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Solar Feed-in Tariff scheme shut down again

By 14 July 2011 17

At midnight while most of you slept Katy Gallagher announced that the re-opened feed in tariff scheme for rooftop solar panels had again exceeded the cap and was being shut down after just two days.

And if you missed the cutoff there’s no grandfathering like last time, even with a signed contract:

“The Government warned against re-opening the Scheme and cautioned that it would further overheat a volatile market and would provide no certainty of a continuing market to industry.

“The fact that the combined cap was reached within two days proves the point beyond any doubt.

“The Greens and the Liberals have simply created false hopes in the community and have manifestly failed to deliver the certainty to industry they claimed to be seeking,” said Ms Gallagher.

The Government originally closed the Micro Generator (up to 30kW) category of the scheme on 31 May 2011 when it exceeded its statutory cap. In closing the category the Government made an undertaking that households who had entered into formal contracts in good faith up until that time could still access the Scheme so as not to be disadvantaged.

The closure of the Scheme last night enables this commitment to be met and eligible households still have until 29 July 2011 to lodge their Special Connection Application with ActewAGL Distribution .

This arrangement does not apply to the re-opened Scheme.

The Government advised at the re-opening of the scheme that there would be no capacity for over-subscription. Therefore no further applications can be accepted, even if a valid contract has been signed.

“The Greens and the Liberals have achieved nothing but chaos. The Government warned quite clearly that re-opening the scheme did not offer transition, rather simply offered another gallop towards a new cap.

I don’t think anyone expected it to hit the cap quite so fast.

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17 Responses to Solar Feed-in Tariff scheme shut down again
#1
Holden Caulfield9:27 am, 14 Jul 11

All over quicker than a root in a ute at a B&S!

#2
The Frots9:42 am, 14 Jul 11

Holden Caulfield said :

All over quicker than a root in a ute at a B&S!

And not even the courtesy of a reach around either with this little program!

Corbell gave it six weeks – one day ago. Another example of just how much he has his finger on the pulse.

To have it running for all of 48 hours is fairly sad. I wonder how many local pollies and staffers got their agreements in place before this last cut-off?

#3
KaptnKaos9:59 am, 14 Jul 11

Typical, just when you think it was safe to do something green – actgovco steps in again. But katydids resume will read that she did introduce the tariff.

#4
shadow boxer10:13 am, 14 Jul 11

Artificial manipulation of market forces are rarely succesful or sustainable.

the money being wasted would have been better invested directly into solar reasearch programs.

#5
troll-sniffer11:04 am, 14 Jul 11

Can someone out there with real knowledge of the electricity scene please explain why a hybrid offer cannot be made to people who want to use solar power but have the self-respect not to expect the rest of society to pay for their indulgence, such as an scheme where their own generation can be used in the home and/or fed into the grid at the same rate as the power they currently buy? A decent setup should then be ale to more than halve the electricity bills for a careful household. The payback period might blow out to 20 years or more but even that should be attractive to anyone who actually wants to contribute to greenhouse gas savings rather than the pretence that most have demonstrated thus far.

#6
Solidarity11:13 am, 14 Jul 11

shadow boxer said :

Artificial manipulation of market forces are rarely succesful or sustainable.

the money being wasted would have been better invested directly into nuclear startup programs.

Fixed that for you.

#7
KeenGolfer11:15 am, 14 Jul 11

troll-sniffer said :

Can someone out there with real knowledge of the electricity scene please explain why a hybrid offer cannot be made to people who want to use solar power but have the self-respect not to expect the rest of society to pay for their indulgence, such as an scheme where their own generation can be used in the home and/or fed into the grid at the same rate as the power they currently buy?

You mean like ActewAGL’s scheme?
http://www.actewagl.com.au/Product-and-services/Green-energy/Connecting-green-energy-systems/ActewAGL-Solar-buyback-scheme.aspx

“Through the ActewAGL Solar Buyback scheme you can install a solar or wind system to your home, using the non-polluting energy that it generates and at the same time reduce the amount of electricity you draw from the grid for your household needs.

In the event the customer is a net importer of energy over a billing period, then ActewAGL will purchase the net energy exported at the customer’s energy tariff rate.

In billing periods when the customer is not a net exporter of energy, the customer will pay the published tariffs for the net amount of energy imported for their use from the electricity grid.”

#8
Holden Caulfield11:34 am, 14 Jul 11

@troll-sniffer: As KeenGolfer has shown my understanding is the default setting from ActewAGL is a situation where one sells the electricity back to ActewAGL provided by one’s panels at the normal rate of pay at the time.

