Recent Study: Are Solar Homes Truly Green Or Just Energy Hungry?

2 australian homes with large solar systems

Happy New Year from my straw-bale home in Adelaide. Now, don’t let the eco-friendly construction fool you – my place is an energy-hungry beast, and I’m the guy feeding it! With thermal mass and careful orientation, the house is a champion of efficiency, but my family’s lifestyle… well, that’s another story.

For starters, I’ve got a Finnish sauna (a nod to my heritage) that pulls a whopping 7kW on our evening relaxations. Then there’s the 57,000-litre pool, kept toasty with a heat pump, fed from our generous solar supply. Of course, we can’t forget the air conditioning, my son’s high-power gaming PC that’s practically part of the family, and the pièce de résistance, our two electric cars. They’re our eco-friendly chariots, never tasting a drop of petrol, charged mostly on excess solar or super off-peak grid power.

I encourage solar + batteries, but my 20kW of solar panels and 13.5kWh of solar batteries only just keep up with my energy-hungry family.

Oh, and let’s not forget the three teenagers, champions of 30-minute showers. Ironically, they have the most to lose from climate change yet are the hardest to wrangle into energy-consciousness. Although on the optimistic side, my P-Plater eldest, a pure EV driver, would probably look at a petrol pump like it’s an alien artefact.

So, as I sit here, part eco-warrior, part energy glutton, I can’t help but wonder: Do our solar panels give us a ‘free pass’ to indulge? Are we solar panel owners unknowingly slipping into energy excess, comforted by our green investments?

Well, there’s a new Australian study that looks into just that.

Overview of the Study

The study ‘Moral licensing and habits: Do solar households make negligent choices?’ surveyed 257 households, all proud owners of solar panels. These folks were asked a series of questions to understand their energy habits, their thoughts on energy saving, and how they perceived their role in the grand scheme of energy efficiency.

Now, the crux of this study revolves around a fancy term called ‘moral licensing’. In plain English, it’s the idea that doing something good (like installing solar panels) might subconsciously give us the green light to slack off in other areas. Think of it as patting yourself on the back for eating a salad for lunch, then smashing a Maccas for dinner.

So, 257 households, one big question, and a whole lot of data to sift through. Let’s see what they found out.

Findings

The study’s findings are a bit of a wake-up call for us solar panel enthusiasts. Turns out this moral licensing thing is real. The study showed that some of us with solar panels might actually feel so chuffed about our eco-friendly choice that we let our guard down in other areas of energy use. It’s like giving ourselves a pat on the back for going solar, then cranking up the air con a little more than necessary, or only washing a half load of dishes.

The study indicates that solar panel owners often use more energy after installation. To be honest – I could have told the authors that in a text message. But here’s my take: it’s not inherently a problem. Our energy grid fluctuates between ‘feast’ and ‘famine’ periods in terms of renewable energy availability. Using more energy during ‘feast’ times is beneficial while cutting back during ‘famine’ periods is crucial.

A Market-Driven Solution

Here’s where market dynamics can play a vital role. Exposure to the wholesale electricity price, as offered by services like Amber Electric, is a powerful signal for when to use energy. This approach encourages us to use energy when it’s abundant and cheap and conserve when it’s scarce and costly.

Practical Steps for Solar Homeowners

For solar homeowners, this means thinking about energy timing. Amber-style or time-of-use tariffs, smart EV chargers, Catch Solar Relays (or similar), and as much automation as possible can help us align our energy use with the grid’s needs. It’s about enjoying modern luxuries responsibly, with a mindful eye on the clock.

WDYT?

So, what’s your approach to energy use with your solar panels? Are you voluntarily on a time-variable tariff or using any smart technology to optimise your consumption? Share your strategies in the comments for making the most of our solar investments while supporting the grid.

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and the founder and CEO of SolarQuotes.com.au. 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.

Comments

  1. Due I’m sure to the SA PFiT, we went in the opposite direction

    Although I have kept an eye on energy use for as long as I can remember, solar gave me a reason to track energy use closer. First via manual meter reads and then after an inverter upgrade, I could track household use. A real time whole house energy meter followed

    We went from an already low 12kWh/day to a frugal 4kWh/day (including inverter losses) via lighting and appliance upgrades and some DIY secondary glazing.

