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.

Dynamic Solar Export Limits: SA’s Smart Way To Integrate More Solar

dynamic solar energy export limits

SA Power Networks plan to use dynamic export limits to allow more people to get rooftop solar power – whilst maximising allowable solar energy exports. Brilliant.

When the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) released its Economic Regulatory Framework Review, “Integrating Distributed Energy Resources For The Grid Of The Future” (PDF here) last week, media reactions had a pessimistic, almost apocalyptic slant. [Read more…]

How An Oddly Placed Switchboard Spoiled A Tasmanian Solar Install

Solar power and electricity meters in Tasmania

When you get solar power installed you often need a new meter. The rules governing this meter are made by the local network. The electricity retailer organises installation and readings, then a third party company installs the meter. This can cause frustration when there is a metering issue – as Margie in Tasmania found out recently.

In this week’s post, we’re hoping we can help resolve a problem for a customer named Margie, who found herself falling between the cracks after installing new solar panels in Tasmania. [Read more…]

How Big A Deposit Should You Pay Your Solar Installer?

Solar power system installation deposits information

What are the rules about deposits when buying solar power systems?

This post is going to be light on words, but the topic is worth covering. It arose from a couple of questions SolarQuotes founder Finn Peacock asked me to research: what’s a “normal” start-work deposit to offer a solar PV installer, and is there deposit protection for consumers? [Read more…]

Tales From The Customer Frontline: How Rocco Was Burned By Feed-in Tariff/Hot Water Rules, And Won

Solar feed-in tariff and hot water rules

Rocco was burned by rules saying he could not have a solar feed-in-tariff AND off-peak hot water.

Updated with comment from United Energy: A tale brought to our attention by reader Rocco is a handy reminder customers and retailers need to read the fine print of their solar feed-in-tariff contracts – and also brought to our attention how complex wholesaler and retailer rules can get. [Read more…]

Grid Voltage Rise Is Getting Worse And That’s A Problem For Solar Owners

Grid voltage rise and solar power systems

If your inverter sees a grid voltage that is too high for too long, Australian Standards mandate it disconnects from the grid. Before the voltage is so high it disconnects, your inverter may also reduce its power output in response to high grid voltages.

There’s a lot of fear-mongering about how the rise of renewables threatens our power grids, but a real problem getting real attention from the industry is how voltage rises on our mostly old and inflexible infrastructure stops customers from getting the most out of their solar PV installations. [Read more…]

New Bluetooth Vulnerability Should Be A Wake-Up Call To Solar Manufacturers

Bluetooth vulnerability and solar components

If you’ve been reading the tech press this week, you’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of noise about a security vulnerability in Bluetooth, known as “KNOB”, and I thought it gives us the chance to discuss Bluetooth security in the solar business. [Read more…]

Jaws Drop: Alan Finkel Talks Hydrogen From Fossil Fuels At Clean Energy Summit

(Video Credit: Kevin Warner via LinkedIn)

By now, it won’t surprise readers to know Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s enthusiasm for hydrogen continues unabated. At the end of July, he took to the stage at the Clean Energy Summit with the message that without it, the world will have trouble replacing fossil fuels in the accelerating timetable we face. [Read more…]

Solar Diversion In Practice: A Reader’s Experience With The Zappi EV Charger

Chris from Queensland has owned a Zappi EV charger for over 3 months now. Find out what he thinks of it.

Readers will recall our previous discussions of solar diversion here and here, and my complaint that it’s too hard to do off-the-shelf.

One of the handful of fully off-the-shelf products we were alerted to is the Zappi charger, and last week I had the chance to discuss the product with a user in Queensland, Chris. [Read more…]

Is GST Included On Ergon Feed-In Tariffs? It Depends Who You Ask

Ergon Energy and Queensland's solar feed-in tariff

Ergon Energy say GST is included in their FiT. The Queensland Competition Authority say GST is not included in the FiT. Who is correct? And why won’t Ergon respond to our questions?

This post arises because of a query from a Queensland Ergon customer, who has discovered the solar feed-in tariff set by the state’s competition regulator doesn’t make provision for GST. [Read more…]

Security Jitters: Can They Hack My Solar Power System?

Solar power system security and hackers

Is your solar power system at risk of hacking?

Last week’s post about solar inverter security sparked a lot of interest and a few good questions I’d like to answer; starting with one from TJ that reminded me people are justifiably and genuinely worried. [Read more…]

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