The Shocking Truth About Commercial Solar

solar install

Why don’t more SMEs have solar on their roof?

OK, I admit it –  that was a headline designed to get your attention if you own or operate a small or medium sized business (I’m also a sucker for bad puns).

But it’s just that I feel the need to shout from the rooftops about the insane returns that SMEs can get from commercial solar right now due to the combination of:

  • plummeting solar panel prices,
  • rocketing commercial electricity tariffs
  • and the typical electricity use profile of most SMEs.

I honestly lay awake at night wondering why are so many small businesses missing the opportunity offered by a commercial solar system?

Since I started this website, almost 5 years ago, over one million Australian households have demonstrated that an obvious way to address rising bills is to install a solar power system.

Though state government incentives (AKA Feed In Tarrifs) which supported the majority of residential installations have mostly been wound-back, the financial opportunity for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) has never been better.

Why? Because most SMEs which operate 9-5 will use all the electricity their solar system generates, offsetting their bills at 30c-40c per kWh. So recent feed in tariff reductions have little or no effect on commercial solar systems’ payback.

Why then is solar power not more popular amongst businesses?

The Australian solar power sector was kick-started by a combination of state and Commonwealth incentives that targeted households. Though small businesses could access many of these incentives, for many years a business-sized solar power system remained too expensive to justify the purchase.

The last 12 months have fundamentally changed the economics of commercial solar.

In the last 12 months the price of electricity has skyrocketed while the cost of solar power has dropped astonishingly. Small businesses tend to consume more and pay more for electricity than households, meaning solar power can quickly pay for itself.

Further cost reductions in solar power are likely to be more gradual than past years’ successive price halving, meaning now is a great time to purchase a system. It seems that most SME’s don’t realise how easily they can cut their electricity bill while also attracting conscientious customers.

Payback periods vary considerably depending on the electricity tariff, and by the ability of the business to utilise the power that is generated during the day.

How would you like an IRR of 35% on your next business asset?

Those businesses facing electricity tariffs of over 30c/kWh may be able to have their investment returned in as little as three years, although, yes I admit a few stars have to align to get the 3 year payback. Five years is a more realistic expectation. But that should still make your accountant happy.

Because electricity prices keep rising, the internal rate of return (think of it as a ‘comparison rate’) for a solar investment can be as high as 10-35%.

And if cash-flow is tight in your business (whose isn’t?) many solar companies are now offering five-year finance terms that can make hire-purchasing a solar power system a cash-flow positive experience from day one.

You are probably wondering where I’m pulling these crazy sounding figures from?

(Oi – I heard that answer!)

These crazy sounding returns are actually from a pretty reliable, and might I say – usually conservative – source:

graph of solar returns

Projected Internal Rate of Return for a small-commercial 10kW system assuming no export.

The graph above (provided by SunWiz for Green Energy Market’s advice to the Clean Energy Regulator in late 2011) demonstrates the Internal Rate of Return for a PV estimate starting from 2011 PV system prices and 2011 small-business electricity tariffs. The return on investment naturally increases as electricity prices rise, and is already ahead of schedule owing to faster-than-expected reductions in PV system prices in 2012.

As you can see, system profitability varies owing to the different electricity tariffs applicable in each state, and is based on a reasonably-performing system operating for 25 years with 5% annual increase in electricity prices; higher performance and electricity price hikes would improve financial outcomes even more.

So why haven’t more businesses bought a solar power system?

Many don’t own their business premises, which can make it difficult (though innovative solar companies do have solutions for that). But really, I suspect it’s primarily a lack of understanding of the opportunity, so I hope this article increases awareness in the commercial sector.

Many businesses are too distracted by daily operations to ring around for quotes, which is where SolarQuotes makes life easy (sorry for the blatant plug!). But before you get a quote or 3, get a solar education.

Here are the key things to look for when choosing a commercial solar provider:

  1. Understand your electricity bill. Many businesses have ‘unbundled’ tariffs in which they’re charged separately for their energy consumption and peak demand. The solar power proposition in such cases can still be satisfying, but longer paybacks will occur. Make sure your PV company performs a detailed assessment, because solar power doesn’t necessarily guarantee reductions in peak demand.
  2. Communicate your electricity habits. Solar power produces quickest payback when its generation is consumed on site whenever the sun is shining. Power that is export to the grid is less financially beneficial. For this reason businesses with mostly nighttime consumption (e.g. bakeries) don’t make ideal candidates for solar. This also makes it vital to size your system correctly. Make sure your PV company performs an hourly energy balance to ensure your production won’t be wasted by being exported.
  3. Select a company with commercial experience. Installing commercial solar power is more complex than installing household solar. Your PV company should perform a detailed roof structural assessment, negotiate grid connection, arrange finance (if required), and custom design a high-performance system – all of which are more complex on a commercial job. Make sure your PV company has sufficient experience in commercial PV so that your system will be delivered without hiccup.
  4. Choose trusted equipment and suppliers. Solar power systems should last for over 20 years, but should something go wrong you want to be covered. Choose larger equipment manufacturers with over 5 years’ experience producing solar equipment, and check that the warranty is honoured locally. Make sure your PV company also has a long operation history so that help will be there if needed.

Remember, solar power can bring highly-valuable indirect benefits too, beyond just reducing your electricity bill. You deserve to be proud of a solar purchase, and to show your customers your community leadership by shouting from the rooftops.

One million households have made a similar investment, a fact that can provide trust empathy and conversational access to customers ready to buy from whichever provider they most prefer. And don’t delay, for this leadership opportunity won’t last – it won’t be long before others are following you by getting a solar system for their business.

Thanks to Warwick from Sunwiz for his help with this article.  I strongly suggest that – if you get quotes for commercial solar – you insist that the quoting solar companies prove their claims using PV financial software such as Sunwiz’s excellent PVsell.


About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and the founder and CEO of I started SolarQuotes in 2009 and the SolarQuotes blog in 2013 with the belief that it’s more important to be truthful and objective than popular. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division. Since 2009, I’ve helped over 700,000 Aussies get quotes for solar from installers I trust. Read my full bio.


  1. George Patience says

    Hi Finn
    Thanks for your expert opinion on hybrid systems.
    My thoughts were ,what about a 48v 200Ah battery (9.6 Kwh) ,and no solar ,but say a Rich Super Combi unit ,to just go to off peak power use from grid.Then it will use battery at high tariff times and top up at low tariff times
    This would have to slash bills by 50 % ???

    I note a battery Li Fe battery says 2000 recharges so ,does that mean about a 5 YEAR battery life ?

    Can you recommend installers ? i want to try this myself .

    I believe these batteries can get hot ,so would an outdoor be safer than in house ,maybe an insulated
    cooled housing (i am in Australia ,and summer is 100 f plus !!)

    Dr George Patience

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi George,

      Yes – you can do this! I’d be fascinated to see how you get on (and if the local utility get upset with you for ‘gaming’ the system).

      You may find the comments below this post interesting:

      Particularly where Lindsay – who works for Selectronic (Aussie off grid/hybrid inverter manufacturer) tell us that Selectronics is constrained by the power utilities in order to get their product approved. The hardware and software functions that would allow you to do what you describe are disabled. This is necessary otherwise they couldn’t have had their product approved for installation!

      But I don’t think the Rich Electric gear has these constraints.

      • what a load of rubbish. I have been thinking about Solar and I have a few friends with solar. They are unimpressed with the money they forked out. They are greenies so for them it is really just protecting the environment but the ROI is 5 years for solar? Flat out lie.

        I have my friends tell me they get about 4kW a day from a 3kW system in melbourne. How long will that take to repay it self? They are embarrassed to tell me how much they paid for it.

        • Finn Peacock says

          Hi George,

          I think you are getting your kW’s and kWh’s mixed up 🙂

          More details here:

          A good 3kW system will generate about 12kWh per day, averaged over a year. Your friends need to get their systems checked!


          • Janet Redbond says

            Putting solar on my house WAS THE BEST THING I HAVE DONE IN YEARS. The prices have really come down – so the outlay is nothing like it was a few years ago. It has reduced my power bill by three quarters. I am very happy – and would recommend it to anyone. Yes I agree – wouldn’t listen too much to your “friends”.

          • Derbyiter says

            That’s what happens when the cowboys are running all over this country, installing these units/systems without any regards to anything else but making some quick bucks out of it ! Thus to say, ” the shonky work seen/ found is that they don’t even connect the system up as per proper full operation order…. Yep, I’ve gone through and fixed many of them ,now…

        • Hi George,
          We bought our system 2 years ago through a referral from Finn. It was to be a 2KW system but ended up being 2.2 KW through some luck. We went for a 3 KW inverter though to allow for some potential expansion down the track. This pushed the price up a bit to $4,200. In the 2 years we have had the solar installed, we have worked out that we have saved around $2,800 in electricity costs. Based on that, our system will pay for itself within the 5 years. the highest one day reading we have seen from our unit is a return of 13.2KW, but generally on a good day (sun, no clouds) we will average around 10-12KW. We do have the benefit that our house and panels face North, maximising the solar capacity of the panels.

          • Jean Hort says

            Fred says,
            We bought into a 2.5 kW system just at the time our wa govt rolled back the scheme. We send to the grid much more power than we use for ourselves. However synergy power company charges us 23.550200 cents per unit we use and buys back our renewable energy at 8.852900 cents per unit that we export to the grid. At that rate it will take quite a time for our system to pay for itself.
            Those who entered the energy buy back scheme in its early stages receive 40+ cents per unit. They should be making a steal!

        • Your friends must have dud installations – and need to get their system checked. I paid $7k for my 20 panels. My quarterly bill in the ACT is around $600 per quarter. I am selling more than $300 per quarter back to the grid. So I have halved my electricity bill . My maths tells me I will be break even 5.8 years. In the meantime my electricity bills are very manageable and I am seriously considering adding an additional 7 panels – which is the maximum my Aurora One can handle.

          • Finn Peacock says

            Hi Ray,

            Thanks for the comment. Good to see you are happy with your solar!

            If you are considering upgrading then this may be useful: What to watch out for when upgrading a solar system

          • The problem is you are assuming you would do nothing else with $7000. If you use a conservative 6% return then your $1200 a year saving is offset by $420 lost (less income tax, but if you have a home loan then it is the full $420 a year, since that is less interest you have to pay). So it is really a 9 year pay back, not 5.8 years.

          • Finn Peacock says

            Hi Richard,

            The calculations do take opportunity cost into account. They also assume electricity prices will increase which generally offsets the opportunity cost.

