The 2019 All-Energy Conference In Melbourne — A Quick Overview

2019 All Energy Conference

Ronald went to the All-Energy Exhibition & Conference in Melbourne. Here’s what he stumbled across.

I just got back from the 2019 All Energy Conference and Exhibition in Melbourne.1  While there I also snuck across to the the Energy Efficiency Expo next door.  Over the next couple of weeks I’ll write a few articles on what I learned, but for now I’ll just go over some highlights and show some pictures…

…such as this one of the big flat roof of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre2 without a single solar panel on it:

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre - no solar panels

This is what Melbourne looks like if you are the sort of person who can afford a penthouse suite.  I hope you appreciate the effort I had to go through to steal this photo from one of those people.

Voltage Rise

Yesterday I attended a presentation on grid voltage rise.  It’s a big problem and getting worse.  If grid voltage gets too high it can shut down solar systems.  This costs money and lives because cutting solar energy generation boosts fossil fuel pollution.  It’s criminal to waste clean energy if the results are blackened lungs and a burnt planet.  (No, seriously, killing people for fun and/or profit is illegal.  Hard to believe, but true.)

I’ll write a whole post on voltage rise and the main points discussed.  It’s a problem that is causing big headaches already. For example, at 1pm last Sunday rooftop solar energy supplied 64.7% of South Australia’s electricity. This wouldn’t have been possible if SA Power Networks hadn’t made efforts to keep the grid voltage within required limits.

Solar power in South Australia

This graph from the Australian PV Institute shows 64.7% of South Australia’s electricity use being met by distributed solar in the middle of Sunday.

As a result of this stellar performance, grid electricity consumption hit a record low of 475 megawatts.  Before this spring, it had never dropped below 584 megawatts in this century.

You might think South Australia and Queensland, the states with the most rooftop solar power and ancient, decrepit grids would be the worst places for over voltage. But anecdotally at least, it’s Victoria that is having ridiculous issues at the moment despite only half the number of solar installations per household.3

Batteries — Awesome Warranties And Empty Boxes

Solar panels are continuing to improve in quality and fall in price. But as far as solar panels go, I saw nothing new and shiny for sales people to exaggerate about.4

Solar batteries however are still new enough for manufacturers and salespeople to breathlessly promote.  Big name companies keep pretending an empty box is a new battery system while no-name Chinese manufacturers keep trying to break into the market with systems that — for all I know — could be fine, but have slim chances of ever making it.  (Maybe they keep trying because they hope a big name manufacturer will put their no-name battery inside inside a famous empty box?)

The tied winners of this year’s empty battery box award are QCELLS and Duracell for having the most impressive stage props.

Q Cells Q.Home battery storage

The QCELLS empty battery box. Apparently it will be no longer be empty and available late this year.  (So maybe early next year, given the way real life tends to interfere with the best laid plans of mice and hominids.)

Duracell solar battery storage

The Duracell boxes. Unfortunately for the Duracell brand the whole box cannot be the trademark black and gold, because it will get too damn hot in the Aussie sun.

Duracell powerbank

This is the gift Duracell gave me. I’ll take this opportunity to point out that, despite giving me the largest 9 volt Duracell battery in the world, it had no influence on my decision to make them an empty battery box award winner.  Nor did it affect my subsequent decision to have their babies.

20 Year Battery Warranty!

This weird and funky looking battery is a design from an Australian company that uses Philippine lithium-titanate cells.

Update 29th Oct 2019:  Zenaji has told me they are actually China made cells assembled into the battery in the Philippines.

Zenaji battery

Uniquely these batteries come with a standard 20 year warranty.  If they really can go the distance that’s impressive.  I will mention the company hasn’t been around for anything like 20 years yet, but maybe they can also go the distance.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

DNVGL — Over 50% Of Energy To Come From Fossil Fuels In 2050

At a breakfast presentation the CEO of the huge Norwegian standards company, DNVGL, told us their economic forecast showed the world will still be getting over 50% of its total energy from fossil fuels in 2050.  Normally I’d say “bloody hell” in response to news like this. But in the hell Australia is heading for, blood will rapidly dry to powder then catch on fire.

It looks like we’re heading for over 2 degrees of global heating: much more than twice as bad as the 1 degree we’ve suffered so far.

