Flow Power is kicking in to help fund Newstead’s community visioning day on September 10. Flow Power will build, own and operate our solar farm and retail the electricity to customers.
By RN Team30 August 2023
RN partner Flow Power supports community visioning
Flow Power is kicking in to help fund Newstead’s community visioning day on September 10. Flow Power will build, own and operate our solar farm and retail the electricity to customers. They didn’t want to blow their trumpet about this so we’re doing that for them. Thanks Flow Power.
So, what’s your vision for Newstead?
Local groups are asked to bring project ideas they’d like developed and supported to the Community Visioning Day on Sept 10. It’s at the Newstead Community Centre starting at 10.45am for 11am. Be there to add your say on next big community priorities for Newstead. For details, check this month’s Newstead Echo edition online or the paper edition available at the Newstead Milk Bar, RTC and other local outlets.
RN seeking a writer
Renewable Newstead is seeking a writer.
By RN17 November 2022
Renewable Newstead (RN) is seeking a writer who can tell our story.
The story will be about social licence; it will be about technical feasibility; it will be about economic and financial feasibility; it will be about community engagement; and, it will be about the changing public policy environment. The RN story started more than 10 years ago and will be complete in the 12 months but we want the story to be substantially written soon because lots of people are interested in our experiences. Click here for more information.
Construction to begin!
Construction is set to begin on our solar farm in Newstead. Jointly launched today by the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action, The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, MP and Member for Bendigo West, The Hon. Maree Edwards, with Flow Power, the Renewable Newstead team and local Dja Dja Wurrung representatives.
By Renewable Newstead18 October 2022
Construction is about to begin on our cutting-edge clean energy project right here in Newstead.
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action, The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, MP and Member for Bendigo West, The Hon. Maree Edwards, MP joined the Renewable Newstead and Flow Power teams and traditional landowner’s Dja Dja Wurrung representatives on-site for the commencement of the energy projects construction today.
Thanks to the partnership between Renewable Newstead and renewable energy transition company Flow Power, and with support from the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, construction is set to begin for a 3MW solar farm and a 5MWh battery energy storage system, that features a unique and Victorian-first Direct Current (DC) coupled system.
The battery system will provide additional benefits with the ability to feed into the grid at times of low sunshine and outside daylight hours. The 6.2 hectare site will include 80-100m rows of panels, 6m apart and include a tracking system to follow the sun and provide maximum energy production.
The site is on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung people. A Cultural Heritage Management Plan has been developed and will guide the care of this country during the construction and operation of the energy project.
The construction is expected to take around 9 months and the energy project is expected to be operational by July 2023.
Did you miss our meeting on the 15th September?
Find out more here.
By Renewable Newstead06 October 2022
A small crowd attended our community gathering in Newstead on September 15 to hear the great news that Newstead’s solar farm has the green light to go ahead.
After years of negotiations and work, we are delighted that our partner, Flow Power, has declared their support for the project and will begin construction in earnest in the first quarter of next year.
The project includes a three megawatt (MW) solar farm, capable of producing more than enough energy for Newstead, and a battery that can store 5MW hours of energy.
The battery will store excess solar power generated and then dispatch it into the grid as required. This may be at night or when it’s cloudy and the panels aren’t collecting much solar energy.
Local people will be able to become Flow Power customers and know that their energy is the greenest energy available.
Flow Power’s Head of Energy Projects, Tom Harrison, and Project Engineer Lachlan O’Brien attended the meeting. They answered detailed questions about the site, the storage battery and management plans.
They said having a relationship with the local Renewable Newstead team helped bring the project to fruition.
The company owns at least 11 other energy generating ‘farms’ around Australia. Most are solar. Two harvest energy using wind.
Renewable Newstead, with the help of a $1.1 million Victorian Government grant, will pay the landholder lease costs and the cost to connect the farm to the electricity grid.
Some of our Renewable Newstead volunteers also attended to share information about different aspects of the farm.
Project stalwart and RN volunteer Don Culvenor said Newstead could be very proud of its solar farm.
He said, though small, Newstead’s solar farm and its development will have many ground-breaking lessons for Victoria.
Don said having the solar farm based here could spark other green energy projects locally and might attract businesses wanting to source green energy.