            My payback calc takes everything I can think of into account, yes including opportunity cost (but not tax) and you can play with different values of all the inputs here:


            Best Regards,


          • The actual amount of energy transported to the grid is dependent upon many factors. Ramping up the level of PV where the grid impedance is relatively high will have the grid commutated inverter dropping out on high voltage as designed. The high voltage problem is growing and now inverters installed in Japan need to act as a voltage shunt if the grid voltage goes beyond prescribed limits. As the numbers of systems connected to the grid escalate the problem will grow particularly where the connected load is not absorbing the energy generated.
            Suggest read the article on Townsville solar city experience
            A rational approach to a balanced system will help all


    • Hi
      I live in Qld, have a 5KW system, facing True north, no shade, 24 degree pitch with optimum equipment.
      My best one day return was just over 37 Kw’s
      My home is designed with energy efficient globes. pool pump etc and after 2 years I can prove my return in $4,000 minimum a year cash in hand.

      It has not missed a beat and I track the data via blue tooth which shows daily, monthly output and if I was to build again I would definitely install Solar.

      But people it all depends on equipment, angle, solar orientation, shadow and how you run your power hungry appliances during the day.
      John. Maroochydore

      • Very good performance. I regularly check the performance of our system – a good parameter is hours per day at rated output, eg 5Kw system, 30 Kw in the day = 6 hours…long term average for our system in Brisbane is a little under 4 hr/day. Rod

    • From the above a 3kw system operating on its high efficiency life span and with six hours of peek sun shine a day during sunny days will make for its owner 5 dollar a day. Yet with the aging of the solar cells their efficiency drops reducing the production. Further during cloudy days the production will fall drastically. Considering the life span of the cells, the batteries and inverter. Being ten years the system will never break even.

  2. So for domestic use if I don’t use solar during the day when I am getting 44cents and use it at night for most things that is the best way to go right ?

    • Finn Peacock says

      Yes – if your feed in tariff pays more than your cost of buying electricity then you maximize your $ returns by using as little electricity as possible during the day thereby maximizing exports to the grid.

      I explain in great detail here:

      • I’m just wondering how can you Save any Money my next Door Neighbour He has only the Hot Water Solar and his Bill is the same no Saving whatsoever

        • Finn Admin says

          Hi Tanya,

          His solar hot water system must be faulty. Who installed it?

          A good solar hot water system (like the one on my roof Solahart) will save at least 70% of your hot water heating costs.


    • weterpebb says


      You should sell all of your electricity at 44 cents per kWh, and instead exclusively use grid electricity which costs a maximum of 25 cents per kWh. Even when you have excess solar power. That maximises the amount by which you are ripping off other households, because other households are covering your profit of 19 cents (44 cents – 25 cents) per kWh through higher costs.

      Of course, there are some who might have a moral problem with selling something (energy) which costs 25 cents wholesale for 44 cents retail. Particularly when other electricity users are forced to pay for your profiteering. But I guess those people who worry about ripping off other people don’t exploit the feed-in tariff. And as solar is not economic unless you rip-off other users by forcing electricity companies to buy for 44 cents what they produce themselves for less that 25 cents, people who care about other users don’t use solar – its far too expensive unless you can get somebody else to pay for it through feed-in-tariffs.

      Thankfully not many people are selfish enough to install solar power systems to exploit feed-in-tariffs, or electricity would cost far, far more than it does already. But if you don’t have a problem with this, go for it.

      • I don’t understand your comments about morals.

        If I grow tomatoes in my own garden, am I “ripping off” someone, or I’m “selfish” if I charge $3.99/kg as Coles / Woolworth / my local green grocer does? Did you know that wholesale prices are less than retail?

        When I sell my solar energy to the grid, I am reducing the total amount of non-solar energy used. I’d say that’s good.

        • Yes, you are ripping somebody off (specifically other electricity consumers). If Coles and Woolworths were required by law to buy tomatoes at $3.99 per kilo from anybody who walked into the supermarket, then they would have to sell tomatoes for considerably more than $3.99 to cover profit, fixed costs of operating the store, and the costs of QA and purchasing tomatoes a couple of kilos at a time (instead of the tons at a time they get from commercial growers). And the people who would pay for this are the people who buy tomatoes. Costs get passed on.

          You are very welcome to use solar for your own purposes. I frankly don’t care if it costs you $3.99 to grow a kilo of tomatoes; its your money. But as soon as you use government legislation to force people to buy your more expensive product, you are ripping them off. Use solar yourself if you wish, but don’t expect other electricity consumers to subsidise your capital investment.

          • of course all those self employed people (ABN ) who claim every cent they can from the Tax Office are not ripping off the P.A.Y.E. TAX PAYER ARE THEY?,

          • Seriously weterpebb your comments are pretty short sighted. Do you understand the whole point of solar electricity generation?
            1. It is to take load off coal fired or dirty power generation
            2. It creates a much more sustainable electricity system
            3. The grid & network of solar often means electricity doesn’t have to travel as far & takes load off the grid at certain peak times (which is why electricity is charged at high prices at certain times) … less infrastructure required in theory.
            4. Essentially the biggest point … rebate systems point our industry in the right direction & has a trickle effect of driving down the cost of producing solar products (we benefit right across our whole economy). ie street light solar(no grid or connection infrastructure required), solar gates, solar water pumps etc …

            The Solar demand has also increased demand & awareness for faster innovation of low power usage products.

            I am very happy to fund solar in our electricity grid system because it means we breath cleaner air & we require less coal to be dug out of the ground beneath our feet.
            We subsidise coal, oil, mining billions of dollars each year … why should we not support other industries which are better in the long term?
            No body is getting ripped of weterplebb … do you need further understand or explanation?

          • These may be the “whole point of electricity power generation” in your mind, but its clearly not the opinion of the author who didn’t even mention these things. Indeed, the “whole point” of this thread concerns the cost of solar power, which is what I was commenting on.

            You say the “biggest point” is that the Australian rebate system “has a trickle down effect of driving down the cost of solar products”. Australia is somewhere under 2% of the world market for PVs; the entire Australian demand could disappear overnight (or double overnight) and it would have no measurable effect on manufacturing volumes or economies of scale in solar cell manufacture.

            The future of solar depends on whether it can live up to its hype and actually produce grid power more cheaply than coal. If it can, then it will succeed. But then there have always been lots of technologies which if they had lived up to their hype would have been wildly successful. Wide bodied jets is an example of a technology which did live up to its hype and became wildly successful. Bubble memory is an example of a technology which didn’t live up to its hype, and disappeared. We shall see with PV, but it is a technology which has existed for over a 100 years and has had billions of dollars of research money poured into it, and it still falls way short. Not looking good. More like bubble memory than wide bodied jets, I would have thought.

          • Hear, hear Weterpebb. About time someone said it as it is. Electricity is a needed service for everyone, and should be made available as cost effectively as possible for all. Egalitarian access. It should not be used to subsidise the “haves” by the poorer members of the community.

          • Well actually solar has already proven itself & its worth…. why is it being widely adopted? This is no over night technology. Solar has been around for a long time. The solar concept, understanding happened in the 1800’s & the actual solar panel was invented in 1941.
            So while it would be considered fairly new technology …. look at the mobile phone, computers, cars …
            Being made as cost effective for everyone is right … that is how its currently done … with great inefficiencies & poor government measures. Privatisation meant we lost control of how it is owned & run … with a vital utility like electricity, thats pretty short righted & foolish.
            Electricity has been subsidised a lot by government & government measures. These blind subsidies meant that most consumers & manufacturers treated energy like air basically.
            Products were launched out into the market place with no efficiency concept or need at all.
            Consumers just thought that electricity grew & trees & taught themselves to chew through power at alarming rates… then cried about it when prices rose … which they were always going to do.
            And who benefitted most from our cheap, subsidised, unsustainable electricity system … often the top end of town. Many of our large corps or companies even get free water or very cheap resources made available to them(we tax payers pay for it).
            Though, of course, companies businesses & corporation get to claim deductions for energy & utilities anyway. Besides, if consumers have more disposable money that ends up benefitting the rich anyway … because of the financial flow pyramid.
            So yes, the consumer should get cheap sustainable power generated to them. But they should also educate themselves as to how to increase their efficiency of usage.
            What better system than let a lot of the consumers have solar electricity generators so they can use power & feed power back to the grid (users end up very efficient).
            If we are haggling over a few cents, without taking into account the benefits short term & long term of our energy production measures … we could not be more stupid.
            Though on the whole a financially motivated society is pretty stupid … that’s why people have to have policies brought in, to teach them how to behave (energy ratings on products, water saving devices, energy saving devices). Shame it has to be that way.
            The way our electricity should be supplied, is this:
            Access & low power use should be very cheap … then a sliding scale should be implemented so that the highest users pay the highest price. They should too, because the highest users are the ones putting the most load on our system & driving prices up.
            So Weterpebb is saying it how it is .. yet everyone else is not? hahaha
            NEWS FLASH! Its not all about money Weterpebb … (negative consequences from poor technologies equals cost as well).
            It is interesting to see the different points of view though.

          • Peterwebb is correct and the main problem is I don’t think we even make solar cells in Australia and the research we do is really not made any impact money wise for australia. It is a big loss making venture. CSIRO is working on printable solar panels but these ideas are not new and as usual the concentrated media here will just flat out lie about the progress or ownership of technology to help make sales.

          • Chris you have no understanding of anything but falsehoods you make up in your own mind and this idea that only the rich benefit from trickle down economics that is another falsehood.
            You need to talk less and read more. The income disparity we have now was not much less about 20 years ago and has not reached these heights since 1930s and before. This is going off topic

            The problem with solar in Australia is the hard work is not being done. What is the heavy lifting? The hard work is to do the material science. How do we do this? We need to set up test sets of different materials and look at the structure and try to predict which combinations of materials will exhibit the best properties for solar generation. Though solar is limited by the amount of power coming down from the sun through the atmosphere. The hard work is not being done. It is not easy to go through and set up this process and we need many people to do this. Though I feel the people there are more happy just to be in CSIRO rather then do something because they know that the concentrated media will just exaggerate and lie for them.

          • Your ignorance astounds me George. Peterwebb … try reading hey. It helps.
            You clearly know very little about the solar work being done in Australia.
            Second you clearly know very little about the disparity between rich & poor over the term you speak of.
            Thirdly, solar work & testing materials has been going on for a long time. Like any technology it will change as it evolves …. better not buy a TV .. it will be different in a few years.
            Material science you speak of… then you bag out an organisation like CSIRO who does exactly that. Developing Wifi, improving agriculture, improving energy efficiencies & working with companies in collaborations is not doing any thing or working in material science is it….
            Yes the media just lie constantly because they don’t continually report ‘your’ facts, & ‘your’ rhetoric … the stuff you want to hear.
            You don’t even know what I am saying George so please don’t comment on it.
            Solar is limited by the amount of energy coming down from the sun … what a clueless ignorant comment. Major break throughs have been made in recent times which amplify energy being converted. Besides … any technology, coal, nuclear, cars are all limited to energy that goes in or can be supplied. At least solar is renewable, free & sustainable.
            I would hold your tongue a little more & do a bit of reading of fact … not fiction.

