Construction on Mildura solar system begins but what can taxpayers expect?

Solar Farm
 photo credit: mcmees24

The announcement last month from R&D company Silex Systems that construction on Australia’s largest solar power station at Mildura, VIC, has begun gladdens the heart. And the hip pocket nerve. After all Victorian and federal taxpayers are helping to fund this venture to the tune of around $120 million.

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How Much Does Off Grid Solar Cost?

off grid solar system

I had a phone call from a mate today asking for advice on buying an off grid solar system for his new house in suburban Melbourne. He was pissed off about paying the daily grid connection charge when his solar system was easily going to produce more power than he used. A typical grid connection charge is about $1 per day.

So what is the extra cost of getting completely off the grid with your solar system in the city compared to a standard grid connect solar system?

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AC Solar Panels (microinverters) : The #1 Solar Trend to watch for in 2012?

Will 2012 be the year of the AC Solar Panel?

Before answering that question I should probably explain exactly what an AC Solar Panel is…

An AC Solar Panel converts sunlight to AC electricity at the solar panel.


What is an AC Solar Panel?

The short answer is: An AC Solar Panel is a solar panel that takes sunlight in and spits AC (Alternating Current) electricity out. This compares to a “conventional” DC Solar Panel which takes sunlight in and spits DC (Direct Current) electricity out.

AC Electricity is the type of electricity you need to power the appliances in your home. DC panels need a Solar Inverter to convert the DC electricity to AC. The big advantage of AC panels is that there is no need for an inverter to do that conversion, so you have a really simple design, a simpler installation, and adding extra panels becomes almost plug and play.

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The Problems With Thin Film Solar Panels

Thin Film Solar Panels in a solar farm

Picture: Thin Film Solar Panels on a solar farm in Germany

If you are looking to buy a solar power system and have done any kind of research on the web, then you have probably  come across lots of people  arguing over the pros and cons of Thin Film Solar Panels compared to the more common monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels. In a nutshell, there are 3 major types of solar panel technology on the market:

  • MonoCrystalline,
  • PolyCrystalline
  • Thin-Film

It seems a lot of people are firmly in either the “Crystalline” or “Thin-Film” camp. And when discussing which panel is best, they can easily lose their objectivity with arguments along the lines of “Thin Film is the only way to go” or “Mono Crystalline and Poly Crystalline are junk!”.

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Trust Solar Paints? Sure Can

By Rich Bowden

Honouring our commitment to keep readers informed of the pointy end of current solar research, this week’s column brings you the latest breakthrough on… paint.

Yes that’s right. Solar paint. [Read more…]

Tiny Tokelau Takes on the World With Solar PV Plunge

By Rich Bowden

One of the least reported, though possibly one of the most important, announcements to come out of the recent climate change gabfest in Durban earlier this month was the one from tiny Tokelau, with a population 1,500 (and three cars as reported by the Guardian). The Pacific state said it is planning to replace its aged diesel generators with a $US7.5 million solar PV system.
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Tassie comes in from the cold

Vast solar arrays in the middle of our hot baking deserts or mainland cities awash with solar panels are generally considered the most efficient way to soak up the abundant sun for energy in our country. In terms of suitability for solar farms in this wide, brown land of ours, the mind definitely points to swelteringly hot parts of the mainland, rather than the cool, fresh, green island of Tasmania.

Not so according to a recent study by the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology which says the cooler regions of the world are, contrary to general belief, an excellent area to generate massive amounts of solar energy. The report says that cool climates, particularly those at a higher altitude, have massive potential to generate solar-powered electricity.

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BP Solar Stops Making Residential Solar Panels

By Rich Bowden:

bp solar

An old school BP Solar panel – now a collectors item? (Credit: Thomas Springer)

The news that BP Solar will close its global distribution for residential solar panels and related PV products in favour of large scale projects has raised eyebrows amongst solar analysts throughout the world.

The announcement came after the company had been in the business of marketing PV products for thirty years, making it one of the world’s acknowledged leaders in this field. A company spokesperson was reported by wire news agencies as saying late last week that “…we think we can have a much stronger business going forward focusing on developing projects,” as he added that the company is now looking to concentrate its interest in this field.

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Australian Researchers Break World Record for Solar Panel Efficiency

By Rich Bowden

Now this is the sort of news your correspondent likes to deliver. After weeks of wading through government reversals on solar feed-in tariffs, reporting on the various sniping at the edges of the solar industry and talking about savage cuts from state and federal governments affecting the Australian renewables sector, here comes a really positive development.

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NSW Govt Opts for ‘Hardship’ Package for Out-of-Pocket Solar Customers

By Rich Bowden

The NSW Government has refused to back down over its controversial decision to reduce the bonus feed-in tariff offered to households for solar power returned to the grid from 60 cents per kilowatt hour to 40 cents.

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