Looking 20 years+ into the future, as the panels would be reaching the end of their useful life, this default setting is likely to be more beneficial than the 30-50¢ FIT deals previously offered which are fixed for life at the rate offered at the time of connection. Well assuming it’s right when we keep getting told power prices will be going up and up and up.

Not sure if the default scheme would even out compared to the expected short term profits that the FIT could give home users, but something worth considering all the same.

#9
alaninoz12:22 pm, 14 Jul 11

The Frots said :

Corbell gave it six weeks – one day ago. Another example of just how much he has his finger on the pulse.

To have it running for all of 48 hours is fairly sad. I wonder how many local pollies and staffers got their agreements in place before this last cut-off?

I’d guess that it’s the Liberal and Green ones, as you’d have to assume that they did some modelling before re-opening the scheme. Then again, their estimates may have been as far off as Corbell’s.

shadow boxer said :

Artificial manipulation of market forces are rarely succesful or sustainable.

And they also lead to distortions of the market.

#10
gasman1:38 pm, 14 Jul 11

troll-sniffer said :

Can someone out there with real knowledge of the electricity scene please explain why a hybrid offer cannot be made to people who want to use solar power but have the self-respect not to expect the rest of society to pay for their indulgence, such as an scheme where their own generation can be used in the home and/or fed into the grid at the same rate as the power they currently buy? A decent setup should then be ale to more than halve the electricity bills for a careful household. The payback period might blow out to 20 years or more but even that should be attractive to anyone who actually wants to contribute to greenhouse gas savings rather than the pretence that most have demonstrated thus far.

True – I am about to install a 9kW solar PV system. I am disappointed that the feed-in tariff has closed but will continue to go ahead because its the right thing to do.

However, your point about others subsidising is off – by burning coal, we will all pay much more in the end due to the economic consequences of climate change. So in a sense, coal-burning power is being subsidised now by future generations who will then have to pay for our wasteful ways.

The ACT feed-in tariff was modelled (loosely) on the German system. Germany brought in a feed-in tariff for solar PV power in 1991. It continues today (20 years later) with no cap. It is funded by a tiny 3% increase in electricity prices across the country.

Germany now has the largest solar PV production of electricity in the world, and is on target to producing 20% of its energy from sustainable source. Germany has 17,000 megawatts of installed solar power, most of it residential. Australia (with much more sunshine) has 500MW (that’s about 3% of Germany’s). Germany is one of the world big producers of PV panels, earning export Euros. Germany has 350,000 people working in the solar power industry.

This is a huge opportunity wasted by the ACT government and Australia. Shame.

#11
mcs2:17 pm, 14 Jul 11

gasman said :

troll-sniffer said :

Can someone out there with real knowledge of the electricity scene please explain why a hybrid offer cannot be made to people who want to use solar power but have the self-respect not to expect the rest of society to pay for their indulgence, such as an scheme where their own generation can be used in the home and/or fed into the grid at the same rate as the power they currently buy? A decent setup should then be ale to more than halve the electricity bills for a careful household. The payback period might blow out to 20 years or more but even that should be attractive to anyone who actually wants to contribute to greenhouse gas savings rather than the pretence that most have demonstrated thus far.

True – I am about to install a 9kW solar PV system. I am disappointed that the feed-in tariff has closed but will continue to go ahead because its the right thing to do.

However, your point about others subsidising is off – by burning coal, we will all pay much more in the end due to the economic consequences of climate change. So in a sense, coal-burning power is being subsidised now by future generations who will then have to pay for our wasteful ways.

The ACT feed-in tariff was modelled (loosely) on the German system. Germany brought in a feed-in tariff for solar PV power in 1991. It continues today (20 years later) with no cap. It is funded by a tiny 3% increase in electricity prices across the country.

Germany now has the largest solar PV production of electricity in the world, and is on target to producing 20% of its energy from sustainable source. Germany has 17,000 megawatts of installed solar power, most of it residential. Australia (with much more sunshine) has 500MW (that’s about 3% of Germany’s). Germany is one of the world big producers of PV panels, earning export Euros. Germany has 350,000 people working in the solar power industry.

This is a huge opportunity wasted by the ACT government and Australia. Shame.

You make some very valid points, but surely our search for renewable energy sources should be focused on finding efficient, cost-effective methods of producing power while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint. I’m not sure solar power can achieve that.