          • Focusing on the consumer and attacking them is not right weterpeb. If your angry about the cost and injustice go to the government that made the legislation not this forum.
            Whilst you’re there tell them to stop selling coal to other countries and gas for next to nothing and have us use it for our electricity, then we will have the cheapest prices in the world not the most expensive.

          • weterpebb says

            “Focusing on the consumer and attacking them is not right weterpeb. If your angry about the cost and injustice go to the government that made the legislation not this forum.”

            I can’t go to the “government that made the legislation” as Labor is now in opposition both Federally and in NSW. So they are in no position to do anything about these bad policies. The replacement governments are already unwinding these injustices.

            And why shouldn’t I complain here? If people want to boast how they are getting paid far more for their solar electricity than it is worth, why shouldn’t I be able to point out who is paying for this generosity?

            “Whilst you’re there tell them to stop selling coal to other countries and gas for next to nothing and have us use it for our electricity, then we will have the cheapest prices in the world not the most expensive.”

            Australian power stations pay less for Australian coal than what Chinese power stations pay, because shipping charges are less (Australian power stations are often co-located with the mine). Any Australian power station can buy Australian coal on the open market for the same cost as a Chinese power station, but with lesser shipping costs. The only way the government can reduce electricity prices is through allowing FIT to reflect market value, remove MERT, and remove the carbon tax. The Federal Government is in the process of doing all of these already.

      • You do realise that while you, as an electricity customer, are charged a flat rate of say 25 cents, the supply company pays a variable wholesale rate of anywhere between 0 cents and many dollars per kilowatt.
        In the example here, prices hit $3.21 per kilowatt. That means, every kilowatt of solar power generated at that time represented a saving of $2.77 to the power company, and ultimately, the retail customer.

        “At 11:35 market time, we saw the price spike to $3210.95/MW on the back of some constraint activity in the market.”

        While the price paid for solar is above the average rate paid, it is significantly below the peak rates paid. The net effect of all this solar capacity has in fact led to a net REDUCTION in wholesale electricity prices, which is easily verified if you look at historical trend data.

        The rises in RETAIL costs is due to a requirement to pay for all those extra power lines and other infrastructure needed to cater for the peaks in demand which are themselves becoming rarer, i part due to the mitigating effects of local solar generation.

        • Except that the peak time occurs between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Solar plays no role whatsoever at these times; the reason they are peak times is everybody is switching their lights on. Because its getting dark. And solar doesn’t work.

          And the reasons that the wholesale price paid for electricity varies so much is due to the market rules of supply and demand. Domestic solar is not subject to these rules; the rebate is set by the government. If there was no rebate, and the electricity distributors paid you at market rates, they would probably pay you a few cents per kwh at most – your power is not reliable enough to replace other sources of supply.

          • Again you are wrong, the data from the networks across the nation and the world are showing that the most costly times for network demand is usually in mid afternoon when business and commercial retailers and domestic users are online together and demand spikes. Solar just happens to be great and provides electricity and far more competitive rates than the current fossil fuel industry can…in fact this is why the current business model is so unsustainable, the power companies rely on the hour or two in the day where they can charge a $1000 per mWh for their profits which solar is providing thus reducing their profits dramatically. So solar provides cheaper energy at the times needed most and reduces needs to increase capacity of grid overall to meet peak demands through the year… so solar is playing a very disruptive role in the business models of power companies hence so much disinformation around the role solar is playing or its potential


            Average peak demand in NSW (and other States are similar) occurs between 5:45 and 6:30 pm.

            Solar produces zero power at these times.

          • Jonathan Maddox says

            “Average peak demand … occurs between 5:45 and 6:30 pm. Solar produces zero power at these times.”

            That’s a leetle bit disingenuous, given that I’m sure you know the sun is high and bright in the sky until 7pm or later for half the year. Sure, in winter, the evening peak does not occur in daylight. In summer, it does.

            The “average peak demand” is also very different from the absolute peak demand. It is the absolute peak which determines where incremental distribution and transmission capacity is necessary and which therefore drives the investment costs of the utilities and is in greatest need of “peak shaving”.

            The absolute peak demand, in recent years, has invariably been in the mid-afternoon (circa 4:30pm) on the hottest days of summer, when the sun is shining brightly.

            The annual absolute peak used to be in the chill midwinter, but this is changing with improved insulation and air conditioners : the same equipment that drives these consumption peaks in summer is reducing winter consumption because when used for heating, it’s three times as efficient as old-style electric resistance heaters.

          • Actually, I don’t know that the sun is high and bright in the sky until 7pm for half the year. The peak time for electricity consumption is in fact largely determined by when it starts to get dark, as that is when lights get turned on in homes. That’s why the average peak time is 6 pm, as that is the average time it starts to get dark. In summer, when it gets dark later, the peak arrives later.

            I have already posted figures for peak demand which show the peak in NSW starts at about 6:00 pm on a yearly basis. You have to be a little bit careful with these figures. “Absolute peak demand” is not so relevant for NSW, as the “absolute peaks” can be met by discharge from the Snowy. That is effectively a giant battery which we can use for absolute peaks, but if we use it too much it runs down …

            You are quite correct about reverse cycle air-conditioning. The underlying fact is that new technologies (including reverse cycle aircon and compact fluorescents) are reducing demand for electricity, which has fallen every year since 2007. Because electricity demand is decreasing, we do not have any need for additional generation capacity; we have more than enough already. Arguments for solar which are based on it providing additional capacity are a nonsense; we don’t actually have a problem with too little generation capacity, its actually not a problem.

          • Peter webb , you are painting such a bleak out look for solar. We have the problem of the chicken and the egg. Which came first? We need to practically implement solar else we will never have it. Just because the technology is not working right now, it does not mean it will no work in the future.

            The problem with solar is that if you lose the grid power, your solar disconnects. We need better designs in solar installations. We need load shedding that designs within the household to keep the fridge powered and we need low cost , low maintenance battery systems. Again these problems are not being addressed because they are difficult to do. This is opportunity for Australian universities to do this. The question is, where do we get the funding for this when we have such income disparity, so much tax dodging by individuals and the stupidity of the right wing ideology filtering into australia. We have many mean people here who think medicare is a luxury, not a necessity. The selfishness we see is coming from the concentrated media we have in Australia.

          • I have a bleak view of the future of solar because it has been under intense development for 40 years and is still nowhere near being economically competitive. In this regard, it joins a list of what were other promising energy technologies that turned out to be dead-ends – fusion being the most obvious example.

            Solar energy is simply not cost-effective. It is buoyed up by government subsidies that are currently being wound back worldwide. Because of this, solar energy companies are going out of business at a huge rate.

            Australia’s subsidy of solar power is money wasted. Our subsidies do not contribute to the world-wide economies of scale of the industry, as we consume 1.5% of the world’s electricity. And I fail to see how subsidising the Chinese PV industry is in our interest. The subsidies do cost Australia quite significantly; they achieve nothing but cost us a lot of money in subsidising inefficient industries and Chinese manufacturers.

          • Dear wetter pepp talker,
            you have a disturbingly distorted view on the future of energy production for the good of all people on this planet.
            The objectives of technological progress and clean energy for a healthy environment for the good of humanity is completely amiss in any of your ill-informed argumentation.
            You are having a fit here, just for the sake of a good argument and mixing up seasoning with reasoning. Just to clear this one; one is for your BBQ steak and the other one is for for having a valid point in a conversation.

          • Oh yes Weterpebb … renewable troll… We must not subsidise solar or renewable energy! We must continue to keep pumping huge government subsidies into coal powered energy generation & mining though .. yes of course. Your argument makes complete sense …
            The IMF did a report showing that global fossil fuel subisides amount to $1.9 trillion annually.

            I am sure in your ill informed, lacking information world, solar/wind is nowhere near as price competitive as coal (we will over-look the pollution financial gain, over look the finite resource argument, or damage to our backyard arguments just to keep you happy of course).
            So now, when you buy products from another country for your own benefit you are subsidising them? Oh right .. I get it. Shut the borders to cheap goods … we must now make it all at home.

            Actually the renewable energy industries like wind & solar are actually much more efficient that coal energy … because a) you don’t have to burn the crap, dig it out of the ground & pollute everything, along with the environmental damage b) the sun or wind keep operating for free with no further resources required to maintain that energy.

            Renewable energy sources are getting cheaper while coal is getting more expensive.
            Many conservative reports indicate that by 2015 wind power will be on par with the price of coal powered energy production. And by 2020 will be a lot cheaper than coal fired energy production.
            Who would be stupid enough to keep subsidising coal & not moving some of that money into renewables?

            Here are some of the reasons we should not keep funding coal (these should also be consider in the financial equation):
            – increased illness and mortality rates due to mining & pollution
            – climate change increase from greenhouse gas emissions
            – fine particulates causing air pollution
            – great loss of biodiversity & habitats for local species
            – cost to taxpayers of environmental monitoring, cleanups & repairs
            – infrastructure damage from mine blasting
            – impacts of acid rain resulting from coal combustion byproducts
            – land & water pollution

            You are a pretty bad renewable energy troll … the good ones actually have fairly smart arguments, rationale & comebacks.

          • Whoa, Chris, lets introduce some facts into this debate:

            1. The IMF report contains some very dubious assumptions (eg that the cost of building roads is a subsidy to fossil fuel), and when you read it, fossil fuels subsidies are mostly in developing countries, some of which (stupidly) subsidise petrol and (wisely) subsidise building roads. In Australia, fossil fuels are not subsidised. On world parity prices, petrol should cost about 80c per litre. The difference at the pump is a 47 cents per litre fuel excise. This tax, and the one on diesel fuel, raises about $20b pa, of which about $6b is rebated, leaving a net tax of $14b pa – the exact opposite of a subsidy. I won’t even bother telling you about the company taxes paid by coal miners; to suggest that on net they are subsidised is cloud-cuckoo land. We don’t “fund” coal; it is the export earnings of coal which largely subsides our national economy.

            2. No, I can’t see the benefit to Australia of subsidising Chinese PV manufacturers, which is effectively what we are doing. The purported benefit is a global one – reduction of CO2. So we are paying some Chinese company to inefficiently reduce world-wide CO2 on our behalf? If you want to do reduce CO2 emissions there are lots of things that we could pay Australians to do, instead of Chinese workers in a sweat-shop.

