Small-scale solar systems help save electricity sector billions: Study

October 17, 2017
Costs with and without small-scale solar

A new study has claimed that without Australia’s more than 6GW of rooftop solar capacity, the aggregate cost of electricity would have been several billion dollars higher over the past year. The study by Energy Synapse, commissioned by Solar Citizens, reinforces previous estimates of the broad benefits of the more than 1.7 million household and […]

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Residential Solar PV Price Index – October 2017

October 17, 2017
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Average solar system prices hold stable for the third month in a row, with the average price per watt ($/W) for an residential solar system installation coming in at about $1.44/W. The most popular and best value solar system size is still 5kW, costing about $1.14/W or $5,700 for a fully installed system. (Due to […]

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Do I really need that? Also: Solar power takes many forms (Solartopia #6)

October 16, 2017
Skylights

As I write this, I am running the dryer for the first time since moving into the house; it’s only the second time we’re had rain (and even, it’s just a sprinkle). It’s interesting to note that at times like this – when it would be handy to have solar power to feed this clunky, […]

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Which electricity retailer is giving the best solar feed-in tariff?

October 16, 2017
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Feed-in tariffs in Australia: How they’ve changed Solar feed-in tariffs are arrangements where a solar system owner is paid for the solar energy that they send into the grid. At one point in time, feed-in tariffs were mandatory in every state in Australia, and the rates they offered were quite generous. Much has changed, however, since we […]

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What if you sent all of your solar into the grid? Is it worth it?

September 29, 2017
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If you’ve got solar, the way to maximise your electricity bill savings these days is to use your solar energy directly within your home (or business). From an investment point of view, the conventional wisdom is that the worst thing you could do with the solar energy that your roof produces is to send it […]

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Global energy industry at ‘tipping point’ for coal, wind & solar: BNEF

September 28, 2017
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The global energy industry is experiencing two major tipping points that mean coal will never be great again, and the age of wind and solar has arrived. Speaking at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual get-together in London last week, founder Michael Liebreich said the first tipping point – which were are living now – is […]

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New poll confirms that battery is popularity skyrocketing

September 28, 2017
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A new poll has confirmed the increasing popularity of home battery storage in Australia, as households look to reduce their dependence on expensive grid-supplied electricity, and cut soaring power bills. The Reachtel poll, commissioned by the Climate Council, found that 74 per cent of people surveyed from across Australia expect household batteries to be commonplace […]

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4 interesting alternatives to the ‘Big 3’ electricity retailers

September 26, 2017
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If you want to reduce your electricity bills, the first place you should look is your choice of electricity retailer, which is the company that sells you electricity. Although some people are unaware of it, in most parts of Australia you’re not stuck with a monopolistic ‘utility’ – you can pick and choose from a […]

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Shiftable energy loads: What can you move into the ‘solar window’? (Solartopia #5)

September 21, 2017
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We here at Solar Choice harp on a lot about solar self-consumption – the idea that you need to put your solar energy to direct use within your home to maximise its value. Let’s take a look at what types of energy consumption can actually be ‘shifted around’ to other times of day – versus […]

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Our presentation to Ryde City Council (NSW) about solar & batteries

September 21, 2017
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A couple of months ago I was invited by the local council of Ryde, NSW to give a presentation about the state of the market for solar & batteries in Australia. Ryde City Council has some great sustainability initiatives, including a free Home Waste & Sustainability Advisory Service, which includes a home audit for people […]

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Standards Australia likely to dump proposed ‘battery bunker’ requirement

September 20, 2017
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A controversial battery storage installation guideline that threatened to ban lithium-ion battery systems from being put in Australian homes or garages, looks likely to be dumped by Standards Australia, after a round-table meeting on the matter last week. The meeting comes after an extended period of uncertainty for Australia’s residential battery storage industry, following the […]

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Residential battery storage installations ‘surge’ in 2017: Sunwiz

September 20, 2017
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Home battery storage uptake in Australia is surging in 2017, as homes and small businesses seek to minimise their grid electricity usage, and maximise consumption of rooftop solar, to beat power price hikes. New data from industry analysts SunWiz shows more than 7000 battery storage systems were installed across Australia in the first six months […]

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Solar system size limits: How much does your local network allow?

September 20, 2017
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What’s the upper limit to the amount of solar panel capacity that you can put on your roof? This is actually a multi-layered question that involves your roof area, your energy saving goals and any applicable restrictions imposed by your local electricity network company. This article touches on all these factors, but focuses mainly on […]

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Looking beyond solar feed-in tariffs: How to pick an electricity retailer

September 18, 2017
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When solar system owners shop around for an electricity retailer, the first thing they tend to look at is the solar feed-in tariff rate that the retailer offers. The fact is, however, that solar feed-in tariffs are no longer as important as they once were – so what else should solar system owners look for in […]

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Can I add more panels to my existing solar system?

