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.

Read More Solar News:

Shell buys Sonnen | Cheaper Solar Batteries?

Shell buys sonnen: German solar battery company Sonnen has been bought out by global giant Shell for an undisclosed sum. The purchase is still subject to regulatory approval but let’s take a look at what we can expect from this situation.

Shell buys Sonnen

sonnenProtect aka Sonnen Protect 1300/2500 (source: sonnen)
Shell Buys sonnen – sonnenProtect 1300/2500 (source: sonnen.com)

Mark Gainsborough, executive vice-president of Shell New Energies, discussed the purchase: “Sonnen is one of the global leaders in smart, distributed energy storage systems,” he said.

“Full ownership of Sonnen will allow us to offer more choice to customers seeking reliable, affordable and cleaner energy.”

Shell New Energies was founded in 2016 to ‘advance the company’s interests in electricity, as well as biofuel and hydrogen’.

According to the ABC, sonnen’s new location in Adelaide will reap benefits: the local workforce is expected to expand by 430 jobs this year. This is part of sonnen’s plan to build 50,000 battery systems over the next five years.

sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann said the investment will help the company scale faster and will also have a greater good in terms of energy tech:

“Shell will help drive the growth of Sonnen to a new level and help speed up the transformation of the energy system,” he said.

Ars Technica are reporting that the company have over 40,000 batteries installed worldwide – in Germany, the US, Australia, and more. 

Shell last week confirmed they will extend New Energies into the Australian domestic market – which includes the construction of a 120MW solar project in Queensland – so this is a great step forward for him. 

More News about sonnen in Australia

sonnen have quite a lot of history providing solar power in Australia – it remains to be seen what the Shell takeover will mean for the area, but in the meantime here are some other news articles about sonnen in Australia:

 

Read More Solar News:

Approved Solar Retailer | Clean Energy Council Program

Approved Solar Retailer – the Clean Energy Council’s program is over five years old now – the voluntary scheme authorised by the ACCC in 2013 has had its ups and downs. Is it worth it? Let’s take a look. 

Approved Solar Retailer | Clean Energy Council Program

The Approved Solar Retail program has grown to over 200 companies in January 2019, according to EcoGeneration. A hundred of these have been added since September 2018, which makes you wonder what the program was like for the previous five years (there are around 4,000 solar companies Australia wide). Is it worth joining the CEC or are they a toothless tiger (or a cash cow)? How does the CEC deal with complaints about members? Does this represent a glorified rubber stamp and is self-regulation something we can trust industries to work on? That’s something worth discussing with other solar owners who have had experience with the program.

Here’s their code of conduct: 

“This non-prescribed voluntary code of conduct (the Code) aims to promote best practice measures and activities for retail businesses selling solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. This Code is for retail businesses that want to demonstrate the commitment they have to promoting responsible activity and development in the renewable energy sector across Australia. This Code is not intended to replace existing consumer, energy or environmental planning legislation, policy or regulations at local, state or federal government levels, but to bring about increased accountability within the PV retail industry”

The program’s recent growth appears to be directly tied to schemes like the South Australian Government’s Home Battery Scheme and the Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Package – it appears that the ACCC isn’t ‘enough’ to regulate the industry. 

One important thing to note – being an Approved Solar Retailer is different to being a Clean Energy Council member. You can find a list of members on the Clean Energy Council members page.

If you’re having problems with an accredited solar company please fill out a solar accreditation dispute form

If you’d like to check whether an installer is accredited with the Clean Energy Council please click here.

If you’re a solar company hoping to get accredited please click here to learn more about the process and what you can expect. Membership is on a sliding scale and starts from $600 p.a. depending on the size of your company.

Read More Solar News:

Recycling Solar Panels | What to do with old solar panels.

Recycling solar panels is a topic which will be a lot more prevalent as the initial ‘wave’ panels begin to reach their end of life. Let’s take a look at what the plans are for trying to minimise the environmental impact and maximise the value  of a used solar panel.

Recycling Solar Panels | Will there be a waste crisis for old panels?

Australia has one of the highest PV solar uptakes in the world. There are plenty of us who have had solar installed for a long time. So long, in fact, that people are talking about end of life strategies to dispose of/ repurpose solar panels, so that they don’t cause a problem for the environment. 

Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel has been crusading for the implementation of such strategies for solar panels, calling it a ‘systemic problem’:

“We’ve had a solar panel industry for years which is an important environmental initiative, and it should have been incumbent on government to act in concert with the growth of the industry so we have an environmentally responsible end-of-life strategy,” he said in a quote to the Sydney Morning Herald.

We’ve written previously about solar panel recycling and, although it’s good to see things like the ELSi project in Germany, there’s still a ways to go before we figure out the best way forward to recycle solar waste.

Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels
Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels (source: reclaimpv.com)

According to the director of Reclaim PV (the only dedicated photovoltaic recycler in Australia), Clive Fleming, they company recycles 90 per cent of materials in a panel. The company has been lobbying for state bans on landfill disposal of solar panels. 

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel also had a quote in the SMH about how a proper plan for recycling PV cells could have a positive effect on the economy:

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

We expect over the coming year or two we’ll hear a lot more about this, with Sustainability Victoria working on a ‘national approach to photovoltaic product stewardship’, with their recommendations presented to the environment ministers around the middle of this year. 

Victoria have already announced they’ll ban electronic waste in landfill from July 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how the other states follow suit.
 

Read More Solar News:

Mannum Solar Farm Greenlit | Murraylands Solar

The 5MW Mannum Solar Farm in the Murraylands will be built by Tetris Energy, and has been approved by the local government. 

Mannum Solar Farm

The Mannum Solar Farm will be 5MW in size, generated by 17,500 solar panels. It will also include a security fence and vegetation screen to ensure neighbouring property owners aren’t disturbed (sometimes we hear about glint and glare when there is solar farm opposition). The farm will be across the road from the Rivapak onion packaging facility. 

An article in the Murray Valley Standard noted that over 8000 households in the Murraylands area have solar panels installed on the roof of their properties – so it’s an amazing area which shows that South Australian solar is continuing to grow domestically and commercially.

Tetris Energy, based in Melbourne, will develop the site. They have already successfully developed 10 solar and wind power plants across Australia so they have a good pedigree – and they have also already secured a purchaser of all 5MW of the power (not named) – but this is obviously a fantastic boost for the farm and will ensure it gets built quickly. The proposal had been approved last April, but had the number of solar panels slightly reduced (in the November application) so they don’t overshadow each other. 

Murraylands Solar Farms

There are already three other solar farms in the Murraylands area:

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton discussed solar uptake in the Murraylands in the Murray Valley Standard:

“Homes with rooftop solar installed are saving an average of about $540 per year on their electricity bills,” he said.

“Solar is a clear way for consumers to take control of their power consumption and cut costs, and it’s growing quickly by word of mouth.” Mr. Thornton continued. 

Kane Thornton - Clean Energy Council - Mannum Solar Farm
Kane Thornton – Clean Energy Council – Mannum Solar Farm (source: LinkedIn)

Read More Solar News: