Camberwell Grammar School Solar System

The 862kW Camberwell Grammar School Solar System has been installed in Canterbury and all 2,607 solar panels are currently generating electricity for the largest solar project on any school in Australia. IT will generate 1GWh (1 million kWh’s) of clean energy every year. 

Camberwell Grammar School Solar System - Gippsland Solar
Camberwell Grammar School Solar System – Gippsland Solar (source: gippslandsolar.com.au)

The Camberwell Grammar School Solar System

The team at Gippsland Solar (comprising of 14 commercial installers who were put up in Melbourne for the duration of the project) set up the school solar system, which includes two ‘off-grid classrooms’, earlier this year. It’s been a technically challenging process that required 3D drone modelling, complicated electrical and structural engineering. The first 550kW was delivered over the Christmas school holidays and the remaining 312kW was completed at the end of term one, so as to minimise the amount of disruption to students.

According to the Gippsland Solar Facebook page, the system will generate just over half of the school’s usage and during the holidays they’ll export any excess power back to the grid.

System Details – Gippsland Solar

  • Solar panels – 2650 x Trina 350W frameless panels
  • Inverters – 34 x Fronius European inverters
  • System capacity – 862kW
  • Power production – Approx 1,000,000 kWh’s per year
  • Carbon savings – Approx 1,200 Tonnes per year
  • The school is now looking into installing a Tesla Powerpack battery to go with the solar system. 

Another huge step forwards for commercial solar as we see projects like this become financially feasible. What’s also great to note is that the project was entirely driven by the school student council, who presented the idea to the Camberwell board. 

If you want to learn more about the Camberwell Grammar School Solar System then click here to read a case study from the Gippsland Solar website or click the video below which shows off this beautiful feat of engineering. Kudos Gippsland Solar! 

ShineHub offer ‘fixed rate, free access’ solar.

A company named ShineHub has released a ‘fixed rate, free access’ contract Australia wide (except NT and Tasmania) where users can have solar+storage installed for free. The trial program will be for 1,000 contracts and will be expanded in the future. 

ShineHub’s fixed price solar service.

Shinehub Fixed Price Solar
Shinehub Fixed Price Solar (source: shinehub.com.au)

ShineHub’s contract means that they actually own the system and are responsible for the maintenance of it. The contracts run for 20 years and lock the customer into a 20 year contract to buy the electricity the system produces. According to the team the cost of an average system ShineHub will install is $15,000, so that’s quite a big saving if you’re not able to stump up for the system upfront.

“This is the first contract of its kind available to residential homes across Australia for a solar and battery package,” ShineHub co-founder Alex Georgiou told news.com.au in an interview.

“This provides a simple way to purchase (a system) and everything is taken care of. There are no additional fees, we’ve taken the uncertainty out,” Mr Georgiou said.

“It’s a very easy way for consumers to get what they want, without getting scared off by either the cost or the reliability.”

The program could be particularly good for landlords who don’t want to stump up the fairly sizeable upfront cost to install solar+storage but want to help their tenants enjoy the reduced electricity prices having solar panels can bring. We’ve written fairly extensively about the difficulty of installing solar power for renters – perhaps ideas like ShineHub could be a step in the right direction so they’re able to  enjoy some stability with regards to their electricity bill.

Some more information about the service:

  • Installation will be in July this year.
  • You can buy out the system at a discounted rate. If you want to sell your house it’s possible to transfer the ShineHub contract to a new owner.
  • You’ll remain connected to the grid and will have to pay the ongoing access fee for it.
  • They’ll use Bloomberg rated Tier 1 solar panels from Longi, Alpha ESS’s SMILE5 hybrid inverter and battery system.
  • ShineHub are partnered with 85 certified solar companies in Australia to help deliver their idea. 

If you’re interested in applying for one of the ShineHub systems, you can contact them for a consultation to see if you’re eligible. 

As per news.com.au, the average electricity rates and ShineHub prices are listed below.

NSW:

  • Highest price is: $0.39/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.24/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 20 per cent to 35 per cent.

VIC:

  • Highest price is: $0.34/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.21/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 14 per cent to 30 per cent.