The link below to an article from the economist last year shows that while Germany may have been doing it for 20 years, they still haven’t solved the problems that solar power, and especially paying for it through a feed in tariff, creates.

http://www.economist.com/node/15213817

I am very much in favour of finding solutions to our energy needs that are kinder on the environment. I’m not in favour of feed in tariffs though, which are in fact a wealth transfer from those that can’t afford installing PV panels to those that can. Generally, that is lower income earners to those in a more comfortable financial position. It is poor public policy, and in the case of the ACT due to our tiny role wthin Australia let alone the world, the benefits in terms of reduced carbon output are miniscule, if not completely irrelevant.

#12
Postalgeek2:42 pm, 14 Jul 11

One thing people seem to forget is the tariff is locked in for 20 years. If in that time energy prices remain below the feed-in tariff, then you could argue the solar tariff penalises those without solar.

However, should energy prices go skyward, the ACT government has locked in a renewable source of energy at today’s prices. Suddenly the solar scheme doesn’t look like such a stupid idea.

All depends on supply and demand.

#13
breda3:25 pm, 14 Jul 11

Germany brought in a feed-in tariff for solar PV power in 1991. It continues today (20 years later) with no cap. It is funded by a tiny 3% increase in electricity prices across the country.

Germany now has the largest solar PV production of electricity in the world, and is on target to producing 20% of its energy from sustainable source. Germany has 17,000 megawatts of installed solar power, most of it residential. Australia (with much more sunshine) has 500MW (that’s about 3% of Germany’s). Germany is one of the world big producers of PV panels, earning export Euros. Germany has 350,000 people working in the solar power industry.

This is a huge opportunity wasted by the ACT government and Australia. Shame.

#11
Gasman said:
The ACT feed-in tariff was modelled (loosely) on the German system. Germany brought in a feed-in tariff for solar PV power in 1991. It continues today (20 years later) with no cap. It is funded by a tiny 3% increase in electricity prices across the country.

Germany now has the largest solar PV production of electricity in the world, and is on target to producing 20% of its energy from sustainable source. Germany has 17,000 megawatts of installed solar power, most of it residential. Australia (with much more sunshine) has 500MW (that’s about 3% of Germany’s). Germany is one of the world big producers of PV panels, earning export Euros. Germany has 350,000 people working in the solar power industry.

This is a huge opportunity wasted by the ACT government and Australia. Shame.
———————————————————————————
Gasman, your story about Germany is an utter misrepresentation.

The German solar manufacturing industry is just about gone, as Chinese manufacturers now dominate the the market – and it ain’t coming back unless grateful taxpayers throw even more money at it than they already have, which is now down the drain.

German solar subsidies to consumers have been wound back twice in the last 18 months, for the same reasons as here – it was costing a motza, affecting less fortunate consumers adversely, and delivering very little in terms of CO2 abatement. They are currently under review again, and the smart money is on further cutbacks.

The renewable energy subsidy that all electricity consumers pay increased by 75% last year, and is expected to quadruple within 5 years.

The German government’s panicky decision to close all nuclear plants (there are 17) means that they are looking at a massive build of gas and coal power plants to make up the shortfall. No-one is even pretending that ‘renewables’ are either a practical or affordable option. Meanwhile, they happily buy power from French nuclear plants to keep things ticking over.

Integrating even the existing wind and solar sources into the grid is costing billions of euros a year, paid for by consumers and taxpayers.In return,they get intermittent, unreliable power.

The green gravy train is slowing fast as voters are squeezed till their pips squeak while the economy is under pressure from debt and euro problems.

#14
gasman7:55 pm, 14 Jul 11

breda said :

———————————————————————————
Gasman, your story about Germany is an utter misrepresentation.

The German solar manufacturing industry is just about gone, as Chinese manufacturers now dominate the the market – and it ain’t coming back unless grateful taxpayers throw even more money at it than they already have, which is now down the drain.

Incorrect. Conergy, SchottSolar and Bosch are some of the biggest names in Solar panel production. Their production is increasing, not decreasing. The only reason Chinese panels have made such a big impact is that the German companies could not keep up with demand, despite ramping up production. They still product panel of higher quality (better efficiency, thicker glass, etc) than the Chinese companies. Furthermore, German inverters (that convert the DC current from a solar panel to AC suitable for the grid) are essentially all German developed and made – they lead the market in that field still and have no viable Chinese competitors. All because the German government made the commitment to subsidise solar technology using a feed-in tariff.

breda said :

German solar subsidies to consumers have been wound back twice in the last 18 months, for the same reasons as here – it was costing a motza, affecting less fortunate consumers adversely, and delivering very little in terms of CO2 abatement. They are currently under review again, and the smart money is on further cutbacks.

