With 3.5 million solar panels installed on Australian roof space in 2017 a 41% increase on the previous year and with 2018 set to see the industry go from strength to strength the question has to be asked ‘Why are so many Australians going solar?’.
There seems to be several reasons behind this meteoric rise in renewable energy use in Australia but we will start with the most obvious.
Australia is blessed with a very dry climate in comparison with a lot of other countries increasing their solar uptake and benefits from a latitude advantage. This combination sees Australia coming in as the world’s best country for solar with highest average recorded solar radiation per square meter.
I think it is worth noting that there also seems to be an increase in environmental awareness throughout many countries in the world and while this is not a measurable statistic it would be a fair statement to say that both the Australian government and population as a whole are very forward thinking when it comes to renewable energy sources.
Australia is also benefiting from a very generous solar rebate incentive which seems to be a driving factor in solar uptake throughout the country. However this rebate is decreasing year by year as more panels are installed on roofs and it is yet to be seen whether this upward trend will still be as accelerated following a drop in government investment.
Great little solar install with the guys at Open Homes Australia. We installed a 4kW system using a SMA inverter and Trina Honey panels. Great to see Island Energy making an appearance on TV and keep an eye out for the second part about our split system air conditioning install at the same property.
A great job down at South Coast Kitchens last week installing a 70 kW system. With 268 panels installed on the factory in Newhaven South Coast Kitchens will be completely self sufficient during daylight operating hours.
South Coast Kitchens and Island Robes are a family owned business that has been servicing Bass Coast and surrounds for over 30 years. With a focus on quality products and superior customer service we are excited to have helped this local business go solar.
If you would like to look at a solar install for your business or just know the facts and figures about the savings you could be making don't hesitate to get in touch for a chat with one of our commercial solar experts and we can provide you with a free solar appraisal detailing install costs and the savings you will achieve moving forward.
Going Solar with Island Energy!
Firstly I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this and allowing us to set up a proposal for Solar Power to suit your needs.
We are a family owned and operated company operating in Victoria and Queensland.
Island Energy was founded by my Father and I in 2009, when we saw an emerging market and an opportunity to have a positive impact on the environment by helping our customers install Solar Power on their homes and business’.
We have installed thousands of solar systems over the years and built up a reputation on reliability, quality and trust.
Using teams of Clean Energy Council accredited Electrician’s and apprentice’s to install our systems, you can rest assured that our systems are installed by true Solar professionals.
The solar industry is full of information, some of it credible and a lot of it not-so credible, so here are a few pointers to consider when purchasing solar power.
Cheaper is (not) better
The first thing I want to point out is that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
At Island Energy we only use high quality, reputable brands in all our systems, which have offices and tech support in Australia and are not distributed by an importer. This is important because if things go wrong and a warranty claim is required we can get things repaired/replaced almost immediately.
Some of the cheaper brands not mentioned further down are distributed by sole importer’s who will not honor the warranty of the products (panels or inverter). Or they disappear off the face of the planet when they have sold out of their cheap container load of equipment, and will direct you back to the Chinese manufacturer for all warranty claims.
When this happens, you will be left without solar power generation for months and in many cases you will be forced to purchase a new inverter or panels to get your system up and running again.
We know this because we have had to replace many cheap inverters and panels for our customers who installed their systems with a cheaper company, which then goes bust after a couple of years and they are left with cheap/failing components with no warranty backup.
So be careful, a cheap system now may cost you a lot more later on!
Another myth is panel and inverter country of manufacture.
Many sales people (usually door to door sales, who are working on commission for every sale) will tell you anything to get a sale across the line.
I have had many potential clients go with another installer and pay over double what we had quoted them because;
“The man who came to see us said that his panels were made in Germany and so was his inverter, we have heard German stuff is better so went with him instead”
I have heard this a countless number of times, and it is usually a blatant lie.
For example; Canadian solar panels are not made in Canada, they are made in China, just like 99% of everything else in the solar industry these days.
Solar panels and Inverter’s advertised as “German” are usually only either owned by a German company or where originally Designed or Manufactured by a German company, but are now made in China with cheaper labour and materials. So do your research! (Don’t trust a door to door salesman’s word)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Solar products that come out of China, as long as they are tested and manufactured to stringent quality controls and made with quality components, and may brands are not! If a brand is not listed in the below table I would advise not to have it installed.
Rebates are another high pressure sales tactic that dodgy sales people will use to get your business.
