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Solar Rally! Protest to save Canberra’s solar industry.

By johnboy - 18 June 2011 14

Numerous groups are emailing in a media release calling for protest on Tuesday (the winter solstice geddit?) to get Canberra’s retail solar industry kickstarted again after Simon Corbell took an axe to it on 1 June:

ACT households are no longer able to access ANY incentives to encourage them to install roof top solar power.

The immediate result of this announcement has been the disappearance of this fledgling industry in the ACT, with the solar industry forced to lay off staff, with more to go in the coming weeks, if possible positive changes are not made to the scheme to maintain its accessibility to ACT householders going forward.

A group of ACT based solar companies have met with Government , Greens & Liberal MLA’s to voice concerns about the dire situation and be part of workable solution that builds a sustainable local renewable energy industry.

To reinforce this, ACT solar businesses are leading a Rally for Solar on the Winter Solstice next Tuesday as a call for action for the ACT Assembly to work towards a win:win:win solution to this legislatively-created problem.

Akora Energy, Envirofriendly, Pure Solar, Pyramid Power, Solargain, Solartec and Solarshop Australia are leading the charge down to the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday morning.

What’s Your opinion?


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14 Responses to
Solar Rally! Protest to save Canberra’s solar industry.
OpenYourMind 9:38 pm 20 Jun 11

Solidarity, that’s the whole point of the incentive, to well, encourage the start of an industry. As I’ve said before, if anything, the schemes are a victim of their own success. Solar prices have fallen dramatically.

There’s a time not far off where price parity will be achieved and we will be able to produce power without subsidy at the same rate as we buy. It’s much closer than any of us ever imagined.

Monomania, all these things about solar panels are known and factored in. Our panels perform as we expected. Production does fall off a little on really, really hot days, but on sunny, average days we can hit very near our panels peak. Without calculating exactly, we are getting an approximate annual average of 4kWh per installed kW per day in Canberra. No surprises. One must also factor in that you lose about 1% efficiency each year. But, in 20 years time, panels will be cheap enough to cover every inch of your roof, not just north facing bits.

monomania 3:58 pm 20 Jun 11

crappicker said :

Criticism of rooftop solar power generation seems generally quite uninformed. Surely the Feed-In-Tariff results in a minor increase to the electricity bill of all ACT householders. However, by far the main increase to ACT electricity bills comes from the generous subsidy of air conditioning usage. Firstly, in absence of timed metering people using air conditioners just pay standard electricity prices, whilst the main usage of air conditioners is at times of peak demand and thus peak prices. Secondly, high demand for power from air conditioners at peak times has meant that extra supply lines have had to be built to prevent blackouts. Building supply lines is costly. These are two major reasons that electricity prices are going up and up. In contrast: roof top solar power provides maximum power at times of peak demand, thus reducing the need for buying power at peak prices; local usage of locally produced power reduces the need for building of additional large scale supply lines; and infrastructure costs are borne by the owners of the solar panels not the community at large through the supply component of the electricity bill. It is well arguable that rooftop solar acts to keep electricity prices down, rather than up. Please think it through, before heaping more crap on the bandwagon, and kicking yet another good scheme to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Average price fossil electricity into ActewAGL grid: 8 cents per kilowatt.hour
Average price rooftop electricity into grid: 48 cents (46.7 + a bit of 50.05)

It costs us enough. If these bozos got their way it will cost us a lot more. The productivity commission is stating what has been obvious to some since this absurd scheme started.

Canberra’s additional network costs are mainly to supply an additional high voltage transmission line to complete a full surrounding of Canberra to ensure supply and lower voltage lines for new developments.

Solar does not provide maximum power during peak periods for two reasons. The power output is already falling and photovoltaic cell output reduces with increasing temperature. High afternoon temperatures are the very reason why people turn on the domestic air conditioners.

If solar is so good make new domestic solar producers install a timed meter. The electricity producer can then buy the electricity at the same price it is buying power elsewhere.

Crapshooter? Full of it I reckon.

Solidarity 3:20 pm 20 Jun 11

Renewable my ass, if they were all they’re cracked up to be there wouldn’t need to be an incentive. They’re costly to manufacture, costly and transport, costly to install and don’t have much output.

Reprobate 9:41 am 20 Jun 11

RedDogInCan said :

‘solar industry’ my arse. A bunch of high pressure sales people and dodgy tradies installing products imported from overseas doesn’t make an industry. Come back when you at least have a local factory.

