agreement, and what it means for Australia.

The Government says the Paris target will still be met, but with no incentives or subsidies for renewables under this scheme.

It says renewables are becoming more competitive without subsidies, so the Renewable Energy Target is no longer necessary.

It's understood those subsidies for using renewables will be phased out after 2020.

Labor argues the new plan will destroy the renewables sector.

The Climate Council says it will mean less renewable energy than we need to tackle climate change.

Will it keep coal-fired power plants running longer?

Power companies will be forced to use baseload sources, which could keep some coal-fired power plants operating longer.

But the Clean Energy Council says these plants are becoming unreliable because of their age.

Mr Turnbull says solar, wind, coal, gas, batteries and pumped hydro will all be part of the energy mix.

How did we get here again?

Towards the end of last year, the Federal Government asked Dr Finkel to review the energy sector after a statewide blackout in South Australia.

That review focused on the sustainability of the current system, its environmental impacts, and affordability for consumers.

Explaining the Finkel report

You might have heard about this big government report called the Finkel review — here's what it could mean for Australia's energy sector.

Dr Finkel came back with a bunch of recommendations.

One of those was a Clean Energy Target, which would have seen electricity companies forced to provide a set percentage of their power from low emissions (clean) technology — things like renewables and efficient gas.

His modelling showed a CET would lower power prices by subsidising investment in clean power generation, increasing the supply of electricity.

But some in the Coalition were sceptical about the CET, saying it would make for less reliable service.

And so the Government went back to the drawing board, and came up with this plan.

Will the NEG get the nod?

The Government wanted to make these changes without federal legislation, so it could avoid a Senate showdown. But it looks like there will be a vote in Parliament after all.

Backbenchers including Tony Abbott, Andrew Hastie, George Christensen and Eric Abetz have indicated they may cross the floor to vote against the NEG.

Barnaby Joyce is also pushing for more guarantees that the NEG would bring down prices before he supports the plan and Nationals senator Barry O'Sullivan has major concerns.

And while the Opposition is yet to announce a final position on the energy plan, it has argued that the emissions target is too weak.

For their part, the Greens say Labor's Energy and Climate Change spokesman Mark Butler was right "when he said that this was a dud of a policy".

Ultimately, it will need the backing of the states and territories, which have their own policies over energy.

 

Solar cell technology: How it works and the future of sunshine

One in seven homes in Australia has solar panels on their roof — more than anywhere else in the world. So what is going on in all those shiny rooftop structures?

The first solar cell was made in 1839 by 19-year-old Edmond Becquerel, who noticed electricity was generated by a piece of silver chloride when it was illuminated with light.

It was less than 1 per cent efficient, but we have come a long way since then.

The first 20 per cent silicon solar cell was made in Australia 30 years ago by Andrew Blakers and Martin Green at a time when solar energy was largely a fringe technology for hippies and space agencies.

The research findings from the lab back then are now being implemented in solar-panel manufacturing plants all around the world.

What is a solar cell?

A solar cell is a device that converts sunlight into electricity.

The most common type of solar cells are made from wafers of ultra-pure silicon and boron that have been infused with phosphorus in a hot furnace, coated with an antireflection coating, and then fired with metal contacts.

They are typically about the size of a birthday card, but less than half a millimetre thick.

How do solar cells work?

At the heart of a solar cell is a tiny electric field that splits negative charges from positive charges using the energy of sunlight.

In a silicon wafer solar cell, the electric field is set up with the help of small amounts of other atoms. On one side of the wafer are some boron atoms (with one less electron than silicon) and on the other side are phosphorus atoms (with one more electron). Together they create what is called a positive-negative (p-n) junction. Opposites usually attract, but the p-n junction forms the electric field that is able to drive positive and negative charges apart.

When sunlight is absorbed by the solar cell an electron is knocked free inside the silicon and pushed across the wafer due to the electric field. It can then be collected by metal contacts to become usable electricity.

It is an incredible invention — the only way we make electricity on Earth at scale, without any moving parts.

solarpanelsdarwinnews1

 

 

Alongside their price, what we often care about is their efficiency — the amount of electrical-energy-out divided by sunlight-energy-in.

The ones on rooftops today are around 20 per cent efficient.

When sunlight shines on a solar panel, the DC electricity that it produces is transported by conducting wires into an inverter, which transforms the electricity into the 240V AC supply that we use to power our telly and fridge.

Are panels getting more efficient?

The efficiency records for solar cells are continually increasing.

Researchers have achieved 39 per cent efficiency for normal sunlight and an impressive 46 per cent for concentrated light the equivalent of 300 suns (when we focus sunlight from a larger area with a bunch of mirrors) in the lab, but these cells are smaller than a CD, designed for space, and made with very expensive materials.

The improvements are thanks to the use of new material combinations, advanced anti-reflection coatings, clever semiconductor processing that avoid electrical losses, and a hundred other smart engineering ideas.

The world's mass-producers of solar cells are continually incorporating these advances into their own solar cells, meaning that the panels on rooftops are steadily getting more efficient too.

