Danny Broad Enters the ARENA

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced that commercial manager, Danny Broad, has been appointed by the Australian government to ARENA’s Board. Broad is expected to help ARENA in its efforts using the 2.4 billion dollar mandate to improve competiveness and use of renewable energy in Australia. For more on this story, read the full article here:: Danny Broad appointed to the board of ARENA

Enphase Micro Inverters Claim Higher Profits, Lower Costs

A recent survey showed of 32 residential solar installers over a two-month period showed that micro inverters were able to reduce soft costs compared to conventional central inverters. In fact, major micro inverter manufacturer, Enphase claim that installation using their TRUEAC modules have can reduce labor costs by up to 48%!

They also claim that installers in the US had to walk away from 1 out of 4 jobs if they weren’t using micro inverters (which are easier to install on difficult roofs).  I find this really hard to believe, but if it’s true I can only put it down to the prevalence of online quoting without a site visit over in the USA.  You really do need a site visit if you want a high performing solar system properly designed for your roof.  You simply can’t do it with Google maps (even with micro inverters)!

Read more about this here.

Why the Mining Industry Is Looking Sunny

As costs continue to reduce, many mining companies are using renewable energy sources such as solar power to extract and process copper, silver, and other raw materials. A group called “THEnergy” has even developed an online database tracking which mining companies are implementing solar power in their business. To read more on this, click here.

Bottom Line: Wind and Solar Are Cheaper

The European Commission has published a thorough study regarding the different types of energy their cost. The result? The cheapest sources of energy come from solar and wind power.

While many argue that coal is cheap and government support for renewable energy is costly, fossil fuels have again been shown to cost more in the long term when taking into account health impacts, climate change, and resource depletion. While many state that those costs shouldn’t count since they are not within the realm of direct cost, it is hardly illogical to include them in the research for the overall cost, unless your vision only extends to the next election!

With that said, there are many variables at play both in the use of energy and variables in energy standards from country to country. For a more in-depth look, click here.

Why Big Utilities Are Scrambling Towards Solar

Now that solar power has become more of a threat, big US utility companies responsible for providing electricity want to buy in. With the cultural push to become more reliant on renewable energy sources and the increase in people wanting to break free from their higher utility bills, many utility companies are opting to become more solar friendly in order to keep their business.

While overall this might be a good thing, the intentions are purely economic. Big utilities in the USA are in the discussions with local governments in order to build or install solar panels into their networks. Some states have been open to this idea but others have resisted since it appears to only kill off the only competition electric companies have.

To learn more about this development, click here.

Panasonic Wants the Sun to Fill Your Car’s Fuel Tank

Powertree Services Inc. is teaming up with Panasonic to build 68 electric-vehicle charging stations that will use solar power to recharge the cars’  batteries. While this venture will be tested at various multi-unit residences in San Francisco, they hope to create more and be ready as the appeal, cost, and availability of electric cars increases. To read more on this story, click here.

Why Labor Need To Hold Firm On The RET

The government’s starting RET offer which reduces the legislated, previously bipartisan, and pre-election commitment of 41,000 gigawatt hours per year of renewable energy down to 27,000 has been turned down by the Labor Party. Why? Not just because of the environment, but because of economics.

By cutting the target almost in half, billions of dollars invested in the creation of solar and wind power generating devices will go to waste, and billions of dollars of investment will not happen. The 100 job losses at a wind turbine component manufacturer in Portland, Vic announced yesterday is just the beginning.  Not to mention that power prices would continue to climb due to expensive fossil fuels picking up the slack.

Abbott and his cronies are trying to destroy a policy they promised not to touch.  Then when Labor won’t co-operate they blame the opposition for the uncertainty that is destroying businesses. Read more about this story here.

Will Enphase Revolutionise Solar Power Storage?

Yesterday, Enphase revealed the Enphase Energy Management System that they claim could revolutionize solar power and its integration into the grid. The new Gen 5 “S Series” micro-inverter is bi-directional, allowing for more energy to be stored, managed, and controlled. The system’s AC Battery is a modular, plug and play battery. This will allow you to simply add storage as you go (and as your funds allow) instead of ponying up for a massive battery storage system all at once. Thirdly there’s an app (gotta have an app!) that allows users to match loads to energy generation, store energy when it is most profitable to do so, and other controls. Read more about it here.

Experts Say Savage RET Cuts Will Line The Pockets Of Big Energy

Ian McFarlane and environmental minister Greg Hunt have proposed a huge reduction in the RET from the legislated (and previously bi-partisan) 41,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy to 27,000 gigawatt hours by 2020. However, doing this will put billions of dollars worth of renewable energy investment at risk while boosting the profits of their mates in the fossil fuel business. For more information, click here.

They have taken a baseball bat to a policy that has been stable and bipartisan for 4 election cycles, and are blaming the opposition for the mess, because Labour refuse to join in the savage beating. It is very clear that the whole RET policy has been corrupted by the politics of fear and anger. Fear that renewable energy champions (in their eyes: all Greenie Hippies who are somehow “anti electricity”) might have been right all along and anger that anything might challenge the supremacy of the coal industry that has lined their biggest supporters’ pockets for so long.

(They have also promised that solar will be “untouched”. Which is rubbish. Although they are not proposing changes to the residential (small scale) solar scheme, they are still proposing a reduction from 100kW to 10kW in the maximum size of a commercial system that is eligible for rebates. This would really hurt the commercial solar market. Not to mention that meddling with the system could cause the price of STCs to plunge)

Knowing Where the Power Lies Helps All

Last week, ARENA declared that $425,000 will be used to fund a project creating online maps of electricity network constraints in order to increase the use of renewable energy and be able to inform network investments more efficiently. The lack of clear and consistent network information has been an ongoing issue but this project hopes to make that a thing of the past.

With the rise of rooftop solar and local generation in Australia, managing networks has been increasingly challenging over the years. The hope is to update these online maps annually to keep their findings accurate and lower costs in the long term. For more on this development, click here.

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