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Solar Panel Installations and Home Solar Power Systems Households With Solar Panels The Big Winner

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Date : 1 November 2009

Eligible Victorians will now receive a premium rate for solar energy fed back into the electricity grid under a new Brumby Labor Government initiative that begins today.

Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said households, community organisations and small businesses with solar panels up to 5 kilowatts can sign up for the scheme and receive more than three times the current electricity price for solar energy they fed into the electricity grid.

“A clean environment is crucial to our future and that’s why we are helping Victorians reduce their individual carbon footprint,” Mr Batchelor said.

“Those who signed up with their electricity companies to receive the tariff and are feeding solar electricity back into the grid will receive a minimum of 60 cents per kilowatt hour – more than three times the current rate of electricity in Victoria.

“The new solar feed-in tariff will not only reward Victorians for taking action to reduce carbon emissions, it will help create jobs to supply and install solar panels to meet growing demand.”

Mr Batchelor said case studies showed retired couples, working couples and family with two children, who had with solar panels varying in size from 1.5kW to 2kW, would receive benefits of between $600 and $1200 per year.

“These benefits combine the amount saved on buying electricity by having the panels and the amount credited for electricity fed back into the grid,” he said.

“These are significant benefits. I encourage anyone with, or planning to install, solar panels to approach their energy retailer to check their eligibility and sign up to the tariff if they haven’t already done so.”

The capped scheme is a 15 year initiative for solar panel systems of up to 5KW.

The premium tariff is available for households that are a principal place of residence and for small businesses and community organisations, including schools, with annual consumption of less than 100 megawatt hours.

“Household solar panels were relatively limited in Victoria until recently but initiatives such as this are helping to make solar energy more accessible to all Victorians,” Mr Batchelor said.

“Since the Brumby Government’s premium feed-in tariff was announced in March 2008, the number of Victorian households with grid-connected solar panels has risen from just 1479 to over 10,000.”

Further information, including a step-by-step guide to eligibility and signing up, visit www.dpi.vic.gov.au/feedintariff or phone 136 186.

COAG to consider Renewable Energy Certificate market

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Date : 5 November 2009

A COAG review into the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target will consider factors that may be impacting upon the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) market in the short and long term.

“The review will explicitly examine the current state of the RET spot market and whether the spot market has any implications for the deployment of large-scale projects such as wind farms,” Senator Wong said.

Senator Wong said uncertainty regarding the establishment of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme could be harming market sentiment and impacting on the REC spot price.

The expanded Renewable Energy Target is designed to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.

The price of RECs is set by the market, depending on the supply of renewable energy and demand created through the Renewable Energy Target’s annual targets.

The significantly expanded targets under the RET begin on 1 January 2010, which will boost demand for RECs and growth in the renewable energy sector.

The target will increase to 12,500 gigawatt hours in 2010, up from 8,100 gigawatt hours this year, strengthening the demand for RECs.

The recent decline in the spot market REC price has prompted concern from some in the renewable energy industry.  Whilst the focus has been on the spot market, most renewable energy projects enter into long term contracts for the sale of RECs and are therefore less subject to short term fluctuations in the spot market.

The review will look at both short-term developments in the REC market and the factors that will determine longer-term pricing.

The review is to report to COAG by the end of the year.

Power bills to rise by $134

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

The Herald Sun writes about the likely increase in electricity and water biils “Electricity companies were given clearance on Friday to charge Victorian households more to pay for the installation of new smart meters.

Charity and consumer groups warned the soaring bills would hurt pensioners, families, and the unemployed, with average Victorian households expected to be paying close to $1000 a year for electricity.

Households already face the prospect of a sharp rise in interest rates over the next 12 months and higher water bills.

The rollout of smart meters across Victoria is expected to take up to five years. But once they are installed, they will be able to read a household’s use every 30 minutes.

The smart meters will send information back to the provider and allow households to monitor their own power use in peak times. ”

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Google Going Solar

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Hard on the heels of being approved by the FTC to buy and sell energy, Google has announced what they see as a significant breakthrough in the materials used to concentrate the sun’s rays in solar thermal technology plants.

Solar thermal plans work by focusing the rays of the sun on water in order to boil the water to form steam, which is then used to turn turbines to generate electricity. The more focused the the beam of light, the more steam is produced more quickly and the more electricity can be generated. Google has been working with the materials that are used in the construction of the mirrors that do the focusing, and they feel that they have made a discovery that can double the efficiency of a solar thermal technology power plant, according to a CNET article.

Bill Weihl, who is Google’s green-energy czar, says that they have been working hard on the project and are producing results. He says, “Things have progressed. We have an internal prototype. There is a decent chance that in a small number of years, we could have a 2-X reduction in cost.” Obviously, by cutting in half the cost of building the power plant, the owner of the plant can produce energy at a lower cost, making that energy more attractive to buyers.

Google has been investing not only in research related to the energy industry, but specifically in companies that have a connection to the green energy field and solar thermal companies in particular. Two such acquisitions, eSolar and BrightSource, would be the logical vehicles for such a mirror, something that is not lost on Weihl. He says that he has discussed the new mirror technology with both companies, and that they are interested, although the new technology is not yet at a point where it can be tested outside Google’s labs.  At the same time, he said that both companies were interested in the development, noting that, “If it works, it would absolutely be something they would use.”

Perhaps there was some commercial reason after all for Google to acquire a license to buy and sell energy…

You can find this and similar articles over at TechBlorge.

Worlds Largest Solar Power Boat

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

A skipper hoping to become the first to circumnavigate the globe using solar power said his catamaran could carve a wake for pollution-free shipping as he unveiled the world’s largest solar-powered vessel in Germany.

Raphael Domjan, 38, pulled the covers off the 18 million euro ($27.4 million) catamaran yesterday.

“This is a unique feeling to see in front of me today a boat which I so often dreamed about,” he said.

PlanetSolar, a 31 x 15-metre white catamaran, has been designed to reach a top speed of around 15 knots, equivalent to 27 kilometres per hour, and can hold up to 50 passengers.

Five hundred square metres of black solar panels top the vessel, with a bright white cockpit sticking up in the centre.

Built at the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel in northern Germany, its state-of-the-art design also means it will be able to slice smoothly through the waves even in choppy waters.

The team behind its construction acknowledge that solar power is not about to become the main power source on modern cargo ships.

They say they want to use the voyage primarily to promote solar power and other non-polluting sources of energy and to show what can be done.

“The aim is really to show that we have the technology today, not tomorrow,” Mr Domjan said.

“It’s not in a laboratory or DIY. It is a technology that is reliable, able to perform and economically interesting.”

PlanetSolar will launch in late March before starring at Hamburg port’s 821st anniversary celebrations in May and undergoing testing between June and September.

You can find this and similar articles on the ABC website.

No More Choice!

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

CONSUMERS will no longer be able to compare electricity prices using a Choice service after it decided a lack of competition made it pointless.

The move comes as household electricity bills are set to surge due to rising energy prices and the federal government’s planned emissions trading scheme.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is finalising plans to approve rises of as much as 62 per cent over the next few years, with a decision expected later this month.

But a Choice spokesman, Christopher Zinn, said the consumers’ group had decided to mothball its service in NSW, CHOICEswitch, until the benefits of competition can come to this state. and instead focus on energy efficiency.

The service allowed customers to compare electricity prices and find the cheapest supplier.

”We find there’s more benefit to consumers by refocusing on energy-efficiency measures than switching providers,” he said.

”It’s a pity because in Victoria they have full retail competition – when will it come here?”

Mr Zinn said the lack of competition in NSW meant that cost comparisons between rival electricity suppliers were too minor to be worthwhile.

Meanwhile, the Energy and Water Ombudsman is seeing a surge in complaints as households struggle to pay their utility bills following earlier price rises. In NSW, a large number of households have remained on fixed electricity tariffs that are controlled by the government, unlike states such as Victoria and South Australia, where tariffs are less regulated.

The lack of price difference between those on private contracts and the regulated tariffs in NSW has resulted in households shifting back to regulated tariffs over the past 18 months.

The price regulator estimates that as many as a quarter of households who decided to switch electricity retailer in 2008-09 were reverting back to a regulated tariff.

By June last year, 33 per cent of households were on competitive electricity tariffs, well below levels in other states, with South Australia at 66 per cent and Queensland at 45 per cent.

Mr Zinn said it was not possible to compare retail electricity prices between the states because of the differing pricing structures.

”It’s hard to compare, although electricity bills are rising by sizeable amounts around the country,” he said.

You can find this and similar articles on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

Western Australia Hit Hard on Bills

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

West Australians have been hit in the hip-pocket, with price hikes to power and gas set to add about $250 to the average annual household bill.

The cost for electricity will rise 7.5 per from April 1, and a further 10 per cent more from July 1.

Premier Colin Barnett said the average weekly power cost increase for consumers would be $4.13 from July 1 – about $215 a year.

Mr Barnett said people facing financial hardship would pay an average $2.78 more a week – or about $145 a year.

About $16.8 million of rebates and hardship assistance measures will be made available.

The state government has also accepted a 7 per cent increase to the gas tariff, which will add a further $33 to a typical household’s annual gas bill – taking the combined average electricity/gas hike to about $248.

Tariff rises will also apply to small businesses, with an average weekly increase of $7.29 (about $379 a year) from July 1.

The combined increase for electricity of about 18.3 per cent is significantly lower than the 25.9 per cent hike assumed in the 2010 state budget.

Mr Barnett said the reason for the price hike was the “botched up break-up of Western Power” in 2005 under the previous Labor government.

“When they did so, they said it would put downward pressure on electricity prices,” Mr Barnett said.

“The disaggregation of Western Power has been a disaster. And an expensive disaster for Western Australian householders.”

