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Solar Power Could Become a Debacle

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Subsidised solar power risks becoming a new insulation-type debacle, with industry leaders claiming shoddy work and poor safety standards are rife.

Power Prices Soaring

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Due to the rising growth in people taking up renewable energy solutions, Australians are now paying the price with massive electricity price hikes. The March 2010 quarter consumer price index showed annual electricity inflation hitting 18.2% – the biggest electricity price increase since the early 1980′s when general inflation was in the double digits.

This price hike is on top of the previous 12 month increase of 7.7% and the 10.0% increases from the March 2008 figures. In April, Origin Energy Managing Director, Grant King said power prices could triple by 2020.

Considering the current quarterly bill for households in Australia is $300 on average, this is a huge increase and would take the average household spend on electricity to around $3,600/year by 2020.

As more and more people realise the value in renewable energy solutions, this situation will only get worse, as a shift is created in the supply and demand for traditional sources of electricity. If one can make their home non-reliant upon traditional forms of electricity they will of course avoid these and any further price increases.

The added benefit to more people taking up renewable energy solutions is it makes them more affordable as demand increases, not to mention the overall benefit to our planet and well-being of future generations.

Reduced Solar Credits Multiplier

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

The amount of Solar Credits you receive for installing a new solar system may be reduced in the later part of 2010, ahead of schedule.

According to the Office of the Energy Regulator’s (ORER) website, the Regulator has the power to adjust the Solar Credits multiplier, and “the Government will consult on draft regulations to implement this arrangement later this year.” The website goes on to explain that “it is the intention that solar credits for small generating units (SGUs) would be reduced if the…Regulator determines there is systemic evidence of relatively small or no out-of-pocket expense to owners of SGUs.”  However, what the Government deems as a “small expense” might translate into significant savings for new customers who install before legislative changes take place.

The Solar Credits multiplier

RECs are a type of credit given for installing Solar, Hydro, or Wind electricity-generating units. A rooftop entry-level 1.5 kW solar system may receive around 30 RECs, depending on the zone in which it is located. The REC price for home solar will be set at $40 per REC from January 2011, but will fluctuate at market rates until then.

As discussed in The REC Market, the Solar Credits multiplier was created in 2009 to encourage the expansion of home solar units. RECs were to be valued at five times their market rate for the first few years, then phased out by 2015. So 30 RECs valued at $40 each, and multiplied by five, would result in savings of $6000.

Obviously, as the multiplier decreases, your potential credit would also decrease. If the multiplier is reduced from 5 to 3, your savings would only be $3600 rather than $6000!

Part of the logic behind the Solar Credits multiplier is to reward early uptake of solar panels, and to taper off the incentives as the Government gets closer to its Renewable Energy Targets. While periodic review is necessary to ensure that the program remains on track, the Regulator must bear in mind that sudden changes in policy may result in instability for home consumers and the market. Hence, ORER should be called upon to implement a reasonable transition time of 3 or 4 months in announcing any changes to the multiplier, especially if doing so ahead of the schedule listed in the Regulations. This would allow installers to remedy any backlog of new installations, and would benefit home consumers who would like to take advantage of the full credits to which they are entitled.

Multiplier applies up to 3kW capacity

ORER’s announcement to review the multiplier follows upon changes in the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act, which was amended in June 2010. In addition to separating the Renewable Energy Target into the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES)—and creating two types of RECs based on these distinctions—the new policy also increases the amount of kilowatt capacity that may be multiplied under the scheme.

Previously only the first 1.5 kW was entitled to be multiplied—everything over 1.5 kW was awarded a 1-to-1 REC credit. New legislation increases this amount to the first 3kW of capacity, with a 1-to-1 REC value over 3kW. The larger capacity represents a greater portion of the average household’s energy needs.

To sum up

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme presents significant savings for home solar energy systems, particularly to those who are able to jump on board before the Solar Credits multiplier is decreased.

SolarGen Head Office Opening

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Greg Hunt, Harry Jenkins and Matthew Wright to open SolarGen!

