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Solar Power for the ACT?

By PantsMan - 4 September 2008 63

[First filed: September 03, 2008 @ 08:26]

Just noticed this new addition to the CMD [Chief Minister’s Department] website:  Solar Power Plant Pre-feasibility Study

Gas power station, data centre, now a field of solar rays – got to dump something on the north side of the city I suppose.  Maybe the old radar station site. 

Just when you thought the October election was going to be a bore!

[ED – And the Chief Minister’s media release on the subject is now online. They’ll need a stonking 120 hectare plant to power just 10,000 homes according to the Study. The image is of the site in Nevada which is named as the inspiration for the proposed ACT plant]

UPDATED: Jonathon Reynolds notes that a gas fired power station appears to be part of the plan for this development too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Having thought about it all day Zed has responded incredulously to the chutzpah of another power station being announced.

    “Given the crisis that Stanhopes last power station venture caused, I am not sure that the Canberra community trusts this Government to build any major project.

    “The Canberra Liberals are supportive of seeking new ways and increasing investment in renewable energy. The concept of a solar farm is well worth considering; however, neither we, nor the Canberra community, know what technology will be involved, where the station will be located, and how much exactly it will cost.”

Zed also thinks the proposal is light on detail, so we look forward to his next in-depth policy announcement.

What’s Your opinion?


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63 Responses to
Solar Power for the ACT?
andym 11:13 am 03 Sep 08

I’m no expert, but wouldn’t you build a solar farm north of the Tropic of Capricorn to maximise the daylight hours. I’m not saying don’t build it here, just that you would get more bang for your buck further north. I would think foggy, cloudy, short winter days in Canberra would not be conducive to solar power generation.

Gungahlin Al 10:43 am 03 Sep 08

Gungahlin Community Council is already on the record proposing a solar (PV or thermal) farm to be located where visible from the Federal Highway (a major entry statement), to be run as a community cooperative, such that people with less to invest than it would take to do a PV installation on their own rooftop could invest in both the looming emissions trading market and the new Feed-in Tariff.

I’ve subsequently both written and talked to Jon Stanhope about this, but not getting a lot of traction. Perhaps the major ACTEWAGL shareholder wants to keep the profits in-house?

I echo Jonathon’s comments on not wanting a gas power station as part of it. Such a thing is not as they’d have us believe a green energy supply – it is only somewhat less polluting than other non-renewables.

Skidbladnir 10:41 am 03 Sep 08

caf said :

For those who find hectares about as intuitive as furlongs…

Or for something a bunch of people drive past everyday, roughly the area of Phillip and Woden combined.

johnboy 10:33 am 03 Sep 08

caf said :

For those who find hectares about as intuitive as furlongs, 120 hectares is a square 1.1 kilometres on each side.

So we’re talking about an area roughly similar to the inner north?

jimbocool 10:32 am 03 Sep 08

Right on, Skid. Not only could you get Fed money, but private investment would be a shoo-in. Most of the big fund managers have ‘ethical’ unit trusts that would be keen to invest in such a project. Improvements in technology and economies of scale would come into play with a project that size.

caf 10:18 am 03 Sep 08

For those who find hectares about as intuitive as furlongs, 120 hectares is a square 1.1 kilometres on each side.

Skidbladnir 10:05 am 03 Sep 08

Q: How do you excite a bigwig at the Federal Dept of Environment\Office of Renewable Energy (and depending on the location, Gungahlin, Williamsdale or Hall) either ACTEW or NSW DEUS, all while building an international reputation for sustainability?
A: Spend billions, not millions.

March into ANU, find a bunch of physics propellorheads, tell them you’re wondering what options they could provide if you were looking to spend $1.4billion on existing solar technology, but wanted to see what improvements could be made in efficiency or to reduce overall cost.

The price per MW would probably come down some, you’d get a bunch of people in the relevant fields very excited and very interested, and a bit of infrastructure people would feel all warm and tingly for, and warm and tingly people vote for more warm and tingly feelings…

But this, this will probably just upset a bunch of NIMBYs and be seen as a pre-election claim by whoever gets in come October.

jimbocool 9:38 am 03 Sep 08

At last! Someone is actually considering the bleeding obvious! And if it uses Ausra technology then it would be a victory for Aussie know-how too. Now all we have to do is get people thinking that if we spent $1.4 billion we could power the whole ACT and we’d really be getting somewhere.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 9:35 am 03 Sep 08

Of course it will need to be supported by gas power generation. It’s also going to be fcking expensive.

I’m all for green options, provided they are realistic.

Jonathon Reynolds 9:17 am 03 Sep 08

The kickers are in the conclusions & recommendations:

Within the Conclusions (14.1):

* use of natural gas as an auxiliary fuel to supply heat as an alternative. If this is supplied by the waste heat from a cogeneration plant, an additional 47 MW could be generated by a gas turbine. The use of gas auxiliary fuel does not affect the eligibility of solar generation as renewable or green energy under the current regulatory arrangements, but may have some impact on community perceptions;

* the provision of gas as an auxiliary fuel would allow dispatch able operation and operation during extended cloudy periods;

* under the current regulatory arrangements the use gas for auxiliary firing does not affect the certification for RECs or Green Energy;

* the additional non-solar heat could be supplied by a gas turbine or gas engine combined cycle plant. This would allow additional despatchable generation of around 47 MW or more, depending on the configuration. Alternatively, a boiler could provide stand-by heat input at times of low solar energy availability;

Within the recommendations (14.2):

* study options for providing auxiliary heat and integration with gas turbine or gas engine plant as a means of providing additional generation that is gas-fired.

I’d be happy to see the plant somewhere in my back yard in the Gungahlin Region… but NOT if it is supplemented by gas. Sounds to me that ActewAGL are looking for new ways of justifying their electricity generation from gas and attempting to slip it under the radar in the guise of a clean & green solar powered plant.

p1 9:17 am 03 Sep 08

A great asset, considering if you gave $14,000 to 10,000 houses to install their own solar panels, you wouldn’t be able to charge them for the electricity!

With the sort of volume discount that 10,000 units attracts, putting panels on houses with back to grid connections sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Maybe they can cover the new Cotter dam with a roof. Reduces evaporation and you can put solar panels on it…

Aurelius 9:10 am 03 Sep 08

Brilliant idea.
But even if they can’t find a spot in the ACT (most flat spots would be housing I suppose) there’s probably heaps of it out around Murrumbateman or Bungendore.

Holden Caulfield 8:45 am 03 Sep 08

Bang for buck seems pretty low, in the short term at least. Standby for a bunch of half-arsed experts popping up saying there’s nowhere to build it, haha.

captainwhorebags 8:38 am 03 Sep 08

A great asset, considering if you gave $14,000 to 10,000 houses to install their own solar panels, you wouldn’t be able to charge them for the electricity!

Pandy 8:36 am 03 Sep 08

Build it! The only place for it to be built is at Williamsdale as it is away from major residential sight lines and flight paths.

That plus the 600MW gas fired power station will make it a nice little asset for the ACT

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