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Sun setting on era of cheap solar

Posted by admin on November 12th, 2010

An article on the front page of The Australian today titled Sun setting on era of cheap solar talks about the draft regulations proposed by the federal Climate Change Department. From next year these would provide a trigger for the regulator to change the Solar Credits multiplier. It states that ORER is to reduce the multiplier by 1 if within one quarter of the year, 10% of systems were sold to customers at an out-of-pocket expense of less than $1000 per kW capacity. This means Solar Power buying cost will increase.

For example, if after receiving a point-of-sale discount for RECs and any other discounts, a customer pays less than $1,500 for a 1.5kW system or $2,000 for a 2kW system, the system would be classified as particularly cheap. Feed-in tariffs would not be counted as an up-front discount, so will not have an impact. If this occurs to at least 10% of systems within one quarter, the Solar Credits multiplier may be reduced from 5 to 4. The maximum capacity that this applies to may also be changed (currently 1.5kW).

These Regulations will require that, the out-of-pocket cost of each system will need to be included on REC assignment forms, so ORER can monitor the costs. As they will require one quarter of data before changes can be  made, changes to the multiplier could not be announced until after March 2011.

We are expecting the government to announce the final regulations soon and we will keep you updated on this.

SEE : The Australian News Article

Facts of Solar Energy-PROS and CONS of Solar Power

Posted by admin on November 9th, 2010

Like any other energy source, solar power too have its advantages and disadvantages. After reading this article you will soon see that there are far more advantages of solar power than disadvantages yet, we will  try to cover the disadvantages of using solar energy to generate.

Advantages of solar energy.

Solar energy can be used and is used for electricity, central heating, hot water, cooking, for producing salt and even for desalination. There is virtually an unlimited supply of solar energy for us to use and it is renewable.

Solar energy is clean.

  1. To produce electricity or heat with solar energy you only need the sun rays. There is no need to use fossil fuel in combination with sun rays to produce electricity or heat.
  2. Solar energy does not require any fuel.
  3. It’s not affected by the supply and demand of fuel and is therefore not subjected to the ever-increasing price of gasoline.
  4. A solar electric system installed in a home could potentially eliminate 18 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the environment each year.
  5. Using solar energy is a silent process. No noise pollution.
  6. It does not pollute our air by releasing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide or mercury into the atmosphere like many traditional forms of electrical generation does.
  7. Therefore Solar Energy does not contribute to global warming, acid rain or smog.

Read the rest of this entry »

Solar Power will be more cheap now

Posted by admin on November 9th, 2010

The United States and Australia have inked a new partnership to make Solar Energy more Cheap.

Australia in association with the United States have inked a new partnership to pursue joint Solar Power Research, designed in such a manner so that the solar energy will get more cheap to compete with fossil fuels.

In Melbourne on Sunday the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made this announcement, with the Australian government set to commit up to $50 million towards the program.

Ms Julia Gillard said the aim was to make solar power as cheap as conventional energy sources. Ms Clinton said the program may take few years and may complete by 2015 and the program is aimed to make solar power competitive with conventional energy sources.

Read the rest of this entry »

Victorian White Paper Released

Posted by admin on November 3rd, 2010

The long-awaited Climate Change White Paper was released by the Victorian Government.

Key initiatives include:

  • An emission reduction target of 20% below 2000 levels by 2020.
  • A solar generation target of 5% by 2020 (2,500 GWh), to be achieved through a feed-in tariff for large-scale and grants for medium-scale generators (under the Solar Hubs initiative).
  • A coal-fired emissions reduction target of 4 million tonnes in 4 years.
  • Average Victorian home energy efficiency rating of 5 stars, to be met through an expanded Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme.
  • VEET scheme to be increased and extended to the business sector.
  • A Government GreenPower commitment of 35% by 2015 and 50% by 2020 (equivalent to an additional 50MW by 2020).
The Victorian Government has called for applications for grants totalling $3 million under its now Solar Hubs initiative. The program encourages the installations of medium-scale PV for community groups, local Governments and other parties, in order to take advantage of bulk-purchase discounts. The program aims to create up to 10 Hubs by 2013 – an estimated 6.8MW of additional capacity.