We understand that, at this stage, many locals may not know much about the solar farm or what it could mean for them. We want to change that.
We want to help you understand how the farm can benefit your household/ business and our community and why you can be proud of having it here.
Please keep in touch with our news here and also feel free to contact us with any questions you have and we'll try our best to answer (and we'll try to pop them up on our Q and A page here).
Thanks for your continued support. The Renewable Newstead team
Community Info Session
By Renewable Newstead30 August 2022
Thursday 15th September, 6pm - 8pm
At the Newstead Community Centre (the building next to the supermarket)
Find out what’s happening with the small-scale solar farm and storage battery proposed near Newstead.
We will outline:
What will be built and likely construction period
How to sign up to buy your electricity from the farm
The benefits for you and our community.
Please come along!
Is your power supply green?
There's a way to check on your electricity supplier's green credentials.
By 18 February 2022
A new guide will help you check if your electricity provider or retailer is helping or harming the planet.
RN's partner Flow Power, who will retail electricity from our planned solar farm near Newstead, is not listed. Yet. That's because they haven't started retailing electricity to households in Victoria yet. We're expecting an announcement on that soon.
Meantime, check if your electricity retailer/biller makes it to the Top 10 'green' retailers here.
Newstead's solar farm will have panels that track the sun. Here's what they might look like.
By Gen Barlow01 February 2022
Have you been to Streaky Bay in South Australia recently?
There you’ll see a small-scale solar farm (3.10MW) that's slightly smaller than ours is planned to be (5MW in two stages).
It’s owned by the same company, Flow Power, that will build, own and operate our solar farm. The Streaky Bay solar farm supplies power mostly to South Australia’s Western Eyre Peninsula.
Our solar farm will be developed in two stages, each of 2.5MW and each with a 2MW battery.
Stage 1 is expected to over about eight hectares. The solar panels will cover about 35per cent of this area. Their size and dimensions are yet to be finalised.
The panels will track the sun from east to west each day and will be recyclable. They will be in rows 80-100 metres long with enough space between rows to allow access and to avoid significant inter-row shading.
A same sized second stage is planned and will go ahead is there is successful uptake of the first.stage.
Subscribe to our newsletter here for updates on the final design as soon as it becomes available.
What will our solar farm look like?
By Renewable Newstead28 November 2021
In 2022 Newstead will start using the sun to generate power for our community.
Come & learn more on December 5 & 12
It’s nearly Christmas and we’re getting excited too because we are in the throes of finalising the contract to build our community-driven renewable energy project on Newstead’s outskirts in 2022.
Come and find out all about it on:
December 5: at Newstead on Show. Visit the Renewable Newstead stall. Meet new and long-time members of our RN team, ask questions & express interest in buying your power from the Newstead Solar Farm. Plus hear a special 20-minute project presentation from 10.15am. Newstead on Show - 10am-4pm at the Newstead Community Centre, Lyons St, Newstead.
December 12: Community gathering – This public forum is open to all, especially households and businesses in and around Newstead keen to support our project. 9.30am-11am at the Newstead Community Centre, Lyons St, Newstead
Find out things like:
what’s planned – what the Newstead Solar Farm will look like
equipment – the panels, inverters and battery (so energy can be stored for use at night) to be used
how ‘green’ our project is
who will be able to buy their electricity from the Newstead solar farm
planned construction timelines
what you can do to make our community’s dream to be powered by renewable energy come true
You’ll hear directly from the director and founder of our chosen partner, Flow Power, about why they’re keen to be involved in our community-driven project, how their values match ours and how competitive their power prices will be.
You’ll get a rundown from the RN team including on our 2022 countdown to construction, have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and hear how you can help make our community’s dream for our local renewable energy project come true.
Like prospective life partners, bringing our community and our solar farm builders/electricity retailers together feels a bit like introducing “the parents” to each other.
We think you’ll like them.
Green Electricity Confusion
When is 'green' power really 'green'? Jane Lean, Newstead resident & RN committee member asks.
By 21 October 2021
I regularly read that the price of renewable electricity is dropping. So, why am I paying an additional five cents a kilowatt hour to buy green electricity? And what does ‘green’ really mean?