I’ll write about their report soon and explain why DVNGL also says total world energy use will decline from 2033.  Don’t worry!  It’s not because we’ll be dying in droves by then.  Well, we won’t be at least.  If you live in one of the world’s poorest countries the odds aren’t so good.

But, apart from the implicit tragic deaths of who knows how many people in developing countries from global cooking, what really concerned me about this breakfast meeting was the quality of the breakfast.  Unlike 2 years ago there was no juice.  Is this because DVNGL are desperately trying to cut costs? Like when Tesla’s conference stands went from a quarter of an acre to the size of a floor tile?  Or maybe they decided they don’t like juice anymore and killed the golden juice?  Or did they just leave it in the car?

The juice, the precious juice, was hidden in the vehicles.

Electric Cars

While the conferences weren’t focused on electric cars, they did have a Tesla Model 3 on display:

Tesla Model 3

A Tesla Model 3 electric car.

There was also this solar car roof made by LG Solar for the Hyundai Sonata hybrid:

LG NeON - solar panels for electric cars

While many are rightfully dubious about the current value of putting solar cells on electric car roofs, given how cheap it will be when mass produced, I see it soon making economic sense and becoming a common feature.

Tesla Model 3 - rear

In addition to the Tesla Model 3 there was also the biofuel Alset “El Gulpo” which is powered by ketosis and fuels itself by swallowing pedestrians that don’t get out of the way fast enough.

Other Random Stuff

There was far more at the conference/expo than I could possibly cover in detail, including scores of small booths where companies, mostly from China, were promoting everything from combined wind and solar powered street lights to itty bitty houses:

Lithium ion battery

This is the Chinese superhero Miss Power Road. She is very environmentally minded and carries a battery charged with clean energy where ever she goes.  Her taser powers are completely carbon neutral.

Solar powered tiny home

You’d probably think this is some kind of display stand, but it’s actually an itty bitty, modular, solar powered, prefabricated home. Or a modular mansion if you stack enough of them together.

ABB electric vehicle charger

The gentle green glow means this electric car charger is environmentally sound and/or radioactive.

Odd Australian map

As you can see from Growatt’s map, both Victoria and New Guinea have engaged stealth mode.  Victoria turned theirs on when they heard I was coming, while New Guinea peeked between the curtains and saw Mormons cycling up Torres Strait. And I see Western Australia has finally successfully invaded NSW.

Chinese microinverter

I admire this Chinese manufacturer for having the balls to just put their wholesale price next to their microinverter on a piece of notepaper. If you are competing on price, why not?  There’s no point in wasting people’s time.  (They have a less chunky one for $100. Caveat emptor.)

While there was a lot of impressive stuff, the darling of the show was, of course, this dancing solar panel cleaner.5

solar panel cleaning robot

Footnotes

  1. And boy are my arms tired!
  2. I’d provide a link to their site but it is too badly designed for me to do that.  They don’t seem to understand they need a picture of the centre on the front page so people will know it’s that big building by the river.  A lot of overseas visitors with English bad are going to need that sort of visual aid, not to mention people from Queensland.
  3. It’s almost as if the Victorian Solar Homes rebate that’s meant to rapidly expand rooftop solar capacity wasn’t properly thought through.
  4. Except for the fact Maxim optimised panels now work, which is a huge thing, but no one is talking about it and it keeps getting regulated to footnotes for some reason.  I blame lazy bloggers.
  5. Actually, it’s a robot window cleaner, but apparently works on any flat glass.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. ……. ” (So maybe early next year, given the way real life tends to interfere with the best laid plans of mice and hominids.)”
    I thought they had to be called ‘gay’ these days??

  2. So Miss Power road was selling Lithium batteries to replace lead acid batteries for starting ICE?

    That sounds like a good idea to me. Saving weight, space and hopefully lasting longer.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Yep. Various companies have been making these for a while. They are really light compared to lead-acids. Often let down by short warranty periods no better than a lead-acid battery while asking for a higher price.

      Safety is also a concern, so for now even the electric Nissan Leaf comes with a standard lead-acid car battery to run its legacy 12 volt car electrical systems.

