Smart Commercial Solar Becomes Founding Member of Open Cities


Smart Commercial Solar is proud to be a founding member of Open Cities, the first advocacy group in Australia to support the abundance and lower costs to all consumers that new technologies like solar can deliver if government and business does things right.   Smart's Huon Hoogesteger said this to The Fifth Estate:

A common voice to oppose shortsightedness

Smart Commercial Solar managing director Huon Hoogesteger told The Fifth Estate Open Cities members had similar themes: “Common infrastructure that can provide a backbone for a healthy and abundant community.”

He says currently infrastructure is going into developments without considering long-term implications.

“Often developers have a competing interest with the future owners.

“Developers wish to lower their construction costs yet this comes at the price of the community running costs. Often the incumbent service providers are the last ones to adopt new technologies. To date there’s been no voice for the future to oppose this shortsightedness. Open Cities provides that voice.

“The idea of Open Cities means that through appropriate planning and construction our communities can be more efficient, more holistic, less of an impact and ultimately provide an abundance of services for a lower cost.”

Boost building codes so roofs can take more solar panels

One particular recommendation to the Greater Sydney Commission is to update building codes to improve roof designs for increased solar load.

Hoogesteger says there are swathes of new industrial roof spaces in Western Sydney that would have been perfect for solar, if only they could support the load.

“Most of these rooftops have been designed within the limits of Australian Standards and as such have enough capacity to hold themselves up, but no capacity to host solar panels,” he says.

“The reason: The additional cost of the structural build averages around $19/square metre to the capital cost of the building.

Less than one year to break even

“Our argument is simple: the revenue generated by a solar system on these roofs would be around $21/sq m a year. So less than one year to break even and you future proof the building.

“But developers are thinking of their build costs, not the longer term benefits to their buyer, tenant or community.”

It’s simple changes like raising buildings standards that could see sustainable cities triumph over short-termism, Hoogesteger says.

“[Open Cities’] first goal is to open the minds of planners, developers and construction companies to the possibility that things can be done better.”

You can read more here.

Solar Energy Boom Needs Planning

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This story about the solar energy boom shows how important it is to get the planning and the vision right if we're going to build communities where energy works for everyone:

A $3 billion solar development boom has swept across northern Victoria, with Australian, Thai, Chinese and French companies jostling to snap up irrigation and dryland properties to install millions of photovoltaic panels.

Mildura, Gannawarra, Swan Hill, Moira and Wangaratta councils have approved at least 29 solar projects. Mildura Rural City Council has signed off on seven solar farms, worth about $1.5 billion, with 11 more on the drawing board, including a Chinese developer seeking 64 square kilometres of land.

One of the largest developments to gain approval so far is the Lyon Group’s 250MW development, which will cost $660 million and involve installing 2.3 million panels at Nowingi, near the Calder Highway.

.But a lack of planning policies surrounding the solar farms is proving problematic for councils, local residents and farmers.

Municipal Association of Victoria president Mary Lalios is calling for support to help councils balance the solar boom with agricultural needs.

“There is currently no policy or controls in planning schemes specifically for assessing solar farms,” Cr Lalios said

Read the rest of the story here.

The Most Hated Electricity Company in Australia?

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If you need a reason to go solar, this story should help:

If an energy company wants to make their customers angry then getting the bill wrong seems to be a pretty good start.

That is a key message from the Australian Energy Regulator's latest retail market performance report statistics.

Billing issues were the No.1 concern for customers across the National Electricity Market through the middle of winter while Queensland's Metered Energy saw the highest level of complaints for any energy retailer. 

For every 100 Metered Energy customers, five complained about the company's billing. It was the only company that saw more than one complaint per 100 customers in the figures released on Monday, which cover the fourth quarter of the financial year.

Read more here.

California's Largest Solar Project Sees Partnership With Big Oil


Interesting partnership producing the largest solar energy project in California:

Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, and GlassPoint Solar, the leading supplier of solar energy for the oil and gas industry, today announced plans to build California’s largest solar energy project. Located at the Belridge oilfield west of Bakersfield, the integrated solar project will be the first of its kind in the world to use solar steam and solar electricity to power oilfield operations, efficiently reducing the field’s carbon emissions. Once complete, the Belridge Solar project will deliver the largest peak energy output of any solar plant in California.

Read more here:

Analysis on NEG Show Rooftop Solar/Battery Trend

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Bloomberg just came out with an analysis on the NEG that suggests rooftop solar and batteries set to deliver "lion's share of new capacity."  Here's an excerpt:

The proposed National Energy Guarantee using the Turnbull government's preferred greenhouse gas emissions reduction target would snuff out the boom in large-scale wind and solar farms, a new analysis says.

The analysis comes as South Australia's premier Jay Weatherill says the state will oppose the National Energy Guarantee in its current form at Friday's energy minister's meeting because the policy "will take us backwards" and "lock us into a coal industry past rather than a renewable energy future". 

Business is urging a constructive approach to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) at the COAG Energy Council but with Queensland's government going to the polls on Saturday the best federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg can hope for is agreement to seek more modelling to address states' concerns. 

The analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that the lion's share of new capacity under the NEG would instead come from rooftop solar and batteries "behind the meter" in people's homes and business premises, and gas plants.

Read more here.