They will tell you;
“the rebates are about to end soon, so hurry and sign up today before it’s too late”
This is rubbish, there is a set mandate and a Gov budget for solar rebates, and yes it will end eventually, but there is no rush when making such a large investment decision.
I never mention rebates to my customers, because I believe that when purchasing solar you should be focused on the product you are buying, not the high pressure and complex understanding of the rebate scheme.
Rebates are included in every solar sale and should be discounted from the price.
All Island Energy’s prices already include the rebate, which is discounted from the price before you even see it.
This is to simplify things, because you should only be concerned with what the system will cost you. Don’t be pressured into a sale with the threat of rebates!
There are hundreds of different panels available on the market, and not all are equal, this table shows the most reputable and trusted brands in Australia.
If you are considering installing any panels other than the ones listed below be very careful and do your research. We only recommend using the listed brands.
This is an extract from “SolarQuotes – Solar 101 Beginners Guide”
There are many different inverter’s and inverter manufacturer’s.
You can choose to use micro inverter’s (one small inverter clipped to the back of the panel), or you can use a single common inverter, which is mounted on the wall (the most common type).
Micro inverter’s are good for shady areas with lots of tree coverage but apart from that I would suggest to avoid them.
When installing micro inverter’s on the roof instead of having one electronic device, which are prone to failure by nature, you have 10-20 on your roof in the harshest environment possible. (Heat/Rain/Cold)
Wall mounted inverter’s are a better option in most cases, you can keep an eye on them to make sure they are producing power and far easier to access.
Here is a list of different inverter brands, each of them have their place in the market and are priced accordingly.
The major difference between manufacturers is build quality, the more you pay - the higher quality inverter you get.
Below is a good guide of popular inverter manufacturer’s and where they sit in the market.
This is an extract from “SolarQuotes – Solar 101 Beginners Guide”
When installing with Island Energy you will be getting the right product at the right price to suit your budget.
We tailor make all our system’s to suit your needs and only use high quality components.
If you have any questions regarding the above information, or the Estimate’s that have been provided to you by us or our competitors please don’t hesitate to contact me personally for a chat and to clear things up!
Thanks for your time,
We look forward to doing business with you soon!
Director – Island Energy
The Victorian feed-in tariff currently offers a minimum of five cents per kilowatt hour for excess electricity fed back into the grid. All electricity retailers with more than 5,000 customers must offer at least this minimum rate, but they may offer different packages and terms and conditions.
From 1 July 2017, solar customers on the current minimum feed-in tariff rate will move onto a new minimum tariff rate of 11.3 cents, as set by Victoria's independent regulator, the Essential Services Commission (ESC), on 28 February 2017. This new tariff follows changes the government has implemented to the current feed-in tariff framework, and will better reflect the true energy value of the electricity customers provide to the grid.
The feed-in tariff is available to solar and other eligible forms of renewable energy, such as wind, hydro or biomass, with a system size less than 100 kilowatts. This rate is determined by the ESC. More information on this rate can be found on the ESC website.
The current Victorian feed-in tariff scheme commenced on 1 January 2013.
Ensuring Victorian feed-in tariff customers get fair valueOn 7 February 2017, the Energy Legislation Amendment (Feed-in Tariffs and Improving Safety and Markets) Bill (the ELA Bill) passed through Parliament.
The ELA Bill amended to the Electricity Industry Act 2000 (the Act) to allow Victoria's independent regulator, the Essential Services Commission (ESC) to determine a single rate or multiple rates for purchases of small renewable energy generation electricity, and to have regard to the avoided social cost of carbon and the avoided human health costs attributable to a reduction in air pollution.
The amendments also moved the setting of feed-in tariffs from a calendar year to a financial year, commencing on 1 July 2017, requiring the ESC to make its final minimum rate determination no later than 28 February of each year.
The changes to the Act will ensure that from 1 July 2017, solar customers have access to new rate(s) which better reflect the true energy value of the electricity they export into the grid.
Households on the Premium Feed-in Tariff (PFiT), who currently receive 60 cents per kilowatt-hour, will have no change to their existing arrangements, as this tariff remains in place until 2024. The PFiT closed to new applicants at the end of 2011.
REF - https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/renewable-energy/victorian-feed-in-tariff
Making the most of your solar panelsIf your home has solar panels – installed by you, or your landlord – you may need to re-think the way you consume electricity in order to reap the greatest benefit
Making the most of the free electricity from your solar panels may involve changing your routines and thinking differently about energy use. It may mean planning ahead: for example using your washing machine or dishwasher during the day rather than in the evening.
