Ikea Solar Panels in Australia – Cost, Pricing, Brands.

According to new IKEA Australia boss Jan Gardberg, the Swedish furniture company will sell solar panels ‘at cost’ in Australia as part of a strategy to increase their market share across the country. We reported on IKEA solar panels in the UK last August and reached out about a timeline for Australia, but didn’t get a response back. But now we know!

Ikea Solar Panels in Australia

“We have already introduced (solar panels) into the UK market and in Poland and something similar in Japan, and I and the team would like to find a way to introduce that to the Australian market,” Jan Gardberg, the new boss of IKEA Australia, told Channel 9. 

“It would actually be cost-neutral because we believe this to be another positive way that we, as a big company, can contribute for the sustainable life at home for the many people in Australia”he continued – which sounds like fantastic news for consumers given solar panel technology is increasing so rapidly and energy storage becoming so commonplace the price is becoming a lot more reasonable.

But what are the ramifications for the smaller solar companies when they’re already in a race to the bottom in terms of discounting? If a company with almost bottomless pockets is selling solar as a loss-leading strategy there’s going to be some interesting days ahead. Keeping in mind the customers will still need to pay for inverters and installation there’s still money to be made for those shrewd enough to piggyback on IKEA’s plan – but along with shrinking STCs it’s definitely tough times for those in the retail solar game, where profit margins are already razor thin. 

Natalie Collard from the Clean Energy Council was positive about the Ikea solar panels:

“We expect IKEA will respond quickly to any concerns about installation quality or performance from the systems that are being sold in-store. IKEA is continuing the trend of large mainstream businesses adopting renewable energy, and this will only strengthen in the years ahead.”

“The Clean Energy Council’s Approved Solar Retailers have all committed to excellence in customer service, a minimum five-year whole-of-system warranty and ethical marketing practices. A list of these businesses can be found at www.approvedsolarretailer.com.au.”

Ikea Solar Panel Price

Ikea Solar Panels
Ikea Solar Panels (source: noco2.com.au)

RenewEconomy have reported that the UK IKEA solar panel offerings are from Solarcentury, and they currently have three separate offerings for solar panels:

  1. 3kW solar system for ~$7,800 AUD
  2. Customisable solar system (from 3kW) starting at around ~$8,700 AUD
  3. Customisable solar system with ‘seamless roof integration’ (from 3kW), starting at around $10,900 AUD

Since August 2017 IKEA also sell battery storage to the UK market – with their batteries coming from SonnenBatterie and LG Chem, both well respected and very highly performing brands. 

They also offer a 3,5, or 15 year loan to ‘spread the cost of solar’ if you’re so inclined. 

No news on how much these panels will cost in Australia or if they’ll be the same as in the UK, but as soon as we have any information we’ll update this article! 

Inkjet Printed Solar Cells using Cyanobacteria

Inkjet printed solar cells could become a reality after researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and Central Saint Martins used an inkjet printer to create tiny bio solar panels using cyanobacteria.

Inkjet Printed Solar Cells

As solar panel technology gets better and better, scientists have figured out a way to create a living ink which they then print on paper and use as bio-solar panels. Cyanobacteria, tiny creatures which use photosynthesis to turn solar light into energy (nature’s solar panels!) managed to survive a process where they’re printed onto electrically conductive carbon nanotubes, according to Futurism.com

Inkjet Printed Solar Cells
Inkjet Printed Solar Cells using Cyanobacteria (source: imperial.ac.uk)

Dr Marin Sawa from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Imperial College of London noted that although the inkjet printed solar cells may not be able to generate enough power to run an air conditioner, for example, there are myriad ways their low power production could improve quality of life:

“Imagine a paper-based, disposable environmental sensor disguised as wallpaper, which could monitor air quality in the home. When it has done its job it could be removed and left to biodegrade in the garden without any impact on the environment” Dr. Sawa told the Imperial College website

This new type of renewable energy technology is called microbial biophotoltaics (BPV) and is being worked on by scientists across the globe.

