Sunday, 8 April 2012

Next Generation Solar PV

There has been increasing discussion in our industry of late about the latest emerging technologies that will be the next boon to the renewables industry globally, but especially so in Australia with most states dropping any reasonable Solar Feed In Tariffs.
There are many terms to describe this approach to renewables, but my favourite is "Distributed Storage" which obviously goes hand in hand with "Distributed Generation".
With the current business model for energy utilities in Australia of "sell more energy to make more money" and our policy makers so obviously biased towards the "Fossil Fuel" lobby, it is becoming more important for energy consumers to leave the grid behind (well, as best they can).
This range of inverters allows the flexibility to tie together Solar PV, Batteries & the grid. This technology is not new, I was using them for my first "Grid Connected Solar PV Systems" back in the mid 1990's, the difference now is that advancements in digital capability has granted us fantastic control and programmability.
As a Solar Developer we are now able to offer our customers the option of applying "Photovoltaic Modules" and connecting them to an "Inverter" as well as "The Grid" and a "Battery Bank". The programmability of the Inverter allows us to "prioritise" the flow of energy that is generated by the Solar PV.
The highest priority is to supply the sites' consumption at the time of generation known as "Self Use".
The next priority is to funnel the solar energy into the batteries for use either during times of "Peak Tariff" or "Grid Failure".
Finally, and only if you chose to, you can feed excess solar energy into the grid, and if you are lucky you will be paid a fair & reasonable "Feed in Tariff" (most Australian energy retailers will only pay a pittance if anything at all).
I have been looking at three different products that have the potential to answer the prayers of many of my existing and potential clients. Those are:

  1. The "PowerRouter" from Nedap in the Netherlands & distributed in Australia by Setec in Melbourne has quite a few variations and some great capabilities and support, but currently limited to small to medium sized installations and single phase. Well worth keeping an eye on this product, especially if we can add to their R & D wish list.
  2. SMA offers the "Sunny Backup" system. Definitely some robust German engineering with great pedigree. Currently comes in small, medium & large with 3 phase capability.
  3. Selectronic, an Australian company has available the SP Pro Series, Selectronic also has a "Battery pack" that can be perfect for this application.
These three manufactures, in my opinion will see some remarkable growth in the sales of their range of smart energy management inverters through the remainder of 2012. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

NSW Minister for Coal & Pollution

Yesterday (21st March 2012), John Laws of 2SM (Sydney radio) in response to the report regarding Australia having some of the highest Electricity tariffs in the world, invited Chris Hartcher MP (NSW Minister for Resources & Energy) to discuss the report and renewable energy in general. Aside from sounding quite nervous and defensive, most of his answers relating to Solar Power and Feed in Tariffs were at best "Mis-leading" through to complete rubbish. The chat is in the first fifteen minutes of the show and is available here (audio highlights of 21st march 2012) or will be available on iTunes pod casts. I would like as many people as possible to listen to this "Chat" and get fired up. Chris Hartcher MP can be contacted here:

Terrigal Electorate Office
Ph:02 4365 1906

Ministerial Office
Ph:02 9228 3448

Monday, 19 March 2012

Cowboys & The Cavalry

I have recently been given the honour of representing the views of my fellow Solar PV Installers on the newly created Clean Energy Council's Accredited Installer Reference Group. I am always keen to hear the views and concerns of my colleagues so it comes as no great surprise that the overwhelming comments I've heard of late, is that more needs to be done to drive the "cowboys" away from the industry. One of the best ways that this can happen is to initiate a "Pre-commissioning Inspection" of every Solar PV installation by an independent assessor. I believe that this is approach taken in Victoria, so if anyone has any statistics that they think would help, please feel free to share I know that this would drive up the price of a system for the customer, but I think that it would be a small price to pay for piece of mind.

Cheap & Dirty Grid

I love Giles ability to tell it like it is. For years I have tried to impart my ideas to multiple managers & executives of several energy retailers, most have listened, some have even been interested, none have acted. The same can be said of the plethora of local, state & federal pollies who's ears I have bent over the years. My family, friends & colleagues have a standing joke that I have made a career out of being ignored by politicians. As representative of the truth that it is, this is no reason to give up though.
I noticed that one of the comments left on the RenewEconomy Post recommended that we should provide a free subscription to RenewEconomy to Tony Abbott & friends. I suggest that we each prompt our local MP's (State & Federal), regardless of Party, to subscribe. Keep up the great work Giles.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

China News

China now leads the world in #wind capacity at 63GW, more than entire Australian grid!