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ACT Leads The Way For The Best Aussie Feed In Tariff Scheme

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

A Feed-in Tariff rewards households and businesses that install renewable energy generation technology by paying a Premium Price for the electricity they generate.
For each unit of renewable energy generated, you will be paid at a rate greater than the retail price you would usually pay to buy the same amount of energy for your use.

The ACT Feed-in Tariff Scheme is based on gross generation, so you are paid for each unit of electricity that you generate. Most other jurisdictions only pay you for any energy left after deducting your own consumption.

When Will The Solar Feed In Tariff Start?

Stage 1 of the Scheme aimed at householders and small business will commence on 1 March 2009. An announcement on how larger scale generation will be included within the Scheme is expected in June 2009.

How much will I be paid?

From commencement of the Scheme on 1 March 2009 until 30 June 2010 the Premium Price will be 50.05 cents per kWh generated for systems up to 10kW. For systems between 10kW and 30kW a rate of 40.04 cents per kWh will be paid.

No House Fires Caused by Solar Panels

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

NATIONAL: The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has moved to reassure consumers about the safety of Australian household solar panel systems following a story on ABC’s Lateline program on the 17th February 2010.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said while there had been around 100,000 solar panels installed in Australian households over the last 30 years, the industry has received no reports of any causing house fires.

“We take safety seriously.  The safety record of the solar industry is good. To put this in perspective there are more than 10,000 house fires every year, most of which are caused by faulty wiring or appliances – not solar panels,” Mr Warren said.

“All solar panels receiving government support must be installed by an accredited installer.  The panels must comply with the Australian standard.  All houses connecting solar panels back to the grid must also be installed by a licensed electrician.

The accreditation program includes audits of installed systems to ensure compliance with these rigorous standards and consumer confidence is maintained.

“All households looking to install solar panels should be using a CEC-accredited installer who is required to ensure that their solar panel system is safe and complies with the Australian standard,” Mr Warren said.

“The Clean Energy Council will continue to work with Federal and State Governments to ensure the highest standards are maintained and consumers can continue to generate their own clean electricity with confidence,” he said.

“We welcome any additional measures to improve the safety, performance and reliability of these technologies as they evolve to becoming part of the mainstream energy supply in Australia.”

“Both major parties should be proud of the transformative effect their policies have had in developing the Australian solar industry.  They have made solar power more affordable for consumers, created jobs and reduced thousands of Australian household’s reliance on fossil fuel-based electricity,” he said.

For more information please visit the Clean Energy Council.

Solar Installations Rise in 2009

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

Figure 1: Rebated Australian Grid Connected Solar Power Installations (kW/year). Source: Solar Homes and Communities Program statistics.

The short answer would be ‘no’. Chances are that 2010 may see a fall in Australian Solar PV installations. A fair share of last years’ growth was assisted by an A$8/Watt federal government rebate which was capped at $8,000. When this rebate was combined with Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) it meant zero-cost 1 kW solar power systems could be offered by solar installation companies. Since then though the amount of initial support from the government has dropped by more than 50% with the rebate being replaced by the Solar Credits scheme. So what does this mean? Simply put it means Photovoltaic (PV) solar is no longer free and as a result sales have declined considerably.

2010 now shapes up to be a potentially bumpy ride for the Australian PV industry. Having the ability to sell free systems and make a reasonable profit drew many new industry entrants around the end of 2008. This enabled a rapid increase in the amount of solar energy systems being installed during the first half of 2009 until the government’s abrupt ending of the rebate. This snap decision by the government not only sent shock waves through the industry but infuriated many home owners throughout Australia hoping to take advantage of the rebate.

While legislation was being passed on Solar Credits, the solar industry got to work installing the 63 MW of solar systems issued under the pre-approval for the rebate. The solar industry then took a further setback when the REC’s value plunged from $50 to $30 which meant the value of Solar Credits (in effect a REC multiplier for the first 1.5kW of a solar system being installed) plummeted from $5150 to $3090 for a 1 kW system (from $7750 to $4650 for a 1.5 kW system). Then as a geared-up industry started installing 8 MW a month, sales volumes fell through the floor.

Figure 2: Grid-connected solar power installations, 2009. Source: Source: Solar Homes and Communities Program statistics.

