Explainer : Pending QLD 44c Solar Feed In Tariff Legislation Changes

Queensland feed in tariff changes

Image: samfabersf

Queensland’s Energex has sent an explainer to solar installers about the ramifications of a Bill related to the state’s legacy 44c Feed-in Tariff (FiT), battery systems and array upgrades.

Should the Electricity and Other Legislation (Batteries and Premium Feed-in Tariff) Amendment Bill 2017 pass, the following will apply.

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Update February 20, 2018 : The bill was reintroduced last week with further clarifications.
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Battery Installations

While Queenslanders still on the legacy 44c feed in tariff will be able to install solar batteries – there will be some gotchas.

  • They will not be able to use a battery or a second generating unit on the same electrical installation to boost the volume of export “beyond a level otherwise possible”.
  • The battery must be programmed to only supply power to a premises at night or during a blackout.
  • ┬áThere must be no overlap of generation from solar panels and battery discharge.

Energex says it will provide more details on the above following legislation changes being finalised.

Upgrading Solar Panel Arrays And Replacing Panels

For those on the 44c FiT:

  • If an array upgrade results in the total solar panel capacity exceeding the total inverter capacity, the 44c FiT will be lost – unless a sales contract was entered into before 15 June 2017 (and can be produced if requested).
  • If solar panels are to be replaced for whatever reason and this will result in the new capacity exceeding the inverter capacity, steps must be taken to bring the system array capacity back to at or below the inverter capacity.

Big Brother *Will* Be Watching

Energex says it will be monitoring for changes in export and consumption levels that may flag unapproved changes having been made to solar power systems. This monitoring includes the use of complex algorithms and also aerial imagery where necessary to gauge the capacity of suspect installations.

“If we suspect an unapproved capacity increase, we will investigate, where relevant remove the 44c FiT and seek to identify the installer involved,” Energex states.

The full Electricity and Other Legislation (Batteries and Premium Feed-in Tariff) Amendment Bill 2017 and explanatory notes (which Energex advises should be read) can be accessed here. Energex says it is likely the Bill will be debated in Parliament next month.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. An aspect to this, makes it questionable, to me.

    Insofar as I am aware, unless panels face at the optimum angle to the horizontal, and, face due north, the panels are unlikely to achieve 100% efficiency, and, are therefore, unlikely to produce output at their rated capacity.

    I (in WA) have two sets of panels (three arrays in one direction, and, one array in the opposite direction), feeding into two separate inverters; one for each orientation.

    One orientation is about WSW and the other is about ENE.

    The best performance that I have observed, for both systems, is about 80% of the rated total panels capacity, for each of the two systems.

    One of the inverters – the one with the WSW oriented panels, was overloaded from installation – 2kW of panels for a 1.5kW nominal capacity inverter, and, I am investigating getting the other inverter (3kW) overloaded to 4kW of panels.

    The point, with all of this, is that more total panel capacity, than the nominal total inverter(s) capacity, still does not mean that the power output would exceed the total rated inverter(s) capacity.

    So, I think that the approach of the Qld government, in this, is over-simplified, and, not beneficial, without considering the system efficiency, of each individual system.

  2. Just to clarify – if I can achieve the overloading of the 3kW inverter, that I seek, giving a total of 6kW of capacity of panels, for the two inverters with total nominal capacity of 4.5kW, total rated capacity (which is apparently nominal capacity plus 10%) of about 5kW, I believe that the power output would still not reach the total rated capacity of the inverters.

    So, I believe that the factor needs to be, not the total capacity of panels, where that exceeds the total rated capacity of associated inverters, but, instead, the total possible output of the panels, for each particular system, dependent on factors such as the orientation of the panels, and the consequential efficiency of the panels, in situ.

  3. While I’m not fortunate enough to live in sunny Queensland, I think this is an opportunity for Energex to set an example for other Australian energy suppliers in fair dealing with small-scale PV owners. There’s really no need for this complexity in description – Energex could just use the rated inverter capacity for SSPV generators for Energex’s business planning, and dispense with all the array analysis (and income protection surveillance).

    SSPV owners are entitled to use their stored battery power however they wish, whether that be within their own premises, or export to exhaustion at any time of the day or night.

    There are elements within legal doctrine known as “Restraint of Trade”, ( http://www.australiancompetitionlaw.org/law/rot/index.html ) which may be valuable for those affected if considering a counter submission to this bill.

    Wish you luck.

    • I think the reason for this is the 44c scheme was running at a time that panels were expensive and it was not the practice to “over supply” the inverter, as it is now with cheaper panels. As the Govt mandates 44c tariff I imagine they are restricting the consumers on that contract to the intent at the time they entered the market. Nothing prevents you forsaking the 44c and increasing your system.

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