SA:

  • Highest price is: $0.47/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.35/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 35 per cent to 50 per cent.

QLD:

  • Highest price is: $0.35/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.22/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: 18 per cent to 30 per cent.

WA:

  • Highest price is: $0.26/kWh
  • Average rate is: $0.26/kWh
  • Price starts at: $0.18/kWh
  • Typical savings bracket: Around 30 per cent.

 

Container Roll Out Solar System – Portable Solar

ARENA (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency) have awarded a grant to ECLIPS Engineering to design, manufacture, and test its ‘diesel killer’ portable solar offering, the Container Roll Out Solar System (CROSS). 

Container Roll Out Solar System – ECLIPS

Container Roll Out Solar System CROSS
Container Roll Out Solar System CROSS (source: eclips.engineering)

ECLIPS Engineering (formerly Sea Box International) are a Canberra based engineering firm hoping to do their part to help Australia do away with diesel generators in situations where a temporary power supply is required. They have created factory assembled 20 and 40 foot long solar panel arrays which fit in shipping containers and have minimal setup / teardown time. 

According to RenewEconomy, each 20ft unit has 2.1kW of power, and 7 of them can fit in a shipping container. The 40ft units has up to 4.3kW and can also fit seven to a container. 

ARENA have given CROSS $703,468 to to help the project, which has aims more lofty than just replacing diesel generators at work sites – the Container Roll Out Solar System could also help in defence situations, disaster recovery, for humanitarian needs, or for ‘temporary network augmentation’ (i.e. helping the grid if it’s malfunctioning or under severe stress).

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht spoke about funding the project, and how they hope to see an eventual replacement of diesel generators in 99% of cases:

“CROSS units can be deployed in off-grid and fringe-of-grid areas, displace or offset diesel consumption and improve the security of existing networks,” he said.

“These renewable options can reduce some of the barriers to entry for potential renewable power users in remote locations, including short project durations and where power systems need to be periodically relocated,” Frischknecht said.

“Renewable energy can provide an emissions-free, silent energy system that could replace diesel generators in the long run.”

We’ve already reported on the Maverick by 5B, which is another prefab, low-cost ground mounted solar array – it’s great to see some more options available to try and minimise the amount of diesel generators used as a temporary power supply. 

We’ll keep you posted how the project goes and what the next steps are!

 

Hantile flexible solar tiles by Hanergy.

Chinese company Hanergy have released the latest generation of their flagship Hantile flexible solar roof tiles. They’re lighter, thinner, more flexible, and have increased performance from the previous generation. Let’s have a look at how they stack up against some of the other solar roof tiles on the market.

Hantile Flexible Solar Roof Tiles

Hanergy Hantile flexible solar tiles launch
Hanergy Hantile flexible solar tiles launch (source: hanergy.com)

The new Hantile uses a single instead of a double layer of glass. This has lowered the weight of each tile down to 5.2kg. The glass is ultra-white tempered so it is extremely durable and is able to deliver a transmittance level of 91.5%. According to the PR News wire, the single glass Hantile can generate power at temperatures ranging from -40 Celsius to -85 degrees. Their life cycle is 30 years and each tile uses copper indium gallium selenide solar cell (CIGS) with 17.52% efficiency. In terms of environmental friendliness, each 100 square metres of Hantile is equivalent to planting 340 trees. The tiles are backed by a lifetime warranty (30 years) and a lifetime charged maintenance guarantee.

“We’re delighted to introduce the next generation of our innovative Hantile building solution,” said Hanergy founder Mr. Li Hejun. “With its industry leading energy generation capabilities and suitability for any building, I am confident that Hantile will set a new benchmark for new energy applications in building construction.”

Hanergy

Hanergy is, according to their press release, the world’s largest clean energy company. They work with hydro-power, wind power, and solar power. Since 2009 they’ve been researching thin-film solar power and with their updated technology will be releasing solar roof tiles, foldable solar-paper power banks, solar backpacks for solar camping, BIPV, solar roads, and more. They have more than 16,000 staff members and have been in a bit of financial trouble recently with the SFC ordering them to pay outstanding debts to its subsidiaries, with the stock currently ceased trading on the Hong Kong market. Hopefully this new technology can help Hanergy get back on track. 