Setbacks aside the Australian PV industry marched on and installed another 4,600 solar credit systems adding another 12 MW to the total of already installed solar systems in Australia. Naturally though, those states with a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) have been far more successful when it comes to selling systems under the solar credits scheme. With New South Wales announcing a Gross Feed-in Tariff of 60c/kWh, it is expected demand will continue throughout 2010.

What this tells us is that even though affordability has been reduced, demand for PV solar systems remains strong, especially in states with a Feed-in Tariff. At present all states are offering a Feed-in Tariff with the exception of Western Australia who will commence a Feed-in Tariff in July of 2010. So just how much will get installed in 2010? Well there is no real way to tell however approximately 28 MW of the pre-approved rebates from 2009 remain to be installed. As for how successful Solar Credits will be, well this comes down to just how well the industry copes with any further setbacks along with the individual performances of salespeople within the solar energy industry.

Figure 3: Percentage of 2009’s Australian solar power installations receiving Solar Credits. Source: Compiled from data on the REC Registry.

Sadly though, the evidence on hand highlights the potential immaturity of the solar industry in this country. A large number of recent industry entrants are still selling on price alone which means they are either unaware of prior setbacks or have simply ignored them all together. During the back end of 2008 Australian solar panel prices sky rocketed on the back of a weakened Australian dollar which coincided with Spain’s infamous PV demand. These events pretty much left low-margin operators stranded and unable to compete in the market place. Having said that these factors are currently in reverse and our industry may well pay the price when demand catches up with supply during 2010.

Additionally, many companies entered the market during a time when lowest prices, driven by rebates, brought greater market share. As a result, very few companies are informing their customers of the value in larger solar energy systems. Even though the average size of systems being installed has increased with solar credits, this is largely due to the fact a majority of sales are now 1.5kW not 1 kW. Meanwhile the installation of 2 – 4 kW systems are now in decline and have become less common than they were under the rebate out shown in Figure 4. Unfortunately, what customers are not aware of is the fact that over a 10 year period a 1.5kW systems creates barely enough revenue to replace an inverter meaning their investment may well be wasted.

Figure 4: Proportion of PV Systems of 2-4 kW in size under each government support mechanism. Source: Compiled from data on the REC Registry.

Using more innovative sales techniques may improve the outcome for both solar businesses and their customers. Regardless of the 1.5-kW Solar Credit sweet spot, a larger solar power system offers a more favourable long-term financial and environmental benefit. Even in those states with a net FIT, a larger system will earn a substantially higher premium revenue because they feed more power in to the grid, dramatically reducing payback (Figure 5). Even states with a gross FIT, a larger system will provide stronger insulation from rises in the price of electricity, which may be as much as 68% over the next three years.

All that aside, the fact remains, larger inverters are more efficient and also cost less when proportionally measured. Solar companies able to convince customers to upgrade their system size and incorporate energy efficient technologies may well produce better outcomes for both customers and the industry overall. This would strengthen customer relations with a benefit from greater gross profit and diversified income streams that are less dependent upon government support.

Figure 5: Likely System Payback under a net Feed-in Tariff, as varying with system size and household power consumption levels.

Western Australia’s Tariff Announced

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

The long-awaited renewable energy feed-in tariff scheme will pay households 40c a kilowatt hour for electricity exported into the power grid.

Details of the scheme, the funding for which was announced in the state budget last week, were unveiled by Energy Minister Peter Collier today.

However, they were immediately slammed as “ludicrous” by the Greens.

The payments will be made to householders with new and existing solar, wind and micro-hydro systems feeding into the South West Interconnected System and regional power grids.

The systems, which include tenanted properties, must be owned by the homeowner. Payments would be made for 10 years.

Synergy customers would be allowed systems up to 5kW, while that limit doubled for those covered by regional retailer Horizon.

Mr Collier said payments would be made from August, with registrations accepted from July.

However, the scheme has been widely criticised by conservation groups, who say that the net feed-in tariff, as opposed to gross feed-in, would mean little in the way of actual payments.

With a net scheme, only excess power above that required by a household is paid for, while with a gross scheme all power generated is paid for, with the householder still required to pay their full power bill.