September 18, 2017
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Some of the most common questions we receive at Solar Choice are about adding solar panels to an existing solar PV system. This article takes a look at the situations in which you might want to add panels, and what you need to bear in mind before making a decision. Possible reasons for adding more panels […]

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Australia now has over 6 gigawatts (!) of small-scale solar after record August

September 14, 2017
98MW solar installed Aug 2017

Without googling the answer, do you know what the capacity of the largest conventional power plant in Australia is? I couldn’t, so I did google it – and now I can tell you that the answer is 3.25 gigawatts (GW). Unsurprisingly, it’s a coal plant: The Loy Yang Power Station in southeastern Victoria. Loy Yang […]

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South Australian rooftop solar pushes state-wide electricity demand to record low

September 13, 2017

South Australia’s high rooftop solar penetration has helped to deliver record low demand for the state over the weekend, hitting 786MW at around 2pm on Sunday.At the time, rooftop solar accounted for 36 per cent (445MW) of electricity demand in the state, generated by the 761MW of small-scale rooftop solar on homes and businesses in the state. South […]

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Let’s follow Turnbull’s lead on solar & storage to keep the lights on

September 13, 2017

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is proud of the upgraded 14kW rooftop solar array and 14kWh  battery storage system installed at his harbourside mansion in Sydney’s Point Piper: “My son Alex is very knowledgeable on renewables, energy economics generally, and we had solar panels for a long time,” Turnbull told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell in a radio interview on Thursday. […]

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Thoughts about solar feed-in tariffs (Solartopia #4)

September 13, 2017
Checking the solar panels

Spring is here, and it finally feels like it with two consecutive warm days yesterday (high of 28C) and today (high of 32C). The main implication of this is that for the first time since moving in, we haven’t been tempted to switch on the ducted AC (or wear socks) in the morning or evening […]

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Backup power with home solar battery storage: What are your options?

September 12, 2017
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Home battery storage is becoming increasingly popular in Australia, and one of the most in-demand features is backup power, which provides electricity to a home even when the grid is down. In this article we take a look at the main approaches to battery storage that you’ll come across as you shop around for a […]

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An overview of battery storage system specifications: How to read a battery spec sheet

September 11, 2017
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Talking about home battery storage can be confusing, and if you’re confused you’re unlikely to feel confident about making a big investment like a home battery bank. There are quite a few different terms & specifications that you’ll hear when shopping around for battery products. We’ve gathered them all here in attempt to bring some clarity to […]

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Queensland regional solar feed-in tariff now available to systems up to 30kW

September 8, 2017
Ergon network in Queensland

In a stroke of very good news for solar power in the Sunshine State, the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) has announced that the solar feed-in tariff available to solar system owners in regional parts of the state will apply for systems up to 30 kilowatts (30kW) in capacity. Until the QCA’s decision, the limit was […]

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Energy blindness: The anxiety of not knowing (Solartopia #3)

September 7, 2017
Electricity bill

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about the ‘Energy Awareness Factor‘ in household energy savings. This was prompted in part by having just moved into a house with solar panels, ducted AC, a dishwasher, time of use billing and hot water on a controlled load – things that will have a significant […]

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Solar panel reliability testing: More relevant than tier ranking for solar homes & businesses?

September 6, 2017
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Deciding whether you’re happy with a solar installers’ panel offering can be tricky business in a market flooded with different options (as is the case in Australia). Fortunately, DNV GL puts together an annual report based on physical stress testing of a wide range of popular panels brands & models that is probably a better […]

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Coal port of Newcastle to get 5MW solar farm

September 6, 2017
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Plans to develop a 5MW solar farm on a former landfill site in the NSW coal port city of Newcastle are set to go to tender, after eight companies were shortlisted to bid for the job to design, build and operate the utility-scale solar farm. The project, which was opened to expressions of interest in […]

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Pro-battery changes to energy market rules delayed to 2021

September 5, 2017

The Australian Energy Market Commission’s decision to put off changing the settlement period for the electricity spot price has been slammed by leading experts, who say the delay will reinforce the position of incumbent fossil fuel generators and delay the entry of crucial new technologies. The rule change, that would cut the settlement period for […]

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Residential Solar PV Price Index – September 2017

September 5, 2017
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Average residential solar system prices are roughly on par with last month’s figures – about $1.43 per watt for a fully installed system. 5kW systems continue to offer the best value for money, at about $1.13/W, or about $5,600. Average solar PV system prices for September 2017 Prices in the table below include both the […]

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Commercial Solar PV Price Index for September 2017

September 5, 2017
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Average commercial solar system prices continue to hover around $1.20 per watt for the month of September, following an STC-driven increase between July and August. Commercial solar system prices (10kW-100kW) All prices in the tables below include incentives available through the federal Renewable Energy Target as well as GST, but do not incorporate meter installation fees […]

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Export control & grid protection for commercial solar installations from BCJ controls

September 4, 2017
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BCJ Controls is a solar technology company set up by ex-utility industrial electricians. Between them they have significant experience in electrical grid protection and switchboard building, as well as dealing with utilities on a day-to-day basis. When you have a large solar system connecting to the grid, the local power network generally requires special precautions […]

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First week in a solar house: Why do we keep running out of hot water? And other fun questions. [Solartopia #2]

August 31, 2017
Newcastle coal

It’s been just over a week since I moved into my solar-powered house in suburbs of the beautiful Newcastle, the largest coal port in the world. (You can almost taste it in the air!) Newcastle, NSW. Can you spot the coal from space? I’ve spent most of it huddled indoors hiding from the cold with […]

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Time of use vs flat rate electricity tariffs with solar & batteries

August 30, 2017
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If you’re connected to the grid and own your home, you pay for electricity. In most places, in Australia, there are basically two types of tariffs: Flat rate tariffs (aka ‘peak only’ tariffs), where you pay a fixed amount for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy that your home draws from the grid, or Time of use […]

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