Event Time: Wednesday 28 July, 11am – 12pm
Event Location: 2/19 Enterprise Drive, Bundoora, 3083
Matthew Wright, Executive Director of Beyond Zero Emissions, will speak at the launch of the new SolarGen head office. Shadow Environment Minister, Greg Hunt and Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs will also be speaking at the event. Also in attendance will be Harry Jenkins, Mr. Jenkins is the local member for Scullin and also the Speaker for The House of Representatives.
Beyond Zero Emissions recently launched their Zero Carbon Australia plan, which shows that transitioning Australia’s entire electricity sector to 100% renewables in 10 years is technically feasible and affordable. The plan was the result of a collaboration between researchers from Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne Energy Institute.
There has been a huge amount of interest in the plan from politicians, the media and the public. The SolarGen launch event will be an opportunity to hear more about the plan from Matthew Wright and to direct questions to him and the ministers present.
SolarGen is an Australian company that specialises in solar photovoltaic power systems. Through the booming Australian residential photovoltaic market, they have experienced a rapid expansion in the last couple of years to become one of the leading players in the Australian residential solar industry. With over 50 staff, SolarGen is an Australian success story.
For further information and comment: Matthew Wright, 0421 616 733
Alternative contact: Pablo Brait, 0421 011 182

SolarGen’s Official Opening

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Today we held the official opening of our new head office in Bundoora, the day was a success and went better than anticipated with staff, politicians, industry leaders and international suppliers present.

Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt MP was present and spoke about his party’s plans for the future and in particular our industry, we would again like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Hunt for his time time today, it is greatly appreciated.

We also heard from Harry Jenkins MP who is not only the local member for Scullin but also the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr. Jenkins also gave us some insight on his party’s plans for the future and again touched on our industry in particular. We would also like to thank Mr. Jenkins for his time today it is also greatly appreciated.

Last and certainly not least we heard from Matthew Wright, head of the non-profit organisation, Beyond Zero Emissions. Matthew gave us some great insight in to what his organization is and has been working on while also challenging the politicians present. Beyond Zero Emissions has calculated that Australia could quite easily be utilizing renewable energy sources at 100% by 2020 in comparison to the Governments proposed Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020. Naturally we would like to thank Matthew for his time also, we appreciate him taking time out for our opening.

SolarGen HQ

Greg Hunt Harry Jenkins

Harry Jenkins, ST Chung & Marcus Denning Matthew Wright & Marcus Denning Geoff, Harry, Greg, Matthew & Marcus

During the day we were also able to conduct some interviews which are available below. When clicking the links to these files please keep in mind they may take a little while to start depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Interview with Mr. Greg Hunt MP – Shadow Environment Minister.

Interview with Mr. Harry Jenkins MP – Local Member for Scullin & Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The above interviews are the exclusive property of SolarGen and may not be
distributed, used, edited or otherwise without written consent from SolarGen.

Solar Film Increases Output

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

In tests performed by NREL at its Golden, Colorado research campus, the film delivered conversion efficiency gains ranging from 10% to 12.5% depending on testing conditions, on a variety of solar panels, at a cost of under 10 cents a watt.

CIGS Thin Film 2.0

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

The company, which came out of stealth mode last fall, just announced the development of its first manufacturing line, a 15 MW capacity facility that cost only $10 million to build and install. The line is made by Intevac, a provider of sputtering equipment for technologies like hard drives.

AQT uses a sputtering technique to create CIGS cells, which can then be dropped into a standard PV module. According to the company, the cells are 14 percent efficient. When put into a module, they are around 12 percent efficient.

Rather than focus on making massive manufacturing lines itself (a la Heliovolt and Solyndra), AQT is focused on technology partnerships and an incremental scale-up of capacity. While many companies have required many years and lots of capital to meet their targets, AQT was able to deploy the line in about eight weeks, according to the company.

CEO Michael Bartholomeusz calls the approach, “CIGS 2.0.” You can read a piece of commentary from him here.

Four years ago, when many other CIGS companies were making headlines, AQT hadn’t even formed. Now, assuming its strategy works, it’s on pace to actually put the CIGS market on the map.

Below, Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO of AQT, talks about the technical and business-development philosophy behind the company’s approach. The interview was at last fall’s Solar Power International conference.

Source: Renewable Energy World.