Mr Collier said the tariff would be in addition to that paid under the existing renewable energy buyback scheme, so householders could receive at least 47c a kWh.

“This provides a genuine incentive for home owners to install renewable energy systems, which not only has a positive impact on the environment but it will also help householders manage their electricity bills,” he said.

A feasibility study was also being undertaken into the potential for a similar scheme for businesses.

But Greens MLC Robin Chapple said the scheme was “meaningless” for the “well-meaning people” who would consider installing small-scale systems.

“The Minister today has made ludicrous claims about the payback period under his scheme, but unless householders have more solar panels than they need the payback period is simple – never,” he said.

WA Sustainable Energy Association chief executive Ray Wills said the scheme would allow WA “to catch the pack” as all states tried to ramp up renewable energy use.

SHCP 3 Weeks Grace

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

The Department has now implemented a three week grace period for all installations with a 6th July expiry date. The following must be met to qualify for this three week grace period:

UK Show Strong Renewable Energy Growth

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

Of the 20.7 MW of total installed capacity that has been registered for the UK feed-In tariff scheme since it went live on April 1, 6.4 MW was installed by the commercial sector, well ahead of initial government predictions that forecasted the domestic sector accounting for a far higher majority of the installation capacity.

In total, 4,609 installations were registered for the feed-In tariffs with the figures showing a significant monthly increase in the total number of installations being registered. In terms of quantity, the residential market accounted for the lion share of the total number with 4,541 registered installations – a figure that rose from just 408 in April. With the average domestic installation being 2.7 kW in size and all but 112 being solar PV installations, the average financial return for these early adopters can be predicted at £2,000 a year. With an average installation cost of around £12,000, these early adopters will on average achieve an 8 to 12% return over the 25 year lifetime of the solar PV tariffs.

The commercial sector showed a far lower number of installations, with just 55 registered between April 1st and July 31st. However, the average size of the installations was far higher and spread more equally between solar PV and wind schemes, as well as 6 hydro-power plants going live.

Although two times that of the average residential installation, the average size of the commercial solar PV installations was the smallest in the sector at 5.7kW. Wind schemes averaged an impressive 106kW but it was the size of hydro-schemes that stole the show with the six registered schemes averaging at 553kW. At this stage, no anaerobic digestion or micro-CHP schemes have been registered, according to Ownergy.

UK as Fastest-Growing Solar Market in 2010

Henning Wicht, PhD of iSupply released a report that predicts installations of PV systems in the United Kingdom will amount to 96 Megawatts (MW) in 2010, up an astounding 1,500 percent from 6 MW in 2009. While the country’s growth will start from a nearly negligible level in 2009, the expansion will dramatically outpace the growth of the next fastest-growing nation—Spain—which will rise by approximately 730 percent in 2010, said iSupply.

“When you think of weather in the United Kingdom, London fog comes to mind more readily than bright sunshine,” said Wicht who is a senior director and principal analyst for iSuppli. “However, things definitely are looking brighter for the solar market in the United Kingdom in 2010, as the country has adopted attractive Feed-in-Tariffs (FIT) to promote PV adoption. Furthermore, with leading solar country Germany cutting its FITs, the focus of the PV world is shifting to places with more favorable incentives—making the United Kingdom a solar hotspot this year.”

While growth in the United Kingdom is expected to slow down from such a blistering rate after 2010, PV installations will continue to rise in the 50 percent range for each year through 2014.

iSupply’s predictions on the UK PV market are shown in the chart below.

More on the iSupply report, PV Market Has a Solid Case for a Robust 2011, can be found here.

Source: Renewable Energy World.

Greens Want More Renewables

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

Tasmania, Australia – Yesterday, the Green Party in Australia unveiled a policy that would, among other initiatives, direct AU $5 billion to loan guarantees for large-scale renewable energy projects. The policy also included an enhanced target for renewables uptake, a grant program and a feed-in tariff all designed to help spur the country towards 100% renewable energy.

“Australia can harness our tremendous resources of the sun, wind, ocean, earth and human ingenuity to replace our reliance on coal with 100% renewable energy within decades,” said Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, when she unveiled the plan.