Hanergy Hantile vs Tesla Solar Roof

Hanergy Hantile Solar Tile
Hanergy Hantile Solar Tile (source: hanergy.com)

The Tesla Solar Roof has been talked about a lot over the past year, but there have been quite a few competitors sticking their hands up such as the Tractile solar roof tiles, which are a lot more price effective than Tesla’s offering. Hanergy’s new Hantile don’t currently have a price for Australian install, but it looks like the ‘c-type slot structure’ they used for manufacturing mean it will be quite easy to install them. The previous Hantiles, launched in 2017, had a conversion efficiency rate of 16.5% and it now boasts 17.52% conversion rate. 

The price of last year’s triple arch solar tile was 130 yuan ($~285 AUD)/ m2 so it’ll be interesting to see what the new tile costs. We’ve reached out to Hanergy for comment and will let you know as soon as we have more information. We’ll be looking for reviews, price, release dates, and more! 

Gladstone solar farm – manufacturing contract signed.

The $500m Gladstone solar farm will be built at Aldoga later this year as the Queensland Government chose to award the contract to Spanish renewable energy giant Acciona Energy who will build the 265MW farm and establish a community benefits fund. It will hope to gain development approval over the next few months. 

Gladstone Solar Farm

Gladstone Solar Farm - Acciona
Gladstone Solar Farm – Acciona (source:acciona.com)

Around 1250 hectares of state owned land at Aldoga will be used to create the solar farm, which is slated to create hundreds of jobs and also provide plenty to the local area as part of the contract:

“As part of the lease agreements, Acciona Energy will also establish a community benefits fund of between $50,000 to $120,000 per year, representing between $1.5 million to $3.6 million over the 30-year lease, to be provided to local clubs, associations and community groups in the region.” Cameron Dick, Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, said.

“Acciona Energy will develop, finance, construct and operate a $500 million solar farm through a 30-year lease with the Queensland Government and they are committed to Buy Queensland and Gladstone Buy Local procurement strategies,” Mr Dick continued.

They’re currently undertaking a ‘detailed feasibility study’ before development approvals are sought, and after that they’ll commence construction:

“This could take around 12 months, meaning construction may begin in the second half of next year, and electricity generation in the second half of 2020,” Acciona Energy Australia Managing Director Brett Wickham said.

We’ve written about solar power in Gladstone before and mentioned this project (where it was proposed as a 450MW renewable hub), so it’s great to see this project finally off the ground and gaining some traction. 

No word on whether Acciona will be thinking about adding energy storage to this solar farm, but with the price sinking rapidly we’ll see how their plans change after they have a go at the DA process and start working on construction! 

 

DC Power Co attracts 15,000 Investors.

Australian based ‘solar retailer’ DC Power Co has attracted 15,000 investors, reached and exceeded its minimum crowdfunding target of $1.75m so it’s now able to start trading and offering solar-power generated electricity to customers. The company is built “for solar system owners, by solar owners” and promises to offer an eco-friendly alternative to traditional retailers. 

About the DC Power Co. 

DC Power Co
DC Power Co ‘Why you should invest’ (source: dcpowerco.com.au)

Having received initial funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program, they’re now looking to raise another round of money to get the company going. Co-founder Nic Frances Gilley discussed with ARENA the way DC Power Co’s business model is designed around solar transparency:

“Until now, solar users have had to make do with whatever their energy company has offered them, with very little transparency about how much they are saving or could be saving, because their business model relies on customers consuming more energy,” Mr Frances Gilley says.

“Because we don’t have to sell them energy to make money, we can help them reduce their energy costs and use their system better,” he says. “We are about people making the most from their solar panels.”

Back in February in an interview Mr Frances Gilley said DC Power Co. were hoping to raise $4.75m. It doesn’t look like they’re going to make that much but the campaign has reached $2.15m so far.  There is still enough money to get the company going and there are still two days left in their crowdfunding campaign at OnMarket. 

