• Will Gas Prices Soon Be On Par With Electricity?

    With Queensland’s huge LNG export projects set to start production next year, there is real concern that gas prices will skyrocket.

    For some small businesses, this could mean a gas bill increase of $2,500 to $3,000. On the domestic front, high gas users in Melbourne can expect price rises of about $435 a year.

    Even with this news, independent think tank, the Grattan Institute, is opposing calls for some gas to be reserved for domestic use. Instead, the report has recommended that governments consider raising tax and royalty rates on gas producers in response to rising prices.

    Electricity and gas prices in Australian homes have already increased significantly over the past five years. But the completion of coal seam gas projects in Queensland is predicted to see gas prices more than double over the next few years, with local consumers having to pay the higher export price for gas.

    Gas export production sparks fiery debate over WA’s “protectionism policy”


    To avoid export price parity, Western Australia already puts aside 15% of gas reserves for domestic use.

    However, Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood, said this “protectionism policy” has deterred investment and increased gas prices in WA.

    Mr Wood’s analysis has been disputed by the head of WA's DomGas Alliance Matt Brown, which represents natural gas users such as Fortescue Metals and Alcoa.

    He stated that 2013 was a record year for gas exploration investment and LNG exports. He also argued that the policy has not deterred big projects including Chevron's Gorgon and Wheatstone projects off the north-west coast of WA.

    Scott McDine, the national secretary of the Australian Workers Unions and spokesman for the Reserve our Gas Coalition, also disputes the Grattan Institute's analysis.

    After commissioning a report which found that one-in-five manufacturers could shut down because of skyrocketing gas prices, the AWU has called for a national gas reservation policy in line with policies implemented by other major gas exporting nations such as the United States.

    Next few years difficult for gas users


    With the Grattan report predicting that the cost increase will price gas out of power generation and lead to more coal being used for electricity, Tony Brown concedes that the next few years will be a difficult time for businesses and households, but added that he does not support government intervention, such as subsidies.

    Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/gas-price-increases-no-cause-for-reservation-policy/5827098

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  • How Renewable Energy Targets Reform Will Affect Your Back Pocket

    The Australian solar and renewables industries have reacted with disappointment at the recent recommendations from the Warburton inquiry that the Renewable Energy Target scheme be substantially reformed.

    The inquiry seemingly ignored expert solar industry advice that axing the Renewable Energy Target would see demand for solar fall by 40-50%, with a similar reduction in jobs.

    With 1.3 million Australian households already experiencing the cost savings delivered by the RET, the outlook for those yet to take up solar is not optimistic. Which means millions of Australians who are yet to take up solar will find it harder to reduce their power bills.

    It’s even more surprising considering Government-commissioned modelling for the review found that consumers would be an average $56 better off from 2021 if the Target is kept in place.

    Recommendations for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme

    The panel has recommended that the government take one of four courses of action with regard to the SRES, which provides up-front support for the installation of rooftop solar power and other renewable energy systems under 100kW. Currently, the SRES helps to make Solar more affordable.


    Under the latest recommendations, subsidies for small-scale solar systems are likely to fall.


    Recommendations for the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target

    The LRET comprises the main ‘target’ portion of the Renewable Energy Target: under the current RET, 41,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity are mandated to come from large-scale renewable plants by the year 2020. With the future of the LRET in question, fostering large-scale renewable energy project investment and development in Australia has made investors nervous.

    With Bloomberg New Energy Finance warning that changes to the RET could set back the Australian renewables industry by a decade, solar campaigners Solar Citizens have issued a media release urging its followers to email their MPs about the importance of maintaining the RET as it is.

    Source: http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/news/what-renewable-energy-target-review-panel-report-means-for-those-thinking-about-going-solar-290814?utm_source=SC+Installers&utm_campaign=87decd8f92-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_016c841e49-87decd8f92-84520009

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  • Energy Storage A Big Factor For Solar Households

    Energy Storage a Big Factor for Solar Households

    In yet another interesting twist to the solar story, it has been suggested that the falling cost of solar and battery storage means that the average Australian household could find it cost-competitive to go off-grid by 2018.