This story is about my efforts to understand what is going on.
Electricity can be generated in many ways. By burning coal or gas to create steam that turns turbines that generate electricity; by falling or moving water, like rivers or ocean waves, that turn turbines that generate electricity; by wind that turns turbines; or in the case of solar, by sunlight that agitates the cells in a solar panel to create an electrical current. Of these types of generation, electricity from burning coal or gas is definitely not renewable electricity.
So, how can I be certain I only use renewable electricity in my home? In short, it’s complicated. Electricity moves around through wires on poles, towers and sometimes underground. There are coal power stations, solar panels and wind turbines all generating electricity, as well as some other systems. The electricity from each of these generators flows into the same set of wires, at which point it is simply electricity and how it was generated can no longer be identified.
It turns out that the way we make sure we get renewable electricity is through, what I call, an administrative arrangement (yes really). Each year, the federal government sets a target that tells us the percentage of Australia’s total electricity that must come from renewable sources. For 2021, the target is 33,000,000 MWh, or about 18.5%. Retailers buy this electricity, then resell it to consumers. Needless to say, the retailers want to buy the cheapest electricity they can, and they are free to do this as long as they meet the required percentage of renewable electricity each year and have special certificates to show they have done so.
Happily, the actual percentage of renewable electricity purchased last year was more than the government mandated. This occurred because, at various times, renewable electricity was cheaper for the retailers to buy than non-renewable electricity.
Let’s say I use 4,000 kWh of electricity per year and I want it all to be renewable. I assume that 18.5% of it is renewable because of the government target, and maybe more, but to be absolutely certain all of it is renewable I need my retailer to buy additional special certificates, beyond the 18.5% that they are required to buy. Unfortunately it costs me an extra $0.05/kWh for the administrative system that manages and audits this process but at least I know all my electricity is ‘green’. For 4,000 kWh of electricity per year, the additional cost to make sure it is all renewable would be $200, which is a lot. As more of our energy is renewable, however, I’m hoping this cost goes down.
Why we chose solar power
Written by RN committee member Mike Reeves
By Renewable Newstead20 September 2021
Solar farms are becoming common in Australia. They operate in a similar way to household rooftop, only on a large scale with different ownership arrangements. It is appropriate to call them 'farms' because they harvest energy on a large scale and potentially with better efficiency than a domestic rooftop system. For example, a 2.5MW solar plant using single-axis tracking panels would generate about 5,000 MWh of pollution-free electricity per year (compared to about 3,660 MWh expected for fixed panels).
The Australian Energy Regulator figures gives the Victorian average annual kwh consumption as 6411kWh so the output of our 2.5MWNewstead solar farm would supply approximately 1,080 households.
To generate an equivalent amount of electricity, Victoria's brown-coal fired power station Yallourn would emit 6,650 tonnes of CO2 (at 1.33 tonnes CO2 per Mwh). The slightly more efficient Loy Yang power stations A and B would emit 5,750 tonnes of CO2. Solar farms emit zero greenhouse gases to generate electricity.
Most solar farms are operated as commercial entities who sell power into the grid for a return on investment. Until recently their output was restricted to daylight hours but with the development of grid-scale batteries, solar farms also are now able to move some of their output to after-dark demand such as evening cooking/lighting/heating.
Typically an owner/operator would lease the land for a fixed period, for example 20 or 30 years, with the option of extending/terminating the lease at the end. Often a large proportion of the output is sold through a mechanism of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to large consumers such as companies or government which gives some certainty for investors. Solar farms are similar to domestic rooftop systems in that they connect to the grid, but they connect to the high-voltage lines such as 22kv or 66 kv (22,000 or 66,000 volts) to handle the greater power. Beyond the boundaries of the solar farm, Powercor (the business responsible for the poles and wires) manages and regulates the flow of power supplied by the farm, maintaining standards of voltage and frequency.
Solar farms have a low profile (compared to wind farms) and with screening can be entirely out of the sight of public gaze. They have no moving parts, except for when the panels can track the sun to get more energy, and low levels of noise. The application process involves many studies and reports covering planning issues around land use.
All of these factors made solar the logical choice to bring renewable energy to the Newstead community.