Staff Writer

Brooklyn microgrid set to be replicated in South Australia

The significant deal will create South Australia’s first local energy marketplace and could be the start of an industry-changing renewable energy sharing revolution, enabling customers buying renewable energy to set their own price, rather than being beholden to the grid.

LO3 Energy, which has created a secure way of trading energy, battery storage and demand peer-to-peer using blockchain technology, plans to disrupt the existing market by making it possible to sell and buy energy within local virtual microgrids.

The new TransActive Grid project in South Australia will see up to 6MW of distributed solar generation made available on a local energy marketplace using LO3’s peer-to-peer trading platform, and is the first step towards developing a full-scale transactive energy market.

This will all be underpinned by the blockchain-based software, which allows a decentralised, secure, peer-to-peer marketplace to function and involves adding a meter onto a business or household that manages all energy inputs and outputs, giving participants access to cheaper electricity.

The solar power will come from six locally built solar PV plants ranging from 200kW to 1MW in size – with two having already been constructed – that are being sited on redundant farmland in SA’s Riverland region.

The PV plants will be built by Yates Electrical’s renewables offshoot Redmund Green Energy, with financial backing from Chinese investors. Eventually, each solar plant will also be coupled with battery storage.

LO3’s director of Australian operations Belinda Kinkead says this is a significant agreement and shows there is great interest in the concept of putting energy choice in the hands of consumers.

“Our systems enable people who generate renewable energy – from small scale houses to larger industrial projects – to get more income by selling direct to consumers rather than to the grid,” Kinkead said.

“They also offer a unique way to integrate distributed energy resources into communities, creating a reliable and secure energy supply that protects from power outages that have been an issue across Australia.

“We believe this partnership with Yates Electrical Services will help us accelerate our set-up process over here and take the local energy marketplace concept one step closer to an Australia-wide consumer reality.”

Working with Yates Electrical Services in South Australia has the potential to open up more than 1000 homes and businesses across the Riverland already fitted with solar energy to operate on an LO3 transactive microgrid.

The SA microgrid will begin with a ‘discrete’ market using Yates Electrical Services’ Small Generation Aggregators Licence, and at least two of their associated commercial or industrial customers, who will bid on solar electricity supplied by the firm.

This will enable Yates to get the best price possible, while giving the participating customers the opportunity to buy their electricity at a cheaper rate than wholesale.

According to LO3 founder and CEO Lawrence Orsini, it really is a win-win situation.

“The technology involves adding a simple meter into the household, which manages all energy inputs and outputs – and with the Internet of Things, it’s even possible to get paid to switch your lights off,” Orsini said.

“Brooklyn has also demonstrated that using a small network of distributed renewables rather than relying on large installations is far more efficient and secure, and we know that is particularly important in Australia.

“We are expanding this exciting new energy solution across the world right now, and we are excited that Australia appears to have embraced it and is now set to become an early adopter of this cutting-edge technology.”

The team over at Yates Electrical Services believe this is a significant step forward for them, as they further integrate new and innovative technologies into their business model.

“We look forward to a future of clean energy with the end user having the control over their own energy consumption,” a Yates Electrical Services spokesperson said.

“The TransActive Grid meter, which enables communication to the TransActive market using blockchain technology has now been installed on one of our solar farms, with more currently being retrofitted to accept the devices.

“With the rapidly rising cost of electricity and huge increases in both blockchain and renewable technology over the past few years, it’ll be exciting to see how this test goes and how much LO3 are able to grow it over the coming years.”

TransActive Grid being installed on site


Eco-conscious businesses regaining momentum

According to research conducted by the State of the Environment report in 2016, being eco-conscious has been an increasing concern among Australians with 57% of all Australian businesses making use of more eco-conscious practices in day-to-day operations since 2012.

According to Dominique Lyone, general manager of Australian-owned and operated national office products company COS, a growing number of businesses are focusing more on their environmental impact and ethical conduct than ever before.