    Feedback from solar installers suggests that between 15 -20% of current solar customers are enquiring about storage, with an estimate that installation of battery storage systems in Australian homes could reach around 1,000 a year by the end of 2014.

    One of the reasons cited is the decision by regulators to assign a low “value” of solar exports, forcing homeowners to look at how to “self-consume” their solar output rather than export it back to the grid. Recent decisions by network operators such as Ergon Energy and Energex to place restrictions on rooftop solar systems exporting back into the grid will do the same, and battery storage is an obvious option.

    Australia currently has around 3.4GW of solar PV on household rooftops (and some businesses), but this is expected to rise six-fold out to 2030 as households invest another $30 billion in solar systems.

    With the CSIRO noting that half of domestic demand could be met by solar and storage on-site, this move towards ‘going off-grid’ is causing a great deal of debate, with some arguing that battery storage at the household level is likely to be most cost effective if the household remains connected to the grid, and simply uses the grid when storage is insufficient.

    Ergon Energy says it is inevitable that households will turn to storage, mainly because it is cheaper than the unsubsidised delivery of centralised power. It will also save the network operator money because it won’t have to build so many poles and wires.

    In response, numerous companies are poised to roll out home energy storage solutions in coming months.


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  • Solar Power Soars To New Heights



    Believe it or not, it’s no longer out of the realms of possibility that solar power can be used to fly a plane. In fact, that’s exactly what happened just a few weeks ago in the skies above Switzerland with the maiden flight of the Solar Impulse 2, a bizarre looking but remarkable aircraft that relies solely on solar energy to get around.

    #Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/can-plane-fly-around-world-sun-power-alone-180951674/?no-ist


    The brainchild of inventors Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the idea for solar flight was designed to show the world what can be done with renewable energy.

    Our goal is to show that it is now possible to achieve things considered impossible without fossil fuels”, Piccard said.


    With Solar Impulse 2 flying for 2 hours without incident, plans are now in place for a planned trip around the world, beginning next March. This ground breaking solar flying trip is to be broken into five or six stages over several months, primarily for the benefit of the two pilots who will take turns at the controls.

    While the inventors are not out to reshape human flight, their mission is more focussed on the idea of pushing the envelope of solar technology.

    "Success will not come if we just fly around the world in a solar-powered airplane,” said Riccard. “The real success will come if enough people are motivated to do exactly the same in their daily life: save energy, go to renewables. This is possible."

    #Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/can-plane-fly-around-world-sun-power-alone-180951674/?no-ist

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  • Solar Power

    You won’t believe what’s happening on your roof right now

    We all know the facts about solar power; how much money it can save you on power, the peace of mind knowing what your electricity costs will be and that you’re doing your bit for the environment.

    But delve a little deeper and you’ll be amazed just how incredible the science of solar really is.

    Photons: The basis of solar energy

    Thanks to the genius of Albert Einstein, we now have an understanding of what photons are all about. The energy we get from solar panels is a result of an endless stream of photons bombarding the earth. These elementary particles are present in the light that the sun gives off, and one of their amazing properties is that they can be absorbed by silicon.

    Solar at the speed of light

    Because photons are delivered by light, they travel from the sun to us here on earth at an astonishing 1.07 billion kilometres per hour. That means it takes them a mere 8 minutes to cover the 149.6 million kilometre journey.

    About time

    The conversation about light and speed inevitably gets pretty complex because time becomes a factor. Without getting bogged down into the quantum physics of it all, the fact is when we look out into space and see light, due to the massive distances involved, we are actually looking back in time. It’s a little hard to get your head around, but when we look at the moon for example, we are actually seeing what it looked like one second ago. And when we look at the sun that helps us power our homes, we are actually seeing what it looked like 8 minutes ago.

    Ageless technology

    Photons tend to bounce around inside the mass of the sun for a very long time before they are randomly flung out to travel through space and land on our solar panels. Apparently, the average age of a photon is about 10 million years old, so even though we think of solar as new technology, it’s actually a brilliant piece of science created when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

    So next time you turn on your solar powered hot water, spare a thought for those billions of photons heading straight from the sun to your roof – the ultimate home delivery. 

