Smart and innovative ways that reduce enery consumption and improve energy efficiency were on display yesterday when we were visited by the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister for Suburban Development, The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP. It was an opportunity to demonstrate how technology and specialist know -how have come together on Chris & Charmaine Bagot’s farm in Jindivick to lower operating costs, reduce electricity demand and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
This 50 unit dairy currently milks 450 cows. It takes pride in having carefully considered how demand for energy can be minimised and the energy used is a productive as possible. The Minister saw first-hand how the Green Cleaning System uses waste heat as its source of energy. This low temperature, energy efficient, re-use system for cleaning milking machines uses up to 97% less energy than a conventional hot water dependent cleaning system. We thank the Minister for the interest she showed and the insightful questions she asked.
Load shifting is another way this dairy is reducing the demand on grid electricity. This has particular relevance in Victoria during the afternoon over the summer months. Demand for electricity can peak between 4pm – 7pm when all the equipment at the dairy is running. Removing the need to operate some of this equipment during this time can be helful in maintaining grid stability. The dairy at Jindivick does this by load shifting. For example, yesterday energy from the sun was a little patchy, yet the whole day’s milk was cooled to 4 degrees using the solar PV system. There was hardly any demand on the grid to cool the milk. This meant that yesterday the cooling of milk and heating of the solutions for cleaning the milking machine only cost about one to two dollars. And, there were no greenhouse gas emissions related to yesterday’s cooling activities – a great thing.
We are still fine-tuning the system and we can see more opportunities to reduce electricity demand and lower costs.
Until next time,
With all the carrying on by our so-called representatives in government over energy policy, I though it might be apt to provide a simplified explanation of how the energy market works? Even better, allow two knowlegable fellows, Mr Wal Socket and a Mr Brian Dawe, do it for me. Enjoy!
Until next time,
Interesting news item on this morning’s Saturday Extra with Geraldine Doogue about 18 new large scale renewable projects that are about to get underway (being finalised or are in the pipeline) in north Queensland. According to John Grimes Chief Executive, Australian Solar Council these projects will involve over 2700 jobs of which many will be ongoing. An exciting part of this morning’s conversation was the quoted cost of $40-60/MWh for generating electricity from these projects. This is getting very close to the marginal cost of generating power from an existing coal station which is less than $40/MWh. And remember, that the cost of generation from these renewable renewables includes the build costs whereas, the generation cost from coal is a marginal cost (the build costs have already been recovered).
Whilst the debate about the cost of different energy generation technologies is interesting and the fact that the cost of power generation from renewables continues to plummet, it is the opportunity it creates for community energy projects thats really exciting. The technological advances, cost reductions, and learning from large scale projects such as the ones in QLD will have beneficial ramifications for small-to-mid scale community energy projects. Simply, community energy projects will become more feasible and in doing so provide many benefits – social, environmental, and financial.
In Gippsland, there are many communities that have expressed an apetite to undertake their own energy project, with the Mirboo North Community Energy Hub (MNCEH) being one such group. The MNCEH has recently completed a feasibilty study into several community energy projects. During the investigation, access and connection to the network (grid) was found to be a large impediment to installing mid-scale projects. Many of the transmission lines and grid infrastructure around the Mirboo North region cannot accommodate mid-scale (>1.5 MW) without significant investment. In Queensland, Rachel Watson, General Manager, Australia, Pacific Hydro said there is commitment by the state government to improving the facilitation that’s needed for network connections. $150M has been allocated to improve the grid infrastructure so that these new large-scale renewable projects can connect to the grid and send power to where it is needed. Is this an opportunity for the Victorian government?
Whilst the recent commitment of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Targets of 20% by 2020, and 40% by 2025 is encouraging, let’s hope we also can get some immediate action on improving the access to our network. If, like in Queensland, we can make connecting to the grid easier for mid-large scale energy projects think of the possiblities it will create for regional communities.
Until next time, cheers.