Milne stressed the necessity of a strong strategic plan to achieve the goal of getting the country off coal.  She explained how important loan guarantees are for renewable energy developers to build renewable energy projects for baseload power, “particularly in the context of the global financial crisis.”

According to the Greens website, the loan guarantee scheme would:

  • adopt the successful US Department of Energy model of providing 100% guarantee;
  • be open to emerging renewable energy technologies including baseload solar thermal with storage, geothermal, and ocean energy; and
  • be available for projects larger than 100MW at a single site.

The loan guarantees would be open for two years and be managed jointly by the Departments of Treasury and Finance; Resources, Tourism and Energy, and Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

The party said that the loan guarantees would work in conjunction with a nation FIT, which they say will help give investors the certainty they require to go forward with renewables projects.  Details of the FIT they envision were not disclosed.

“After the delays and mismanagement of the Solar Flagships program, this scheme is essential to get industrial scale renewable energy power stations off the ground as soon as possible,” said Milne.

More on the The Greens Party Renewable Energy initiatives can be found here.

Source: Renewable Energy World.

ACCC Solar Marketing Investigation

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

The clean energy industry today said an investigation by the government’s consumer watchdog will see a change for the better in the marketing for solar power systems. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said measures to protect consumer confidence in the fast-growing solar industry were crucial to its long term success. “Australia’s solar PV industry is maturing fast”, Mr Warren said. “It is critical that the safety, reliability and performance of solar power systems meet the customer’s expectations.

“As an industry we are continuing to tighten and improve the safety and reliability of solar installations. Along with the scrutiny already being applied to the products and installers, it’s appropriate that the government watchdog is scrutinising advertising claims to ensure that they are credible”.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (
ACCC) raised concerns of misleading or deceptive advertising by two solar panel companies operating in Queensland. The ACCC found that advertising claims by Queensland Solar Systems and State Solar Services were likely to have breached the Trade Practices Act.

The advertising claimed installing a 1.5
kW system could “wipe out” household energy bills, when in reality a system of this size would not be large enough to offset more than a third of energy consumption for most homes. It also claimed that the systems were available at heavily discounted prices, even though the products had never been sold at the higher prices advertised.

Mr Warren said both companies have voluntarily agreed to remove the advertising claims. “We will continue to build a competitive and dynamic solar industry in Australia where customers know what they are getting, get what they pay for, and the
solar panels are installed safely and work safely”, he said.

Source: Gippsland Friends of Future Generations.

Western Australia Feed-in Tariff

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

The Western Australian Feed-in Tariff commenced on the 1st of August 2010 and will run through to 2030. The net feed-in tariff pays owners of eligible renewable energy systems 40c per kilowatt hour (kWh) for excess energy exported back to the grid.

The key details are as follows:

  • Scheme will run from 1st of August 2010 – 2030.
  • 40c/kWh (in addition to Synergy and Horizon Power’s current buyback schemes).
  • Participants will receive payments over a 10 year term.
  • System size same as for Renewable Buyback Scheme, and will be capped at 5kW for Synergy customers, and 10kW per phase for Horizon customers.
  • Scheme will run until 2030, with reviews every 3 years or 10MW.
  • Residential PV, small wind and micro hydro are eligible (other technologies and commercial systems may be assessed for inclusion).

The feed-in tariff is a separate scheme to the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme offered through Synergy and Horizon Power. The feed-in tariff is a subsidy paid by the Government to make systems more affordable. The Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme pays for the value of the electricity.

The Government has asked Synergy and Horizon Power to administer the feed-in tariff on its behalf, therefore both schemes are provided by your retailer. Both schemes are also paid on a net basis, the combined total of which will provide owners of renewable energy systems with at least 47c/kWh for exported energy.

Solar Updates August

Posted by admin on October 21st, 2010

The huge number of RECs created from PV RECs continues to flood the market, and has taken its toll on the REC price. We saw an all time high for the month of July with over 2 million RECs created, double the amount that caused the price crash in July of 2009. Since June, the wholesale REC prices (parcel size greater than 10,000 RECs) plummeted from $40 to around $33.50.

VEEC Update

The announcement of the scheme’s extension saw the wholesale VEEC spot price rise slightly, however the significant oversupplied market has been barely active throughout July.

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