Other things able to be powered by a panel approximately the size of an iPad could power a small LED light bulb or a digital clock. The low power output means they’re suitable for things that require small amounts of energy, such as biosensors or environmental sensors. Dr Andrea Fantuzzi noted that the BPV solution is very cost effective and could have some great implementations for healthcare:

“Paper-based BPVs integrated with printed electronics and biosensor technology could usher in an age of disposable paper-based sensors that monitor health indicators such as blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes. Once a measurement is taken, the device could be easily disposed of with low environmental impact”

One of the best things about this is that these panels are completely biodegradable – which solves a long running problem of what to do with solar panels / storage after they’re past their ‘use-by date’. Very exciting tech (similar in a way to smart solar windows research) to ring in the new year which we’ll be sure to follow closely! 

Solar Roads in China almost ready for testing

Solar Roads in China are being trialled, according to Electrek. The roadways have solar panels underneath them that may have myriad benefits such as wireless charging, digitally assisting driverless cars, powering streetlights, signs, charging stations, and so on. Once a laughable idea due to the cost, massive improvements in technology mean that we are edging closer towards having true ‘solar highways’ at some point in the near future. 

Solar Roads In China

Solar Roads in China
Solar Roads in China (source: en.people.cn)

The Jinan City Expressway, the stretch of solar roadway currently being constructed, is a 1.2 mile (a little under 2km) stretch of road which has transparent concrete being laid over a layer of solar panels. The construction is already complete and it’s currently waiting to be connected to the grid – they expect this to be completed by the end of the year. It’s actually the second solar roadway in China – with the first being completed in Jinan by the Quilu Transporation Development Group, which has 790 square yards of solar panels and is currently performing well. 

Technical Details

The solar highway has been designed with three discrete layers – on top a transparent concrete which is, for all intents and purposes, the same as regular bitumen/asphalt. In the middle are the specially-designed ‘weight bearing’ solar panels, and below them another layer to separate the panels from the damp earth below. According to Elektrek even medium sized trucks will be able to drive on the solar highway. 

Although the project’s technology is markedly different, it is in some ways similar to the Dutch SONOB highway installation earlier this year – where they use Infrastructure Integrated Photovoltaics (IIPV) (Also known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)) in order to help power sound barriers, lights and more.

Given that Jinan is one of the most polluted cities in China, it’s great to see them working on a second solar road and hopefully this is just the beginning. 

LG MONO X plus and NeON 2 Warranty Increased.

LG’s flagship NeON 2 and LG Mono X Plus solar panels are receiving an extended warranty (15 years) for those who install them from January 1, 2018.  This is five years longer than the Australian industry standard, but not as long as the 25-year product warranty and 87% output warranty LG’s NeON R panels currently offer.

“From design and production to delivery, we follow stringent protocols to ensure the integrity of our solar panels,” said Russ Prendergast, Senior Marketing Manager Solar at LG. “This increase in warranty reflects our confidence that our products can go the distance.”

“We’re proud of our achievements in solar, and our consistent presence in the Intersolar Awards winners list confirms the industry feels the same. But we wanted to give our customers something that benefits them directly,” said Prendergast in a press release quoted by RenewEconomy, “With close to 70 per cent sales growth in the past year, our customers appear to recognise the quality our solar panels deliver.”

More good news for those looking to invest in solar but are concerned about the long term results! 

LG Mono X Plus

LG Mono X Plus Warranty Australia
LG Mono X Plus Warranty Australia (source: lgenergy.com.au)

The fifth generation LG Mono X Plus have long warranties, high efficiency, and as of next year boasts an impressive 25-year warranty.

