SRES – Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity?

Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity? Yesterday The Australian newspaper published an article titled ‘Households’ $2bn solar hit’ which hypothesises that every Australian household will have to stump up $195 to help subsidise the subsidies. Is this rubbish? What impact does the SRES really have on electricity prices? Let’s read on…

SRES – Will solar rebates increase the cost of electricity?

Ketan Joshi via Renew Economy wrote a great article titled “How a ridiculous falsehood about solar power self-replicated in media”. You can read it on Ketan’s blog (ketanjoshi85) by clicking here. The “$2b solar hit” is a sum which has been basically made up through some extremely shoddy extrapolations.

The article in the Australian was run with by a number of Australia’s most trusted media outlets – News.com.au, 7 News, Sky News, the Today Show, and the consistently atrocious Daily Mail – who titled their article about the rebates thusly: 

“Climate change farce: How every Australian household contributes $200 a year to those lucky enough to be able to afford to put solar panels on their roof”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor decided to blame the big electricity retailers:

‘The big cost is the profits being taken by the big energy companies in the wholesale market, without innovation or new products, and it is time for them to deliver a fairer deal for their customers,’ he said.

‘According to the Australian Energy Market Commission, the small-scale technology certificate cost is less than three per cent of the bill, whereas 46 per cent is going to the big generator retailers.’

The Renew Economy article notes that, for FY18 and FY19 respectively, Australians paid/will pay $19 / $32 towards the scheme. This is a stark contrast to the $134 / $195 which was reported. It appears that the figures are so badly skewed for a number of different reasons including the assumption that 100% of electricity costs are passed on from businesses to households. They also haven’t factored in the Small-scale Technology Percentage, which will be set by the Energy Minister in March – and the effect this will have on STCs is quite marked. Installing solar power systems becomes cheaper if the STCs are higher, so you can see how this would have an impact which could be measured erroneously. It’ll be interesting to see how this impacts on solar grants moving forwards. 

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (aka SRES) is scheduled to run until 2030. If you’d like to read more about it please visit the Clean Energy Regulator’s website – where they have plenty of information about the scheme. 

We’d also recommend Ketan’s article for a more in depth exploration of the issue.

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Power Ledger Community Advocate Issue – Spruiking

‘Advocates’ for the Australian blockchain-based electricity trading company Power Ledger have been accused of spruiking the service through the ‘Power Ledger Community Advocate’ program.

Power Ledger Community Advocate ‘Spruiking’

According to an article in the Australian Financial Review, the ‘community advocates’ acted like ‘bounty hunters’ to spread the word of Power Ledger – with some of them making false or overemphasised claims. Some of the investors (who would be rewarded with free POWR tokens as a reward for spreading the good word) were saying things like Elon Musk was involved, and that the project will ‘revolutionise the retain electricity industry’.  Whilst this isn’t PL per se doing the spruiking, their community advocates are a measure of their brand and it’s important that they check what some of them are doing online:

“Some of our bounty group were professional bounty hunters chasing tokens because it’s what they do,” Power Ledger said in a blog post quoted on Medium.

“Some were bots reporting an astounding 5000 likes of our social media output in a single 24-hour period.”

Jemma Green Power Ledger Community Advocate
Jemma Green, CEO Power Ledger Community Advocate Furore (source: AFR.com via Power Ledger)

CEO Dr. Jemma Green discussed the energy trading platform’s 2018 progress in a podcast episode with Laura Shin:

“This year was really about us deploying our products in multiple locations around the world so we could see where was the biggest opportunity for us to scale and commercialise our technology,” Dr Green said.

Power Ledger’s price has been in decline since its $1.79 USD peak back in last December. At time of publishing, the POWR share price was $0.085102 USD as per the CoinMarketCap website. This is a 90% drop in value over the past 12 months. Fewer than 100 building are using the  trading system – we still have our fingers crossed for what is undoubtedly game-changing technology. 

Please note: Saving With Solar are in no way affiliated with Power Ledger and do not have any ‘community advocate’ relationship. 

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Goonumbla solar farm – deal with Snowy Hydro

The Goonumbla Solar Farm will supply energy to Snowy Hydro under a deal announced today. 

Goonumbla Solar Farm

FRV (Fotowatio Renewable Ventures), a large-scale solar developer based in Spain, already has five solar projects in Australia and will now start work on the Goonumbla Solar Farm. 

The 68MW solar farm will commence construction next April, and it’s expected that the project will be fully up and running by June 2020. It’ll produce around 195,000MWh, according to RenewEconomy

The wind and solar energy will be used to support Snowy’s pumped hydro storage generators who were previously pulling electricity from the grid to pump the water (to the tune of 2800 MWh, according to the Sydney Morning Herald).

“This agreement will put significant pressure on wholesale electricity prices which will lead to downward pressure on retail – household – energy prices,” Snowy Hydro chief executive Paul Broad said.

CEO of FRV, Daniel Sangi-Vela, discussed the project with the media:

“With this agreement we want to continue leading the production of renewable energy in Australia, a country that is showing a great commitment to boost renewable energy projects,” Mr. Sangi-Vela said.

“The Goonumbla Solar Farm will enable us to develop our expansion plans in the country, while contributing to a more sustainable future in Australia” he continued.

This is an exciting development for FRV, who have a proven track record in the space and are also responsible for the Lilyvale Solar Farm, Clare Solar Farm, Moree Solar Farm, Royalla Solar Farm, and the Winton Solar Farm

Snowy Hydro’s Electricity Tender

Goonumbla Solar Farm and Snowy Hydro
Goonumbla Solar Farm and Snowy Hydro (source: snowyhydro.com.au)

According to Snowy Hydro, their tender involved over 17,000MW of projects, with four solar farms and four wind farms winning contracts to supply Snowy Hydro Limited – an electricity generation and retailing company who own, manage and maintain the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme located in the Kosciuszko National Park.

Solar Farms:

  1. Goonumbla Solar Farm (FRV)
  2. Metz Solar Farm (Clenergy)
  3. Unnamed Total Eren Farm
  4. Unnamed Lightsource BP Farm.

Wind Farms:

  1. Dundonnel wind farm (Tilt)
  2. Murra Warra wind farm (Macquarie and RES Group)
  3. Unnamed CWP Renewables Wind Farm
  4. Unknown!

According to Snowy Hydro, these eight projects total 888MW and will generate around 2.8 terawatt hours of energy annually. If you’re interested, you can read more on the official website by clicking here

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AGL Solar – Company quits rooftop solar business.

AGL solar – the company announced on Tuesday that they will record a $47m loss from their residential rooftop solar installation business. 

AGL solar installation business to shut down.

AGL Solar Installations
AGL Solar Installations (source: aglsolar.com.au)

AGL bought the Rezeko brand around seven years ago and used its systems to install “proprietary residential solar”. They’ve now put out a press release advising that they will write down the company’s residential solar arm. 

With the imminent (2022) closure of their Liddell coal generator, it makes sense that the company are trying to diversify with regards to methods of energy generation. It’s a shame that this hasn’t worked out, and we’ll be interested to see how it affects AGL’s vision of renewable energy moving forwards. 

“We decided to withdraw from the direct installation of residential solar hardware after completing a comprehensive review of the business,” AGL Chief Customer Officer Melissa Reynolds was quoted as saying in an email to Renew Economy

“The review determined that the interests of our customers would be better served by moving to a different business model. Under this model we forward enquiries for residential solar hardware installation to our third-party partners which are experts in the installation of PV solar.

“AGL will continue to provide advice to customers on solar energy and energy plans.”

AGL was one of the country’s top 10 residential solar installers, and in the top five of commercial solar installers. It remains to be seen what the ramifications of this writedown are, but we’ll keep you updated with how things are going. What we do know is that their commercial solar installation arm will remain unchanged as it’s presumably much more profitable than the ‘race to the bottom’ we’re seeing domestic solar installers engaged in.

The company says its plans for virtual power plants in Adelaide and elsewhere will not be affected. 

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National Energy Guarantee approved by Coalition party room

The NEG (National Energy Guarantee) has been passed by the Coalition party room after a strenuous morning of debate – let’s take a look at what happens next. 

Next Steps For National Energy Guarantee

NEG - National Energy Guarantee
NEG – National Energy Guarantee (source: ABC News: Matt Roberts)

We wrote earlier this week about the NEG approval and how Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has a very hard road ahead if he’s to push this policy through parliament:

“The Labor Party has to decide whether they want to support cheaper and more reliability electricity,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We have got to bring an end to the years of ideology and idiocy which have been a curse on energy policy for too long and that is why industry – whether you’re talking about big industrial consumers or small business, consumer groups  – are calling on government, governments, and oppositions to get behind this policy.”

The four issues which we discussed earlier this week are still in a state of flux:

  1. The emission reduction targets can only ever increase and must not decrease.
  2. Targets need to be set in regulation (Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has already rejected it).
  3. Emission reduction targets must be set every three years, three years in advance.
  4. Creation of a registry which is transparent and accessible by regulators and governments.

The opposition (federal Labor) are also in favour of the NEG but they want the 2030 emissions reduction target increased from 26% to 45%:

“We are still very keen on trying to find a bipartisan way through the deep energy crisis that has emerged under this Prime Minister,” shadow energy and climate change minister Mark Butler said.

“We will continue to fight for a much more ambitious investment setting for this sector so you do see new renewable energy jobs and investment and you do see downward pressure on power prices.”

According to former PM Tony Abbot, the NEG still needs a lot of work as most of its support is currently ‘conditional’ and at least a dozen members of the Coalition had expressed concern about the NEG. Abbot said that the provided explanations of how the NEG “might theoretically get prices down” sounded “like merchant bankers’ gobbledegook”:

‘We’ve got to be loyal to our electorates and to party members too and not show the unity of lemmings.’,” Mr Abbott continued.

The Australian Financial Review has the numbers at 26 MPs supporting the policy and around 10 yet to be convinced. 

For the next steps, the state ministers will be asked to support a month long public consultation on laws which will affect their constituents. The state legislation should then be finalised by the end of October and we’ll see what sort of shape (if any) the NEG is at that point. Federal legislation tied to the NEG will be introduced within the next 10 days. 

 

 

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