Shouldn’t be too long until we see the next steps from these guys – where they’ll be offering a free solar performance check to ensure your rooftop solar panels are working correctly. DC Power Co. research shows that 57% of solar users (“tens of thousands of households”) don’t know what their solar system is even doing (or if it’s even on at all!). 

If you want to invest in their crowdfunding (you have until midnight on Sunday the 15th of April) or learn more about the business model please click here to visit the DC Power Co. website. Otherwise we have embedded a video below which will explain more about the company and what their goals are. It’ll be interesting to see how how this solar IPO goes. 

Cannington Mine Solar System Installation

Cannington, in North West Queensland, hosts the Cannington mine on an old sheep and cattle station – and it’s going to get a 3MW solar farm! The Cannington Mine solar system has been ordered by South32 and will be built later this year. 

Cannington Mine Solar Farm

Cannington Mine solar farm
Cannington Mine solar farm (source: south32.net)

The Cannington mine is the world’s largest producer of silver and lead. The underground mine was opened in 1997 and is owned by South32, a mining and metals company with its HQ in Perth. The deposit was discovered by BHP Minerals (South32 was spun out of BHP Billiton in 2015) in 1990 and the mine was commissioned in 1997, with the cost of opening around US$450m. 

According to the North West Star, the solar photovoltaic (PV) farm will be installed across six hectares. It’ll generate electricity to supply the accommodation village of the mine and also its airport. Any leftover electricity will prop up the mining and processing operations of the Cannington mine. 

Energy Developments Pty Limited and SunSHIFT has won the tender to deliver the solar PV farm to Cannington – the installation of which is expected to result in 4000-6000 tonnes of greenhouse gases not being released into the atmosphere. Energy Developments currently own and operate over 980MW (almost there!) of energy generators – they focus on landfill gas (LFG) power generation and abatement, waste coal mine gas (WCMG) power generation and abatement, solar, wind, remote energy, and liquefied natural gas. 

Chief Sustainability Officer at South32 Rowena Smith said that she and everyone involved in the Cannington Mine solar farm were excited about the constructions:

“It’s an exciting time in the industry when renewable energy technology and innovation is applied to deliver power to our world-class remote mining operations.” Ms. Smith said. 

 Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources, which is really benefiting from the plummeting cost of installing solar power. It’ll be interesting to see how much money South32 are able to save by installing the Cannington Mine solar farm. We’ll keep you posted! 

Solar Scams – a guide how to avoid them!

With the rapid proliferation of solar in Australia has come many solar companies. How do you find a good solar installer? The vast majority of them try to do the right thing but there are some solar scams out there you need to be aware of. Here’s a guide to make sure you don’t get ripped off on your solar power installation!

Solar scams

The first thing to do if you’re interested in installing a solar system is check whether the company is accredited. 

The industry body for the designer, installer, and the actual products is the Clean Energy Council. Make sure your system is designed by a Clean Energy Council accredited designer. Double check that your installer is also CEC accredited. If you’re not sure, the CEC have a list of Approved Solar Retailers you can choose from. 

Solar Scams - Choose a CEC Accredited Installer
Solar Scams – Choose a CEC Accredited Installer (source: CEC)

Double check that your panels and the inverter are accredited and meet Australian standards. If they aren’t CEC accredited, you won’t get your rebates aka Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) – this rebate is generally around $2,000 for a 3kW system. Click here to read more about STCs from the Clean Energy Regulator or click here if you want to use their online STC calculator. 

How do I pick the right solar company to avoid solar scams?

Ask if the person designing your system is qualified to do so. According to Choice.com.au, this will shrink your retailer list by 90% and weed out all the designers who will do a poor quality job and leave you with an under-performing solar system. 

Avoid anyone with pushy sales tactics and avoid anyone that uses door-to-door sales as a sales technique. If they’re using language like ‘never pay a power bill again’ or trying to hurry you along by saying that the government rebates are about to end, avoid them again. 

For price, make sure you get 4 quotes at minimum. Watch out for dodgy T&Cs that allow suppliers to swap out for ‘equivalent’ models, upselling, surcharges, and so on. Don’t be afraid to stop a salesman from steamrolling over you. This is a big financial decision and you should do your due diligence before committing. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have a page about consumer rights for solar power that you should also check out (especially if you have a problem).

What information do I need on the quote?

  • A proper, printed out quotation showing the company’s name, address, and ABN.
  • A timetable of operation.
  • Model numbers, brands, and quantity for the panels, inverter, and battery (if applicable). 
  • An estimate of the system’s performance.
  • Product and installation warranty for the inverter.
  • Installation warranty, product warranty and performance warranty for the panels.
  • Any additional funds that may be payable. 
  • STCs should be included in the quote. This is a big one! Be wary because if you’re not careful some dodgy companies can just claim them without mentioning it to you.

If Saving With Solar can give you a hand to help pick the right solar company, please feel free to get in contact with us and we’d be happy to help. 

UNSW launches SunSPoT – Solar Potential Tool

UNSW have, in conjunction with the Australian Photovoltaic Institute, Solar Analytics and Enosi, launched a solar potential tool, SunSPoT, which uses solar mapping to figure out how much electricity houses or businesses could generate if they installed solar panels on their roof.

SunSPoT – Solar Potential Tool

Solar Potential Tool Sunspot
Renate Egan, Paul Fletcher and Mark Hoffman at the launch of the SunSPoT solar Potential Tool (source: Robert Largent via newsroom.unsw.edu.au)

The SunSPoT tool was developed by the APVI and UNSW along with Solar Analytics and Enosi Pty Ltd. The software was developed as part of the Energy Data for Smart Decision Making project, which was in turn funded by the Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs program.

Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, Paul Fletcher launched the software on the 6th of April, according to the UNSW newsroom. Fletcher was quoted as discussing the benefits of SunSPoT:

“The Energy Data for Smart Decision Making project will combine mapping with data on solar exposure, energy generation and consumption from precincts across Australia into an open modelling platform.

“Being developed under the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, the platform will benefit end users by allowing them to calculate their solar power potential and make informed decisions on investment in solar power generation.”

“This project is an example of how the program encourages collaboration between local governments, research organisations and the private sector to deliver a solution that can be applied locally and shared around the country.” he said.

UNSW Associate Professor and Chair of the Australian Photovoltaics Institute, Renate Egan, discussed how the tool can be used as a pre-purchase/sale analysis, saying:

“SunSPoT uses geographical information systems data to estimate the technical potential of rooftop solar, accounting for the tilt of roof surfaces and shading at the site.  As solar PV continues to be deployed at record rates on Australian rooftops, such analysis can help councils and the electricity industry plan for the solar future.”

If you’re interested in giving the  APVI Solar Potential Tool (SunSPoT) a crack then please click here to launch it. Note that this is no substitute for a proper site visit from a solar professional but will give you a decent ballpark figure, in most cases (well, according to our testing, anyway!)

If you’d like more information on the data and methodology used to power SunSPoT then please click here

Global investment in solar power in 2017

The United Nations are reporting that global investment in solar power in 2017 was substantially higher than any other energy source, with a massive 45% of the investment coming from China. Let’s investigate this a little deeper and see what some industry professionals have to say.  

Investment in Solar Power

In a record-breaking year, the 98GW of new solar capacity is higher than any other tech, including other renewables like wind or water turbines, nuclear or fossil fuels. There’s 6GW of this going to Australia – Iain MacGill from UNSW discussed the massive increase in Australian domestic solar via the ABC:

“We have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin,” Dr MacGill said.

“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market.”

Professor Ulf Moslener from the Frankfurt School UNAP Centre discussed China’s huge $126 billion investment in solar power, where air pollution currently kills around a million people per year:

“The costs are still falling which makes the dominance in investment terms in China even more thrilling,” he said.

The director of ANU’s Energy Change Institute, Ken Baldwin, said there’s still plenty of room to grow and that the next ‘decade or two’ will see the closing of all Australian coal-fired plants: 

“What will be interesting to see is whether this can be maintained,” Professor Baldwin said.

“There was 6 gigawatts of solar, both residential and commercial installed in [Australia] in 2017.