“Businesses are driving it now on an international level and are beginning to take it upon themselves to be more environmentally-minded,” Lyone said. Read more

Waste Opportunist: Why recycled organics pose both the greatest opportunity and greatest risk to agriculture

Up to 50% of domestic waste is organic materials with other organic wastes including sewage sludge, food wastes and industrial food processing wastes. Biosolids are generated at the sewage treatment plant from the sewage treatment process, with production estimated anywhere between 30-50kg dry solids per equivalent person per day (equivalent to 150kg of dry cake per annum). The biosolids are produced as either a thickened slurry or a dewater cake and, more recently, pellets. And they contain useful quantities of organic matter and nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), and lead to improvements in soil characteristics such as improved microbial activities and oxygen consumption. Read more

The alternative to incineration

The alternative to incineration

Given the depleted condition of Australia’s agricultural soils, burning compostable resources that can provide much needed carbon and nutrients is a terrible waste.

Around 70% of the resources in our waste streams is organic material which can be turned into high-quality compost and returned to our soils. Australia has more than 450 million hectares of land under cultivation and according to the NSW DPI, on average these soils have less than 1% organic material in them (NSW DPI van Zweiten). Read more

Closing the loop of Magnetic Island

Speaking to Inside Waste after winning the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) Transfer Stations Excellence Awards at the 2017 Australian Landfill & Transfer Stations Innovation and Excellence Awards in March, Matt McCarthy, manager of Townsville City Council’s Waste Services, said the facility has been a long time coming and a lot of planning and work was done over 10 years.

“Ten years ago, we knew we were running out of landfill space and we needed to do something more, so a lot of community consultation was undertaken around the waste management strategy for Magnetic Island, and we surprisingly got a lot of support from the community – I think it was 98% support for a transfer station,” McCarthy said. Read more

Heads of EPA discuss national approaches

At a Waste Management Association of Australian (WMAA) NSW industry update earlier this month, NSW EPA director waste and resource recovery Steve Beaman said HEPA – an informal organisation – decided to form this waste working group as discussions within COAG tended to focus on issues such as container deposit schemes and plastic bag bans, and there is “a bit missing where there’s a need for regulatory policy and for the states to get together to harmonise.”

Beaman told attendees the working group would meet “fairly frequently” and as a start, would be principle-based although the intent is to get into the details “fairly quickly” Read more

Pushing for phosphate-free detergents in two years

A new report has found alarming levels of phosphates in 62% of the auto dishwasher tablets sold in Coles and Woolworths stores nationally over the last 12 months.

Back in 2010, Jon Dee – co-founder and managing director at DoSomething – launched a campaign to get laundry detergent manufacturers to voluntarily phase out the use of phosphates in laundry detergents, in both powders and liquids.

He was successful in this and as a result of the campaign 2.3 billion laundry detergents a year in Australia is now phosphate-free. Though the success wasn’t complete as he began to see some people “dragging the chain” in this space. Read more

Redback Technologies in NZ for Virtual Power Plant trial

Redback’s Smart Hybrid System will be used as part of a two-year solar and battery technology trial designed to support Wellingtonians in the event of a natural disaster.

The technology will allow residents to access energy from solar power generation and battery storage when the electricity grid is under pressure during peak times or is compromised due to outages.

Tim Latimer, director of sales for Oceania at Redback Technologies, says that Redback began talks with Contact Energy at the beginning of the year after Contact employees saw their product at a show. Read more

Legal Eagle: NSW Land and Environment Court sentencing judgement for contravention of EPL and POEO Act


Mr Osman-Kerim was the sole-director of Sydney Drum Machinery Pty Ltd (Sydney Drum) and consequently, involved in the day-to-day management of the business. The business activities were conducted at St Marys and included the cleaning and reconditioning of intermediate bulk containers and drums, which were used as chemical containers by suppliers to store liquid products. Environment Protection Licence (EPL) No. 12893 was held by Sydney Drum and permitted container reconditioning and waste processing (non-thermal treatment) at the premises.

Contravention of EPL condition Read more