Solar power generation powering ahead

By 8 August, 2011 39

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The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission has published their latest summary of generation under the troubled feed-in tariff scheme.

• During the June 2011 quarter, 1,653 new connections of renewable generators were made to the distribution network, compared with 868 made during the previous quarter.
• In total, 6,057 renewable generators were connected to the distribution network at 30 June 2011, compared with 4,404 at the end of the previous quarter.
• During the June 2011 quarter, 3,245 new applications for connection of renewable generators to the distribution network were received, compared with 1,552 during the previous quarter.
• Total installed capacity of renewable generators at 30 June 2011 was 13,987,950 watts, up by 4,454,385 watts from the level at the end of the March quarter.
• Metered output of renewable generators for the June 2011 quarter was 2,538,012 kWh compared with 3,201,300 kWh in the March quarter.
• Total metered output of renewable generators from 1 March 2009 to 30 June 2011 was 11,840,448 kWh.
• At 30 June 2011, there were twelve suburbs with 100 or more sites connected and 61 suburbs with over 50 sites connected.

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39 Responses to Solar power generation powering ahead
#1
Martlark7:08 pm, 08 Aug 11

11 megawatts? That’s a pathetic amount of electricity. A 240MW hydro power station was recently completed for $240m. (Bogong Power Station). When you consider that these 4600 sites were each given about $5,000 in capital subsidies; add in the rough per house $10,000; and the cost per installed MW is almost $6million, whilst this single hydro system is just $580k. A hydro station can generate electricity 24 hours a day, predictably and reliably, without ongoing subsidies. Solar power may give you some generation for about 5hours per day, unless foggy, cloudy or raining. What a crock these solar schemes are. Note: costs are rough.

#2
Chip9:15 pm, 08 Aug 11

Thank goodness for this news so that if I go to Somalia I can whinge about how we in Australia are doing it tough as well. Fancy paying a premium to produce cleaner electricity! In the meantime, perhaps I could imagine that the environment is a worthwhile charity and happily donate some $$ to improve things thought the downside to that is that if my donation is compulsory, I can’t get an ego rush out of my generosity. Next time I am at a swanky restaurant with my well heeled mates I must remember to philosophise about whether economic rationality is a religion that has served our society well.

#3
Classified10:01 pm, 08 Aug 11

Chip said :

Thank goodness for this news so that if I go to Somalia I can whinge about how we in Australia are doing it tough as well. Fancy paying a premium to produce cleaner electricity! In the meantime, perhaps I could imagine that the environment is a worthwhile charity and happily donate some $$ to improve things thought the downside to that is that if my donation is compulsory, I can’t get an ego rush out of my generosity. Next time I am at a swanky restaurant with my well heeled mates I must remember to philosophise about whether economic rationality is a religion that has served our society well.

Um, ok. Thanks.

#4
OpenYourMind10:14 pm, 08 Aug 11

Martlark, um, you do realise that 11,840,448 kWh is not 11MW? I get the feeling you don’t really understand solar and just want to have a rant.
In terms of annual energy production, solar is as, if not more, reliable than all other power generation systems. In Canberra, each installed kW produces an average of 4kWh per day. The outlay for each kW is getting cheaper each year. These are facts.
The percentage contribution of solar is still very low, and the change in power demand is such that solar is the perfect solution. Our grid cops the hardest time these days on sunny days when lots of people crank up the aircon. Going into the future, developing a much larger percentage of our total power generation through a wide variety of renewable resources will be the best path for our country.
For the individual, if circumstances (ownership, orientation etc) allow, solar is a very satisfying thing to own. It’s a nice feeling when you are producing as much power as you use. Government grants did lead to gold rush, however like all these things, it will settle down and find a new level. Panels keep getting cheaper.
Going deeper into the future, pumped hydro will be very useful way for us to store our excess electricty produced by all these cheap solar panels :-)

#5
Martlark7:49 am, 09 Aug 11

OpenYourMind said :

Martlark, um, you do realise that 11,840,448 kWh is not 11MW?

I may have mixed up things there. Oh Well. The rage got me.

#6
Martlark7:58 am, 09 Aug 11

OpenYourMind said :

Martlark, um, you do realise that 11,840,448 kWh is not 11MW? I get the feeling you don’t really understand solar and just want to have a rant.

On reflection, “Total installed capacity of renewable generators at 30 June 2011 was 13,987,950 watts”, I’m just about right. That’s 13MW. So there. Paying 10 times the capital cost for electricity that costs 5 times as much.

#7
Solidarity9:47 am, 09 Aug 11

OpenYourMind said :

Martlark, um, you do realise that 11,840,448 kWh is not 11MW? I get the feeling you don’t really understand solar and just want to have a rant.
In terms of annual energy production, solar is as, if not more, reliable than all other power generation systems. In Canberra, each installed kW produces an average of 4kWh per day. The outlay for each kW is getting cheaper each year. These are facts.
The percentage contribution of solar is still very low, and the change in power demand is such that solar is the perfect solution. Our grid cops the hardest time these days on sunny days when lots of people crank up the aircon. Going into the future, developing a much larger percentage of our total power generation through a wide variety of renewable resources will be the best path for our country.
For the individual, if circumstances (ownership, orientation etc) allow, solar is a very satisfying thing to own. It’s a nice feeling when you are producing as much power as you use. Government grants did lead to gold rush, however like all these things, it will settle down and find a new level. Panels keep getting cheaper.
Going deeper into the future, pumped hydro will be very useful way for us to store our excess electricty produced by all these cheap solar panels :-)

You’re so full of it. Thinking of solar as a “renewable” energy sourcs is stupid, the panels don’t come from nowhere, they’re not cheap, easy or clean to make and they don’t have a long service life. Hell, you need to use mined resources (out of the ground) to create a bloody solar panel.

I just wish we could get a nuclear reactor online and wipe all these stupid and unworkable solutions off the cards.

#8
chewy149:48 am, 09 Aug 11

Openyourmind,
I like that in all those “facts” you presented, you didn’t actually compare solar with other forms of electricity generation or even compare small scale solar with large scale solar.
Wonder why?

#9
OpenYourMind10:08 am, 09 Aug 11

Sorry, Marlark, but you’re still not quite right. Bogong is a 140MW installation costing $240m – so that’s $1.7million per installed MW or $1700 per installed kW. Naturally, you can’t compare an installed kW of hydro to solar because solar are not 24/7. Solar panels are indeed a long way short of this ‘bang for your buck’ of hydro, however the whole point of the solar schemes was to kickstart an industry and bring it to the forefront and in the process reduce prices. I’m not against hydro, where it’s environmentally feasible etc.
Even for solar, there are more economical ways to deliver it than individuals having rooftop systems, but the big thing with rooftop is that each individual has a sense of ownership and contribution. Sure, the systems were not well tailored, but being a victim of their own success is not the fault of solar, but of the schemes.

#10
SigmaOctantis10:33 am, 09 Aug 11

Just as a side point, how much do these solar panels cost to install at home? Trying to find out the price of these things from the solar compaines is like drawing blood from a stone.

#11
Innovation10:46 am, 09 Aug 11

Solidarity said :

I just wish we could get a nuclear reactor online and wipe all these stupid and unworkable solutions off the cards.

I’m not sure if the pun was intended but I suppose when a nuclear reactor goes feral it potentially wipes everything off the cards. Would you still support nuclear if it was in any sort of radius of your backyard? Perhaps because you live a long way from a suitable site you think nuclear is OK? I would have thought that Fukushima and Chernobyl and a long list of less serious incidents around the world would illustrate that it is impossible to predict and prevent all nuclear risks.

I agree that solar has a long way to go before it is viable (or the cost of other non sustainabe energy increases significantly) but we shouildn’t close our mind to its continuing development. And the more people that invest in the solar industry the more likely that we will have significant advancement in the near future.

#12
OpenYourMind10:47 am, 09 Aug 11

chewy14, it’s not how solar compares with other forms of generation that matters to the individual, it’s how long it takes to recover your investment on solar vs cost of metered electricity. As I said in a previous post: “Working in reverse, at ActewAGL’s current electricity price of 11.1c/kW, over a 5 year period, each installed kW would need to cost no more than $1080 to return 15% gross per annum. Solar PV’s aren’t at this price point yet, but it’s quite possible in the future. Naturally, when this occurs, the game will change again in some way.”

So in strict dollars, solar is still expensive, but the gap is closing. There’s some very detailed reports looking at the cost to Australia in being 100% renewable. Take for example: http://www.science.org.au/reports/documents/AusRenewableEnergyFuture.pdf

SigmaOctantis, a reputable solar company should be able to look at your orientation, shading, roof angle, energy consumption etc. and quote on a system tailored for you. If you just say ‘how much does it cost’, it would be like walking into a car dealer and asking how much a car would cost. As a general rule, pick a company that has been around a while, uses better quality cells and inverters and understands the current rules in Canberra. Generally speaking a 4kW system should cover the electricity usage of an average energy conscious house.

#13
Solidarity11:05 am, 09 Aug 11

Innovation said :

Solidarity said :

I just wish we could get a nuclear reactor online and wipe all these stupid and unworkable solutions off the cards.

I’m not sure if the pun was intended but I suppose when a nuclear reactor goes feral it potentially wipes everything off the cards. Would you still support nuclear if it was in any sort of radius of your backyard? Perhaps because you live a long way from a suitable site you think nuclear is OK? I would have thought that Fukushima and Chernobyl and a long list of less serious incidents around the world would illustrate that it is impossible to predict and prevent all nuclear risks.

I agree that solar has a long way to go before it is viable (or the cost of other non sustainabe energy increases significantly) but we shouildn’t close our mind to its continuing development. And the more people that invest in the solar industry the more likely that we will have significant advancement in the near future.

You mean two plants that went critical because they were both subjected to conditions way beyond what they were designed to cope with?

I can’t believe people still spout this crap. Seriously, I wouldn’t even expect crap like this spouting from Today Tonight viewers.

To answer your question: yes, build it in my backyard. The people in Lukas Heights don’t seem to have an issue with it, nor have they been “wiped out”.

#14
Thoroughly Smashed11:44 am, 09 Aug 11

Solidarity said :

I just wish we could get a nuclear reactor online and wipe all these stupid and unworkable solutions off the cards.

Heh.

#15
OpenYourMind11:47 am, 09 Aug 11

Nuclear is such a stupid idea that even Americans realise it’s a stupid idea!
Nuclear is a bad idea on every level. In particular it is an astonishly poor financial proposition. Nuclear carries enormous costs in terms of financial risk, build time (incurred interest), ongoing running (think 24/7 guards, monitoring etc.), decommissioning costs, uranium transport etc. The financial risks associated with building a reactor are so great that no private organisation will underwrite them, they need Government subsidy (hey, just like solar!).
Nuclear is not safe. Sure, newer reactors, even thorium reactors show promise of being ‘safer’. However no reactor can possibly allow for the extreme events such as Megatsunami, supervolcano, asteroid strike, super quake, finacial demise of a nation, war, political unrest etc. All very improbable, but when the result of a nuclear catastrophe has proven to be so great, the risk management has to be greater still.
Most importantly, they are a political lemon. Solidarity, you may think they are ok, but there’s enough people that don’t, and they vote. Even before Fukushima, Nuclear would have been a tough sell. Now, it simply just aint gonna happen.

Solar, Nuclear at a safe distance!

#16
Skidbladnir12:40 pm, 09 Aug 11

Innovation said :

I’m not sure if the pun was intended but I suppose when a nuclear reactor goes feral it potentially wipes everything off the cards. Would you still support nuclear if it was in any sort of radius of your backyard? Perhaps because you live a long way from a suitable site you think nuclear is OK?

Set up one of these?
Coverage of it is here, it has been significantly simplified for people like you.

Also, you seem to have a strange idea of what the word nuclear means, and have stuck with the 1970s fission vision. Science marched on a long time ago.
If we funded it appropriately, clean fusion isn’t really all that far away.

OpenYourMind said :

Nuclear is such a stupid idea that even Americans realise it’s a stupid idea! Nuclear is a bad idea on every level… Megatsunami, supervolcano, asteroid strike, super quake, finacial demise of a nation, war, political unrest… dead rising from their graves, human sacrifice, cats and dogs living in sin…

Living large the irony of your chosen name, I see.

#17
johnboy12:44 pm, 09 Aug 11

clean fusion is like AI and flying cars… always real soon now.

#18
Innovation2:23 pm, 09 Aug 11

Skidbladnir said :

Innovation said :

I’m not sure if the pun was intended but I suppose when a nuclear reactor goes feral it potentially wipes everything off the cards. Would you still support nuclear if it was in any sort of radius of your backyard? Perhaps because you live a long way from a suitable site you think nuclear is OK?