Almost an outer suburb of Canberra these days: http://www.silexsolar.com/silexsolar_australian_manufacturing_plant.html

JC 6:41 am 20 Jun 11

Industries crying poor like this really get under my skin. When they first came to the market here in Canberra they knew full well what the rules of engagement would be. Ie specifically the fact that the government would stop the program once a certain amount of uptake has been achieved. This has now happened, yes, earlier than planned and now the companies cry poor and want it extended, no doubt to line their pockets further.

As to the industry in general I think the whole lot is a crock, in particular the amount of money people get to feed power in, it is more than what others pay to use that power. How is this in any way shape or form sustainable? To me it is yet another tax on the poorer parts of our society and giving benefit to those that could afford (with government assistance of course) to install the panels.

Now I do wonder in 5 or 6 years time when the solar panels that have recently been installed start to deteriorate and generate less power, will those people expect the government and the community in general to help them replace the panels?

wotsinaname 5:39 pm 19 Jun 11

Are air conditioners evil???

crappicker said :

…However, by far the main increase to ACT electricity bills comes from the generous subsidy of air conditioning usage. Firstly, in absence of timed metering people using air conditioners just pay standard electricity prices, whilst the main usage of air conditioners is at times of peak demand and thus peak prices. Secondly, high demand for power from air conditioners at peak times has meant that extra supply lines have had to be built to prevent blackouts. Building supply lines is costly. These are two major reasons that electricity prices are going up and up….

This sounds like the line the Victorian government swallowed from slick energy industry lobbyists when it embarked on its ill-fated “Smart Meter” roll-out program.

The way the scheme works is as follows:
1. The electricity utilities profit from the Smart Meters by laying off their workforce of meter readers. This is because the Smart Meters transmit energy usage directly to the utilities’ computer systems.
2. Households are required to pay for the cost and installation of the Smart Meters.
3. The “Time-Of-Use” tariffs made possible by the Smart Meters penalise ALL “peak period” electricity consumption, mid-winter and mid-summer. Low income households will be coerced into freezing at home during winter and enduring sweltering conditions in summer.
4. Well paid office workers, including those who dreamed up this scheme, will be comfortable all year round in air-conditioned offices.
5. Large electricity consumers such as Metro Trains Melbourne and Yarra Trams will continue to use low priced electricity on fixed-price contracts.
6. The electricity used by and the costly infrastructure needed by these large electricity consumers is subsidised by the homeowners who have been compelled to pay for the Smart Meters and the higher prices for electricity these bring.

wotsinaname 4:35 pm 19 Jun 11

See the related RiotACT article “Let a thousand solar farms bloom” 17 May 2011 with this comment http://the-riotact.com/let-a-thousand-solar-farms-bloom/45419#comment-325963 :

EvanJames said
5:32 pm, 17 May 11

eyeLikeCarrots said : What all seems to smell like crap is the wankers with their I don’t have to pay for power ACTEW bills and their shit eating grins.

Time to organise a few raiding parties with ladders and cans of spray paint.

This idea could lead to an important breakthrough through serendipity – as important as the accidental discovery of penicillin.

“His discovery was an amazing piece of luck. If Fleming hadn’t left a petri dish of bacteria on his bench when he went on holidays; if he had properly disinfected the dish; if the weather had been different from the ideal conditions for bacteria and mould growth in the laboratory; and especially if Fleming hadn’t the experience to recognise the importance of the observation, penicillin may not have been discovered as an antibiotic. “

(see http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/florey/story.htm )

Spray painting solar panels might INCREASE energy output, resulting in even greater payments under the ACT’s very generous Feed In Tariff scheme.

Researchers (but none in Australia that I have been able to find) are looking for the right coating for solar panels to increase their efficiency.

“In this scheme (see Fig. 1), the solar cell is not directly exposed to [sunlight]. Instead, an intermediate – consisting of two thermally connected layers, the absorber and the emitter – is positioned in front of the cell. The receiver heats up to a reasonably high temperature by absorbing sunlight. Subsequently, thermal energy is transferred to the emitter that illuminates the cell with narrow-band thermal radiation that better matches its absorption characteristics.”

(see http://gcep.stanford.edu/research/factsheets/ultrahigh_thermosolar.html )

The reason why this approach can dramatically increase the output of solar panels – potentially by up to 4 times their current output –

“The energy needed to release one conduction electron in a silicon crystal corresponds to the photon energy of electromagnetic waves with a wavelength of 1120nm (1.12 microns): in the infra-red quite close to visible light. … Each photon can release only one electron however, so if a photon has more than the required energy – and most do – then the excess must be wasted – transformed to heat (energy) in the crystal. This means that for a photon of say blue light, that has about twice the required energy, only half of its energy can be harnessed usefully.”