They come in three different models:

  • Residential 60 Cell 300W – LG300S1C – ‘Entry Model’ – for those that want a great product without the ‘bells and whistles’ of the LG NeON range. (Brochure Here)
  • Residential 60 Cell 295W – LG295S1C-A5 – Fifth generation LG Mono X ® Plus – 25 Year performance warranty. (Brochure Here)
  • Commercial 72 Cell 360W – LG360S2W – Commercial grade, cost-effective module with great performance. (Brochure Here)

Read more about the LG Mono X Plus solar panel in Australia on the LG website.

LG NeON 2

We’ve written an article about the NeON 2 Solar Panel (LG330N1C) which was released earlier this year. The 330W panel is LG’s flagship solar panel and comes highly recommended by all who have tried it!

LG currently have 34 different solar panels for sale so there’s something for everyone – click here to have a look at what they offer and be sure to comment below or email us if you have any questions about a specific panel – we’d be happy to help! 

If you’re interested in the production process i.e. how solar panels are made, LG have produced a video called ‘LG Solar Panel Production Line Tour’ you can view below:

JA Solar Cells – 60-cell modules exceed 325MW

China-based JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd., announced that their 60-cell PV modules (assembled by moni-Si PERC cells) have exceeded 325W (326.67W, certified by TÜV SÜD), which is a new world record for that type of solar panel. 

“Setting a new world record of over 325W output power from a 60-cell mono-Si PV module is remarkable achievement enabled by PERC technology,” said Dr. Wei Shan, Chief Technology Officer of JA Solar.

PERC Solar Cells

JA Solar Cells - 60 Cell PERC 325MW
JA Solar Cells – 60 Cell PERC 325MW (source: au.jasolar.com)

The average power output of JA’s 60 cell PV modules using moni-Si PERC is currently 300W, so it’s great to see them advance the technology further – they’ve been working with PERC cells for a long time and are one of the market leaders in research and manufacture of these solar modules. 

JA Solar filed an invention application in 2010 for its industrial PERC cell structure and method of production, according to RenewEconomy. In 2013 they were the first company to break 20% sunlight-energy conversion efficiency by using a screen-printing metallization process – starting commercial production of the modules in 2014

PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell or Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact) technology is able to increase efficiency by allowing electrons to flow more freely.It also makes the back of solar cells more reflective, increasing efficiency again.

This is another small but significant step forward for solar panel technology, which is starting to look for alternatives to the conventional silicon cell, such as perovskite

About JA Solar 

JA Solar panels are a popular ‘tier 1’ solar panel in Australia as they are reasonably priced and perform well over a long period. They’re certainly not the most expensive panels out there and in terms of bang for buck, we are happy to recommend them to those considering installing a solar system in Australia. 

JA Solar recently won a contract to supply 50MW(AC) of modules for Malaysia’s first utility-scale solar project in Sabah. Mr Cao Bo, JA’s Vice President, said that

 “We are excited to partner with one of our largest customers, SPIC, again in an overseas market. We believe this win demonstrates our value proposition and technical innovation with high-performance solar modules. We have invested USD163 million in our Penang, Malaysia manufacturing operation to produce poly and mono cells with the annual capacity of 1000MW. From the China-Malaysia relationship standpoint, investing in manufacturing facilities and sharing our technical expertise in Malaysia, a rapidly growing market, remains our top priority. Additionally, we look forward to serving our global partners and customers by providing the highest-quality solar products and services.”

 

Greatcell Get $6m Perovskite Solar Cell research.

Greatcell Solar has been awarded a grant by ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) to continue their research into producing perovskite cells for solar power generation. We’ve written about perovskite solar cells a few times this year – with the technology showing great potential and shaping up as an inexpensive alternative to conventional silicon cell technology. 

Greatcell and Perovskite

Queanbeyan-based Greatcell, formerly Dyesol, will spend $17.3m on developing a world-class plant which will scale up their manufacturing capability of high quality, large-area perovskite devices. ARENA will fund $6m of the project following a successful previous grant of $450,000 to continue work on the technology.   

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht released a statement on Tuesday about the second grant: 

“This has the potential to expand the applications for which solar can be used and to reduce costs,” Frischknecht said.

“We want to move perovskites closer towards commercialisation. This will help accelerate solar PV innovation in Australia, which is one of our key priorities.”

Greatcell Solar MD Richard Caldwell told RenewEconomy that they are confident in the long-term viability of perovskite in practical situations in the near future: 

“It has the compelling attributes of lower cost and greater versatility than existing PV technologies. In particular, it is suited to real world solar conditions,” 

“In the long term, this technology has the potential to provide a cost competitive and clean energy solution,” Caldwell was quoted as saying. 

Greatcell and Jinko Solar

Greatcell signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Jinko Solar earlier this year, which gives Jinko access to Greatcell’s perovskite solar technology. Their goal is to partner up and start manufacturing and selling perovskite-based solar on a large scale. 

Perovskite solar cells and Guanidinium

Greatcell Perovskite Solar Cells
Greatcell Solar Research into Perovskite (source: wikipedia.org)

According to Nature Energy, there’s been another breakthrough with the perovskite cells – incorporating the large organic cation guanidinium (CH6N3+) into methylammonium lead iodide perovskites has helped improving the stability of the perovskites (which are prone to decomposing over time – one of the main problems researchers are facing). 

With the addition of the guanidinium, perovskite solar cells are already working at 19% efficiency for 1000 hours under full-sunlight testing conditions – with silicon solar cells plateauing at around 25% due to the Shockley-Queisser limit. For that reason, we’re pouring money into finding an alternative to silicon solar cells – and it looks like perovskite has the potential to take over. Exciting times – watch this space and we’ll continue following the research and keeping you updated! 

 

Jinko Solar Panel Reviews – Australia

Today we’ll have a look at the Chinese photovoltaic manufacturer Jinko Solar who offer high-quality solar panels for residential, utility and commercial solar scale. They are highly recommended by many of the solar companies in Australia we work with, so we’ll investigate their history and review a couple of their most popular panels.

Jinko Solar Panels – History

Jinko Solar was founded in 2006 as a wafer manufacturer, had their IPO in 2010 and then vertically integrated the company by manufacturing cells and modules as well. By the end of last year, Jinko had over 15,000 employees and five production sites. They offer polycrystalline photovoltaic modules with one of the lowest production costs in the industry. Cost per watt was 39 cents in Q4 2015 and dropped to 37 cents per watt in 2016. No word yet on their stats for 2017.

They also develop solar projects, mostly in China – and have connected over 1000MW to the grid via a subsidiary called JinkoPower which they sold a 55% equity interest in in late 2016.  

Jinko Solar Panels in Australia

Due to their very competitive cost, high power output, reliability and a good warranty offering, Jinko panels are the choice of many solar installers in Australia.  They have passed stringent testing for Australia’s arid and equally inclement weather – the whole range of has passed the 96-hour potential induced degradation (PID) resistance test as required by IEC62804 standards.

JinkoSolar’s chief executive officer Kangping Chen said: “JinkoSolar’s PV solar modules are 100% in compliance with double 85 anti-PID standards and offer the related warranty, which marks a milestone in anti-PID technology development of the solar industry and demonstrates our leading position in the field.

“We will continue to improve our anti-PID system to generate a better performance under higher voltage and other tougher conditions.”

Jinko 270W PP-60 Eagle Series

Jinko 270W Eagle Series
Jinko 270W Eagle Series (source: Jinko)

The 270W Eagle Series is the first double 85 certified PID-free module in the world. It’s a tier one panel with power classes from 255Wp up to 270Wp and has 60 cells per panel. 

The product is 1650mm x 992mm x 40mm including the frame and each panel weighs 19kg. They have a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year linear power warranty, which guarantees 80.75% output of the panel after 25 years of usage.

The Eagle SE panels use SolarEdge DC optimisers and the Eagle MX panels have Maxim Integrated optimisers.

If you would like to download the Jinko JKM270PP60 270W Eagle Series Datasheet click here. 

Other Jinko Solar Panels

Jinko Eagle PERC 72
Eagle PERC 72 (source: jinkosolar.com.au)
  • Eagle 60
  • Eagle 72
  • Eagle PERC 60 – 4 busbar solar cell with up to 18.33% efficiency due to Passivated Emitter Rear Contact (PERC) technology. 60 cell panel.
  • Eagle PERC 72 – 4 busbar solar cell with us to 18.57% efficiency (PERC). 72 cell panel.
  • Jinko Eagle MX – built-in intelligent cell optimizer IC.
  • Jinko Eagle SE – integrated optimizer mitigates power loss from panel-to-panel mismatch.
  • Eagle Dual 60 & 72 – designed for high voltage systems of up to 1500 VDC, module efficiency up to 17.26%.

Do you have any experience with these panels? We’d love to hear about it. Please let your review in the comments and let us know which panels you have and how they performed. 

If you’d like to buy Jinko solar panels in Australia please fill in the form to the right and we’ll be happy to put you in touch with one of our trusted suppliers / installers. 

 

Solar Grid Parity in Australia – By 2020?

According to power and utility leader EY Global Advisory, Australia may reach solar grid parity by 2020 – a point where it costs less to produce renewable energy than fossil fuels. This would make Australia one of the first nations to reach this stable grid party point, according to EY’s Serge Colle.

Solar Grid Parity – An Overview

The 2020 parity target was forecast by the EY team by modelling solar panel and battery storage installation uptake in Australia – which will result in a reduction in renewable costs. The rapid expansion of commercial solar is also helping grow Australia towards solar grid parity. 

Solar Grid Parity in Australia By 2030 According to EY Global Advisory
Solar Grid Parity in Australia By 2030 According to EY Global Advisory (source: wikimedia.org)

Serge Colle, head of EY Global’s power and utility section, told the Sydney Morning Herald  “For those in the industry that still believe that [the renewable technologies] we see now will never be technically and economically equal to traditional energy solutions they should reconsider their thinking.”

The information is supported by a study from the Australian National University (ANU), which forecasts that new-build large-scale renewable energy generators will cost as low as $50 AUD per megawatt hour within the next 10 years. 

The report, titled “Meeting Australia’s Paris greenhouse commitment at zero net cost” and written by Andrew Blakers, Matt Stocks and Bin Lu last month, posits that Australia’s current renewable energy install rate of 3GW / year, if continued until 2030, will mean that we will then meet the Paris greenhouse emissions reduction target. At that point, half of Australia’s electricity consumption would be generated by renewable energy. 

The report also takes into account the need for baseline power and the sometimes unreliable nature of renewables (i.e. the sun’s not always out and the wind’s not always blowing), saying: 

“The cost of renewables includes the cost of hourly balancing of the grid to retain the same reliability as at present. Hourly balancing comprises pumped hydro energy storage, stronger interstate high voltage power lines and the cost of PV and wind spillage on windy, sunny days when the energy stores are full.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Australia goes with its Renewable Energy Target and also meeting the Paris emissions reduction target given how quickly renewables have been growing in the country, especially in the last 12-18 months. 2018 is shaping up to be a massive year for wind and solar energy in Australia – strap yourselves in. 

Smart Solar Windows – New Technology Advancements

New findings from a team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory mean we are one step closer to smart solar windows. This will help future buildings generate their own energy and move cities one step closer to being self-sustainable.

Smart Solar Windows – Solar Cells in Windows

Jacqui Cole, a materials scientist originally from the University of Cambridge and currently based at the Argonne National Laboratory, works with colleagues to determine the molecular structure of working solar cell electrodes. They placed them within a fully assembled device that works just like a window – these dye-sensitized solar cells are transparent and work well in conjunction with glass due to their flexibility and thin, see-through electronic circuits. 