            3. I am very pleased to hear that tidal power is already cheaper than coal powered stations, and in a few years will be much cheaper. If you are correct, there is clearly no need to subsidise this technology any more.

          • weterpebb … there are a multitude of fossil fuel subsidies in the Australian economy … You are kidding right?
            Yes mining, fossil fuel industry etc .. do make a fair amount of money that goes back into our economy. Lots of money also goes directly offshore.
            The Australian economy … & Australian people deserve to benefit somewhat from these industries … after all these are our, finite resources(Australians).
            So the 6Billion rebated you would not consider a subsidy I guess … Other would think that paying people back money on products that increase pollution is a subsidy. – FUEL TAX CREDIT SCHEME!
            We don’t help to pay for all the infrastructure used to cart coal & mining resources around do we … another subsidy, port etc ..
            If our land, ports, rail etc .. were adequately paid for we would deserve quite a healthy profit … hence the idea of coming up with the resource rent tax, super mining profits. Some of the infrastructure is paid for by mining projects … some paid for by us, some paid for in combination of government & private companies.
            Also large companies are often given cheap power or water etc … BHP was given free water for a huge period of time ….
            We do not subsidise China by buying cheap shirts & clothes do we …. No! The market ends up their because they make it the cheapest & the retail sectors, wholesalers, distributors gain larger profits from buying the stuff cheap … they sell more of it with great margins. Obviously this has been backfiring on us… and there is nowhere to go, once you are at the cheapest manufacture point.
            Hence, buying renewable equipment or mining equipment from china is a must & inevitable. It is not a subsidy to that country. It is for our own gain.
            Oh so what are your bright ideas we can pay all Australians to do that will solve our Co2 problem?
            A blend of renewables is the smartest way forward obviously.
            You don’t put a wind turbine on a street light or on your RV caravan. You use solar. You don’t generate hydro energy from waves or water ways & ship the energy to the desert.
            You act smart .. employ the right technologies in the right places. Then you can slowly phase out polluting technologies.
            First it was that climate change wasn’t real, not it is “no point acting because it won’t affect the planet”.
            Seriously … If only it were so simple that we just vent the smog & bi-product waste to your back yard …& all the sensible people who act properly, can live in cleaner pollution free area.
            I am fine with just minimising pollution in my own neighbourhood.
            Failing to factor in infrastructure costs in electricity networks as opposed to ie a solar street light, garage lights, street signs … you are only looking at part of the picture.
            On top of that … people like yourself, fail to factor in the price of the damage & pollution that is caused by mining, coal & fossil fuels ….

          • Jonathan Maddox says

            On mild summer weeknights the demand peak which you suggest is due to domestic and street lighting would appear to be nonexistent. Demand peaks directly attributable to air conditioning on the hottest days, however, are enormous — and they *do* peak while the sun is still in the sky.

            It’s also enlightening to realise that variation in industrial power demand when almost all workers have the day off is modest indeed compared with the variation in weather-contingent domestic and retail air conditioning power consumption. Why is it that we can afford universal domestic aircon but supposedly industry is collapsing due to high energy costs? Scoff.


          • Jonathan Maddox says

            Solar PV shaved almost 5% off peak demand in Victoria and South Australia during the recent heatwave. Such heatwaves absolutely do represent the annual demand peak.


  3. Max Bancroft says

    I just wish someone would invent Solar Roof Tiles so we can clad our houses with them. Then it would become a Whole of Roof Array and we wouldn’t need to have an ugly Jerry Built solar panel contraption cluttering up the roof line.

    • Finn Peacock says
      • Also check out the work from Dyesol.
        They are integrating solar into building products. They are located in Canberra.

    • sandbagger says

      To get the maximum efficiency, the sun’s rays must hit the panels square on, so the panels need to be at an angle. This angle will vary, depending on the location of the house, it’s latitude, and that’s why a “jerry-built contraption” is used.

    • The solar tile idea has been around for many decades. The problem again is that it is not only inefficient but the hard work is not being done. We need to look at the structure of materials to make it possible for firstly the solar panel to reject dirt and keep clean. We need the solar panel skin to be resistant to sand abrasion and we need the light to focus on the panel at more angels. These micky mouse ideas are just con jobs. The problem again is that the hard work is not being done.

      Example, The plants use hydraulics to pump and close and open the flowers. These kinds of ideas could be used to make the solar cell position itself to be more efficient. Though again the hard work here is not being done.

      • What are you on about George … sun trackers have been around for ages …..
        The solar tile idea has not been around for many decades … & besides solar is all about efficiency, longevity & ease/cost of manufacture. All of which has improved greatly.
        Resistance from sand erosion … what because everyone lives by the beach or in the desert? And our windows need this resistance too don’t they, because you can’t see through the glass after a bit of sand hits it right?
        Oh yes .. we need automatic cleaners on our solar now … the water doesn’t do it well enough & its so hard to get up & clean the panels once a year ….
        Seriously ….

  4. Tim Mullins says

    These are good points, but truth be known, solar does still have some issues. This is why you will always see a combination of solar, wind, and even Pelton Wheels in off grid homes here in the states.

    But since microwaving electricity became a reality, a new option has emerged which could resolve solar issues. Space based solar power is a concept whose idea has come. Official estimates are $100 Billion and ten years to a productive system that will handle our needs. Yes, I’m well aware that those are optimistic numbers. Make that $1 Trillion and twenty years is my guess. But when you are looking at green power until the sun burns out? Why waste time?

  5. My calculations were – Replacement of equipment is necessary sooner than advertised and these costs extend the time to parity on expense Vs “free” use to the extent that these systems never pay for themselves. Friends in the Electrical Industry reached the same conclusion. The claims above are from an installer and possibly “bent” to achieve sales.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi There,

      Please elaborate your claims. Which equipment are you claiming needs replacing “sooner than advertised”. MTBF figures would be nice.

      Also the claims above are not from an installer and certainly not “bent”! If Warwick ever got on a roof, he’d probably get dizzy and fall off.

      I’m happy for you to disagree, but some data/details backing up your claims would be a good start. Then we can have a real debate!



      • weterpebb says

        But you assumed that the equipment would never break down, would require no maintenance, and perform at 100% efficiency for 25 years. As you provide no MTBF figures in your article (and in fact ignore it entirely) it is somewhat ingenuous for you to demand in a comment a level of substantiation that you were unwilling to give in your article.

        The figures you provide are a nonsense, because they are based on a theoretical projection from somebody in the business of promoting solar power.

        Why isn’t there a single actual real-life example used as an example? This should describe the cost of the system, how much energy it produces per year (power figures are of course worthless; we don’t pay for power, we pay for energy), the on-going maintenance costs, and the rate of degradation.

        Then it is simple to calculate a real-life ROI. And I bet if you had used real life figures (instead of theoretical figures provided by somebody who promotes solar power) the ROI would be nothing like what is claimed.

        Of course, solar power companies and promoters never provide the real figures; they guess correctly that most people don’t know the difference between energy and power, so they can get away with providing a meaningless statistic (power) instead of the statistic which affects cost (energy). We will all know when solar power becomes cost effective because solar companies will start publishing real-life figures on net energy output. While it still isn’t cost-effective, they will continue to mislead consumers by using dodgy statistics (eg peak power instead of annual energy output).

        Very shonky business.

        • Keep trolling weterpebb … it might get you somewhere one of these days.
          Meanwhile …. reality continues at an alarming rate, in line with time.

        • weterpebb,,you sound like a staunch labor supporter,,im a low income earner,under $40k per annum,,and I invested in solar,,it will take 3 years to pay my investment,,im inter my 6th quarter,,have not had a electric bill for that time,and am in credit,,not much,but is still a saving,,
          try looking in a dark place for what you have lost,

    • My dad installed solar. 6kw system. Is going to be paid off in under 4 years. Nearly there now.
      Mum only put in a 1kw system, its already paid itself off. No maintenance has been required.
      Solar is not only about the money…. we are making good changes to a flawed, short sighted, unsustainable power generation system.
      Many solar systems have very long guarantee & warrantee periods.

  6. I have just received my first bill since having solar installed. I exported over 400kWH into the grid but did not get a single cent rebate or payment for this; that the electricity distributor has taken it gratis.

    • Read the fine print in your supplier’s contract. You will find that your quarterly figures are cumulative and a rebate is made on the fourth quarter from date of panel installation.

      • @ Fred, because you do not own the sun.
        How can any one who utilises solar energy, expect a return from energy companies when the sun is free.
        That goes for any source of energy, the coal fired power stations didn’t form the coal they use, the infrastructure yes, (and even that the earth produced the raw materials).
        So all anyone is paying for is the “human energy” it takes to make it all happen.
        How much is your energy worth? As this (Human energy) is what anyone is truly paying for.

    • Stephen Treloar says

      It must depend on the retailer and maybe state (SA here) as my rebate was included on my first bill (AGL) after the panels were installed. I hope your paperwork was completed and submitted correctly by the seller/installer as mine was initially lost and needed to be resubmitted.

      I also have a indoor monitor that estimates the power output so I can see it easily. The actual panel output varies dramatically according to the meter due to local line voltage variation (196V-260V) and the way it seems to be calculated. The external smart export meter shows much lower production and export.

    • Richard Cole says

      FRED, The electricity companies are stealing it. No b/s just hard fact, Go stand alone solar, cant beat it…

  7. Malc Cochran says

    We put 14 panels with crystal plates, not crystal particles, on our roof. My son put on cheaper panels. Ours face NW, his face due N.
    But ours produce 25% more power.

  8. david thorne says

    Hi i recently purchased a solar power panel kit and noticed it stopped charging during the night, i am worried i am going to miss out on half of the savings, please assist.

    • Whistleblower says

      Idiot! Solar systems need sunlight as an energy source.Darkness (at nght) = no sunlight, ergo no electricity!

    • Finn Peacock says


      That is a worry. Did your solar installer do a ‘full moon’ power analysis as part of the quote? You may find that at night the moon is not properly aligned with the sun in your part of Adelaide – hence your problems.

      Hope That Helps,


  9. I am treasurer for a not for profit organisation (a sort of trade union). We own premises in a residential and commercial complex in Melbourne having flat roof. The body corporate has told us that it would be almost impossible to get 75% of the 73 unit owners to agree to our /community solar panel installation as most owners are property investors or they do not bother to attend body corporate AGMs band are hard to contact.
    Finn, do you have a solution for the issue?

  10. staffordhall says

    I think you may have a thorn in your side David….

  11. Ramble NQ says

    The saturation advertising on local radio only confirms to me that many are simply con merchants thriviing on (arguably wasted) public funds and the lie that a few solar panels shall change the global climate. I just hope there is sufficient baseload available after the first cyclone tears most of these from the roofs and disconnects the cabling, cause there is no way solar will replace it.