Solar photovoltaic (or PV) panels convert the energy in sunlight into electricity, and this is effectively free electricity that can be used in your house (once the cost of installing the panels has been taken into account, of course). Surplus electricity is exported to the grid to be used by somebody else.
However, when the sun isn’t shining, or when you’re using more electricity than the panels are producing, the extra will be imported from the national grid, as it was before you had the panels, and you will be charged for it by your energy supplier at the normal rate.
Solar panels: use them wisely to make them pay A typical 2kW (2000W) household array of solar panels will produce 2kW under optimum conditions, that is:
Let’s look at some typical power ratings:
It follows that you should stagger the use of high-wattage appliances to make the most of the free electricity available. This might mean waiting for your washing machine to finish before running the dishwasher.
Check your inverterSolar panels come with an inverter which converts the electricity generated by the panels into a form that things like TVs or toasters can use. A display on the inverter shows how much electricity is being generated. If you know how much your appliances use you’ll be able to look at your inverter and then choose what you should run in order to make the most of the free electricity being produced. But remember that what you read on your inverter display shows the output at that particular moment in time; this may quickly change according to weather conditions.
It may be worth making a note of the power rating of your appliances (e.g. laptop, 150W; hairdryer, 1300W) and keeping it next to your inverter display to help you make quick decisions about what appliance you want to use.
However, the inverter may be installed in out-of-the-way places like the garage or shed. If this is the case it’s worth thinking about buying an energy monitor that you can put in a more convenient place.
These can be bought for around $100. Some models are straightforward to install but others may need to be fitted by a professional electrician. You can even have your system connected remotely to your computer, allowing you to monitor your panels over time. If you don’t own the solar panels, check with whoever does that it’s OK for you to fit a monitor.
Feed-in tariff inquiryThe Victorian Government has announced an inquiry into feed-in tariff arrangements in Victoria. This inquiry will investigate whether current regulations for compensating Victorian households and businesses for generating solar power are adequate. It will also consider the environmental and social value of distributed generation.
Feed in tariff rate for 2016 The Essential Services Commission (ESC) has released a final decision to adopt a minimum feed-in tariff rate of 5 cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) to apply from 1 January 2016. This minimum rate will apply to all customers that have been receiving the current Feed-in Tariff, currently set at 5.0 cents for 2016, and was introduced on 1 January 2013.
This change does not affect customers on the Premium, Transitional or Standard Feed-in Tariff schemes.
More information, including the ESC's final document, can be found on the ESC website. All queries in relation to this draft decision should be directed to the ESC for its consideration.
Current Feed-in Tariff (FIT) The current Victorian Feed-in Tariff commenced on 1 January 2013.
This Feed-in Tariff currently offers a minimum of 5.0 cents per kilowatt hour for 2016 for excess electricity fed back into the grid. All electricity retailers with more than 5,000 customers must offer at least this minimum rate, but they may offer different packages and terms and conditions.
The Feed-in Tariff is available to solar and other eligible forms of renewable energy, such as wind, hydro or biomass, with a system size less than 100 kilowatts.
Battery providing 'zero dollar' power bills - Michael McGarvie and his wife Maria installed a 16-bank, 14.4 kilowatt hour (kWh) carbon-gel battery system at their home at Eaglemont, in Melbourne's east, in April.
After an energy-intensive winter, he said his house has been completely self-sufficient so far this October, meaning he owed nothing to his electricity provider after fixed costs.
He expected his house would be powered completely by his solar and battery systems for nine months of the year.
The McGarvies paid $30,000 for the system, which includes a power inverter and 24 solar panels, a cost he acknowledged was beyond the budget of many households.
"When the battery prices plummet, which they're due to do, I think it will be an economic decision to swap to PV and batteries," he said.
"Within 10 years, which is the predicted life [of the batteries], the technology will be so brilliant that the replacement system will be much less than 50 per cent of the price, and probably much smaller."
The report also predicted the switch to solar would accelerate as the cost of batteries continued to fall.
Amanda McKenzie from the Climate Council said while that would be a key factor driving the take-up of battery units, people also wanted to "do the right thing".
"People who are using solar on their roofs are people who are trying to beat their electricity bills; it's people with mortgages, pensioners. That same group of people will be a key market for battery storage," Ms McKenzie said.
"We know that we live in a very sunny country, one of the windiest countries in the world, and that climate change is a huge issue.
"So people are motivated both by the price, and by helping the environment, so it's a win-win."
By Robert BairdUpdated 22 Oct 2015, 12:13am