About Richard Chirgwin

Richard Chirgwin is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience covering a wide range of technology topics, including electronics, telecommunications, computing and science.

Ingenious Self-Closing Vents Make Ducted Air-Conditioning More Solar Friendly

Self-closing ducted air-conditioning vents

A big problem with ducted air-conditioning is the ducts compromise the thermal envelope of the room, wasting precious energy. A new Australian invention solves that problem.

An asthma attack following a child’s night-time popcorn mishap set Adelaide engineer Dean McGurgan wondering why, in his ducted-aircon-equipped home, he even copped smoke exposure all the way from the kitchen to the bedroom.

And that set him on a development project he reckons could save money for others with ducted air-conditioning. [Read more…]

Can Diverting Solar To Air Conditioning Help Reduce Overvoltage? Paladin Says Yes.

With a smart 3rd party controller, your air conditioner can help a solar-laden grid balance supply and demand.

While regulators fret about the impact of solar power on low voltage distribution networks, developers are looking at ways to use household loads to relieve the stress.

Last week, I chatted to an NZ-founded company called Paladin, whose focus over the last four or five years has been a controller that diverts excess power from PV to a customer’s electric hot water service. [Read more…]

How Monitoring Solved A Savvy Solar Owner’s High Voltage Problem

Solar monitoring helps solve high voltage issue

Good solar monitoring has a long list of benefits. Now we can add ‘solving high voltage problems’ to that list.

The phrase “the power of data” is already a cliche, but only because it’s true. This week, we recount the story of how Solar Analytics’ R&D head Jonathon Dore used his company’s monitoring data to dramatically reduce curtailment of output from the solar power system at his Blue Mountains home. [Read more…]

Chargefox Reveals Engineering Challenges Of Its Australian Car Charging Network

Chargefox electric car charging station

A Chargefox electric vehicle charging station in Adelaide.

If you’re running a still-growing network of 500 EV charging stations across a continent as vast as Australia, you want to avoid low-value maintenance/repair visits to your locations wherever possible. [Read more…]

Shane Rattenbury: The Federal Government Is Renewable Energy’s Problem

Shane Rattenbury on renewable energy and the Federal Government

State energy ministers can rightly claim that they have acted well in advance of the Federal Government. But there remain worrying divisions between the states that could turn into faultlines. [Read more…]

SA Australia’s Guinea Pig For Inverter Low Voltage Ride-through Procedure

Inverter Low Voltage Ride-through

Friends, it’s arrived: the Australian Energy Market Operator has published its standard low voltage ride-through test procedure for inverters. [Read more…]

Argonne National Laboratory Claims Breakthroughs In Li-ion Battery Recycling

Lithium ion battery recycling

Batteries are, as we all know, recyclable – but some recycle better than others. Lead-acid batteries? The process is easy, familiar and cheap enough to leave a decent margin, so Australia has some local recycling plants.

But the future isn’t lead acid, is it? [Read more…]

Solar Helps Some Of The World’s Poorest Households Save $734,000 In 12 Months

Pollinate Group - solar power for the poor

Financial Year 2019-20 was a big year in SolarQuotes’ support for the NGO Pollinate Group, which supports low-income households in India by helping them replace expensive kerosene lighting with solar powered alternatives. By sending $1 to Pollinate Group for each quote request on this site, we’ve been able to send $64,655 their way in 12 months. [Read more…]

South Australian Government Push Ahead With Ill-Conceived Inverter And Smart Meter Rules

South Australia new inverter and smart meter rules

The SA government wants to unilaterally pick technology winners, write inverter standards and architect new grid control schemes. God help us!

This seems to have snuck under the radar: last week, the consultation period for proposed new South Australian smart meter and inverter rules closed and as far as we can tell, even in the renewable energy specialist media it attracted no attention. [Read more…]

Confession: I Believed Solar PV Was Causing LV Network Over-Voltage Problems. I Was Wrong.

You’ve heard the one about how the growth of grid-connected solar power is causing voltage rise on low voltage (LV) networks?

I sure have. I’ve written plenty about the phenomenon, often with an eye to what networks are doing to try and counter the problem.

However, courtesy of an e-mail from Green Energy Markets’ Tristan Edis, I have learned to my surprise that the “blame solar power” narrative simply isn’t true. [Read more…]

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