      • I ran a Li starting battery in our old 2.8l diesel Hilux for a couple of years. It really struggled to turn the motor over in winter, but the very high under-bonnet temperatures eventually knocked its capacity right down. It was an expensive mistake to buy one, and it has now been replaced my a much less expensive, but much more capable Lead-acid starting battery.

      • Thanks. I’ll keep an eye out and hope prices come down.

  3. That robot window cleaner would spark a lot of interest for people like me, who sometimes have to clean windows. Would you mind telling us a lot more about it, please?

  4. That window cleaner robot may be ok for window cleaning (if it really works), but it isn’t something you’d want to leave permanently on your rooftop panels, as it will kill the output of the string it is on due to shading. I’m not sure why they’d even bother demonstrating it on a panel… if you have to get up there to place and remove it, you may as well clean the panels with a broom and bucket of water!

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Yes, it’s a gimmick unless they make it able to jump from panel to panel.

      • But for cleaning windows…which is the most annoying task….I want a good robot.I know its off-topic..

        • Ronald Brakels says

          There are a variety of window cleaning robots available and they climb up and down vertical windows. Maybe there’s one out there that’s suitable for your purposes. If the price was okay I’d consider getting one for my parents. I’d just be worried about bits of grit getting caught in it and scratching the glass.

  5. Growatt’s Map hurts my brain.
    Victoria: Half the state is under water including the capital, does that make Melbourne the new Atlantis?
    NSW is invaded by WA which also invaded some of Victoria.
    The Invasion has unfortunately erased all no capital cities except for Cobar because mining towns and states stick together!
    While Canberra gets the boldest font, Sydney gets a Star and is now the Nexus linking every capital city together.
    Tasmania: doesn’t get a capital city and isn’t a state, its about time.

  6. What about “SMANIA” off the Tassie west coast (where it rains a lot), is that populated by soggy maniacs?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Yes, I was worried about that. Mainly because I didn’t think it stood for soggy maniacs. I know there are a few sex maniacs there, but there’s no need to name the whole state after them.

  7. If you had actually asked the Q CELLS ambassadors, it wasn’t an empty box.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I didn’t ask. They came out and told me. (I just have that effect on people. They want to confide in me.)

      • Then you are sadly mistaken because for a solar guru like you, you should have noticed the installation video filmed with the actual product – I highly doubt they can put together an installation video with an ’empty box’, don’t you think? 🙂

  8. Hi, my name’s Chris, one of the engineers at Zenaji. Thanks for featuring us in your article 🙂

    Just to clarify, the LTO cells are manufactured in China by a large LTO cell manufacturer, we designed the aluminium enclosure, BMS etc. here in Australia and the batteries were assembled in the Phillipines under our supervision.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Oh, right, thank you. I thought the cells were manufactured in the Philipines. I probably wasn’t listening properly. Sorry about that.

      I have updated the article with the correct information.

    • Hi Chris. I’m confused by the use of Lithium Titanate over LiFePO4. What’s the thinking behind it?

      I think they make a lot of sense for remote locations with low maintenance requirements like telecommunications repeaters etc, but are they intended for home storage?

      • Hey Mondo, Our batteries are most certainly intended for home storage.

        We chose Lithium Titanate over LiFePo4 for a number of reasons, the chief reason being the long cycle life. If the battery can last longer then you’ve got longer to reap the benefits of the battery and in a domestic on-grid setup this means having it pay itself off. Solar panels last over 20 years, why not the battery too?

        Other benefits we see in choosing LTO is the increased safety of LTO and also the large temperature range it can operate in. The chemistry also packs a large charge/discharge C-rate. So makes a lot of sense as you say for telecomms and remote locations.

  9. Hey Ronald. Call me the world’s fastest wind turbine, because I’m a big fan. Can I get some clarification on your footnote 4 – Maxim solar panels now work? In Australia? Without cutting off TV reception? That seems to be pretty big news but I can’t find any mention of it anywhere else on the web, and my Google-fu is quite strong, if I do say so myself. Cheers in advance, mostly for noticing a comment on a four-month-old article, and if you didn’t notice, then screw you in the nicest possible way and more fool me for not emailing.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Generation 3 Maxim panels are being in installed in Australia and, as far as I know, have no problems. Provided no problems do crop up, I presume they’ll grow in popularity.

Speak Your Mind

*

GET THE SOLARQUOTES WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
%d bloggers like this: