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Solar power will destroy us all

By 23 April 2012 61

I’ve read Graham Downie’s excellent arcticle in the Canberra Times regarding the almost useless and expensive solar power system we Canberran’s have been stuck with.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/high-price-paid-for-low-solar-return-20120422-1xfca.html

At peak radiation times, not even 1% of power is generated by solar.  And during peak demands, on cold nights, yes Sherlock, it’s 0%, not doubt due to the slackness of the sun having a few hours off.

For this hippy, green tinged, good feeling, all us lower class subjects of the ACT are charged $50 a year.  That money flows right into the pockets of the yuppies who had the spare cash to lash out on these things.

Using a back of the envelope calculation of $5k per system; the ten thousand systems in the ACT cost us $50 million dollars to install and an ongoing $5 million per year to subsidise.

I’m annoyed.  This money and effort could have been spent on more worthwhile facilities.

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61 Responses to
Solar power will destroy us all
arescarti42 3:41 pm
23 Apr 12
#1

Home solar PV systems are hardly useless, but if the goal is to reduce CO2 emissions, then subsidising their installation has got to be one of the most expensive ways to do it.

It is also a really inequitable and socially regressive subsidy in that the people who are being subsidised are those who are both wealthy enough to own a house and have a couple of thousand dollars just lying around. Ultimately the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are those who are too poor to take advantage of it.

I’m a huge proponent for reducing GHG emissions, but the feed in tariff scheme strikes me as a bad piece of public policy.

HenryBG 4:18 pm
23 Apr 12
#2

So….we have very little solar power installed, therefore it only provides a 1% share of our production, therefore we shouldn’t increase our installed capacity of solar generation?

Is that the logic?

I spend about $2600pa on electricity and gas.
According to you, I am paying $50pa for solar power.

I notice that the price of solar power is not increasing year-on-year, whereas the price of fossil-power is doubling at a rate of once every 10 years.
In other words, if we don’t start installing a lot more solar and wind very soon, we will be paying a lot more than an extra $50pa for the privilege of using power generated from non-renewable sources.

I’m hoping a lot more investment is made into cheaper and more price-stable forms of power generation (such as wind and solar) very soon, so my power bills don’t go through the roof, as they will if anybody pays any attention to the reality-denying changeophobic cranky Abbott-loving pensioners.

p1 4:40 pm
23 Apr 12
#3

Perhaps that $50mil should have been spent installing PV systems on all the govvie houses in the Territory. That way we would get the solar power into the grid, and the government would get the cash since they own the systems.

nobody 4:55 pm
23 Apr 12
#4

I think every city needs to reduce their CO2 emissions as soon as possible, but I also have concerns about domestic roof-top solar systems.

I’ve noticed several roof panels which have large trees nearby, placing them in shadow for a few hours each day. We want large trees around our suburbs, but they don’t go well with solar panels.
Almost all of these systems have only been installed because of the government subsidies, at a time when most people agree markets pick technology winners better than governments.
Economies of scale in economic theory point to a reduction for installation, maintenance, and operation costs as the size of the solar plant increases, suggesting mid size plants would be better.
The electricity distribution grid has been designed for the flow of power into the suburbs from distant generators, and 10,000 generators now within the city must be causing a few distribution anomalies.

I’d prefer mid to large size solar or wind placed outside the city, and am glad to see mid size schemes opening up now.

dpm 5:06 pm
23 Apr 12
#5

arescarti42 said :

..It is also a really inequitable and socially regressive subsidy in that the people who are being subsidised are those who are both wealthy enough to own a house and have a couple of thousand dollars just lying around. Ultimately the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are those who are too poor to take advantage of it..

Kinda like negative gearing rules, but no one seems to be as outraged over that inequitable system…

arescarti42 5:42 pm
23 Apr 12
#6

dpm said :

arescarti42 said :

..It is also a really inequitable and socially regressive subsidy in that the people who are being subsidised are those who are both wealthy enough to own a house and have a couple of thousand dollars just lying around. Ultimately the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are those who are too poor to take advantage of it..

Kinda like negative gearing rules, but no one seems to be as outraged over that inequitable system…

It’s exactly like negative gearing, which does outrage me. I suspect the reason that more aren’t outraged is that they don’t understand what negative gearing is, what it does, and how it affects government revenues (including a lot of people who are negatively geared).

HenryBG 6:25 pm
23 Apr 12
#7

dpm said :

arescarti42 said :

..It is also a really inequitable and socially regressive subsidy in that the people who are being subsidised are those who are both wealthy enough to own a house and have a couple of thousand dollars just lying around. Ultimately the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are those who are too poor to take advantage of it..

Kinda like negative gearing rules, but no one seems to be as outraged over that inequitable system…

Good point.
He’s wrong anyway – ultimately, the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are the people who pay the most taxes, and these are the people who are most able to afford to put PV on their roofs.
That works.

Lazy I 6:45 pm
23 Apr 12
#8

dpm said :

arescarti42 said :

..It is also a really inequitable and socially regressive subsidy in that the people who are being subsidised are those who are both wealthy enough to own a house and have a couple of thousand dollars just lying around. Ultimately the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are those who are too poor to take advantage of it..

Kinda like negative gearing rules, but no one seems to be as outraged over that inequitable system…

Kinda like means testing rebates… oh wait.. that punishes the ‘wealthy’, that’s all good.

Bramina 7:16 pm
23 Apr 12
#9

dpm said :

arescarti42 said :

..It is also a really inequitable and socially regressive subsidy in that the people who are being subsidised are those who are both wealthy enough to own a house and have a couple of thousand dollars just lying around. Ultimately the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are those who are too poor to take advantage of it..

Kinda like negative gearing rules, but no one seems to be as outraged over that inequitable system…

Well I for one sure am.

Special G 8:04 pm
23 Apr 12
#10

Had your whinge – good – now show me the money. No electricity bill and extra cash generated covers gas, water and phone bills.

Since I have had them installed I have also started paying more attention to how much power I use and have dropped my electricity consumption by half. You do the maths on how much that is costing you.

milkman 8:49 pm
23 Apr 12
#11

arescarti42 said :

dpm said :

arescarti42 said :

..It is also a really inequitable and socially regressive subsidy in that the people who are being subsidised are those who are both wealthy enough to own a house and have a couple of thousand dollars just lying around. Ultimately the people who bear the costs of the subsidy are those who are too poor to take advantage of it..

Kinda like negative gearing rules, but no one seems to be as outraged over that inequitable system…

It’s exactly like negative gearing, which does outrage me. I suspect the reason that more aren’t outraged is that they don’t understand what negative gearing is, what it does, and how it affects government revenues (including a lot of people who are negatively geared).

And like negative gearing, there’s an elephant in the room – the carbon cost of manufacturing and transporting solar panels to suburban roofs.

(the elephant for negative gearing is the $33 billion dollars that our governments collect in property-related taxes each year)

dpm 9:13 pm
23 Apr 12
#12

Special G said :

Had your whinge – good – now show me the money. No electricity bill and extra cash generated covers gas, water and phone bills.

Since I have had them installed I have also started paying more attention to how much power I use and have dropped my electricity consumption by half. You do the maths on how much that is costing you.

Sounds good to me! What size system did you get? Also, what did you do to drop energy use by half?

Diggety 9:13 pm
23 Apr 12
#13

I think Martlark raises some valid points for discussion, but the title of the article is quite retarded.

I-filed 9:38 pm
23 Apr 12
#14

It would be interesting to know how many of these wealthy, subsidised “identities” are hooked into Green and in-the-know circles … remember, the Stanhope Government did this to us!

Martlark 9:39 pm
23 Apr 12
#15

Special G said :

…Since I have had them installed I have also started paying more attention to how much power I use and have dropped my electricity consumption by half. You do the maths on how much that is costing you.

$4000 to $5000 Sustainable Energy rebate. Couple of grand Govt. grant to install I suspect. Some sort of excessive payment multiple times the retail cost for what you generate. That is what it is costing us. Nice for you, don’t see why I should subsidise your comfort.

Martlark 9:39 pm
23 Apr 12
#16

Diggety said :

I think Martlark raises some valid points for discussion, but the title of the article is quite retarded.

I blame me.

Martlark 9:43 pm
23 Apr 12
#17

HenryBG said :

So….we have very little solar power installed, therefore it only provides a 1% share of our production, therefore we shouldn’t increase our installed capacity of solar generation?

Is that the logic?…

$50 per household, 100k households for 1%, in the day. To make that 100% in the day time, would cost 100 times per household; there are not enough roofs, but indulge me, 100 x 50 = $5000 per household, and we’d still have to pay for the night time energy.

duckylucky 9:57 pm
23 Apr 12
#18

For those with home solar units, have any of you managed to get a decent return on investment yet?

Diggety 10:19 pm
23 Apr 12
#19

Martlark said :

Diggety said :

I think Martlark raises some valid points for discussion, but the title of the article is quite retarded.

I blame me.

Well that’s a pretty frank admission hard to come by these days, but it doesn’t remedy my concern.

If you could do one of two things:

1. Admit that the title you used does not match or support your argument in the article.

Or

2. Outline a fresh argument with matching evidence to support the title.

HenryBG 10:25 pm
23 Apr 12
#20

Martlark said :

$50 per household, 100k households for 1%, in the day. To make that 100% in the day time, would cost 100 times per household; there are not enough roofs, but indulge me, 100 x 50 = $5000 per household, and we’d still have to pay for the night time energy.

OK, I’m not exactly on my first glass of wine tonight, but…does that numerical gobbledegook make any sense to anybody?

Isn’t it funny that every crank who hates new technologies is also illiterate and innumerate, and massively challenged in the communications department?

Like I said before, I’m paying about $2600 per year in energy bills. If you say I’m paying an extra $50 per year because the government is making some pitiful token effort to wean us off fossil fuels, then I don’t really see any problem with that.
I’d rather it was $500 per year.

And I’d rather they stopped paying for a Human Rights Commissioner and the army of worthless political staffers and other dross whose wage bills my rates are covering, and channel all that money into something constructive and worthwhile.

I-filed 10:28 pm
23 Apr 12
#21

Would stones chucked on roofs break those panels?

HenryBG 11:05 pm
23 Apr 12
#22

I-filed said :

Would stones chucked on roofs break those panels?

Are you the Taliban, threatening our power supply?

Let’s hope the whole cranky luddite thing doesn’t end up with ASIO getting involved.

OpenYourMind 11:13 pm
23 Apr 12
#23

duckylucky said :

For those with home solar units, have any of you managed to get a decent return on investment yet?

To answer your specific question, yes. About 14% per annum tax free locked in for 20years for early adopters. It’s hard to find a better investment.

Systems have gotten much, much cheaper, but the rate has dropped from 50.05c/kWh to 16.6c/kWh.

The interesting thing is the drop in price of PV has happened more suddenly than most (including our Govt) ever imagined. It’s hard to say when the rate of drop will flatten out, but at the current decrease in PV prices we will soon be at the point where a system without subsidy can produce power at a cheaper rate than you can buy from the grid.

Our domestic PV system produces as much power as our household consumes…albeit at different times. This is not a big issue for now as solar is still a small part of the energy grid equation.

Bramina 11:18 pm
23 Apr 12
#24

milkman said :

arescarti42 said :

It’s exactly like negative gearing, which does outrage me. I suspect the reason that more aren’t outraged is that they don’t understand what negative gearing is, what it does, and how it affects government revenues (including a lot of people who are negatively geared).

And like negative gearing, there’s an elephant in the room – the carbon cost of manufacturing and transporting solar panels to suburban roofs.

(the elephant for negative gearing is the $33 billion dollars that our governments collect in property-related taxes each year)

I thought negative gearing had a negative effect on tax from all of the tax deductions – but now I’m wondering whether I dreaming. Does anyone know for sure?

It also has a cost in terms of housing affordability and distortions in the housing market.

steveu 6:53 am
24 Apr 12
#25

OpenYourMind said :

The interesting thing is the drop in price of PV has happened more suddenly than most (including our Govt) ever imagined. It’s hard to say when the rate of drop will flatten out, but at the current decrease in PV prices we will soon be at the point where a system without subsidy can produce power at a cheaper rate than you can buy from the grid.

…good point, but I dont think the our electricity provider will ever let that happen. Government can do nothing about it either.

Personally I think that anything that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels is worthwhile. If we can find something to reduce our dependence on the middle east, then everyone would be alot happier as well (I am not arguing for or against the science of climate change, but both sides have to agree with this).

JimCharles 9:25 am
24 Apr 12
#26

It’s very interesting reading this, many of the issues are exactly the same as in the UK where people would like to use more, but the deals are not great and the efficiency of the systems are not yet as good as they can be.
The UK has got more potential for hydroelectric systems off the shallow coastlines and are finally making progress in implementation, but they have the same pressures from economics and big power companies (mostly now foreign-owned) calling the shots and pushing us down a nuclear route….thus preventing a lot of renewable initiatives (unless they get the work themselves and can price fix to maintain profits and there own futures)

My question is….why isn’t Australia the world leader in this field? All the best research, technology and machinery is currently German designed….and everybody relies on them to come up with the goods.
Australia is isolated and more at risk from declining, or potential future disruption to fossil fuel access, you have great Universities and facilities, vast land masses and and the best source of reliable sunshine on the planet.
Making this an Australian dominated industry would surely put you in charge of your own destiny and give great export opportunities plus the intellectual property to protect and develop…even if outsourced to China or India.
It just seems that it’s more crucial to Australia than anywhere else and you’re in the best location to take the lead.

chewy14 9:33 am
24 Apr 12
#27

HenryBG said :

Martlark said :

$50 per household, 100k households for 1%, in the day. To make that 100% in the day time, would cost 100 times per household; there are not enough roofs, but indulge me, 100 x 50 = $5000 per household, and we’d still have to pay for the night time energy.

OK, I’m not exactly on my first glass of wine tonight, but…does that numerical gobbledegook make any sense to anybody?

Isn’t it funny that every crank who hates new technologies is also illiterate and innumerate, and massively challenged in the communications department?

Like I said before, I’m paying about $2600 per year in energy bills. If you say I’m paying an extra $50 per year because the government is making some pitiful token effort to wean us off fossil fuels, then I don’t really see any problem with that.
I’d rather it was $500 per year.

And I’d rather they stopped paying for a Human Rights Commissioner and the army of worthless political staffers and other dross whose wage bills my rates are covering, and channel all that money into something constructive and worthwhile.

Yes the maths makes sense, except for the bit about paying for energy at night. Obviously we’d need to be storing the solar energy used during the day which has it’s own issues.

We’re paying (or will be) $50 per household for the currently installed PV systems which produce ~1% of our total energy usage.

There are ~ 100 000 households in Canberra hence the total cost is $50 000 000.

If our energy was produced 100% by rooftop solar power the total bill would be 100 times this.

So the total cost would be $5B or $5000 per household.

Note, I’m not saying there isn’t holes in this argument but his maths isn’t wrong as far as it goes.

p1 10:00 am
24 Apr 12
#28

Lazy I said :

Kinda like means testing rebates… oh wait.. that punishes the ‘wealthy’, that’s all good.

You mean the people that don’t need the rebates?

HenryBG 11:42 am
24 Apr 12
#29

chewy14 said :

HenryBG said :

Martlark said :

$50 per household, 100k households for 1%, in the day. To make that 100% in the day time, would cost 100 times per household; there are not enough roofs, but indulge me, 100 x 50 = $5000 per household, and we’d still have to pay for the night time energy.

OK, I’m not exactly on my first glass of wine tonight, but…does that numerical gobbledegook make any sense to anybody?

Isn’t it funny that every crank who hates new technologies is also illiterate and innumerate, and massively challenged in the communications department?

Like I said before, I’m paying about $2600 per year in energy bills. If you say I’m paying an extra $50 per year because the government is making some pitiful token effort to wean us off fossil fuels, then I don’t really see any problem with that.
I’d rather it was $500 per year.

And I’d rather they stopped paying for a Human Rights Commissioner and the army of worthless political staffers and other dross whose wage bills my rates are covering, and channel all that money into something constructive and worthwhile.

Yes the maths makes sense, except for the bit about paying for energy at night. Obviously we’d need to be storing the solar energy used during the day which has it’s own issues.

We’re paying (or will be) $50 per household for the currently installed PV systems which produce ~1% of our total energy usage.

There are ~ 100 000 households in Canberra hence the total cost is $50 000 000.

If our energy was produced 100% by rooftop solar power the total bill would be 100 times this.

So the total cost would be $5B or $5000 per household.

Note, I’m not saying there isn’t holes in this argument but his maths isn’t wrong as far as it goes.

His maths is absolute crap.
Let’s use the numbers out of the article itself:

– ACT electricity consumers are paying about $8.37 million annually
– more than 10,500 solar generators
– produce only 0.7 per cent of the overall annual requirement.
– The cost for an average household has reached about $26.40 a year
– those who have had solar generators installed receive on average almost $800 a year

The first thing that leaps out at me is this:
If 10,500 solar generators are producing $800 each, that totals to $8.4 million pa.
The cost is $26.40 x 100,000 households = $2.64 million pa

So the PV we have is generating $6.24 million pa into our local economy. Unless I’m missing something.

chewy14 12:42 pm
24 Apr 12
#30

HenryBG said :

His maths is absolute crap.
Let’s use the numbers out of the article itself:

- ACT electricity consumers are paying about $8.37 million annually
- more than 10,500 solar generators
- produce only 0.7 per cent of the overall annual requirement.
- The cost for an average household has reached about $26.40 a year
- those who have had solar generators installed receive on average almost $800 a year

The first thing that leaps out at me is this:
If 10,500 solar generators are producing $800 each, that totals to $8.4 million pa.
The cost is $26.40 x 100,000 households = $2.64 million pa

So the PV we have is generating $6.24 million pa into our local economy. Unless I’m missing something.

Oops just saw the mistake in my last. Shouldn’t be $5B should be $500 mill.

Henry,
yes rereading it, it doesn’t add up.

The average cost per household is $26 this year predicted to get to $50 next year.

But that’s the average cost per household not total cost which is borne by ALL ACT electricity customers.

So I’m assuming that the missing $6.2 million you’ve identified is the cost currently paid by non-residential electricity users in the ACT.

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