    My continuous improvement brain still wasn’t happy so we installed an offgrid array feeding a 6kWh ‘Power Station” which runs most of our house and we take about 1kWh per week from the grid now. I am pretty wasteful with the off grid set up as we are spilling by 11am most days.

    • Adam Lippiatt says

      Inspirational.

    • Since FITs are so small now I kinda don’t care about my usage once the battery is charged up. So yes my consumption has increased dramatically.

      • So instead of ‘ruinables’ meaning we will all live in caves, we can actually live like guilt free Kings

        Only 32C in Adelaide yesterday but a bit muggy. Normally we would tolerate a bit of warmth and survive on fans but as the AC is on the battery and the battery was full by 11am we had the AC on most of the day.

  2. Hi Finn,

    I agree, in part, that this is our experience with our panels.

    the ‘in part’ is to do with us shifting a number of ‘energy heavy’ processes from the night-time ‘off-peak’ to during the day. things like running the air-cond’s, dishwasher, and the washing machine and clothes dryer. better to use the energy we are generating than pumping it into a (gradually overloaded) grid at 5c/kWh. It helps being able to monitor consumption and generation 😉

    Also relevant is that three of us adults ‘work from home’, so there is a requirement for computers to be running through the day, and all the other stuff associated with three ‘home-offices’.

    I would like to put a battery in, but the grid here is so stable (last outage was march last year) that the economics are not really there (yet).

    • Mark McAdie says

      I concur with your view that if you are shifting your energy useage to peak solar times as far as it can be done and doing what you can to reduce or eliminate grid useage during peak times, then how much energy you are using, especially if you are export limited, is really irrelevant, because the net effect is to reduce the use of non-renewables. I think perhaps some people have list sight of the end game, reduction in eneergy use was not the goal in and of itself, the goal was to reduce theuse of fossil fuels to reduce the carbon footprint.

  3. Maria Gardiner says

    Oh god that is definitely me. Although I am even worse. I only have R1.5 insulation in my roof and a leaky house but because I have a thumping big solar system (and a battery – subsidised in a trial) I can’t “justify” the $5000 to do the insulation.

    Because it is very rare for me to ever draw from the grid I tell myself that it is okay. So yes – because of my solar and battery system I am totally cheating on being green

    • David Issko says

      What, in your opinion is “thumping big”?

    • This is my argument when people suggest even higher energy ratings for homes

      Why spend 20k on double glazed windows when 5k on a large PV system will run your AC on the 30 worst days of a year

      Although of all the low hanging fruit, ceiling insulation should be first. Maybe you could crosshatch over the existing insulation just in the living areas

      • Tim Falkiner says

        I think you make a good point. We could put double glazed windows in our attic storey and they may help reduce the heat a bit but some reverse cycle air conditioners run off our solar/battery will be much cheaper and will reduce the temperature in the bedrooms to 20 degrees on the hottest day.

    • Insulation will make your house more comfortable though.

      The house will maintain a more even temperature – the heating/cooling won’t be kicking in all the time with the constant temperature up/downs.

    • Roger Briggs says

      Yes, I am definitely using as much of the solar energy that my 6.6kW (5kW inverter) solar system produces during the day by running my ducted A/C all day, even when I’m out and about, plus the dishwater and washing machine in a morning. I live in Logan City, just south of Brisbane, and this summer has been quite hot & humid.

      I take the view that ‘use it or loose it’, particularly since my FIT is only 3.85¢/kWh and my grid energy consumption charge is 21¢/kWh; a big difference! I would like to have a battery but can’t afford it at the moment but there is a Qld Govn subsidy rumoured of around $4000 in the pipeline , so I will re-evaluate the issue again.

      I also have installed a “Power Inverter” on my electric H/W unit and that seems to be working just fine. I think of this as a ‘poor man’s solar battery’. It only draws power from excess solar energy to heat the hot water tank and we’ve only experienced luke warm hot water on 2 occasions when the unit had tripped.

  4. he-he, I feel you brother 🙂

    I’m even more “licensed” as I have 14-10kw solar on 5kw export limit, if we don’t use it, we lose it.

  5. David Issko says

    10 to 11 months left on my Vic PFIT of $0.60/kWh for my solar, so I’m continuing to maximise my credits by using as much overnight off peak electricity as possible.