Solar Panel Installations and Home Solar Power Systems Tougher Standards for ACT Energy Assessors

Posted by admin on November 3rd, 2010

ACT energy assessors will need to meet tougher requirements under amended legislation passed this month. The ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) will have greater power to enforce high standards, such as introducing an education requirement, and taking disciplinary action on poor those falling short of the standards.

The number of house ratings audited by the ACTPLA will also increase 5%. The change aims to improve safety and consumer confidence in energy efficiency. Planning Minister Andrew Barr commented recently on the changes.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge the Canberra community and all Australians face,” Mr Barr said. “That’s why ACT Labor is working with industry and the community to ensure Canberra continues to develop in a more sustainable way.”

“Because household energy use generates such a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, and because factors such as design, solar orientation and urban density play a role in reducing these, making housing more energy efficient is a major focus for our community. These new laws will help ensure a higher level of professionalism in the way energy assessors work. They will also deliver more certainty for people considering energy efficiency when buying or building a new home.”

Labor’s Construction Occupations Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 requires that assessors be licensed, and allows the ACT Planning and Land Authority to be able to require assessors to undertake further education or take disciplinary action against assessors where their work is found to be not up to scratch.

This will be matched with more auditing, with ACTPLA set to significantly increase the number of ratings audited each year up to 5 per cent.

“We have already adopted the Building Code of Australia’s 6 star energy rating equivalence and we are consulting the community on planning changes that will make up to 95% of new housing blocks solar orientated,” Mar Barr said. “This is part of our drive to ensure our community has access to the most sustainable housing possible. That’s why it’s so important that energy assessments are of consistently high quality.”

Mr Barr said housing design and solar orientation are just part of the factors that make a hone energy efficient.

“Everything from how people use heaters, air conditioners and lights to how large and far from work and public transport a home is all contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions, energy and fuel bills of a household,” Mr Barr said. “ACT Labor will work with the community and industry to continue to explore opportunities in all these areas to ensure the sustained development and growth of Canberra.”

Independents Crucial to Climate Change Deadlock

Posted by admin on November 3rd, 2010

Australia’s clean energy industry urges Federal Independent MPs to back whichever party will deliver a carbon price as soon as possible and provide the optimal conditions for investment in renewable energy.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said the independents had a rare opportunity to negotiate a win for their electorates, regional Australia and the environment.

The Clean Energy Council has welcomed positive comments by Independent MPs on climate change policy, particularly those made by the member for New England Tony Windsor who described an emissions trading scheme as an opportunity for the bush, rather than a problem.

Mr Windsor told media yesterday that climate change policy has been the ‘elephant in the room’ throughout the campaign. All four independents have also supported more investment in renewable energy.

“An emission trading scheme is widely recognised as being the most efficient way of reducing emissions across the country,” Mr Warren said, “It is a policy that has been supported by Professor Ross Garnaut, Former Prime Minister John Howard, former Coalition Leader Malcolm Turnbull, the National Farmers Federation, the Greens and the Labor Party.

“This is about risk management. We have to stop speculating about the validity of climate science and see the issue for what it is: an insurance policy for our future.”

Mr Warren said it was crucial there were no major changes to the Gillard Government’s renewable energy target, increased investment in the grid and emerging technologies and a clear pathway to a price on greenhouse emissions.

“Most new jobs and more than $20 billion of new investment in clean energy will be located in regional and rural Australia,” he said.

Northern NSW and Queensland are well placed to expand clean energy generation using bioenergy and large scale solar, along with other clean sources of electricity such as wind, wave and geothermal.

“Renewable energy is great news for country Australia,” he said. “It will create growth, greater economic diversity and help drought-proof farms and regions.”

Source: Clean Energy Council.

Why Australia Needs a Price on Carbon

Posted by admin on November 3rd, 2010

Australia is the worlds top exporter of coal which generates more than 80% of its power, transports most good by road and cars clog its cities.

