If you want a 5kW solar system in QLD – consider getting it before Sept 30 2015!

map of qld

Rules for installing solar in QLD change after 30 September

 

The Queensland electricity networks (hello Ergon and Energex!) are a fussy bunch. At the time of writing (August 2015) if you want to install a standard grid connect solar system bigger than 5kW, you need to jump through all sorts of technical hoops. And then the networks may also insist that you install a box of electronics that stops any of your excess energy being exported. That’s right you have to waste any excess clean energy instead of letting your neighbours use it!

They are certainly making it hard for Queenslanders to install decent sized solar systems, that’s for sure.

The net result is that most Queenslanders have been installing 5kW systems to keep things simple and cost effective.

However after September 30 2015 one of these extra technical requirements will be applied to systems between 3kW and 5kW. You can see the official announcement here.

From September 30 if you install a system over 3kW you will need to use a special inverter that has a feature called “reactive power control”. This is either built into the inverter, or can often be added by inserting a special electronic module.

Suffice to say it may add to the cost of the system and will certainly limit your choice of inverters. It will also reduce your power output slightly when it is really sunny!

If you install a 5kW system before September 30, you don’t need to add this expensive feature.

So what’s a Queenslander to do if they are considering getting a 5kW solar system? Get your application to connect in well before 30 Sept 2015!

(And of course you can kick off the process by getting 3 quotes here!)

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. Customers should really stop being so fussy and asking ‘whats the lowest price you can do for?’ and just pump the solar on the roof from reputable companies offering solar installation. There are solar sales companies now advertising solar for sale, at just $1995 for a 6kw system. Of course this does not include installation, but the customer thinks you are ripping them off when quoting $5000+ for a 6kw system. I tip a lot of solar companies out there today wont be around to see Santa at Christmas time.

    • Yes Minister says

      I lost count of the number of ‘experts’ who claimed I’d paid far too much for my (then) 10kw system. Interestingly the system paid for itself in under four years and will return a significant yearly income for another thirteen years before the 52c rebate expires. Well before then I’ll be using the green electrons to fuel a battery-electric conveyance.After ex treasurer Knuckles accused me of sipping champagne I also upped the grid connect panels from 52 to 64 and added another 12 panels, charge controller, inverter and batteries to run the house and increase my take from the grid connect system.

  2. I can see why this is being implemented. Our street already has a ban on systems over 3kW as during the middle of a summer weekday overvoltage is rampant. We’ve hit 256V before on the grid side. Two schools of logic. Either the generating property covers the cost of associated infrastructure, or the cost is passed on to all consumers. Given electricity prices are a politically sensitive issue, and they’re GOCs they’ve chosen the former.

    • Just a quick reply to that. Our family’s 1973 introduction to Mackay Qld was to have our mum’s prized electronic organ explode and then catch fire (spectacularly) the first time it was plugged in. Coming from a tribe of engineers on both sides, my dad hauled out his multimeter and measured 295 volts. Qld electricity board (whatever their name was at the time) paid for the damage with no queries, so I assume it was commonplace back then. Thirteen months over there resulted in persistent similar crazy over and under voltages which we tamed by purchasing a stack of variacs. Nothing to do with solar power – back then the grid regulation was rubbish, and our friends all up and down the coast had the same issues. The ones that are still there are still complaining about poor voltage regulation, so I assume (superficially) that nothing has changed. Maintenance & upgrades cost money… Certainly making at least one trip a year, over the next thirty years I always packed a variac (heavy bloody things) and observed all manner of weird voltages in the Rocky to Townsville coastal strip.

      • Yes Minister says

        Funny about that. I’ve also had reason to check mains voltage in various locations with and without a predominance of PV installations and have discovered countless instances of over-voltage. Mind you Energex and the gubmunt have never been known for letting the truth get in the way of a good story.

  3. Kathleen Edmond says

    Hi Finn can you explain what is meant by Greenwiring’s small print :-

    You agree to sign over STC”s for 15 Years.

    I understand the STC’s are the Govt subsidy but what is meant by the 15 year comment?

  4. Yes Minister says

    This will no doubt please neanderthal knuckle-draggers like the big-eared Wabbott and smokin’ Joe.

  5. Carolyn Rutherford says

    Dear Finn, I am no expert, but the information on Energex and Ergon’s “Alert to Installers” website says systems above 3 KW for Energex and 2 KW for Ergon customers. Also, is is not illegal for competitors in an industry to collude to bring about changes to that industry that disadvantage their customers? Am I missing something?

    • TechinBris says

      That may be the Law. But as we have seen in recent times, from many a Corporation, reality is a completely different thing.
      Why worry, when the fines are smaller than the profits generated from the collusion.
      Corporate Death by deregistration, Jail for the Executives and confiscation of shares from the Shareholders is only way to halt that. Good luck in getting any Government we elect to be brave enough to do that against our Banksters wishes.
      Till these high rolling financial Junkies hurt in the hip pocket, they will keep flouting the law, if it makes their next hit of wealth bigger and better than the last.