  12. Brian Davidson says

    As a meter reader, I’ve actually talked to many people with solar, and these alleged figures don’t match up with reality. These claims also don’t match with what the numbers say on the meters.

  13. weterpebb says

    So where do I buy these solar panels and associated electronics which operate for 25 years without maintenance costs and still produce full rated power at the end of 25 years of continuous operation? Because that is the assumption which has been used in the state-by-state comparison of solar vs grid.

    Of course, they don’t exist. PVs and electronics age, and as they age they become less efficient. Completely ignored in the analysis. Is there (somewhere) a realistic and impartial estimate of the relative costs of grid and solar? Because this graph – prepared by a solar energy company – is obvious nonsense; it assumes that PV cells will not degrade over 25 years, and ascribes zero costs of maintenance over the lifetime of the system. Both are obviously false assumptions. And obviously made to make solar look more attractive. I wonder how it would look if it made reasonable assumptions re power output over extended periods of time and cost of ownership (eg maintenance). Presumably they show solar to not be cost-effective, or they wouldn’t have needed to fudge the truth to make their graph.

    • Jonathan Maddox says

      They absolutely do exist.

      “To mark the 30th anniversary of my first PV module, I decided to climb up on my roof and bring it down for testing. … drawing 2.5 amps … more power than would be expected from the factory specs”

      “A PV cell is a rock that makes electricity.”

      • You left out the bit about how the solar cell company was “amazed” they were still working to specification, and the figures provided by the supplier which show the typical degradation of performance over time. (And incidentally they weren’t operating to specification; the claim was that if the weather had been better they would have been. That assertion was also never tested).

        I am still waiting for somebody to provide a proper analysis of the costs of solar power, so we can see if it is cheaper than grid power or not. I have never seen such an analysis which shows solar to be cheaper than grid power. Because no proponent of solar seems willing or able to back up their claims with actual data, I rather suspect that solar isn’t in fact cheaper than grid power. This explains why they never show the working on figures that purport to show solar is cheaper.

        Remember, these guys are salesmen, and they are trying to sell you something. If a salesman claims something is cheaper than the competition, but can provide no figures to substantiate the claim, then he’s probably telling fibs. The solar energy industry has turned this into an artform.

        If there are any solar companies who really believe that solar power is cheaper than grid power, they should come around my house and install a PV system on the roof. I will then pay them the same for energy as I pay for grid energy. If solar really was cheaper than grid energy, then this would be a profitable business for solar cell suppliers (as they sell energy for most than the cost of production). Not one solar company I have talked to will do that, because not one solar company actually believes it is cheaper than the grid. They are quite happy for you to make a bad economic decision, but completely unwilling to make the same bad investment themselves by underwriting the economic performance of the system in this manner.

        Caveat Emptor.

        • Jonathan Maddox says

          I believe you misread the account, Peter. The performance was better than spec, and this was explainable by the excellent conditions. No untested hypothesis. A silicon photovoltaic cell is a rock that makes electricity.

          As for companies who will install a PV system on your roof for nothing more than the opportunity to be first in line for your power bill, they’re around and getting more common and more profitable. Check out for instance.

          • No, this organisation will sell or lease you the equipment, but they won’t sell you the power. The customer underwrites the risk. I have never seen a solar power company offer to sell you power at less than grid rates. They would lose money on every installation.

            When and if solar becomes competitive with grid power, solar companies will start doing this, and in the process take very significant market share. People’s main issue with electricity is its cost; if solar companies really could offer cheaper power than grid most households would use it. The fact that it appeals to their environmental sensibilities would be cream; the driving force is cost.

            Of course, solar power is a lot more expensive than grid power, which is why solar companies won’t sell you the power. If people knew how much solar power really cost, very few would buy it. So they don’t sell energy; they sell you the equipment and a nice story, so you are carrying the risk on whether these promises of cheap power are true. As many have found out, they aren’t.

          • uranium is a rock that produces power, actually the only viable 24 hour producer i can see. Power demand especially at night is increasing and there is no way that solar can ever be anything more than a feel good project due to the storage issue.

          • Finn Peacock says

            HI Brad,

            Nuclear power and solar are not mutually exclusive. They actually work together very well.


        • It is actually worse. The gold plating of the privatised power utitlities and foreign ownership there off has resulted in the higher power costs. We were told that in victoria that the power would be cheaper because it was privatised and yet we find it more expensive. Where in the world is power cheaper when it was privatised? No where. Again lies and lies. The problem is the regulators are full of corrupt people who do not see white collar crime in the same way as normal crime.

    • These products you speak of weterpebb are nowhere to be found for people like yourself .. too lazy to even do your own homework … but too skeptical to even read facts …. & too ignorant to even believe that you can make a positive contribution.

      No one is forcing the ignorant to become aware. No one is forcing to foolish to become cautious.

      Most solar products are only stated as 25 year rated …. many will last a lifetime, with only minimal losses down to around 80% efficiency.

      These products are rock solid … there is practically nothing to them ….

      Many electrical components in solar systems don’t deteriorate with age .. they are shielded & protected from the elements … How long do copper wires operate for with our antiquated telco system. Lol. Worthy comparison.

  14. Clever (click-baiting) Headline!
    Of course all the people who don’t follow through and read the article are left with the idea that the “Shocking Truth” is something scandalous and negative.

  15. Ange Kenos says

    When the Libs took office in Victoria the solar rebate was around 60 plus cents. They cut it way back to 28 cents the slashed it again to 8 cents. In other words MY solar panels which I paid for are creating free energy for the companies thanks to the Liberal government.

    • 6c here in NSW.

    • Not free energy. Not even cheap energy.

      The wholesale price of electricity in NSW is usually about 5c per kWh. That’s for electricity from a coal plant which sells gigawatts (not kilowatts).

      If they are paying you 6 cents per kWh they are paying you well over the odds. It is far cheaper and easier to buy bulk power from a single supplier than buying it from thousands of small suppliers. Less metering, less infrastructure upgrades, less paperwork, less hassle. Furthermore, the electricity distributor will pay you 6 cents whether they need or want the power at that time. With coal powered stations, distributors buy the power they need, not the power that the householder wants to sell. It is a unique and untenable economic model, where the supplier sells whatever he wants (instead of the customer buying whatever he needs).

      If and when government solar subsidies are removed (I include MRET as a subsidy) the price for solar electricity will become very close to its economic value to the distributors. For some distributors, this will be zero – dealing with thousands of unreliable suppliers of electricity is not worth it, at any price. Some have already made that decision. The rest will be offering somewhere well south of the wholesale price offered by large generators (ie somewhat less than 5c per kWh, or maybe 7c after paying for long haul transmission losses).

      It is obvious that subsidies are being removed, and the price being offered for solar power is crashing. Already down from 60c per kWh to 8c per kWh in 5 years. And on the economic fundamentals, this will drop further – potentially to zero.

      I can only urge people considering solar power to be certain that it is economic without a feed-in-tariff. It didn’t take long to go from 60c to 8c per kWh, and with the recent change of government (or even without it) that 8c could become 3c or 2c or 0c very quickly. Buyer beware.

      • Thousand of small suppliers … lol … actually they are considered customers. Off setting what they produce. The power companies have a duty to give the market what they demand.
        The suppliers sells whatever he wants .. lol
        Well actually we are trying to remove the need for dirty coal fired generation. Get it? No … thought not.
        Yes beware buyers … electricity is going to be worth nothing in the future according to weterpebb.
        But lucky not many people would seriously pay attention to a renewable energy/solar troll …
        Pyne, Hunt … which one are you? Identify yourself & your true agenda! 😛
        Yes we all know the Libs are reckless with our environment … thanks for stating the obvious weterpebb. Lucky the solar contracts were honoured & many people are locked in for quite a few years.
        Maybe you should stop urging people … & just go on the pro coal websites & preach to people who already follow your reckless ideology.
        We are not all short sighted greed motivated individuals … lucky that hey weterpebb. Otherwise all of our forests, national parks, oceans & beaches etc would all be filthy or decimated.
        But keep enjoying the things you take for granted.

        • “Pyne, Hunt … which one are you?”,————GOOD question!
          Don’t we forget about Corrie Bernardi either.
          What I find very disturbing is that they are not only getting rid of every institution that doesn’t go along with there Anti-green, Anti-renewable energy hype, but they are investing a great deal of personal energy to discredit the science of everything that has got to do with renewables and climate change.
          I can’t get rid of the feeling that they are a comparable small clique of people trying to hijack the energy industry in Australia. Even if it is only for a couple of years before people wake up to their con, it will make them a fortune.
          Since the odds are 90% + of climate scientists of the world against 90 + clowns in the current government of Australia, I’d like to think that they are trying to defraud the whole country in a way which is hard to pinpoint.
          According to the criminal Law; — intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual or entity is FRAUD!
          Civil Law: — Fraud is a defense in a civil action for breach of contract or specific performance of a contract.
          An elected government has got a contract with the people of the country!
          They do have their supporters, but only because they are masters of CON.
          Wetter pebb or what’s his name is trying very hard to make it look very academic, in order to make the con work in his favor and make it look like he is doing those people a favor who are being coned by his Anti- environmental argumentation.

  16. Vic Hillas. says

    Don`t loose sight of the fact that if you have a Hybrid set up ( Solar pv and Grid ) the Electrical Retailer
    Still charges you up to $1.00 per day service charge whether you use power or not.

  17. I am still amazed by that graph showing returns on SME PV systems.

    The amazing thing is that nowhere are the assumptions underlying the graph explained. There is a link to the company that provided the graph, but alas no explanation of how it was prepared. And nor is there a single worked example which shows any savings at all.

    As the whole thrust of the argument is that it is a good economic idea, couldn’t you find a source which didn’t just assert the savings, it calculate them? Have you no more evidence that SME solar is a good idea other than a graph provided by a company which promotes solar energy, with no explanation whatsoever of how it was calculated?

    If you really believe this is a good idea, show us how you worked that out. Pick a typical benchmark system (1 kW, 5 kW, 10 kW, I don’t care) located somewhere normal (say Western suburbs of Sydney; lots of SME there). Tell us capital costs and installation costs. Tell us energy output per day on average, and peak power. Tell us annual cost of maintenance of equipment and allowance for repairs based on a 20 year use. Tell us degradation of power output over time (0 to 20 years).

    From that, we could calculate the cost of the solar electricity, and compare it to our current and anticipated future costs.

    Nor do you recommend that you ask potential suppliers for the corresponding data energy production versus cost. Which, if using solar is a financial decision as you claim, is the first thing I would do.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi weterpebb,

      The Office of the Clean Energy Regulator (who the report was written for) are pretty fussy about people proving their claims when they make submissions – if they are to be taken seriously. So don’t fear. The graph is very thoroughly researched. Unlike your comments.