The techniques that made the world's first 20 per cent silicon solar panels 30 years ago are just now being translated into the production lines of the world's largest solar panel manufacturers.

Thirty years from now, we should be able to expect the same from research advances happening in the lab today.

What will solar cells look like in 20 years' time?

In 20 years' time the solar panels on your roof will probably look the same as now with their aluminium frame and glass front, but they will likely be a whole lot cheaper and at least half again as efficient thanks to smart engineering.

A range of new technologies being researched now in labs across Australia and the world may overcome the efficiency limits of silicon-only solar cells.

One of the exciting developments in the field is a new semiconductor called "methyl ammonium lead iodide perovskite".

Solar cells made out of this cheap and easy to produce material have already achieved 20 per cent efficiency in the lab — matching the efficiency of today's silicon cells.

In the future, perovskites may either replace silicon solar cells or be used as a companion material to help them move beyond 26 per cent efficiency — the upper limit of silicon-only cells.

The research team I am part of at Monash University and CSIRO is experimenting using perovskites as the top layer in double-decker "tandem" solar cells that absorb different colours of sunlight in each layer.

solarpanelsdarwinnews2

 

 

In a tandem solar cell, high-energy photons (green, blue and UV) are absorbed in the top layer, and low-energy photons (red, orange and yellow) are absorbed in the bottom layer. This allows the solar cell to squeeze more energy out of sunlight — we are aiming for double the efficiency of rooftop solar cells at super low cost.

Other ideas being pursued around Australia and the world include reflected-tandems (double-decker solar cells placed side by side), quantum-dot solar cells (using tiny nanocrystals as the energy absorber material), up-conversion of light (converting two low-energy photons, that would otherwise be wasted, to make one high-energy photon) and hot-carrier cells (collecting charge from solar cells before they have the chance to lose any voltage).

It is not too hard to imagine a future with thin, efficient, lightweight and flexible solar cells on mobile phone cases, laptop bags, backpacks, suitcases, hats, tents, you name it…

How 'green' are solar cells?

It takes about two to five years for a solar panel to "pay back" the energy that went into making them (depending on how sunny it is where you live). This includes the energy needed to mine the silicon and process it into a solar cell, and also make the aluminium frame and glass in the panel module housing.

Solar panels usually come with a guarantee of 80 per cent output for 25 years (and there is no reason why they should not last longer), which means energy-wise solar panels are a good thing, by a factor of at least four.

Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (second to oxygen in the silicon dioxide that makes up sand and quartz), so there will not be any material shortages in the foreseeable future.

Solar panel recycling stations are starting to be set up all over the world — like aluminium recycling, silicon is an excellent candidate for cradle-to-grave-to-cradle material management.

And sunshine itself is the most sustainable resource we have — the sun should be around for a few more billion years at least.

Dr Niraj Lal is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Renewable Energy Laboratory at Monash University and one of RN's Top 5 under 40 scientists. Dr Lal talks about his work in more detail today on the Science Show on RN.

Why hasn't Darwin embraced solar power to help locals reduce their power bills?

By Neda Vanovac

Updated 22 Aug 2017, 7:33pm

Darwin is Australia's only tropical capital and it gets more sunshine all-year round than any other major city. So why is it at the bottom of the class when it comes to adopting solar energy?

Our first Curious Darwin questioner, Salme Sheehan, lived in the Territory for more than 40 years before moving to Queensland in 2011, and she has been startled by the difference in her power bills, especially when compared with those of her children, who still live in the NT.

solar1

PHOTO: The NT gets more sunshine than anywhere else in Australia but lags on solar power uptake. (Supplied: Quality Solar NT).

"It's just astronomical, I don't know how they survive paying those bills," she said.

Ms Sheehan said her children were paying up to $2,000 or $3,000 per quarter, compared to her bill in Queensland of $300 to $400 per quarter. That's with Government assistance to pay for the solar panels on her roof, plus a pensioner subsidy on her bill.

This prompted her to ask: Why hasn't Darwin embraced solar power options like Queensland to help locals reduce their power bills?

She said cost-of-living pressures are part of the reason why there are more people leaving than settling in the NT, and the Government needed to find ways to help residents keep costs down.

"Darwin is dying a lot and it needs an influx of people and they're not going to get it when they pay power prices like that, they need to support [Territorians]," she said.

Why can't the NT be more like Queensland?

When it comes to solar power, Queensland is leading the charge, with about 32 per cent of homes with rooftop solar panels, making them the biggest power plant in the state.

But it's not just Queensland; states are going it themselves when it comes to renewable energy.

Queensland has a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, as does Victoria, while more than 50 per cent of South Australia's energy comes from renewables.

Solar cell technology explained

solar2

One in seven homes in Australia has solar panels on their roof. But what are they and how do they work?

The ACT aims to run on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.

"Australia is really leading the world when it comes to solar, we have more solar installations here than anywhere else in the world," chief executive of the Australian Solar Council John Grimes said.

"Because we've got such fantastic sunshine, and the cost of solar is falling so rapidly, it's quickly becoming the energy source of choice."