China Sunergy to Hit 900MW

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

China Sunergy has updated its expectations for 2010, saying that it will have 400MW of crystalline-silicon solar-cell production capacity and 900MW of PV module capacity by the end of the year, with 500-550MW of the moduling online by the end of the third quarter.

The company also says that it anticipates gross margins will be 15-18%, prior to the completion of the acquisition of two module manufacturers–CEEG Shanghai and CEEG Nanjing–with conversion cost reducing to $0.20/watt by the end of the year, as production efficiencies continue to be realized.

The Nanjing-based firm announced in March the purchase of the two companies (both owned by the China Electric Equipment Group, which is controlled by Tingxiu Lu, chairman of China Sunergy) and said that the pair would bring an additional 470MW of combined capacity online by the end of 2010.

During its first-quarter financial results call on April 30, China Sunergy said it expected to hit margins in the 14-16% range in the second quarter, and to ship between 280MW and 350MW of modules over the course of 2010.

The company did not offer updated shipment guidance in the latest announcement, saying that it assumed demand would remain at “current expectations.”

Source: PV-tech.

New $800 Power Slug

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Victorian households face electricity price rises of up to 50 per cent – between $600 and $800 a year on average – to cover soaring costs and pollution taxes.

The savage blow will push average annual bills for typical families towards $2,000 by 2013. Households have already endured price rises of 20 to 30 per cent in the past two years.

The higher cost of power generation, poles and wiring upgrades, the rollout of smart meters and uncertainty over an emissions-trading scheme are blamed.

“A world of pain is coming” St. Vincent De Paul Society energy spokesman Gavin Duffy said. Industry analyst Simon Oaten warned the cost of coal and gas fuels used to generate electricity were escalating dramatically.

Contracts being renegotiated at higher prices in NSW and Queensland would feed into the national pricing market and flow through to Victoria.

Mr Oaten, of Shaw Stockbroking, said other factors behind rocketing electricity bills included:

The Brumby Government’s plans to slash carbon emissions by 2020 and reduce output at the coal-fired Hazelwood plant;

The electricity industry’s planned $42 billion investment to rebuild ageing infrastructure; and

A higher price for natural gas from the north-west shelf feeding in to gas-fired power generation.

“We haven’t seen the full impact on retail (prices) yet,” Mr Oaten said.

He said the cost of coal represented 30 to 35 per cent of total generation costs – and the international market price had doubled.

EnergyWatch general manager Ben Polis blamed the Federal Government’s promised – and now postponed – emissions-trading scheme for some of the price rises inflicted on consumers.

Electricity generators had factored in a price on carbon to protect their profits, and consumers had been paying more despite the ETS not being imposed, Mr Polis said.

Electricity bills sent to households are made up mainly of the cost of generation and the cost of transmission. Retailer charges comprise about 10 – 15 per cent of the total. Mr Duffy said the public’s limited understanding of their bills opened the door to potential profiteering.

Article: Mark Dunn and Karen Collier.
Source: Herald Sun (14th August 2010).

Turn It Off at the Wall

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Power-hungry homes filled with TV’s, video games and computers are being sucked dry of dollars because appliances are left on standby rather than being switched off when not in use.

Electricians warn some big households can waste hundreds of dollars a year by not manually turning off appliances or switching them off at the power point.

Televisions, DVD players, stereo systems, microwave ovens and cordless phones are common power guzzlers.

Electrician Phillip Gear, of Ecomonitor, said a typical home had dozens of appliances capable of constantly drawing power. “If you turn something off and still see a clock or a light on, it is still consuming some energy and costing you. Some homes are wasting an enormous amount of money because of pure negligence.” Mr Gear said.

“They have a ridiculous number of items – three or four TVs. The kids have all the bells and whistles, but they are only turning off with a remote control. A lot of new TVs on the market can be a trap, because they don’t have a manual off button.”

Small amounts of standby power combined across multiple devices can amount to about 10 per cent of total electricity bills, depending on the efficiency level of the model being used.

Mr Gear said the problem was worsening as the number of devices accumulating in average households continues to mushroom.

Efficiency experts advise consumers to completely unplug electronic appliances when they are used only occasionally or during holidays, and to pay attention to energy rating labels on products.

Article: Karen Collier.
Source: Herald Sun (14th August 2010).

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