      Best Regards,


      • The graph is pretty thoroughly researched? Where can we find the underlying assumptions and cost model? I assume this must be published somewhere, or is it secret? But you must have a copy, right? So why not show us?

        What allowance was made in the costings for preventive and remedial maintenance? How was solar cell degradation factored in, and what rate of decay was used?

        Your whole article is based on the premise that solar PV is a good investment for SMEs. But the only “evidence” you supply is a graph from an interested party, with no explanation of how the figures were calculated. That is simply asserting solar is a good idea, it is not providing evidence that is.

        So why the lack of evidence that we can check (ie with inputs, assumptions and costs clearly stated)? Has anybody ever managed to produce a fully costed analysis which shows solar PV is a good economic decision? If they have, why didn’t you provide at least a link to the analysis? And if they haven’t, why do you claim that solar PV is in fact cheaper if you cannot find any evidence that it is?

        Ohh, and by the way, the “Office of the Clean Energy Regulator” does not enforce any standards of truth in submissions made to it, and there is no requirement whatsoever that claims be proved or even plausible. You can submit anything you like to the Office of the Clean Energy Regulator; they don’t check submissions for accuracy and nor do they endorse submissions as truthful. If this was who was supposed to check the Sunwiz calculations, they were never checked, the Office doesn’t actually do this. So it appears it was never checked at all.

        If you think solar is cheaper, provide the analysis on which you base your opinion. If you can’t provide an analysis which shows solar is cheaper, why on earth do you believe it to be true?

        • weterpebb,

          I think the complicated argument you put forward is fine if one is having an academic debate.

          The reality for me is much simpler.
          I now have a solar system that provides for most of the electricity I use.
          I am happy to put back any excesses into the grid.
          I don’t actually care if I get a FIT or not. That wasn’t why I invested in a solar system.
          My power bills have significantly reduced.

          When I have paid for the system, the electricity I produce from a clean source will be largely free, including what I put back into the grid. If the system requires maintenance, then whatever that cost is, I guess would add to the time that it takes me to produce free electricity. That’s ok.

          If I am charged a service fee in readiness for when I source power from the grid, then that’s ok too.
          If in the meantime, while I await for the cost of battery storage technology to come down, I pay for the power I source from the grid that’s ok too.

          I guess with the need to outlay a significant sum of capital expenditure largely gone, most premises owners could also enjoy the benefits of installing a solar system.

          So I have to conclude from a reality point of view that it has been a good investment.
          I didn’t need a deep and complicated analysis, just a simple and meaningful one.

          I’m not sure based on the reality of what I have seen and experienced for myself that your academic argument would ever convince me otherwise.

          For me, solar power was a good investment.

          • Just got my first electricity account that reflects the first full quarter of being on solar.
            Average bill pre-solar was around $1020.

            This bill is for a credit balance of $73.30cr.

            Quite happy to give back 2029kWh (note the small k Finn) to the supplier at a cheaper rate than what I paid for the usage draw from the grid.

            So anyone trying to tell me that solar panels are not a good investment are dreaming.

  18. My 8 solar panels 1.5kw on my house have been fantastic, I got 68c rebate.

    Everyone said don’t do it won’t be worthwhile, too expensive etc. etc.

    My last WINTER in Melbourne bill was $78. This year I got a $9.20 credit, so will not be paying any electricity this year ! I have a 19c an hour electric panel heater in bedroom ……goes all night.

    Only 2 of us pensioners.

    • Solar when the rebates were decent was such a great investment. Not only are you future proofing yourself for further electricity price rises … but you will get a great income from it.
      Many systems installed when the rebates where good will pay themselves of in 4 – 6 years …. Then from there on, its all free energy…. system has been paid off & now you get the pay off.
      Congrats on getting solar 🙂

  19. Nicholas Brown says

    My Wife and I had eleven solar panels installed a year ago, with a 4.2 inverter, the elec company energy Australia installed a smart meter, we have not paid a power bill for twelve months, sounds great BUT, its not what you think, we receved a triple bill in march, that was three bils, each much mor than the last, up to $2700, we were told not to pay it by EA, then we receved the same but much more a few months later, was told not to pay it by EA, since then we have gone back and forth with the ombuds man and EA, we just receved another bill for 10 months for $3420.80, thats $1026.24 per quarter, before we had solar we paid an avarage of $400 aprox per quarter, and now they want to check our meter, was told by the supplyer that on avarage the meter check says the meter is ok, I realy wish I had never had sollar installed, it has been nothing but stress and pain, God help us if we end up having to pay a thousand a quarter, and I never mentioned that we have mostly LED lights, slowly replasing the energy saver lights the government roled out. if you have good advice, would love to hear it

    • Nicholas …. few tips for you.
      A lot of companies are pretty dodgy when it comes to how they implement solar & rebates/payment systems. I would advise you to start looking at your meter. You want to record some of the figures at certain intervals … slowly you will be able to work out if things are not adding up. Check at midday to see if your system is producing what it should be … approx. 70-80% of what it is rated at on a decent sun day.
      Also you should photograph your meter readings … this gives you evidence (time, date, location).
      You should look at your meter when you have nearly everything turned off … is it spinning fast? Slowly you can eliminate certain elements of what is chewing through your power or where errors are coming from.
      Meter checking & documenting figures at intervals should be done, whether you have solar or not.
      I have heard many horror stories about the smart meters … they rip you off. I can’t comment first hand because I don’t have one.
      If you have appliances going heavy on electricity during peak times you are going to pay for it.
      Main things that are going to be expensive … electric water system (you want inverter tech or go gas or solar if you can), fridge … you want an energy efficient one (don’t open it all the time or leave it open, check seals), electric heating is one of the worst things you can do (use thermostat heaters they are not set too high if you need electric heater).
      Now … with your hot water … turn it down to a sensible level (gas or electric, you save a lot of energy being wasted … some people even add a little insulation in key areas).
      With your fridge .. same thing … have it at a sensible temperature … no point having food so cold it’s practically freezing … same as the freezer. Set them to decent temps).
      What ever you do, don’t get complacent & use more power, just because you have solar. Treat it like an income … cut down power consumption in practical ways & you will see the benefits.
      Where possible turn off power points at the wall, or use tech which can cut power.
      One trivial point … don’t fill your electric kettle full every time you use it, if you don’t need all the water. You are paying to heat a large amount of water that is wasted ….
      I guess when it comes to reducing power, it all adds up … little savings over many years equal big returns.
      Though, does sound like some errors being made towards your billing or meter readings … be warned .. many companies do not do actual meter readings all the time … so they may fool you into thinking you are not going through much power … then wham! They give you the actual meter reading & the two periods added together make it a large bill with shock factor. Hope some of this information helps you or some other people.

      • Finn Peacock says

        Great advice Chris, thanks.

        • Thanks for publishing the article. I appreciate you highlighting what I would consider key, beneficial technology that should be more widely adopted.
          I look forward to the day, where you can buy cheaper wind turbines & solar panel kits & plug them in, in a DIY manner.
          Our homes should be wired up to accept safe energy in & out. 🙂

      • Chris, I think the point Nicholas was making is that he shouldn’t have to do all that work simply to ensure that he is getting what the solar industry has led him to believe that he would get. I consider access to affordable energy to be a basic human right. I don’t expect my elderly mother to agonise over a power bill. I want her to be able to flick a switch to boil the kettle or to see who is on the front porch when its dark. The simplicity of those actions for many decades has been reflected in the simplicity of payment for that energy. This shouldn’t change.

  20. Hey Mike have you checked out the Clean Energy Councils new ‘Business and industry guide to installing solar PV? you can find it here.

  21. Interesting to read the various comments from people with PV systems.
    Ours is a 2Kw Solar System. Has been installed since Nov 2010. I regularly read the meter and have been monitoring the performance of the system.
    The value that seems to be important is the equivalent hours per day at rated capacity. Here in Brisbane, we are averaging 3.95 hrs per day, ie on average, our system produces 2 x 3.95 = 7.9 kW hrs of electricity.
    Before installing the system, we did a cash flow analysis using the vendors 77% efficiency, 5 hr per day for Brisbane (vendors figure) and an assumed export of 50% suggesting a payback of about 6.5yrs – remember this was before the cost of panels etc had dropped. On this basis, it seemed a reasonable investment, equivalent to say 15% return on money – much better than bank interest and tax free!
    So far, return is in line with cash flow analysis and seemingly no drop off in performance of the panels.

    There are two reasons to install a PV system: One is to get a nice fuzzy feeling that you are doing your bit for the environment. The other is somewhat more altruistic – it’s a good investment. The ballpark has changed with the reduced FIT but even so, a system sized to cover daytime use will still cover it’s cost within 5 or so years. 20% ROI…not to be sneezed at!

  22. deb thramer says

    I live on an island off the cost of Australia where we all harvest our electricity as we haven’t got the luxury of public services like water, gas or electric. I would like to point out that installing a solar system is not the huge savings that allot of people like to assume it is. We have spent a fortune putting our system in and it doesn’t stop there. This is not a one time only option. Once you install solar panels (8 x 200watt) you have to have storage for the power you have harvested which is usually a bank of huge batteries (the equivalent of 16 car batteries) each of our 8 x 400AH 6volt batteries cost us $400 a piece these are linked up to provide us with a 24 volt stand alone system. The life span of the batteries is 5 years when we will have to make another investment in new batteries. Our needs are small but for the average American home you should double or even triple your storage. We also had to shell out for our inverter and a back up diesel generator. Many a time I have had to forgo a hot shower in the morning as the previous day was cloudy and there wasn’t enough amps to power the water pump or even the toaster for that matter. Anyone game enough to give solar a try and put less demand on the public grid should be commended and I agree with them being compensated for their initial outlay or at least a portion of it. It is those pioneers that will help to work out the kinks and improve these systems and lower costs for future generations to come.

    • Greg Bailey says

      Sounds to me like you have insufficient generating capacity for your situation. A 1600 Watt system is unlikely to meet the needs of a typical household after taking losses into account in an offline system like yours. I’d double the size of the solar panel capacity at least. Then it might work effectively.

      • It can be a huge saving Deb. It depends on if you are getting solar credits paid to you and how much and how big your system is.

  23. The Laws of Thermodynamics
    The Laws of Capitalism
    The Laws of Family, our children’s, child’s future.

    Converting sunlight energy into work.
    Make a profit out of that conversion
    Make sure it benefits our children’s, child’s future.

    Our Sun exudes energy
    Capitalism will always take
    Family is in flux of Love, thinking and communication/understanding of ideas

    Renewable Energy Technology is part of the solution.