    21 July 2014

    Solar Power

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  • Australian Households Leading The Solar Revolution

    It’s official! New data shows that Australian households are leading the way when it comes to switching to Solar.

    In fact, nearly two-thirds of the total investment in renewables across Australia in 2013 - and virtually the entire investment in renewables in 2014 - was due to the uptake of solar in Australian households and businesses.

    This amounted to a staggering $2.billion out of a total $4.4 billion of clean energy investment used to install nearly 1 gigawatt of rooftop solar PV.

    In layman’s terms, that accounted for an estimated 13,000 households switching to solar every month. Even reductions to feed-in tariffs and the winding back of generous state and federal subsidies have not slowed demand.

    Interestingly, the new data released by Pew Charitable Trusts notes that rooftop solar would remain attractive to Australian households as it is now seen as the answer to soaring electricity prices (remember, residential electricity prices rose an average of 14% in 2013!)

    And with budgets tightening and the cost of living on the increase -– we fully expect to see even more Australian households making the switch to solar.

    #Source http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/news/australian-households-lead-way-solar-pv-investment-220414?utm_source=SC+Installers&utm_campaign=a0f8740d84-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_016c841e49-a0f8740d84-84518437

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  • The Summer Of Solar

    As anyone in Australia’s hot spots will remember, the summer of 2013/14 was a sizzler. And our electricity infrastructure certainly felt the heat as huge numbers of households kept their air conditioners running day and night in an effort to keep their cool.

    So how did the system cope with all this extra demand? WattClarity is a group that analyses and helps us to understand Australia’s electricity market, and in a recent retrospective of some of the past few months’ most noteworthy moments in the National Electricity Market, they described the past summer as a volatile one. But while electricity demand peaked at levels not seen in recent years, it still remained shy of breaking any records. Why?

    According to some in the solar industry, most notably Solar Council chief John Grimes and RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson, one of the main reasons peak electricity demand failed to reach new heights was because of the unprecedented levels of rooftop Solar PV System installations.

    In fact, it was noted that even when electricity demand looked set to outstrip supply for a few days in mid-January, the use of solar power eliminated the need for emergency load shedding on the part of large-scale electricity users.

    The role of Solar as hero during this severe heatwave was confirmed by the Australian Energy Market Operator, with data confirming that rooftop solar contributed more than 15% of demand at various points, resulting in a significant reduction in daytime consumption from the grid.

    With predictions of more volatile seasons ahead, solar power is cementing its place as the most reliable and sustainable power alternative.

    Solar Panels

    #Source http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/news/remembering-the-solar-summer-of-2013-2014/?utm_source=SC+Installers&utm_campaign=a0f8740d84-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_016c841e49-a0f8740d84-84518437

    26 May 2014

    The Summer Of Solar

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  • Solar Message Spreads Across Suburbia

    Once considered the domain of ‘wealthy greenies’, solar power is fast becoming the power system of choice for the average Aussie home.

    According to a new report from Roy Morgan Research, the number of Australians with solar panels has more than doubled in the past three years, from 7.5% in March 2011 to 16% (that’s more than 3 million people) by the end of 2013.

    And much of the latest growth has been amongst retirees and residents of outer suburbs.

    Even reductions to feed-in tariffs have not stopped nationwide demand for solar power installation. According to Darren Gladman, policy manager with the Clean Energy Council, the main motivations for switching to solar are return on investment and skyrocketing power bills.

    With the cost of solar panels plummeting over the past four years, return on investment is better than ever. Remember, just a few years ago a solar system would have cost as much as a small car, while now you can purchase a quality system for about the same price as a big screen TV.

    Regardless of whether you sell electricity back to the grid or not, today's average-sized solar systems are cheap enough to pay for themselves in around six years.

    And as more and more Australian homes fall victim to the dreaded bill shock – residential electricity prices rose an average of 14% in 2013 – the energy savings benefits of solar power are becoming even more attractive.

    And far from being an indulgence of the middle class, many of those now signing up for solar panels are retirees and others on a tight budget who are drawn to the idea of controlling their energy costs.

    Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/keeping-the-sun-from-going-down-20140311-34k1y.html

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