He said the Federal Government's resistance to renewable energy was "like the king standing on the shore demanding the tide not to come in".

Territorians are paying some of the highest average electricity bills in the country, second only to Tasmania, according to the Australian Energy Council's latest solar report.

Mr Grimes said solar was an "economic no-brainer" that appealed to people on tighter budgets, with the added benefit of doing something good for the environment.

"If you've got plenty of money and your power bill comes, you just pay the bill, you don't think about it," he said.

"But for many people, that power bill just is completely out of their control and keeps going up, and is the thing that drives them to take action."

Solar installations in Australia

State/Territory

Installations

Percentage dwellings

MW

Queensland

485,794

30

1,602

South Australia

200,213

30

690

Western Australia

211,091

24

645

Victoria

294,815

15

968

New South Wales

343,930

15

1,314

Australian Capital Territory

17,185

14

77

Tasmania

27,836

13

98

Northern Territory

6,253

10

50

1,587,117

Source: State of Solar 2016

Is the NT really coming last in Australia for solar?

About a third of freestanding homes in Queensland and SA have solar cells on their roofs, compared to about 11 per cent of NT homes, Mr Grimes said.

"The NT is the laggard when it comes to solar, it's the laggard in Australia, and it's such a shame because the NT has the best solar resource of anywhere in the world," he said.

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PHOTO: Solar power users say the batteries allow them to save on bills and ensure supply during outages. (ABC News: Kathryn Diss, file photo)

The Government is mulling over a report on the industry in the NT and recommendations for where to go next, but it has not yet been made public.

Alan Langworthy advises the NT Government on its renewables target, which is also to reach 50 per cent by 2030.

Mr Langworthy said the number of NT houses taking up solar was "artificially low" due to the high number of renters, and the large proportion of public housing in the jurisdiction.

"Having a very high transient [and] rental population in the NT tends to have driven down enthusiasm in rooftop photovoltaics," he said.

"Forty per cent of occupancy in Darwin are renters, and people renting with a shorter time to their occupation are far less likely to put in something that really takes eight to 10 years to pay off".

"In time we hope it will change, because we hope the general public will prefer a rental property that has solar as opposed to a rental property that doesn't."

He said if rental and public housing properties were removed from the equation, and domestic housing in the NT was compared with domestic housing interstate, then the take-up figures were similar.

"I found that fascinating, because I thought, 'is it the case that NT people don't like solar?' and it's not, they're exactly the same," Mr Langworthy said.

'My bills have virtually disappeared'

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PHOTO: Palmerston resident Bryan King with his rooftop solar panels. (Supplied: Bryan King)

Palmerston resident Bryan King was inspired by a colleague's Facebook post about a year ago to get a solar power system for his home, and said he has not looked back.

"All my bills have virtually disappeared," he said.

"It was only $54, my [last] bill, compared to $500 or $600 the previous quarter."

He said installing the system cost a total of $14,000, but he had a $4,000 federal grant, and used the NT Government's economic stimulus offer of a $2,000 tradie voucher.

He ended up spending about $8,000 out of pocket but said it had been worth it, and had increased his property's value.

"I've probably already saved nearly two grand in one year," he said.

However, our questioner Ms Sheehan said that was still a lot more than she paid for her solar installation in Queensland.

"Down here you don't pay $8000 to $10,000, we only paid $4,500. So it's still twice the price," she said.

EMBED: How much does it cost to build new electricity generators?

Does the NT have a bright solar future?

In the NT, 90 per cent of energy is currently supplied by natural gas, but solar is creeping into public institutions.

The City of Darwin Council has installed solar panels at Casuarina library, Casuarina pool, Nightcliff pool and café, and at their Berrimah operations centre.

Darwin's military museum also recently opted for a $270,000 solar system after feeling the financial pinch of its large power bills.

Power and Water Corporation offers the country's most generous feed-in tariff at a rate of one-to-one, which means if users put as much solar energy back into the power grid as they used for their personal consumption, their bill would be zero.

The tradies voucher was subsidised by the Government to keep the NT economy running during a downturn and drove up consumer interest in solar, and there was also financial relief for pensioners to the tune of a 50 per cent subsidy on their power bills.

Thirty remote communities will have solar panels installed in a bid to wean them off a reliance on diesel generators, as part of a $55 million NT and Federal Government-funded plan.

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PHOTO: The NT could lead the country in solar energy, but has been lagging behind other states. (Supplied: Quality Solar NT)

The NT has not yet publicly released its policy on how it will reach its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, or how it will help residents make the transition.

Until it does, Territorians who want to ease the squeeze will have to take matters into their own hands.

Mr Grimes said the renewable energy sector was "unstoppable" and could employ up to 70,000 people within three years.

"There are jobs in regional and rural Australia, they're right throughout the NT, they're not jobs you can do elsewhere," he said.

"Wouldn't it be great to get our young people highly technically trained into the green collar jobs of the future, as opposed to an automated mine that digs coal out of the ground and sends it overseas to be burned and deplete the earth?"