    We’ve recently abolished mains gas and at the same time $1.00 per day supply charge from our home, but still try to minimise overall electricity use, without impacting on our lifestyle.

    Although we have a large home and have state of the art Sanden heat pump HWS, induction cooktop, pressure cooker, air fryer 2 ovens etc, we don’t, as yet, have an EV, nor do we have a pool or sauna or jacuzzi or any other high power draw toys.

    We do, however, have a now way oversized 3 phase ducted RCAC, which is used minimally thanks to air tightening and insulation upgrades we’ve carried out over the past couple of years. The results have been amazing.

    Our attitude to using electricity when the PFIT concludes will of course change rather dramatically, with self consumption being the prime objective.

    Does that mean I go and buy some new electrically operated toys? Well, maybe. I wouldn’t mind a Tesla Model Y ‘Juniper’ say early 2025 – maybe. Trouble is, my wife is essentially retired and I am mostly retired and WFH.

    We live close to shopping centre, supermarkets fruit shops etc, so we walk to these places regularly – the very best form of transport, meaning our ICE car isn’t used much and an EV wouldn’t be used much either.

    Only when we can use the EV as a V2H or V2G or V2whatever, would it make real sense for us and our lifestyle.

    For now, I’m maximising our PFIT.

    • Hi,

      Hope you’re getting >60c PFiT. Powershop currently pay 66.7c, Lumo a close second @ 66c. Best I was able to get was 78c from Globird, but that was a few years ago. I guess it depends on the usage & daily service charges as to whether a different provider is a better deal or not.

      b0b

    • Les in Adelaide SA says

      David, yes you’ll need a battery to make good use of the solar when you go to todays FIT, and yes, a V2H would help keep the electricity bills down, or gone.
      Someone said the other day the V2H is not possible as yet (?).

      But your solar will have to be able to cope with some pretty big draws and mostly leave it on charge during the day.
      Our son comes home now and then with his Tesla X, he charges free at their Superchargers, but sets up at home to charge for 8c a kwh from 0000 – 0600 AEST.
      It draws 8ah so would drain an average battery pretty fast using a home battery to try and charge an EV.

      We produce 9+kwh, and home without major appliances idles at about 0.45, so only feasible way for us to charge an EV is by night from the grid on the super cheap 8c rate.
      When / if V2H does come into effect, and we get an EV ourselves perhaps, we could use that early hours 0600 – 0800 / 0830 to power the house before solar kicks in with decent production.

      We will likely be getting a battery well before an EV anyway, so can probably just use the cheap rate to charge an EV, and the solar / battery setup to wipe the electric bill and cover potential blackouts.

      So many pros / cons, and almost everyone with solar in in their own unique setting for needs for options like battery / EV, etc.

  6. Great piece Finn. While we’re waiting to make the transition to EVs, we have way more generated electricity every day than we could use, though that was part of the planning, to ensure the system would also support EV charging.

    Living in one of the coldest parts of Australia, heating was a priority. We opted for multiple split systems in the house, rather than ducted, as they’re more efficient and it’s easier to zone the heat. It was too expensive to heat the entire house with gas previously, now we can be warm everywhere we are. Similarly for cooling, with climate change we wanted the option to be able to cool the home where you get those heat wave weeks. So it’s more energy than we were using before, but mostly to provide thermal comfort year-round, an important health priority. And we still end up in surplus, across the year.

  7. Not as E-hungry as your house but take similar approach.

    Our use has definitely increased with new Solar and battery system; aircon use particularly and in winter imagine even more so, longer run time on pool pump, more frequent dishwasher use (when solar generation enought to cover it.)

    Interesting you cope with all your gadgets and a “mere” 13 kwh battery. Do you wish you had more?
    I have an excess of 20kwh /day pv generated & use 30+kwh / day, on good days, and thinking of increasing from 9.6kwh to either 16 or 19.2kwh.

  8. Robert Tumath says

    Great article Finn! I first noticed this trend about 15 or so years ago when a Toyota Prius was the first major item available to the environmentally conscious/sanctimonious types, and those that bought one often clearly felt that they had done their bit for the planet, thus didn’t really need to worry about recycling, etc!

    It is blindingly obvious that the whole world (starting with our stupid multi-state system) will need to adopt common standards for time-variable tariffs until we can come up with viable means of mass power storage or other reliable renewable supplies. This will then harness the mighty power of greed and self-interest, rather than relying on common sense and altruism.

    Relying on a few kale-munching nerds staring at their phone app is unlikely to save the Barrier Reef.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Great article, Finn, and an excellent discussion from everyone.

    In Canberra with a pretty efficient house, though still some leakage. 13.3 Kw solar and 10kwh Alpha battery helps spread the load and manage when we use the appliances. Negative FIT is also a good time to charge the EV. We also have an induction cooker and induction HW which gives us free hot water from solar. While we have installed a couple of RCAC, we have kept the gas because occasionally it is nice to have really warm house, and having invested in a gas log fire a decade ago, it’s nice to get that ambiance. We pitched in with Amber which so far is a positive after 3 months, though negative FIT occasionally negates the gains. Amber have told me that the 5kw cap on exports does not apply with Amber, so on that basis we can get up to 9kw going to FIT and theoretically I could also dump from the battery at the same time. I do have a nagging doubt about this.
    So essentially by careful time of use and managing Amber’s prices and FIT we are slightly on the positive side of cost-neutral. And it is sort of fun doing it.

    • Michael Paine says

      I had not heard of an induction hot water system. What brand & model do you have? Apparently (based on US websites) they are good for “instantaneous” hot water for a a limited number of outlets (eg a shower). I guess it is one way to make the most of a home solar/battery system instead of relying on off-peak (supplier-controlled) electric hot water systems.

      Regarding Finn’s article, I don’t think we have used more energy after installing solar & battery but we have shifted from burning petrol for transport to mostly an EV/PHEV. Plus we feel a little smug when running the aircon on hot days, like today!

      • Michael, I am old and getting feeble-minded. I think I meant an inverter HW. It’s an iStore 270 litre system that is more than adequate for 2 and probably fine for 4 people household. It heats between 10 and 4 to maximise solar use.
        Sorry to confuse everyone!

  10. Guilty. Can’t be bothered hanging the washing > use the dryer. Hmmm bit warm (as opposed to OMG I’m going to keel over from the heat) – aircon on…

  11. Dudley Marks says

    Your comment “Do our solar panels give us a free pass to indulge” struck a chord with me sitting in A/C comfort today. Perhaps we should share our good fortune with other consumers not so fortunate as to having “free” electricity at during sunlight time.
    Its about time that peak rates of 50c / kWh were abolished when the cost of electricity goes negative for a good portion of peak rate time

    • Adam Lippiatt says

      In WA it’s almost not worth putting in solar because everyone else has so it’s 8c / kWh grid power between 0900-1500. I haven’t added to my 11 yo system.

      Dishwasher washing machine heat pump AC and EV are used / charged almost exclusively in that period.

      I have a battery and that lasts all night. Once it’s tired it will still get me through the peak for, I guess as long as it lasts.

      How long do batteries last? Not sure but I have 2010 made cells in a Vectrix maxi scooter that still provides me with all of the range I need. Changed it to a max charge of 4 volts per cell for increased cycle life so it will be a failure / age rather than worn out is my guess. If I get to 2030 on that old chemistry, I will definitely have had my moneys worth.

      I actually treat the NMC / NCA Tesla a bit better keeping it to ~3.92 v per cell for day to day use. My long road trips taking it to ~4.2 volts per cell may not happen again as charging stations fill up the highway.

      • Ian Thompson says

        Interesting Adam – we have had 3-phase Solar PV for 7 years. I did the numbers for my case (using data from our Smart Meter) – and for me, there is no way on earth that it would make sense for me to go from our ‘flat’ A1 tariff in Perth, to a TOU midday saver tariff (in order to get the 8c / kWh). It would cost us about $50 / month more on average on TOU – a lot more in Winter, less in Summer.

        I guess we are quite analytical, and frugal – I routinely time-shift everything we can to peak PV-generation times – and even spread out kettle, toaster, microwave, and coffee machine use sequentially when making breakfast to use as much of the more-limited PV-generation at that time.

        Contrarily, I’d say installation of PV has focussed more of our attention on energy saving – not the other way around as has been suggested. That, and concerns for global warming given our slow rate of de-carbonising.
        Particularly when it is obvious what we SHOULD have started implementing many, many years ago.