Set up one of these?
Coverage of it is here, it has been significantly simplified for people like you.

Also, you seem to have a strange idea of what the word nuclear means, and have stuck with the 1970s fission vision. Science marched on a long time ago.
If we funded it appropriately, clean fusion isn’t really all that far away.

OpenYourMind said :

Nuclear is such a stupid idea that even Americans realise it’s a stupid idea! Nuclear is a bad idea on every level… Megatsunami, supervolcano, asteroid strike, super quake, finacial demise of a nation, war, political unrest… dead rising from their graves, human sacrifice, cats and dogs living in sin…

Living large the irony of your chosen name, I see.

Thanks for the links. Very interesting. However, I’m not saying nuclear is not viable – just that no energy solution is without its faults. Nuclear is particularly risky because even though the likelihood of an event being low or unforseen, the potential outcome of a risk eventuating could be catastrophic. As I understand it, in any other construction, engineering principles allow for an “event” to occur say once in 50 years or once in a hundred years etc. I would have thought with nuclear, no event is acceptable. I don’t believe it is acceptable to say a nuclear accident is OK because we couldn’t have seen it coming.

Unlike other people here, I don’t think people are crazy or simple if they have different views about this issue. I probably have more confidence that solar power may have more potential. Arguments that, if we better fund nuclear power we’ll achieve clean fusion aren’t going to convince me overnight that this is a better direction to follow.

Incidentally, I personally would not want to live near a nuclear facility unless the price was right. But I would think twice also about living near power lines, wind farms etc until I had satisfied myself about the safety of doing so.

#19
Martlark7:20 pm, 09 Aug 11

SigmaOctantis said :

Just as a side point, how much do these solar panels cost to install at home? Trying to find out the price of these things from the solar compaines is like drawing blood from a stone.

A friend of mine installed a 3kw ( I think ) and it cost a bit over $30k, and at the time got a nice subsidy from us taxpayers of $15k? Hard to remember. I too found it quite hard to find the cost of panels from the solar companies. I used choice and wikipedia to work out some costs.

#20
Skidbladnir11:05 pm, 09 Aug 11

johnboy said :

clean fusion is like AI and flying cars… always real soon now.

Fusion is hardly a “soon now” because there are always more immediate or headline grabbing items that can win the upcoming election instead of the one over the horizon.
Carrying a 75 billion euro price tag on the first Watt of efficient generation tends to cause a lot of people to balk at the price of research. :(
(efficient, in that we can perform fusion now, but it consumes more energy than it generates without technology too improve yield)

If its funded appropriately and key technology further developed, its the solution to a lot of problems.
But hardly anybody trying to balance a current-cycle budget looks past the price of that first efficient Watt to see the oceans full of cheap Lithium that can suddenly be used as fuel.

#21
johnboy11:11 pm, 09 Aug 11

Oceans of lithium? Deuterium mebbe?

#22
Pandy11:19 pm, 09 Aug 11

Skidbladnir said :

Innovation said :

I’m not sure if the pun was intended but I suppose when a nuclear reactor goes feral it potentially wipes everything off the cards. Would you still support nuclear if it was in any sort of radius of your backyard? Perhaps because you live a long way from a suitable site you think nuclear is OK?

Set up one of these?
Coverage of it is here, it has been significantly simplified for people like you.

Also, you seem to have a strange idea of what the word nuclear means, and have stuck with the 1970s fission vision. Science marched on a long time ago.
If we funded it appropriately, clean fusion isn’t really all that far away.

OpenYourMind said :

Nuclear is such a stupid idea that even Americans realise it’s a stupid idea! Nuclear is a bad idea on every level… Megatsunami, supervolcano, asteroid strike, super quake, finacial demise of a nation, war, political unrest… dead rising from their graves, human sacrifice, cats and dogs living in sin…

Living large the irony of your chosen name, I see.

I await Mr Fusion and the chance to use all those very expensive banana skins.

#23
Walker12:06 am, 10 Aug 11

I’ve heard it suggested that in a few years we’re reaching the point where solar will out-bid coal cost-wise so things are going to go where they go anyway. Too bad the confusions between here and there slowing the whole thing down. “I’m from the government and I’m here to help!” ….

The ANU came up with great inventions, but have to go off shore to develop it further because nobody here wanted to take it on… who was in charge who let that one slip past some years back? It’s an incredible and short sighted loss.

#24
Skidbladnir12:08 am, 10 Aug 11

johnboy said :

Oceans of lithium? Deuterium mebbe?

No.
In simple terms, the three fuel requirement for lower cost fusion that ITER are aiming for.
In more accurate terms, the D-T fusion cycle they intend to use requires breeder Lithium in order to have minimal need for natural Tritium, as tritium becomes both fuel and byproduct of the fusion reaction, satisfying the self-sustaining component of fusion power generation.
Getting that part right is the difficult (expensive) step.

Clearly journalists who grasp nuclear issues and their underlying science are few and far between, haven’t you got a Brumbies match you’d prefer to watch replays of?

#25
Walker12:13 am, 10 Aug 11

(Speaking of banana skins, I heard a rumour about a Delorean lurking about Canberra, anyone spotted such a thing? Sure could use one about now…)

#26
OpenYourMind8:11 am, 10 Aug 11

Skidbladnr, the micro nuclear reactors you reference are likely to have almost as many downsides as the bigger reactors, but they produce relatively (excuse the pun) little power. They may be of use in some instances, eg extreme isolation, aircraft carriers, but for the most part, they make solar look bargain basement.

Anticipating the most extreme events is not being closed minded, just rational. All of the events I mentioned have occurred on the Earth’s surface (eg megatsunamis, asteroid strikes, social collapse) have occurred numerous times. They are statistically very low in probability, but when you are putting at risk large populations and the environment, no risk is too small. The Fukushima accident has clearly demonstrated this, a couple of extreme events, some human error, some equipment failure and 200,000 people have to be evacuated, massive clean up costs, shut down of other reactors, contamination (albeit small) of crops and livestock. That’s a big risk to be taking!

#27
OpenYourMind8:21 am, 10 Aug 11

Probably another relevant example of why nuclear is a bad idea is the new Finnish Olkiluoto nuclear plant currently being constructed. It is supposed to be the show piece of modern nuclear. Its construction has been marred by all sorts of project issues and the cost over-run is now such that it is more expensive than the equivalent renewable solution…. and that’s before even counting the cost of cleanup at decommissioning time. Do you think Australia could do better with a nuclear plant construction than the Finnish, who already have a nuclear infrastructure??

#28
johnboy8:59 am, 10 Aug 11

and the oceans of cheap lithium?

#29
Diggety9:47 am, 10 Aug 11

OpenYourMind said :

Nuclear is such a stupid idea that even Americans realise it’s a stupid idea!
Nuclear is a bad idea on every level. In particular it is an astonishly poor financial proposition. Nuclear carries enormous costs in terms of financial risk, build time (incurred interest), ongoing running (think 24/7 guards, monitoring etc.), decommissioning costs, uranium transport etc. The financial risks associated with building a reactor are so great that no private organisation will underwrite them, they need Government subsidy (hey, just like solar!).
Nuclear is not safe. Sure, newer reactors, even thorium reactors show promise of being ‘safer’. However no reactor can possibly allow for the extreme events such as Megatsunami, supervolcano, asteroid strike, super quake, finacial demise of a nation, war, political unrest etc. All very improbable, but when the result of a nuclear catastrophe has proven to be so great, the risk management has to be greater still.
Most importantly, they are a political lemon. Solidarity, you may think they are ok, but there’s enough people that don’t, and they vote. Even before Fukushima, Nuclear would have been a tough sell. Now, it simply just aint gonna happen.

Solar, Nuclear at a safe distance!

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S036054421000602X

#30
chewy149:54 am, 10 Aug 11

OpenYourMind said :

Probably another relevant example of why nuclear is a bad idea is the new Finnish Olkiluoto nuclear plant currently being constructed. It is supposed to be the show piece of modern nuclear. Its construction has been marred by all sorts of project issues and the cost over-run is now such that it is more expensive than the equivalent renewable solution…. and that’s before even counting the cost of cleanup at decommissioning time. Do you think Australia could do better with a nuclear plant construction than the Finnish, who already have a nuclear infrastructure??

How many large scale solar plants are there in the world?
What is the equivalent renewable solution and cost?
Why do you seem so keen to highlight nuclear’s problems whilst completely ignoring those of solar?

There is definitely room for a mix of technologies in our future energy production. Ignoring or simply dismissing nuclear as an option is not a smart move.

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