Rooftop solar subsidies – ACCC calls for axe.

Rooftop solar subsidies should be completely removed and the solar feed-in tariffs should be managed at a state rather than a federal level, according to recommendations from the competition watchdog.

Rooftop solar subsidies in Australia

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s electricity affordability report, which was released this week, highlights the cost of our National Energy Market, which include the large-scale renewable energy target, the small-scale renewable energy scheme and solar feed-in tariffs.

The ACCC said the cost of the LRET are expected to fall in the years after 2020, and were happy to leave the scheme to wind up on its 2030 end date. They said that the SRES, however, cost $130 million in 2016-17, and should be wound down and abolished by 2021, almost ten years ahead of schedule, to reduce costs for all consumers – not just those with solar installed.

The report, according to the Australian, found that households with solar panels installed earn $538 per year via feed-in tariffs, which doesn’t count the fact that they pay less for electricity as well:

“Meanwhile, non-solar households and businesses have faced the burden of the cost of premium solar feed-in tariff schemes and the SRES,” the ACCC said.

“While premium solar schemes are closed to new consumers, the costs of these schemes are ­enduring.”

With the New South Wales solar feed-in tariff to drop by 44% this financial year, the glory days of feed-in tariffs could be behind us. But at what point do we stop to count the social cost (i.e. the environmental displacement)? 

Rooftop solar subsidies in Australia - Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
Rooftop solar subsidies in Australia – Opposition Leader Bill Shorten (source: Wikipedia)

The 398 page report has ‘produced vital ammunition to reform energy’, has been ‘hijacked by zealots’ and doesn’t justify the building of new coal-fired power stations, depending on who you ask. About an hour ago Bill Shorten admitted he hasn’t read the ACCC report yet so it’ll be interesting to see what his thoughts are. Certainly just early days for this conversation, but it’s good to see Australia talking about our energy future and trying to come up with a plan. Watch this space! 

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Enova’s Community Solar Garden Signups

We wrote last year about the Byron Bay based community solar company Enova who became a generator and a reseller of renewable energy. They’re now launching a community solar garden which is an amazing idea for people who aren’t able to reduce their electricity bill by installing solar power. Let’s learn more about the Enova and their plan to revolutionise solar for people in apartments, renters, and many more…

Enova and the Community Solar Garden

Enova Solar Garden
Enova Solar Garden (source: Enova.com.au)

The official Enova website is currently accepting applications from both ‘hosts’ and ‘members’ – that is to say that if you have plenty of free space on your rooftop you could sign up as a host, or if you’re a renter or live in an apartment or can’t get solar for any other reason becoming a member is a great idea. According to the website, “Enova is set to build a 99kW solar system and “sell” the panels to customers who can’t have solar at home”

For the most part it won’t be a ‘solar garden’ per se – most of the power looks like it’ll be generated from rooftop solar. 

According to Echo Net Daily, a Byron Bay based newspaper, a visit from Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler met with a great response for the Enova team. Mr Butler visited Enova HQ last Tuesday (June 12) and had some positive things to say about the plan:

Mr Butler said he was ‘excited to support innovative projects like Enova’s Solar gardens’.

The gardens will  ‘make an important contribution towards reducing carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy future, in addition to allowing access to the benefits of solar for renters.’ Mr Butler added. 

With regards to the concept of a ‘solar garden’, the more literal of us are in luck. A feasibility study in Eastern Australia is currently doing research into solar gardens for renters and how viable the concept is. According to EnergyMatters, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has given $240,000 to the $555,00 project – which will be undertaken by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney.

We’ll be sure to keep you posted on how Enova’s community solar garden goes and also keep an eye on the feasibility study into the ‘real’ solar gardens. Some more great news for community solar!

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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. 

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