  12. Over the last 2 years ago we’ve gradually got to the point where we have a 3-phase 10kW hybrid inverter, 13kW panels, 25kWh battery, heat pump HWS, EV, switched to wholesale pricing, and use the most aggressive underlying ToU tariff we can get with no demand pricing. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, V2G will give us even more household energy storage capacity.

    Using Home Assistant and a few other things, we have an old iPad on a wall in the kitchen showing energy usage, battery levels and current/forecast energy buy and sell prices. We’ve all become much more energy conscious as a result and use this info to decide when to turn on/off high energy appliances and when to buy/sell electricity – some of this is automated.

    We definitely use more energy than we did 2 years ago but at the same time we use less grid and export more than we import. Negative export pricing on very sunny days means we also export only when there’s demand. Grid power is only used if necessary between 8am and 4pm when it’s very cheap and has higher renewables %. Grid is only required when solar can’t quite cover the EV charging load or it’s winter/overcast and we need to top-up the house battery ready for night. The house battery is almost always at 100% before evening peak demand starts so we can sell back to the grid during high demand to at least cover our daily connection costs (and any energy purchases) and also have enough stored energy to cover all household usage until sunrise. Since moving to wholesale pricing we’ve managed to get consistently negative bills with an average import price of 8c/kWh and average export price of 22c/kWh (inverting the fixed 32c/5c we had before).

    I really like how wholesale pricing and inverter/battery integrations allow more flexible and dynamic energy management. Hopefully, in future, there will be more choice in software, hardware, and service offerings to make setups like these more accessible to a wider range of people.

    • Second vote for Home Assistant. Very powerful, but needs knowledge to configure. I like it because I can monitor disparate equipment: I have a ZJBeny OCPP ev charger controlled by Home Assistant, as well as Victron charger/inverters, & Solaredge (15Kw PV). It is possible to program HA to control virtually all devices in the home, including controlling devices with WiFi relays.
      In our case, we have 7 people living here, & minimal draw from the grid. There are 2 EVs (old Imiev, & Kona EV) as well as a pool & the need to pump water on our rural property. I consider our usage very efficient.

  13. David Wright says

    Guilty….I like to leave the external doors open with the aircon going. Keeps the house cool while enjoying a nice breeze / fresh air. 17kW of solar and love it!

  14. Tim Falkiner says

    Since installing a solar/battery system I have become much more aware of electricity useage and do things like hanging out towels and blankets instead of putting them in the spin dryer. I do, though, use the solar during summer for charging an EV.

  15. John Corbett says

    Having live consumption monitoring is in my opinion the #1 driver for behavioural change around efficiency. I love the fact that solar and monitoring come paired so you get motivated to change habits and at the same time get given some way of changing them for the better (i.e. maximising self-consumption).
    Where I am in Tasmania there is virtually no way of covering all consumption in winter and also less reason to justify a home battery (since the state grid is literally a huge water battery). One thing that has made a big difference for us is that I built an automated system for adjusting the thermostat on the element-based hot water system so that it ups the thermostat temperature during daylight production hours and ramps it down during non productive night time hours. This turns the dumb hot water system into a pretty effective battery. A heat pump hot water system would obviously be better but even then I think the combination of the two would make sense. For a simple change it makes a big difference.

  16. Somewhat Guilty? During the day I feel no qualms turning on the A/C which I can see is being covered by the solar using the Sungrow app. For a washer load of small items, socks and undies I’ll even toss em in the dryer if the sun is out. EV is charged on green energy only using a Zappi. Dishwasher is timed to go during the day.

  17. Tim Chirgwin says

    Our full electric house previous to solar install used usually 17kWh/day.
    After 13kw PV installed we use 18kwh per day as we run an extra 2 freezers ( turned off when we empty the meat)

    We have no battery but get our grid buy down to about 5kWh/day by;
    1. Place freezers on timers to run daylight hours only (4 freezers use 1000kwh per year costs us $60/yr in lost FIT.
    2 Fitted a 1.8kw element to our resistive storage HWS and run on a timer from 10am till 5 ( but our typical 8kwh use for hot water will be heated by 2:30 so even if the sun don’t shine we pay the solar spong price). Typically our hot water costs 48c per day in lost FIT ($175/year)
    3. If the day will be hot we crank up the air conditioner and keep the house extra cool and switch off when the sun goes down. ( unless it does not cool down outside when we just reduce the cooling to a higher setting.
    Only 1 x 6 kw split air con at one end of the house and we draw the cool air to the other end by dumping heat through the exhaust fan in bathroom.
    4 Light the wood fire at about 6 pm in winter and not restoke it unless it’s a miserable winter cold windy day ( the house is quite air leaky) If we used the RC air conditioner we would run it high during daylight and reduce at night.