Mr Barnett claimed that before the split-up of the electricity provider, Western Power was running at a profit, while it was now running at a loss.

Opposition leader Eric Ripper rejected accepting responsibility for the increased prices, saying the government had to own full responsibility for their decision.

“It’s time for (the government) to do away with the blame game,” Mr Ripper said.

“The split up of Western Power occurred in 2006.

“It’s time for the government to take responsibility for their decisions. It’s their budget; they’ve been in power since September, 2008.

“They have to take responsibility for what they are doing; they can’t any longer hide behind blaming their predecessors.”

The government has also accepted Alinta’s proposal to raise the cap for gas tariffs for residential and small business customers in the Mid-West/South-West, Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Albany regions.

Albany faces the biggest price hike, with gas rising 10 per cent compared to the 7 per cent rise for the rest of the state.

Alinta claims the tariff changes were needed to ensure customers were provided with reliable and sustainable gas supplies in the longer term.

“This government will increase tariffs responsibly to ensure the lights stay on, while also considering the financial pressure many families are already under,” Mr Barnett said.

Payments provided through the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme will increase from $380 to $408 from April 1, and $450 from July 1 for households in the state’s south. The number of financial counsellors funded through the program will be increased.

Payments for households north of the 26th parallel will rise from $633 to $680.

You can find this and similar articles on the WA Today website.

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.

Renewable Energy Funding

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

NATIONAL: Australia’s clean energy industry has welcomed the Rudd Government’s increased investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the 2010 Federal Budget, but says much work is still required.

The Federal Government will provide $652.5 million over four years to establish a Renewable Energy Future Fund as well as $1.8 billion for the Resource Exploration Refundable Tax Offset, under which technologies such as geothermal and wave will be eligible.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said the new funding initiative was consistent with industry submissions and reflected the development of a more sophisticated strategy to nurture Australia’s fledgling clean tech industry.

“Australia has genuine potential to pioneer new affordable and innovative ways of generating clean energy,” Mr Warren said. “If we want to be a smart clean tech innovator then the companies developing these technologies need the capital to fast track their projects and show us what they can do.

“Innovation is inherently risky. There will be trial and error, success and failure. We cannot afford to delay important technical breakthroughs or lose smart companies overseas simply because they were starved of investment.”

The Renewable Energy Future Fund will encourage partnerships between the Government and the private sector to leverage venture capital and support investments in new renewable technologies like geothermal, wave power and tidal power. It will also be used to encourage energy efficiency measures to help businesses and households reduce their energy consumption.

Mr Warren said it was important that government support recognized the different stages of clean technology development, which may require different types of financial support.

“Until we have some clear carbon price, Australia’s climate strategy will need to focus on developing and deploying clean energy technologies, development of a comprehensive and effective energy efficiency strategy and more dynamic electricity networks that enable these new clean power stations to get their energy to market,” he said.

“That means we need the swift reform of the Renewable Energy Target in this session of Parliament as well as development of targeted clean tech assistance.

“Last night’s budget was a step in the right direction. But there is still more work to be done”..

You can view this article on the Clean Energy Council website.

Asia Could Become a Major Demand Centre

Posted by admin on October 22nd, 2010

Outside Europe, Japan has succeeded in positioning itself as the third largest market with 484 MW installed in 2009. While edging out the US for third place in annual capacity additions, the Japanese market also shows an important growth potential thanks to favourable political support, the industry believes. Certainly, after two stagnant years, Japan has recovered to have its best year ever with the resurgence driven in part by falling equipment costs and in part by new incentives (roughly US$0.80 per watt) that went into effect in January 2009.

EPIA expects Japan to become a GW market in 2010 under a policy-driven scenario and by 2012 even in the moderate scenario, with ambitious objectives to reach 28 GW of installed PV power by 2020 and 53 GW by 2030.

Both China and India also made headlines in 2009 when they independently announced plans to expand their solar power capacities to 20 GW each by 2020.

A major PV manufacturer, China was until recently almost totally absent from the world PV market, but with more than 12 GW of large projects in the pipeline, it could rapidly become a major market. With high irradiation levels and a surge in the electricity demand, the potential for PV in China is huge and depends mainly on government’s decisions. According to the national energy plan of 2009, cumulative installed PV power is forecast to reach 20 GW at least in 2020.

Meanwhile, with India’s increasing electricity demand and high irradiation levels, the country has definitively a huge potential for PV. Starting from a low 30 MW installed in 2009, it could grow to 1.5 GW in 2014 under a policy-driven scenario, EPIA believes, and probably well beyond afterwards. The market size in 2010 will clearly depend on the political choices to possibly reach between 50 MW and 300 MW.

If these plans move forward, Asia will become a major demand centre for solar energy equipment after several years of expanding manufacturing capacity and both markets are expected to boom in the next five years.

Canada and Australia also showed significant market development in 2009 and are expected to open the way to the development of new markets. Brazil, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa are also seen as promising countries, the trade groups suggest.

You can read the full article at Renewable Energy World by clicking here.

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