  6. Brian Coote says

    Well that will ensure a lot of interest in off grid battery backed systems when the battery cost / availability is right.
    And this is from a grid that refused to allocate any extra workers when 30000+ customers were without power last year.
    When you are running a public utility for profit not the customers it requires some uncomfortable contortions.

    • TechinBris says

      That is why I had a solar PV hybrid system installed. Even if you don’t get the batteries straight away, you end up with what ever capacity system you would like. You can continue to add to it as you can afford to do and you end up with controlled conditioned power that looks after the voltages for you.
      Batteries, when added, complete you ready for the event of blackouts (it is like a UPS for the whole house) and the inevitable extortionate behaviour of energy corporations that is so common these days. If they demand too much from you, give them nothing instead, by disconnecting. 🙂
      Make yourself powerful, energise and take control. Take the power of extortion away from them and place it back into your hands.

  7. john nielsen says

    Hi Finn, I believe anyone can install a 5 kw system as long as they don’t export to the grid. Install a simple changeover switch so that you cannot be on the grid as well as on your solar system at the same time. When your switch is OFF grid, you will need batteries. You can have 36 kwh for less than $6,000 gel batteries.
    Don’t wait for the PowerWall which may never eventuate. More and more people are installing systems with micro inverters, and they will not work with the PW which needs 350 – 450 vdc input, i.e. it is only suitable for string inverter systems, unless you want to transform and rectify your nom 230 vac to 350 vdc.
    Did I miss something?

  8. I have a better idea….
    Why dont the electricity companies bring down their energy costs more in line with other countries. At 29 cents/kwh is highway robbery when countries like the USA are only charging 12 cents/kwh. We are the fourth highest priced energy suppliers in the world. If they bring down the cost, then there will be no problems. Sooner or later they WILL start loosing customers when battery systems come into play and it will serve them right. Right now our bills are almost 3/4 of a mortgage bill…. outrageous !

    • TechinBris says

      The only way you are going to do that is to be part of a trend that doesn’t reward such extortionate behaviour.
      Our Politicians have already shown they are incapable in looking after our best interests in situations like this.
      Prepare and save up (don’t do credit), by refusing to buy the comercial crap they always are pushing in your face and in no time at all, you’ll have the money for a hybrid system you want to buy. Make sure you get it designed so you can expand it.
      Take control of your energy and stop waiting for someone else to do it. You can do it yourself. It only takes a choice.

  9. Setting a inverters reactive power control to lagging pf will effectively reduce the efficiency of the inverters output. Does anyone know why Ergon/Energex are requesting lagging power factors? Large consumers are penalized for have lagging loads and in some cases are required to correct the buildings power factors by installing leading capacitor banks. So with the majority of the grid suffering from lagging power factors what are the benefits of the solar inverters being set to lag?

  10. Martin Anderson says

    Well I paid over 20000 dollar deposit on a My Style Powerstation 8kw off grid system that was to be installed on the 20th of June and it is still not installed they tell us because Energex has to approve something ?

    • Yes Minister says

      Oh Shock Oh Horror !! Do you mean you intend depriving the powers that be of money which they counted on defrauding you ?? With people like you around its hardly surprising the powers that be are playing dirty tricks. Keep up the good works ya hear !!

  11. john nielsen says

    Hi Martin, Energex may have to approve a change over switch, but why do they have to approve anything when you won’t be connected to the grid?
    Hi Finn,
    I see on your excellent site that some grid systems only allow 2 kw installations and that means little or no export to the grid and the little exported is virtually given away free to the grid. I think a hybrid system is what people want as they can install as much solar power as they like as long as they don’t export to the grid. They can still be grid connected and why not? Pay the service fee and use as little as possible from the grid. This can be done with a small battery bank of say 4 off 12 volt 250 ah batteries to get a 48 volt input to an inverter which will output 240 volt to your load and your string inverter as it needs to be tickled to believe it is on the grid. You will need a relay driver, one 12 volt dpdt micro relay and 2 off solid state 40 amp relays.
    I use 3 of them, one for the grid, one for the load, one for the hot water. The dpdt micro switch nc no position is determined by the battery voltage via the relay driver. It is only 12 volt nominal in and out and cannot be at two positions at once, so you are either on the grid or off. I believe you will need a change over switch in your meter box in order to comply with grid regulation. I use a Morningstar relay driver and an 8 kw inverter, 12 off 250 ah batteries, 6 kw solar, and no grid usage even on rainy days.
    The cost of it all except only 4 gel batteries is about $1,800 Plus an hour’s time of our electrician. So Finn there is a way out of the mess.
    John Nielsen

    • Why is the Grid not an asset for all Australia ? Oh… but it is. The Grid is not there for the benefit of a few producers & providers, it is an asset that we all ‘own’.
      Unfortunately, the Grid is being run for the benefit of the few producers & providers, not for the benefit of the many producer/consumers.
      Is it not time we took control back for what is ours already ?

  12. Finn
    Have read the Energex reasoning on this issue with IESs over 3K
    Seems its PF driven only and that you can still supply back to the Grid
    Would this be more to do with over voltage
    They state you can still apply for a 5K through basically the same process
    The Pf they are after is .9
    Kind Regards

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