With Uncertainty Surrounding the RET, Australia Sees a Surge in Rooftop Solar
Australia has been the epicenter of a major debate over renewable energy and its future in the country. A government-appointed panel recommended scaling back the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) to the disdain of the renewable energy industry. Renewables in Australia have been reeling since the panel’s recommendations were given, though one sector has actually seen a surge rather than retraction.
Since July 2013, more than 1 GW of rooftop solar has been installed across the country.
Queensland has seen the biggest growth over the past year, followed by Victoria and New South Wales. Though the forecast for calendar year 2014 is lower than this figure, it’s been raised slightly to 785 MW by Green Energy Markets.
It’s believed this surge is being caused by fear that incentives for rooftop solar will disappear with the scaling back of the RET, prompting Australian homeowners to install systems before this happens. The surge hit a peak in September, with 47,100 rooftop systems installed—a 5 percent increase over the previous month.
Australians’ fears aren’t unfounded, either, as the industry has certainly taken a hit. The BBC tells the story of Stacy Nichols, an owner of a small electrical business in Queensland. Despite the increase in installations, she’s seen business dry up and lost all but two of her employees.
"A substantial reduction of [the] target to around 27,000 GWh … would equate to a 64% reduction in future investment and effectively devastate the renewable energy sector," The Clean Energy Council's acting chief executive Kane Thornton told the BBC, also noting that consumers would end up paying higher, not lower power bills because of the cut in supply.
With the potential increase to customers’ bills, making the switch to solar now seems like the best course of action.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.