    Anybody can manage this setup, no nerds required.

    I do not hold back from using power if I can run from sun, I hate to see wasted sunshine.

  18. Geoff Murray says

    When we installed our 8kw system 14 months ago our supplier also advised us on how to minimise consumption so we went to Tarrif 93 (off peak in Tassie), fitted a hot water timer and timers to our 2 freezers so that they only run during off peak times. We also shifted using our highest load items so that they were only operated during high output times and after the freezers had switched off. 2 retired adults now use an average of 10kWh of grid power per day. The way we are gathering credit it looks like it will cover our power bill during winter so it will be close to a neutral cost system

  19. I would say my household uses about the same amount of energy as we did 15yrs ago. During that time we have added solar hot water, three different solar PV systems and a powerwall 2. We still have off peak electric boost on our hot water tank, would love it if the electricity supplier would introduce a solar sponge tariff -would allow millions of homes with legacy offpeak to take advantage of green energy, but sadly there seem to be too many vested interests within the system that resist change

    • Anthony Bennett says

      James what we really need is a market for demand response so that when there’s oversupply the aggregate fleet of existing hot water can be turned on in an instant. This would need some pretty agile market reform and you’re right, the incumbents aren’t interested. Though at least one retailer has soaked up a few million public dollars doing a trial for ARENA in moving off peak hot water to the daytime… like they didn’t know that was going to work well.

  20. Paul Stevens says

    Yep, we have become energy hogs since installing our 10KW panel/12 KWh battery system, but that’s because of the sauna-like weather we’re having in Brisbane at the moment, rather than a lapse in our moral licensing. We upgraded all our old split-system air-conditioners with new inverter models, and the difference is amazing! They seem to doodle along at a fraction of their rated power (200 -300 W is about average usage). Now I just have to work on replacing that power-hungry dishwasher. Changing our appliances has meant that we don’t pay electricity bills at all any more. Can anyone tell me the most energy-efficient clothes drier on the market, because it’s raining almost every day here in Queensland.

  21. I’m not surprised by these findings – humans can be pretty selfish and self-aggrandising. Personally, I’m off-grid so the only person I’m hurting by any bad practices is myself. I have 12kW of panels and 7.5kWh of battery storage. But my usage is growing all the time what with the all-electric appliances I am installing in my new house plus the under-floor heating, the new EV and a multitude of other smaller demands that all add up.

    I’m working on a strategy of having a system that is upgradeable, but my knowledge is still growing so plan to reach out to some experts to help me grow my capacity while researching how to make the demands as efficient as possible. This includes installing the devices to allow part of my new home’s devices to be powered off the EV. It’s a constant process of knowledge-building and technology adoption which I also realise won’t suit the average punter.

  22. mark whitfield says

    Hi Finn / subscribers, I have had a 6.6 Kw of solar solar panels for 5 years now. I have also just passed the first 12 months of having a Tesla powerwall 2 battery.
    I have seen our yearly power bills reduce from $4,500 a year ( prior to panel install ) down to only $183 for the entire 2023 year. We are still using our solar power as if its gold. ie washing and drying on full sun days, dishwasher during daylight hours only etc. As of this week, we will also be changing out our 15 year old gas hot water system, with a “Reclaim” heat pump hot water service. The C.O.P is predicted to be amazing. So after the initial cost of purchase, it will mean free hot water powered by our panels. We even stopped using our gas central heating over winter, and just used our Split system A/C on heat. This saved us $400 in gas usage over the last 12 months. I understand that for a lot of people this would not be financially feasable to do, but if you can afford the initial outlay, I highly recommend solar panels and a battery for self storage. All the best.
    Cheers, Mark.

  23. Erik Christiansen says

    “social licence” is not a concept that I accept. (It was a bit rough on witches and freethinkers, back when.) If our energy consumption is GW neutral, then it is _all_ as good as calorie-free chocolate.