  24. It is I only says

    When I put some Solar panels on my roof, then I just wait when the gumnent to come & tell me to pay for the sun shining on my panels, cause the sun shining is not mine but the gumnent!
    Today in Spain, tomorrow HERE!

  25. I find the Qld government is nothing but a thief made legal by their laws in other words, Legal Robbery. I get 8c in feed-in tariff but being charged 26.5c for the electricity from Grid. If private companies adopt this kind of business practices, they will be prosecuted. But the govt is getting away with murder by enacting laws which are unfair, unlawful and exploitative. Govts the world over is following the American practice of making things which were once illegal, legal.
    Everyone in Qld thought voting for Mr. Cando will green the govt. but boy were they all wrong!!!

  26. Here I am installing a Solar power system hoping to save a few cents which are just peanuts compared to what the Qld State Premier was going to get in one fell swoop in one year: $149,000 which will then be equal to the salary of the President of the United States of America.

    Granted that Mr. Can Do did not make that law to enrich himself but then he is in majority power in the government and if he is fair dinkum, he could easily have reversed that decision.

    It was under that would be dictator, Anna Bligh who shot the state’s finances to pieces and when she can no longer get what she wants, now abandoned ship to find greener pasters in the next state. Pity the citizens who has to suffer her next policies recommendations.

    The people of Australia has suffered privations in a land of plenty and wondered how this state of affairs can come about. Wonder no longer, because as long as the CEOs of big government, Banks, Insurance Co and Big Businesses get paid in unprecedented large variation to the workers, we will be forever put under the thumb of this financial impost and never be allowed to enjoy the wealth that this great land of ours produce.

    One do not need a degree in economics to figure this one out. Take a brief respite from your beer drinking and watching football and consider what your government is doing to you.

    BTW, what you consider your “government” is now really a Private Corporation registered in a foreign country with an ABN. This is in concert with the other Easter States and our Federal Government.

    It is debatable if these foreign registered Corporations have the right to rule us as they are not included in our Sacred Australian Constitution.

  27. so a small business might be a local retail shop,cafe and a medium might be a car service centre or trade business located in a business park ? Usually these businesses rent their premises and relatively often move [hopefully up to bigger premises] so i think they are unlikely to benefit that much from having to pay for a system that really becomes the landlords.

    • Finn Admin says

      Hi Rob,

      There are quite a few options for businesses who lease their premises -look out for a post explaining these soon!


  28. We held back on solar power because of all the bad hype about it. Our Son told us he was going to put solar on our house and that was just before the rebate ended. So my wife and I now have solar and haven’t paid a cent in power bills since. The grid input almost covers the payments and all the bad hype turned out to be an absolute nonsence. Our bills were $400 to $500 per quarter. We have a 5kw inverter but 3.2 kws of panels. We will be adding the extra panels soon to bring it up to 5kws. We don’t to make money out of it, we are happy to have it cover our power bills and still be able to use power without skimping. We are pensioners.

  29. Marino Mangone says

    Humans have survived for thousands of years without the need of electricity and now the majority of humans can’t “live” without it.
    “Electricity” (as human’s use it) has only been around for approx. 150 years, and now have been brainwashed into thinking they truly need it to survive.
    And human’s are supposed to be the smartest of beasts.

    • Jonathan Maddox says


      Modern energy technology has delivered incredible benefits to humanity. The beginning of this pre-dates electricity by a long way; electric power is just the most flexible form of energy we have to date. The role of universal energy carrier is still dominated by liquid fuels, of course, but the forms of energy are becoming gradually more fungible and electricity is today beginning to replace some functions which once were exclusively filled by oil.

      Without modern energy technology we lose the benefits of modernity itself. We lose clean and efficient light, heat, transportation, communication, refrigeration and medicine. We revert to damp, smoke-filled huts, famines and plagues. We revert to “nasty, brutish and short”.

      Electricity is not the only way to live our lives. But it’s the cleanest, most flexible and most efficient tool we have for pretty much everything it can do for us. There are, indeed, tasks which only electricity can perform for us. In the medical sphere alone think of the lives saved with the use of defibrillators and the electron microscope.

    • Late to the party..
      Next time you need surgery, let us hope the steam powered surgical equipment is ready for you.

  30. Dennis Longstaff says

    About solar hot water… If you shower in the evening your thermostat will heat up your water overnight and the solar will be of little value, so have your showers in the morning to save.

    • very good advice,,i installed solar hot water,,but the girls could not work it out,,so the electric element went on and stayed on,.,if one does not pay the bills,,one don’t care anyway,,heat pump is the way to go,works on air temp and not actual uv sunrays

  31. Dennis Longstaff says

    Responding to an earlier question about using Batteries……
    We lived in a remote area where the cost of getting power connected was prohibitive. We (just two of us) managed well with solar feeding a 24V 400 Amper Hour lead acid battery. Several times a year, after dull spells I would need to re-charge from a small diesel generator. Used a small fridge, LED lights, bottled gas for cooking, and no electronics on standby. The batteries needed replacing every 4-5 years, but keeping them topped up extends life. This means using the genny more often though
    Now in the city and tempted to try again, but with two offspring rather cautious.

  32. maybe some people dont want to bludge off their mates who pay to support the base load providers who supply electricity when private users need it…at night. if everyone goes solar what happens at night?

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Brad,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Just wondering. Do you own an air conditioner? If you do – then you’ve bludged $7,000 off your mates in extra network spending to run it. That’s government figures.


  33. sorry i am too busy to demonise everyone. the baseload and need at night remains the problem. sure the people using solar are ok… and stuff everyone else.
    oh..lets ignore it and it might go away… i am leaving this site..the discussion is going in ever decreasing circles..and we know where that leads.

  34. Malcolm Foot says

    Have just spent agood hour reading through the various arguments/discussions for and against solar. I do worry about webberpleb who obviously thinks that the power he uses is generated and distributed to him from the pole ouside his house. Nowhere in his “cost analises” does he mention the cost of building, maintaining and replacing the enormous systems required to power his computer. Do you really believe that if all the solar systems were disconnected from the grid your power bills would fall, Christmas is nearly here.I realy do think webberpleb should come out into the light and enjoy the benefits that will eventually spill on to all. ps my solar rebate paid my coulcil rates this year, I got in early and got the maximum rebate. By the way I am a self funded retiree and get no Govt assistance for anything other than pharmacuticals

    • Dont worry,webberpleb and the like are obviously politically and financially motivated short sighted
      ignoramuses who have a vested interest in keeping the coal power plants churning out more filthy pollution and damaging the reputation of Solar power…

  35. Graham Hutton says

    I own a SME , I also own (via my SMSF) my premises.
    what I find confusing is the massive array of opinion and information , which (sadly) is not unlike the Global warming debate. driven largely by ideology rather than pure science (Yes I know the science is there , But none seems able to find consensus yet) .
    In any event I want to know (reliably and honestly) what my options are and where my returns are, what the Government will do to me if I decide to implement solar in my biz, E.g. will I be charged for access to the grid regardless and will my solar generation still be worth the effort. is my net position on electricity costs an issue ? Yes I know I can depreciate the capital, costs and that is a huge advantage over domestic solar installation. Like many others I seem destined to take a wait and see position
    I am an expert in my filed, but a novice in others, and like a lot of people I wonder how I am able to gauge the advice I am receiving

    • Finn Peacock says


      The answers completely depend on

      a) your contract with your energy supplier – how your bill is structured will depend on whether PV makes financial sense or not. Often the contract makes it nigh on impossible to get a payback from PV, other times the returns can be incredible. This is such an important thing to establish, I won’t diagnose it online, I would recommend getting a visit from a good commercial solar expert.

      b) your usage patterns – they need to coincide with solar production to some extent

      c) the ownership of your premises – you need to own the premises or have a very smart/forward looking landlord

      If you ask a good commercial solar expert for a quote they will answer all your questions, usually for free, in the hope of getting a sale (assuming the 3 criteria above are met). As to how you gauge the advice…Good guys will put your returns into the contract so you can hold them to it too!

      And if you want an independent 3rd party to vet the projections, I can arrange that for you.

      Hope That Helps,


  36. terry o brien says

    why is g.s.t. charged on my full electricity usage and not the final amount after the solar credit has been deducted

    • Stephen Treloar says

      That is amazingly rude. Terry has a point that some charges should be separate and taxed accordingly. The supply charge and usage charge should be listed separately for some kind of clarity as actual usage at AGL prices my bill was 223 kWhrs usage (imported) worth around $65 and presumably about $100 for supply and $16.00 GST. When I think about it further, the actual energy produced and used by me is not listed.

      Just for the sake of comment this does not match the figures on the smart meter even remotely although I don’t know how they actually work beyond guessing at a probable mechanism.

    • i had the same argument with my provider yesterday, and they told me that they ‘choose to not charge GST’ ( I’m pretty sure that the girl in the call centre wasn’t fully up to date with tax law). I was not aware of any loophole that allowed companies to pick and choose when GST applied. Surely when I sell electricity to them GST must be added?????

  37. Ralph Turner says

    Hi,Anyone with Solar Panels ever had THEIR homes CHECKED for RADIATION entering them from the above panels.

    • Stephen Treloar says

      The solar manufacturers, governments and the Cabal don’t want you to know this but due to the presence of metallic impurities in cheap solar panels are known to produce cascades of low energy, cancer causing, cosmic rays during days with a high UV index. They also emit ‘harmless’ infra-red radiation which irradiates your roof from the underside of the panels.

      • Jonathan Maddox says

        “the presence of metallic impurities in cheap solar panels are known to produce cascades of low energy, cancer causing, cosmic rays”

        Where did you read this nonsense?

        “… emit ‘harmless’ infra-red radiation which irradiates your roof from the underside of the panels.”

        Your roof tiles emit infra-red radiation too, when they get warm. In fact *anything* warm emits infra-red radiation, including you.

      • Proof…?…Where did you get this information from?…Cmon give us some in depth details on the scientific studies where you found this out….looking forward to it.

      • Stephen Treloar says

        If you read the seemingly serious comment above (Ralph T); the question about ‘has anyone measured RADIATION entering the home from solar panels’ my post makes more sense. I doubt that anyone really checks the inside of their houses for ultimately long wavelength infrared, does the calculations for losses from the ceiling, insulation and the roofing material.

        The sun heats these panels directly with infrared(IR) by direct absorbtion and conversion of the rest of the visible and near visible components of the electromagnetic spectrum; their backside re-radiates some of the IR at the roof which heats the roofing material which then re-radiates a smaller portion of IR to heat the roof cavity and insulation which in turn heats the ceiling which re radiates an even smaller amount IR (RADIATION) into the house.