(See http://www.schoolgen.co.nz/pdf/how_photovoltaic_cell_works.pdf )

If solar panels really were 4 X more efficient there would be no need for the FIT. Payments at the normal electricity price would be 4 X greater.

crappicker 2:23 pm 19 Jun 11

Criticism of rooftop solar power generation seems generally quite uninformed. Surely the Feed-In-Tariff results in a minor increase to the electricity bill of all ACT householders. However, by far the main increase to ACT electricity bills comes from the generous subsidy of air conditioning usage. Firstly, in absence of timed metering people using air conditioners just pay standard electricity prices, whilst the main usage of air conditioners is at times of peak demand and thus peak prices. Secondly, high demand for power from air conditioners at peak times has meant that extra supply lines have had to be built to prevent blackouts. Building supply lines is costly. These are two major reasons that electricity prices are going up and up. In contrast: roof top solar power provides maximum power at times of peak demand, thus reducing the need for buying power at peak prices; local usage of locally produced power reduces the need for building of additional large scale supply lines; and infrastructure costs are borne by the owners of the solar panels not the community at large through the supply component of the electricity bill. It is well arguable that rooftop solar acts to keep electricity prices down, rather than up. Please think it through, before heaping more crap on the bandwagon, and kicking yet another good scheme to reduce greenhouse gasses.

OpenYourMind 10:34 am 19 Jun 11

Martlark, I’m not sure how you define too expensive or too inconsistent. It terms of cost, even without any Government assistance, an energy frugal house can produce as much or more power than they consume. The problem is the cost has dropped so rapidly that the feed in subsidies have not kept up and the lure of solar is artificially high.
In terms of consistency, solar is very predictable on an annual basis – so much so that production can be fairly accurately calculated. Naturally, solar PV is only producing during sunlight hours, but that’s just the inverse of the problem of coal plants producing power flat out at 11pm – 5am. Our solar generation is still a relatively small percentage of all power produced and the fact it’s produced in the daylight is neither here nor there. Going into the future, more demand management may be required, but that day is a long way off. Energy efficient homes with solar producing their most energy in summer wouldn’t even be covering the demand of energy inefficient houses running their airconditioners all day.

Martlark 7:16 pm 18 Jun 11

Solar power is just not read for wide spread usage. It is too expensive and too inconsistent. If we want to lower green house gasses we’d be better off spending the subsidy money on planting trees and preventing deforestation. Lets just hang back and let other countries push the technology of generation and production. Rushing in before solar power is affordable is just throwing money away.

RedDogInCan 3:48 pm 18 Jun 11

‘solar industry’ my arse. A bunch of high pressure sales people and dodgy tradies installing products imported from overseas doesn’t make an industry. Come back when you at least have a local factory.

In any case, an industry that relies on government subsidies and incentives cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called sustainable.

John Moulis 3:40 pm 18 Jun 11

Ponzi [pon-zee]
noun
a swindle in which a quick return, made up of money from new investors, on an initial investment lures the victim into much bigger risks.
Also called Ponzi game, Ponzi scheme .
Origin:
after Charles Ponzi (died 1949), the organizer of such a scheme in the U.S., 1919–20

A bit harsh, don’t you think, for a scheme whereby the most vulnerable and naive in the community were hoodwinked into outlaying thousands on solar panels to fly-by-night operators with the promise that they’d be paid generous amounts by a benevolent government in perpetuity for being green and saving the planet.

All good things come to an end, but this wasn’t even a good or sustainable thing in the first place.

Watson 3:24 pm 18 Jun 11

A protest by the solar industry? I don’t believe their motivation is that different from the loggers in Tassie protesting against old forest protection laws, really. They just happen to be an environmentally friendly industry.

I would love to see more solar energy being used, but this scheme obviously wasn’t viable. I also don’t mind part of my tax dollars being used to boost environmentally friendly energy generation. But the plan has to be equitable and sustainable. And I don’t believe this one was.

So I hope they will go back to the drawing board and find a better way to move us forward on this. All of us, not just the rich and the higher middle class.

Diggety 11:02 am 18 Jun 11

Perhaps the Government (particularly the Greens influence) should start to admit the Feed-in-Tariff is in fact a subsidy paid for by all Canberrans, be it direct or indirect.

Dishonest policy always fails, ACT should look to Federal Government for a case in point.

Be honest with Canberrans:
– Why does the subsidy exist?
– How much does it cost?
– Who pays for it?
– What guarantee can the Government give industry, beneficiaries and financiers of price stability?

This exercise should be a reminder to Labor/Greens that we live in a democracy, and the general population are more likely to be more intelligent than them.

Don’t treat us like idiots.

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