    My brother exports up to 10 kW after 10 a.m. most days, and the distributor pays him a thousand or two each year. His 4 fridges, 2 freezers, and 3 aircons are entirely his business, and if he wanted to put aircon in the goatshed, then that’d be perfectly fine too. Who pays to erect 19 kW of PV and adds 15 kWh of LTO batteries dictates how it is deployed. Continuing to drive an ICE vehicle is a missed opportunity, no more, and really only half of one, as EVs still lack the long range towing he requires.

    My off-grid 30 kW array and 46 kWh of batteries is an even more substantial investment, and the notion that anyone who isn’t paying for it has _anything_ to say about the energy use is too ludicrous for me to even snort at. The old ute went west, so I’m awaiting delivery of an EV. Once the 7 kW charger is in, and my transport is running on photon-energised electrons, my saintliness will be unimpeachable. The higher the kWh count, the saintlier, by gum. And all the water is rainwater, so 100% sustainable too.

    The only thing that really counts for anything here is that we convinced my brother to move from 5m above sealevel to the top of a hill, and though I moved down from 200m, it’s to 64 m altitude. So preparation is adequate. Swathes of the MD floodplains will have to lose their domestic populations or build islands, and half of Florida will disappear, but none of that has anything to do with solar installations. It’s the fossil fools, who don’t see +1.48 degC in 2023 is +3 degC in a few years, and the current floods will be the good old days. At +3 degC, the atmosphere carries 21% more moisture, for much heavier rain, and higher cyclone energy. And water vapour is a greenhouse gas = positive feedback. The problem is more than cow farts.

    • David Issko says

      Wow!!! 30kW pv + 46kWh batteries for off grid? Is that enough to see you through the bleakest winter months?

      For off grid, I would have expected a substantially larger pv and battery bank.

      Then again, you might live in an area which doesn’t have bleak winters like we have in Melbourne.

      Hope fully your home is well insulated and air tight.

      Enjoy your EV when it arrives.

    • Gary Beilby says

      The only thing people are neglecting with this solar excess – is the massive imbued cost of all the devices you cheerfully buy.
      You are actively choosing to be a hyperconsumer.
      Sure, the ongoing power is provided by the sun – But consider the massive amounts of minerals, chemicals, metals – plus their mining, refinement and manufacture – that went into the huge batteries, fridges, computers, vehicles and more that prop up your lifestyle.
      Sadly you are still living a life of excessive luxury at the expense of the rest of the planet – particularly the poor.
      I ain’t no saint either. Purchasing a kick-arse gaming PC last year was unnecessary and greedy of me and made a significant kick up in my power consumption – but again – it’s the cost of production that is the issue.
      And for me ‘social licence’ is real – It’s about being able to look an anti RE science denier in the eye and respond genuinely when he says what about the child exploitation for your battery!!

      • Anthony Bennett says

        Good points Gary,

        I find that when explaining to the troglodytes it helps to mention that Australia is the world’s biggest supplier of Lithium. Modern LFP chemistry EV batteries don’t use cobalt, and while batteries are recyclable, the cobalt used to refine petrol and diesel isn’t.

        We really just need to use less of everything.

  24. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aiming for abundance in energy, with renewables too. Most of our environmental narratives around minimising resource and energy use are based on finite models of both. But the shift to renewables is also a shift to circular economy ideas, and to basically ‘free’ energy sources (or as good as). I find with solar there’s a heavy influence at times from off-gridders, like the self-sufficiency fads of the 1970s.

    And many people would happily offload some of their surplus solar, if they had anywhere to offload it to. The grid upgrade is way behind where it should be, to provide many more options for people with surplus electricity. In the meantime many of us, including me, have significantly over-engineered our systems, to prepare for EVs and other heavier uses of energy. I don’t begrudge people using as much of that surplus as they like in the meantime, given there’s very few other places for it to go.

  25. We use as much as we can during the day and export as much as we can. Here in CQ (Yeppoon) Ergon pays us around 13c/kWh FIT. We have installed small Mitsubishi ACs in each bedroom that use bugger all power for the nights. Waiting to see if the Qld govt is going to come good on their rumoured $4000 battery subsidy. Will be getting a 13kW BYD battery to link up to our 10.3kW panels and two Fronius inverters if so. Haven’t had a power bill since last April.

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