        The amount of IR produced is obviously a function of panel efficiency e.g. ~15% of all usable light converted to electricity minus the amount of light simply directly reflected and the remainder absorbed by the panel to be simply converted to IR to be radiated both from the underside and the top of the said panel.

        John and Jimmy. I’m sorry that my original post sounded plausibly stupid enough to be taken seriously.

        • No worries Stephen…thanks for replying…you´re making an interesting point…I had no idea that this radiation thing actually happens…my apologies for jumping the gun…people,like myself, can get overly defensive and biased about something they strongly support.

  38. Best quote from the above:

    “Solar is limited by the amount of energy coming down from the sun … what a clueless ignorant comment. Major break throughs have been made in recent times which amplify energy being converted.”

    Pity we can’t put some of this energy amplifying technology on conventional power stations, eh?

    But seriously: anybody who believes solar panels are environmentally clean – please remember that they are a manufactured good, they don’t just materialise on your rooftop. Secondly, if you’re using solar to power a houseful of consumer goods, please don’t congratulate yourself on making a contribution to saving the world.

    Solar is an investment decision, don’t let environmental considerations distort it.

  39. Why is the payoff so low in Victoria relative to other states?

    I think most commercial buildings would have larger roof area and less shading from trees than residential areas and therefore easier to install a more effective solar unit.

  40. It is I only says

    When over 50% of people will have solar panels on the roof, then our caring, concerned government will put a tax on sunshine! Cause the sunshine belong to the government & not to you!
    Loony conspiracy??? See what the Spanish government has done!

    • I put in a water tank,,i was told I was mad,,the govt will tax me on the water im stealing,,hasn’t happened,
      now I have solar panels ,im still mad ,,completely nuts it seems,,but my bank account loves me,

      • Yes I had same comments about my rainwater tanks!!! I have 2 x 4,500 litre ones. Best thing I ever did. Yes again I have solar panels and the number of stupid comments “that they are not worth it” is ridiculous. I think people get fed a lot of inaccurate information and follow each other like SHEEP. It is the same old story – TRY IT FOR YOURSELF AND SEE. I absolutely recommend both of them……..

  41. It is I only says

    Yeaa! Good Idea1
    Until the government will follow the Spanish government idea of taxing the sunshine which fall on your solar panel!
    The sunshine doesn’t belong to you! It belong to the government!
    BTW Heavy penalty if you try to avoid paying those taxes!

  42. I grew up in a completely solar house and my parents still live there. Never paid a power bill for the past 30yrs. Batteries have been replaced and new panels added. Unless it rains for weeks on end. They get their power fro the sun. My dad works in his home office running computers, house has tv, lights, sound system. NEver been a problem. Get with it people there is no excuse its tried and true and a beautiful thing. Sun provides all. Time to evolve Australia.

  43. graema smart says

    We installed 22 x 180 w panels with a 7 kw inverter a few yrs ago,This was done after consultation with a solar energy company consultant. The idea of a larger than neccesary inverter was agreed on so we could add extra panels one day if the present panels proved to be inadequit, Thus eliminating the need to replace the existing inverter with a bigger one. After a few quarters had passed we found that the existing panels were only covering about halve our energy consumption. With that we decided to load up our inverter with more panels to its maximum capacity. we went back to our solar company consultant,and a few weeks later he came to our house to organise this, While at our house he made a call to etsa and was told that we were not allowed to place more panels on our system as the licence approved the capacity of the existing panels only and not that of the inverter and it cannot be changed. Is this true because if so, surely our solar company consultant should have been aware of this, therefore initially advising us to have more panels or a smaller inverter in the first place .Cheers Graeme.

    • Finn Peacock says

      If you registered your system as a 7kW system – i.e. the inverter size (not allowed to do this any more – but it was allowed in the past), then you should have been able to add panels up to 7kW without penalty.

      Sounds like you ran into an ETSA bureaucrat who has downgraded your system size for you. Nice. They are a pretty jobsworth bunch in that organisation from my experience. I’ll write a blog post about my miserable experience with them one of these days.

      Looks like you are at the mercy of ETSA (SA Power Networks). Sorry!

  44. Christine Rhodes says

    What is the latest inventions for solar power and how can we learn more about storing the power as the return is only 8c at the moment and who are the best installers?

  45. Just design and sell small solar generators ( something like a mobile aircon), and the solar business will be booming. Be creative, we do not much choice until then.

  46. I don’t think installing a solar panel is worth it, now that the feed in tariffs is only 7-8 c/Kw. We installed a 4 KW system and hardly save any money from it because during the day we are not home and that is when solar is produced and we don’t used electricity that much during the day but rather during night time. For example our bill shows we used 3000kw of power and produced 2000kw extra from solar panels. So the electricity company will charged us 24c for 3000kw but will only pay us 7c for the 2000kw. So the electricity company are making a profit of 17c/kw…were just making the electricity provider rich when we install solar…so I don’t recommend installing solar especially big units.

    • Janet Redbond says

      I really disagree with you Gerald. I installed a system last year and my power bill is way down to less than half what it used to be. Used to pay around $100 – now normally $30 – sometimes around $20. Highest I have had was $52 and that was when I running aircond at night time trying to sleep.
      I think it is the best thing I have done in years. Also it is trying to help with all the (man made) problems we are facing.

  47. I installed a 5kw system on my house and get free electricity and $500 to $600 a quarter credit.

  48. Glenis Taylor says

    What a load of negativity I have just been reading. I use 2.18kWh a day and my bill says the average single person uses 15kWh !! – what on earth are people using electricity on. I turn all power points off when not in use and a fridge, computer, answering machine are the only appliances on all the time. My 3.2 solar system works fine -was never put on to make money but to help with bills in the future and so far I am in credit – it is not the consumption that concerns me but the service fee which I have no control over. Strongly suggest that people look at their lifestyle and so called essential appliances. It does help with a background of having been bought up in the bush with no power or running water. We are a decadent nation and keep filling our houses with power sneaking goods. The majority of things in life boil down to personal choice.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Hi Glenis,

      Agreed – I use 2.2kWh per day too. That is a family of five and a home office with 2 full time employees! It is possible!


  49. The reason more SMEs aren’t doing it is simple – They don’t OWN the property, they’re just leasing it. Why fork out thousands (or tens of thousands) for something that requires a payback period of up to 10 years when the lease is only signed for 3 or 5 years?

    • Finn Peacock says

      I’ve seen solar systems installed on leased roofs with a payback of 2.5 years. It is very easy for many businesses to get solar paid back under 4 years.

      If your lease is longer than the payback then it is financially crazy not to invest.

  50. Soon after I started buying my house I ordered a 1.5KW solar system. I am glad I did as I have paid it off with my electricity credit after about 3 years. I have never had an electricity bill since it was installed. Since I have been unemployed for almost one year, I am glad I do not have to find the extra money to pay for electricity bills.
    The only complaint I have is using the wrong company. I bought the cheapest panels I saw at the time, and the customer service was shocking, including from the installers. I didn’t like how high the inverter was put on my wall so got it moved down lower, and I didn’t like how low the panels were put next to my gutters. After six months the inverter stopped working and I had to wait about two months to get a new one installed. This was only after I confronted the staff at the installers office directly. I was given an in home monitor to compensate for my lack of credit for two months, but it’s not much use as it counts the electricity generated with the electricity being used!

  51. We installed solar on our roof and manage to generate over 42Kwh on a good summer day. We have never paid for power again. and often ring up the provider to receive our credit back :). However it is not just solar that you need to consider. You can greatly reduce your power bills from the installation of energy efficient lighting and appliances in your house or business. Our solar system was not made profitable until we changed every light fitting to LED and watch how we used our appliances. If anyone is after some info on LED lighting for commercial factories etc. please ask.

  52. I live in Melbourne, and have 8 panels X 200 watts feeding a 3.5 Kw inverter for a total installation cost of about $2200.00 after the government rebate. The panels face north, and are inclined at 20 degrees. I am the only occupant, and my home has electric hotwater. It takes barely a third off my electricity bill, and I figure it will take 7+ years to cover the cost, but by then there may be some replacement of panels required. I understand that the quality is not what it was 10+ years ago.

    My observation is that as an economic exercise, it is marginal at best, and I probably would have achieved more by installing solar hot water??

    • cheryl64blog says

      That’s bad luck Ross. I live in South Australia. I have eight 190W panels feeding a 1.5KW inverter on a north facing roof.
      I have gas for heating and that costs me around $100/quarter. I am mostly a single occupant with just a regular visitor here for a few days per fortnight. Last year I got installed ceiling heat lamps in the bathroom and two ceiling fans. I don’t have an air conditioner.
      Recently my electricity credits reached over $2,000 and I paid $2,000 for my solar system about three years ago. It was the cheapest one available at the time.
      As your heating is electric you use more power than me there but I still would have thought you would achieve more than a third in savings. What I spend on gas is saved by my energy credits.
      I assume you are receiving less energy credits than I do and/or you are using much more power than me.
      Now I have been long term unemployed I am certainly glad I don’t have to worry about coming up with money to pay my power bills. The only regret I have is the installation company I chose.

  53. Warwick Lake says

    1/ I am on a low budget so I can’t afford to buy 10 solar cells in one hit!
    I want to buy them 1 at a Time!

    2/ When I have tried to buy Solar Cells the only Cells I can find are the pitiful 250w cells! I refuse to but outdated technology I must have a 500w Cell and if someone releases a 1Kw cell then I will want that one instead!!! Stop trying to flog off ancient technology to me!!!

  54. reply to ‘weterpebb” I know this is 3 months late but I really don’t think you understand how solar works.You would be using power during the day unless you turn of every power point and the fridge before you go to work, you can’t sell all you produce and use power from the grid while you are producing power; only the excess that you don’t use is exported. in NSW and most of the eastern states you have daylight savings don’t you so i’m guessing it’s sun up until about 8.30pm. The peak times are NOT for when lights are being turned on as most bulbs nowadays are a lot less energy hungry than the older ones, the peak times are when people get home from work and start cooking dinner or turning on air conditioning or heaters, sun can be up in summer at 8pm but if you normally eat dinner at 7 then you have’nt turned on 1 single light but have cooked dinner maybe put a load of washing on, done the ironing for the next day, all with the aircon going It’s not lights very often. Their is also many power companies in the eastern states which you can choose from so you are not ripping of everybody just the ones with the same company, but I don’t think you are getting anywhere near the ripping of as you think.

  55. I would also add that we have a 5kw system and only get 14c return from synergy but with a pool pump 2 fridges and the bore pump working of the solar rather than mains we have halved our power bill from $650 a quarter to around $300 a quarter so i’m pretty happy.

  56. Hi Bazza, have you considered installing a inverter on your pool pump. this will have your energy consumption just on that one appliance.


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