But the country has been a laggard in passing a law enshrining a cap on emissions and a market-based trading scheme for carbon pollution.

That could change. Analysts say a minority Labor government will face increased pressure from Independents and the Greens, who won significant voter support in the August 21 polls, to push tougher climate change policies.

Here are some questions and answers on tackling Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions:

WHY THE NEED TO ACT?

Australia’s economy, and particularly its power generation sector, has been driven by access to nearly limitless supplies of cheap brown and black coal, and gas. Coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, still remains the cheapest source of power.

Australians also love their cars. In a nation of 22 million people, there were 15.7 million vehicles registered in 2009, up from 13.5 million in 2004, government figures show.

Australia’s net emission grew by 31.4% between 2008 and 1990, the base year for the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol climate pact.

Over the same period, emissions from power generation rose 52.1%, while transport emissions grew 29.2%. Overall energy sector emissions, making up three-quarters of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution, rose 44%.

A growing population, expanding at roughly 2% a year, and rising incomes, fuel greater demand for energy.

The projected impact of climate change on Australia also worries many. Rising sea levels, greater extremes of droughts and floods, higher temperatures, more intense bushfires, water shortages, and warmer and more acidic oceans in coming decades all point to a tougher future.

WHAT HAS THE GOVERNMENT DONE SO FAR?

Not much. It has developed an emissions trading scheme but twice failed to win political support and has since shelved it.

The government has also set a target of cutting emissions by 5% by 2020 from 2000 levels and by up to 25% if there is a strong global agreement.

Europe has a more ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 30% if there is a strong global climate pact. Britain is targeting a cut of 34% below 1990 levels by 2020.

The Australian government has had better luck winning parliamentary approval for a scheme that mandates a target of 20% renewable energy generation by 2020 and has also laid out a A$4.5 billion initiative backing investment in clean energy.

IS A CARBON PRICE BEST?

Yes. An emissions trading scheme that sets a clear reduction target and lets the market set a price for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted is regarded as the best way to drive greater energy efficiency and investment in cleaner energy.

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) laws just passed by parliament, while boosting investment in wind farms and some other renewables, won’t bring major emission cuts, analysts say.

Instead, the RET will promote additional generating capacity to help meet projected annual growth in consumption of about 3%.

The RET is unlikely to displace coal-fired generation sharply but is likely to encourage fast-start gas-fired generation needed to meet baseload power demands when wind power output dips.

Generators say a CO2 price that effectively makes coal-fired power more expensive is needed to drive a shift to cleaner gas and new-generation renewables, such as geothermal.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS IF THERE’S NO CARBON PRICE?

Increasingly, investors are demanding certainty on CO2 pricing to ensure financing for investment plans.

Some companies and the government also say the longer the delay, the higher the costs to the power generating sector, other industries and households in meeting the minus 5% target.

Source: Reuters.

ACA – Power Bills

Posted by admin on November 3rd, 2010

Australia’s soaring energy costs, there’s barely a family in the country that hasn’t seen their bills skyrocket by hundreds of dollar recently.

But now the definitive guide, why is it happening and how it’s possible to wind back some of these costs and take control.

“I was shocked, absolutely shocked, I, it took me a while to think, what’s going on here?” said Melbourne mum Kelly Phillips.

Kelly is using the same television, the same computer and the same fridge as last year but this years power bill is alarmingly different.

Her bill for last year was just under $600, a year later it has gone up to $915, an increase of approximately 50%. To be fair, it was a very cold winter and Kelly does have a young son, even so the actual rate has risen by 18%.

“It’ ridiculous, peak rates is when I’m using it the most, 18% jump, it’s not justified, it’s ridiculous,” Kelly said.

“I’m quite frustrated, pretty angry, but what can you do?” said Robert Vargas of Sydney. His power bill went from $270 to $1,300 in just 9 months, that’s a 5 fold increase.

“I feel quite frustrated that it has gone up as much as it had and I really don’t know what to do about it to be quite honest. I come home now and instead of enjoying myself I just turn things off as I go around the house to try and not get a bill that’s the same.”

So, why are power prices rising so steeply? Deregulation of the industry was supposed to mean cheaper power, but other factors are stopping that.

First, an increasing population, bigger households with more appliances, plus heat-waves and cold-snaps all result in a surge in electricity demand.

Add to that the fact no new power stations are being built, there’s a lack of supply. Investment in infrastructure to improve network reliability of supply is costly and throw in the Federal Government’s mandatory ‘Renewable Energy Target’ scheme, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a cost and you have expensive power.

“The cost of electricity will increase consistently over the next decade,” said Ben Freund of GoSwitch.com.au.

Australians have been zapped with about a 10% increase in their power bills in the last few years. The bad news is they’re set to rise by a staggering 100% in the next three years. The good news is, there is something you can do about it.

“Almost everyone is paying too much for their power bills because very few consumers are on the cheapest plan available,” said Ben Freund.

“There are multiple providers around and that’s the good thing about the deregulation that we’ve been through. If you’re not happy with the provider you’ve got today, you can look at going to another provider. So there is an answer to it, you can do something about this,” said Steven Mickenbecker from Canstar Blue.

Source: A Current Affair.

Major Energy Players Support Carbon Price

Posted by admin on November 3rd, 2010

Ninteen major Australian companies have called for a price on carbon to be introduced as soon as possible.

The Clean Energy Council has released an open letter to major political parties backed by many of the nation’s top energy companies – major employers in regional Australia.

The letter calls for the introduction of a price on carbon as it is crucial to Australia meeting its emissions reduction target of 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

The Clean Energy Council’s Chief Executive Matthew Warren said Australians wanted action on climate change and cheaper clean energy and business wanted certainty to invest in more clean energy projects and jobs.

“An emissions trading scheme is widely recognised as being the most efficient way of reducing emissions across the economy,” Mr Warren said.

“It is a policy that has been supported by Professor Ross Garnaut, former Prime Minister John Howard, former coalition Leader Malcolm Turnbull, the Greens and the Labor Party.”

Carbon price schemes that have already been implemented in Europe and New Zealand, are now before the US Senate and are being planned for countries like Japan and China.

“We welcome and congratulate the role the independents are taking in ensuring climate change policy remains on the radar of the major political parties,” Mr Warren said. “Renewable energy is also great for rural and regional Australia – it will create growth, greater economic diversity and help drought-proof farms and regions.”

“Australia has the opportunity now to re-set the political agenda on climate change and return to the implementation of a carbon price in the next political term. We should seize that opportunity.”

Source: Clean Energy Council.

Inept Liberals to Spend Money Twice

Posted by admin on November 3rd, 2010

The Minister for Energy, Bryan Green, said the Liberal Party’s planned power prices bill was a populist political stunt hiding the fact they still have no long term vision for the future of Tasmania’s electricity industry.

“Make no mistake, the State Government is keenly aware of the impact of rising electricity prices and we are determined to do what we can to ease the financial pain.”

“We have committed to making a submission to the independent Regulator about smoothing any increases and we are establishing an expert panel to conduct a major independent review of the State’s energy industry over the coming 12 months.”

“And the Social Inclusion Unit has begun work on a Cost of Living strategy which will examine all the key factors, including utility prices, that put a stress on household budgets.”

“We are working hard towards long term solutions for those Tasmanians whoa re doing it tougher; we aren’t using their struggles to score political points like the Liberal Party.”

“Mr Hodgman and Mr Gutwein can’t even decide how they should address this problem – one day they want to give relief to residential customers, the next it’s small business and then it’s farmers.”

“And they keep trying to spend money we don’t have. Tihs so-called ‘windfall’ gain of $46 million represents Commonwealth funding that is already committed to Commonwealth projects. It can’t be spent twice.”

“This demonstrates the Liberals fiscal irresponsibility and a complete lack of understanding of the State’s finances.”

“This Government will always do it’s best to support those Tasmanians who need a hand, that’s why we have some of the most generous energy price concessions in the country and we are delivering a further one-off $100 concession.”

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