It is true that the subsidies have been wound back, but not for the reason you suggest. The subsidies were always designed to be reduced with time, to encourage increasing efficiency (in terms of cost per kWh) of the PV panels. As efficiency has increased, cost of installation has dropped, and the payback time reduced. The feed-in tariff was reduced correspondingly to keep the payback time constant.

Your statement that it has delivered little in CO2 abatement is also incorrect. Germany now has over 15% of its total energy produced from sustainable sources. Residential solar PV is a big part of that. The goal is 20% by 2020, and they are set to exceed that target.

Compare that to Australia – all talk, no action.

breda said :

No-one is even pretending that ‘renewables’ are either a practical or affordable option.

Actually, the Germans are showing that it is both practical and affordable. Individual households can produce electricity for the entire nation. Again, sustainable energy in German is now at 15% and growing. Solar panels have a rated life of 25 years, but will produce useful electricity for over 40 years. That’s almost an entire adult’s lifetime. You build it once, put them up and they produce electricity with no pollution for the rest of your life.

Meanwhile, fossil fuels are getting harder and more expensive to dig up and deliver. They are undoubtedly contributing to climate change which will end up costing us all in ways we can only begin to speculate. The future generations are subsidising our wasteful ways today.

Eventually there will come a point where solar and other sustainable sources of energy will become cheaper than fossil fuels. At that point, feed-in tariffs and other subsidies will not become necessary.

Nobody is suggesting solar is the only way to go. But at the moment, it is the only commercially viable option for small scale sustainable energy production. Having a set target and reaching it, even at a modest 20%, is commendable and orders of magnitude greater than anything Australia has aimed for.

#15
breda3:01 am, 15 Jul 11

Gasman, Germany imports nuclear power from France and the Czech Republic even now. No amount of dinky things on people’s roofs (or windmills) will ever substitute for that. Further, they are planning to replace their nuclear plants with coal and gas plants over the next 10 years – and it will take a lot of them to pick up the load. Meanwhile, they will be importing even more.

The German manufacturers you think are so wonderful couldn’t produce a single widget with the toys they manufacture as their power source. They couldn’t even guarantee keeping the lights on. Some have already gone broke because of competition from China.

The chickens of reality are coming home to roost. It is simply ludicrous to claim that using power which costs 3 or 4 times as much to produce as conventional power, and is intermittent, is good for the economy. Since this inefficient, expensive power also has environmental costs (production, transport and installation of solar and wind products), and needs 100% backup from conventional sources, it is just la-la land to pretend that it either saves the world or helps with real energy needs.

The Germans get away with it because they can import power from other countries that produce it conventionally – something we can’t do. Time to get real about this expensive con.

#16
JC7:33 am, 15 Jul 11

troll-sniffer said :

Can someone out there with real knowledge of the electricity scene please explain why a hybrid offer cannot be made to people who want to use solar power but have the self-respect not to expect the rest of society to pay for their indulgence, such as an scheme where their own generation can be used in the home and/or fed into the grid at the same rate as the power they currently buy? A decent setup should then be ale to more than halve the electricity bills for a careful household. The payback period might blow out to 20 years or more but even that should be attractive to anyone who actually wants to contribute to greenhouse gas savings rather than the pretence that most have demonstrated thus far.

Trollsniffer your post shows why the whole industry is not sustainable. What you suggest is fine in principle, but the killer is the solar panels. They will not last 20 years. Many will start to degrade after about 5 and may well need replacing at between 7 and 10 years of age. So without a massive feed in tariff price you would never recover the cost of installing the system. But of course to may a massive feed in tariff someone else (aka the tax payer) needs to subsidise the whole lot.

Now if we had a carbon tax, it would make sense for that money to go into paying for these things to be installed and replaced every 7 years, but I do wonder how many people who have solar panels on their roof but are opposed to the tax? Bet many installed them because they saw money in their eyes rather than any peceived environmental benefit.

#17
welkin319:13 am, 15 Jul 11

gasman and breda – I too have watched with interest how various Euroland countries have been able to spruik electricity generation by “renewables” or dismantle their baseload generation by claiming to be able to buy electricity from France – which of course is heavily dependent on nuclear.
I have often wondered that French nuclear capacity must have its limits.
Anyway – maybe that peak has been reached – in the wake of recently announcing the phase out of German nuclear electricity generation – the Germans are now talking about increasing coal fired electricity generation.
See two recent articles.
http://www.thelocal.de/national/20110713-36277.html

http://economicsnewspaper.com/policy/german/hamburger-controversial-energy-project-coal-power-plant-moorburg-takes-shape-40620.html

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