Byron Bay Solar Train takes its maiden voyage.

The Byron Bay Solar Train we wrote about back in October has taken its maiden voyage on the three kilometre stretch of unused rail line it calls home.

Byron Bay Solar Train 

The maiden trip was made last Friday with around 100 passengers (the train has a max capacity of 100 seated passengers but there is a little extra space for those who don’t mind standing) on board, and proud owner Brian Flannery discussed the train and its potential impact on tourism to ABC

“Hopefully it attracts people to Byron Bay,” Mr Flannery said.

“I think international tourists will come here to have a look at this world’s first solar train.

“So let’s see, in five years’ time they’ll probably still say I’m mad, but it’s a bit of fun.”

The train was created in conjunction with Tim Elderton from the Lithgow Railway Workshop who installed the curved solar panels (including 30 kilowatts of solar panels on the roof of the train station) and battery system to power the train. Elderton said that on a sunny day they’re able to to make ‘four or five trips before we have to plug it in’. 

The train runs on a track between Casino and Murwillumbah which was closed by the New South Wales Government in 2004 due to low numbers. Despite this, Jeremy Holmes from the Byron Bay Railroad Company thought that this novel concept could be embraced by the residents, saying that “I think everyone knows that Byron’s very conscious about anything to do with the environment,”

If you’ve been looking for the Byron Bay Solar Train’s timetable, they’ve provided a graphic below which shows the dates and times it will operate until January 2018, when full service will commence. 

If you’ve got any queries then you can contact the company on the phone via 02 8123 2130 or email them by clicking here!  

Byron Bay Solar Train Timetable
Byron Bay Solar Train Timetable (site:

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Commercial Solar in South Australia growing rapidly.

Commercial Solar in South Australia has been growing rapidly over the past 12 months, with installations at their highest peak since 2012 (when extremely generous feed-in tariff prices were available for early adopters in a (successful) attempt to kickstart the burgeoning solar market).

Commercial Solar in South Australia

According to SunWiz, there’s been a huge 84% growth in businesses investing in solar energy (commercial solar) in the last year. That’s nearly 9,000 units – more than double the rate of two years earlier. The ABC website quoted Warwick Johnston, the managing director of SunWiz, as saying that the uptake rate is higher due to better quality (and higher efficiency) panels at more competitive prices.

“System prices have fallen significantly … since the feed-in tariff-driven boom,” he said. “So people are really taking this up just for the underlying business case rather than trying to rush in to secure some government subsidy, which isn’t needed any more.”

Johnston said that commercial grade PV solar systems were the fastest growing segment, noting that places such as shopping centres and supermarkets have invested in solar energy to help offset the rapidly rising cost of electricity. We could also point to other great examples of this, such as Complete Office Supplies’ private solar investment – an office supply company who, in June this year, invested $1m in rooftop PV solar at their Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne warehouse locations (the 611MWh solar systems were installed by Sun Connect).

The Advertiser gives us the example of the Mitani Group, a frozen food, chicken salt (our favourite) and mayonnaise manufacturer based in Salisbury, SA. The Mitani Group installed a 100kW system in December 2017 and, according to the managing director Tas Mitani, the company saved between $1,700 and $1,800 on electricity in July alone. Mitani bought the panels from TINDO Solar, Australia’s only solar panel manufacturer who have also seen commercial solar increase rapidly over the last year. Managing Director Glenn Morelli said that “sporting organisations and clubs, to white-collar businesses, to manufacturers, food industry, aged care,” were all benefiting from installing solar power, and that he was seeing interest from all sectors – basically “anyone with an electricity bill”.

Tindo Solar - Commercial Solar in South Australia Suppliers
Tindo Solar – Commercial Solar in South Australia Suppliers

With companies that use a lot of energy wanting to mitigate the risk of skyrocketing energy prices and the cost/benefit ratio of solar becoming more and more apparent as solar tech advances, we expect to see this trend of commercial solar increasingly rapidly.

Are you a company looking to install solar power at your premises? We partner with a select and trusted group of installers Australia wide, and can help you crunch the numbers to come up with the highest ROI solution for your solar investment. Fill in the form to the right or email us for more info.



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Renewable Energy in Tasmania – 100% by 2022

On Wednesday the Tasmanian State Government released a report of recommendations with regards to renewable energy in Tasmania. The report was prepared by an energy security taskforce after Tasmania suffered a major power crisis in 2015/16 and will be 100% implemented by summer 17/18, as the Government have admitted a more ‘conservative’ approach is required, as per the ABC website.

This comes hot on the heels of news from the Tasmanian Government that they plan to be totally self-sufficient by 2022.

Renewable Energy in Tasmania – an overview

The 2015/16 Tasmanian energy crisis was due to low rainfall and the breaking of the Basslink power cable which joined Tassie to the mainland. It ended up sending the state into a spiral of insufficient energy which lasted six months and had myriad follow-on effects.

The energy security taskforce’s report noted that there aren’t currently any pressing concerns with regards to energy security in Tasmania, as dam levels are around 39%. It did, however, note that “more rigorous and widely understood framework” needs to be set up in order to better manage water storage. Given that Hydro Tasmania (an energy company owned by the state) has the unenviable position of trying to make profit whilst also addressing energy security, it’s a delicate situation. The report’s draft framework clearly states when Hydro Tasmania can “operate freely within its commercial interests and those occasions where it needs to take increasing steps to redress/avoid energy security risks”.

The report also recommends that they continue to hold the Tamar Valley gas plant in order to use it as a backup power station for the Tasmanian electricity grid, and, according to the report, to “provide clarity” to the Tasmanian gas market.

Tasmanian Energy Minister Matthew Groom praised the report, advising that there is “no doubt” Tasmania needs to adopt a more conservative tack when dealing with energy security.

Hydro Tasmania were also happy with the recommendations, labelling them “robust and responsible”.

These are good steps towards solving the renewable energy challenges in Tasmania and will go a long way to preventing a repeat of the energy crisis.

Tasmania – 100% Renewable Energy by 2022

Renewable Energy in Tasmania - Hydro
Renewable Energy in Tasmania – Hydro power (source:

The State Government have announced a plan to invest in two new wind farms (at Wild Cattle Hill and Granville Harbor), which will add 6-7% (of the total required energy) to Tasmania’s available generation. Given that Tassie is currently using 93% renewable energy, these wind farms, to be completed around 2020, should allow the state to reach its goal of 100% renewable by 2022 fairly easily.

What’s interesting is that they have decided to ignore battery storage for the immediate future – with the report noting “The Taskforce concludes that until there are significant decreases in battery costs and technology, or significant changes to current electricity pricing, adding a battery system represents a significant additional cost to the household that is not offset by reducing the cost of peak electricity”.

Let’s see how battery storage factors into future conversations, both in Tasmania and other parts of Australia.



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Solar Power for Renters / Apartment Owners

An article on the ABC website has highlighted some of the problems with solar for millions of renters and apartment owners – they aren’t able to take advantage of solar by because they don’t own a roof to put solar on. What is the solution to offer solar power for renters?

Solar Power for Renters / Apartment Owners

With home ownership rates sinking rapidly as the prices rise, more and more renters are in the market and it’s becoming increasingly likely that the country may move to a more renter heavy population. In countries like Germany with similar high rental populations there are strong laws for renters with regards to their rights, price rises and much more. Will we see a similar change in Australia? If so, we will see a lot more people renting the same place for long periods of time. What kind of incentives can be offered so they’re able to take advantage of solar power as well? It’ll be interesting to see how this goes in the future, how stratas deal with owners wanting to install solar, and what the ramifications for residential solar in Australia are.

Solar Power For Renters and Apartments
Solar power for renters and apartment owners – what’s the future? (source:

Solazone have several options for renters who want to make usage of the myriad benefits solar energy can offer:

  • They have solar panels that can be installed on removable frames which will not have any affect on the roof – so if you decide to leave the property you can take them with you.
  • These can be connected to battery back up systems.

Before you start thinking about removable solar panels, if you’re a long term tenant (or planning to be), consider:

  • Is it worth opening a dialogue with the homeowner with regards to installing a conventional PV solar system on the roof, where the owner would benefit from a) the solar rebate and b) the added value to the property?
  • Is there an area in the backyard where a ground-mounted solar system could be installed?

Please note that even if you are thinking about installing removable solar on the roof or a removable ground-mounted solar system in the backyard you’ll still need to run these ideas by your property manager or the homeowner.

Solar Panels for Apartment Balcony

Low Tech magazine have an article about ‘how to get your apartment off the grid‘ which as a lot of useful information about installing solar in an apartment building.

Although the roof is generally off limits, there are some clever ways you can utilise windows and balconies to generate power. If you can adjust the tilt of your solar panels that will allow you to gather more energy as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about hte specifics, please see a two-part video below about an apartment balcony solar power setup by Ibodini2008 on YouTube – it’s really interesting!

Have you had any luck installing solar in your unit or apartment? Please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear about it.

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