Jacqui Cole - Working on Technology for Smart Solar Windows
Jacqui Cole – Working on Technology for Smart Solar Windows (source: anl.gov)

Although there have been improvements in transparent solar technology and smart windows, this is a significant technology increase as previously the interactions and unknown molecular mechanisms between the electrodes and electrolyte weren’t understood very well (i.e. how the dye interacts with the semiconductor). 

“Most previous studies have modeled the molecular function of these working electrodes without considering the electrolyte ingredients,” Cole was quoted on the ANL website. “Our work shows that these chemical ingredients can clearly influence the performance of solar cells, so we can now use this knowledge to tune the ions to increase photovoltaic efficiency.”

Research in Nanoscale earlier this year (which also came from Argonne National Laboratory) showed that certain chemical ingredients can influence the photovoltaic performance of solar cells – and a ‘modest boost’ in performance would be enough to make the cells competitive, according to Cole. She noted that manufacturing dye-sensitized solar cells is ‘very cheap’ in comparison to other solar cell tech. 

Although the organic dyes (such as the one used in this study, called MK-2) are still in lab trial stages, metal organic dyes are starting to become commercialised. For example, a building in Graz, Austria (the Science Tower) uses windows that generate renewable energy at the top sections of its tower. 

We’ll keep you updated with any news on solar windows and their real-world application. Some huge steps forward being made in this area recently! 

Monier SolarTile – Solar Tiles Australia

There’s plenty going on in the world of solar roof tiles this year – today we’re going to take a look at the Monier SolarTile, which is a competing against the Tesla Solar Roof and the sonnen/Bristile Roofing Solartile.

Monier SOLARtile

Monier SolarTILE
Monier SolarTILE (source: monier.com.au)

The Monier SOLARTile is an integrated modular photovoltaic flat tile system. They integrate with a flat profiled roof so they won’t ruin the view of your house – and can be installed on all types of roofs (including traditional and period style homes). If you’d prefer, you can retrofit them for a re-roof, extension, or home renovation. Their modular design means that you can install them in any configuration – including smaller sections of your roof (generally north facing) to reach optimal energy production. Since they have an integrated design (as opposed to conventional ‘bolt-on’ solar panels, the SOLARtiles will blend into a roofline smoothly. 

Monier were a finalist in the Clean Energy Council’s ‘Solar Designs & Installations Awards’ in 2013 for this product – they were also a finalist in BPN’s Sustainability Awards in 2013. The company is backed by CSR, one of Australia and New Zealand’s biggest building product companies. 

They’re currently available and are being installed on homes in Australia – and in lieu of any case studies, let’s see how it stacks up against the Tesla solar tiles:

Monier SolarTile vs Tesla Solar Roof

Monier SolarTile:

  • Available? – Available in Australia right now! 
  • Grid? – Must be grid connected.
  • Upgradeable? – Yes – provided your inverter has the capacity.
  • Warranty? 25 Year Performance Guarantee – guaranteed to be working at 82.5% of original capacity in year 25.  
  • STCs? Monier can handle this for you or you’re welcome to sell them yourself. 
  • Installation? Licenced roofers and CEC accredited electricians. 

Tesla Solar Roof:

  • Available? No – the Tesla Solar Roof release date in Australia should be sometime in 2018.
  • Grid?  No official word as yet, but these should integrate with Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries to offer an off-grid solution.
  • Upgradeable? Yes, can replace Tesla ‘non solar’ tiles (a Tesla roof will generally have around 40% solar generating tiles) with solar tiles.
  • Warranty? “Infinite”, according to Elon Musk, but this only applies to the glass the tiles are made from, not their ability to produce electricity or actually function as a roof. 30 year warranty for those.
  • STCs? Unconfirmed, question has been Tweeted to Elon Musk by @awbow22

We’ve reached out to Monier for some more information about the Solartile and will update this article as soon as we have more. In the meantime, if you want solar tiles on your roof and don’t want to wait, it remains a great product backed by an Australian giant! If you have any experience with the Monier SOLARtile we’d love to hear about it – please leave your thoughts in the comments!