Butler : National Energy Guarantee Will Nobble Rooftop Solar

National Energy Guarantee and solar power

Will the NEG impact on Australia’s “solar rebate”?

Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler, says implementation of the Turnbull Government’s NEG will nobble small-scale solar power and large-scale renewables.

According to advice from the Energy Security Board (ESB), the Turnbull Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee will result in renewables making up between 28 and 36 per cent of Australia’s energy mix by 2030. This range includes solar PV.

Mr. Butler says the current Renewable Energy Target will deliver 23.5 per cent by 2020. At 28%, that leaves little room for growth between now and 2030.

“We know that if Malcolm Turnbull’s figures are borne out, renewable energy growth will be as low as half a per cent per year in the 2020s,” stated Mr. Butler in a doorstop interview yesterday. “That would slash, by two-thirds, the number of households that can get access to rooftop solar and it would mean that there is not a single large scale renewable energy project built in Australia for ten years.”

How rooftop solar growth would be reined in if that was to be the case is unclear. However, it appears legislation doesn’t need to be changed in order to tinker with the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), which provides subsidies for buying solar power systems. The program can be altered at the Minister’s discretion.

Given the popularity of small-scale solar in Australia, any attempt to destroy or kneecap the “solar rebate”, which is already being gradually phased out, could be met with a huge voter backlash – something a government already struggling in the polls could ill-afford.

Mr. Butler accused the Prime Minister of embracing “Tony Abbott’s vision of a coal-fired future for Australia,” and believes thousands more renewable energy jobs will be destroyed under the NEG.

“We now know that this so-called “national energy guarantee” is nothing more than a national energy gimmick. All designed as political cover for an all-out attack on the renewable energy industry,” said Mr. Butler.

The devil is certainly in the detail when it comes to the NEG – and more of that detail likely won’t be clear until next month when the Federal Government attempts to sell it to the states during November’s COAG meeting. The Government may be in for a hostile reception from some states, including Victoria; which has just passed its VRET legislation.

Early indications are that the proposed NEG hasn’t been particularly well received among voters, even those in Liberal blue-ribbon seats.

The Guardian has reported on a poll indicating a majority of voters in the electorates held by Malcolm Turnbull, Josh Frydenberg and Tony Abbott would be more inclined to back the NEG if it ensured Australia had at least 50% renewable energy by 2030.

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.


  1. Steve Charles says

    I have a CarbonTrack monitoring installed which accurately measures the amount of solar energy generated, the amount of grid energy used, and the amount of energy exported to the grid. I used this data to compare my latest bill.

    According to CarbonTrack, the total exported was 1,932.98kWh and the bill states 1,964.00kWh which is pretty close. For grid electricity used, CarbonTrack states 655.41kWh and the bill 844.00kWh, a difference of 188.59kWh. Clearly, one of these measurements is wrong and I am thinking this is a metering error. So I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Steve.

      Sometimes bills are just based on estimates and not actual meter readings, so that could be the cause of the discrepancy.

      • ……so just estimate what the bill SHOULD be. So ‘simples’ even a meerkat understands it ~ note they NEVER get ‘estimated’ bills.

  2. Steve Charles – do you record the data provided from your inverter(s) and from your electricity meter, on a daily basis?

    Do you then, upon receipt of your electricity bill, check the meter reading, against your records for the date of the alleged meter readings?

    Also, do you check the meter reading type, that is specified on each bill?

    When our two rooftop photovoltaic systems were installed, I began recording the daily cumulative quantities of each of the power generated, the power imported, and, the power exported.

    Whilst these records were for my own interest, the information became unexpectedly useful.

    You did not state where you are, or, what electricity companies are involved. Here, we have a kind of monopoly; only one electricity company deals with the supply of electricity, and, only one electricity company (slightly separate, kind of) deals with billing of electricity consumption.

    As it happened, here, the electricity supply company had an apparent policy, or, its meter readers needed drug testing, as they apparently believed that, like in the movie The Forbidden Planet, generation of electricity from a means not involving combustion, created invisible, carnivorous monsters, that ate meter readers, and thus, made reading electricity meters, too dangerous for meter readers.

    And, so, they switched from physically reading the electricity meter, to making estimates, of what it might read.

    And, of course, with the level of expertise of the electricity supply company, the installation and use of rooftop photovoltaic systems (ours have a total rated maximum capacity of 5kW – the single phase maximum, here), automatically causes a massive increase in the electricity consumption, causing massive increases in the electricity bills, due to the electricity consumed by rooftop photovoltaic systems, to keep the sun lighted.

    After a massive amount of trauma, and, time and effort, from me, the local witchdoctors in the electricity companies finally agreed that rooftop photovoltaic systems actually do produce electricity, and, do not consume electricity to keep the sun lighted up, and, agreed that rooftop photovoltaic systems do not generate invisible carnivorous monsters that eat meter readers.

    Unfortunately, under Australian consumer law, utility companies are protected from accountability, and are not liable to pay compensation for malfeasance, fraud, and general bastardry, and, for the trauma that they go out of their way to cause.

    So, if you are not already doing it, I suggest that you record, on a daily basis (best done at the same time, each day), the amounts of the power produced, from your inverter(s), the power imported, and, the power exported, both from your electricity meter, and, compare the last two quantities, on the applicable dates, with the quantities specified on your electricity bill, to find whether they match, or, are sufficiently close, and, check whether the meter reading type on your electricity bill, is estimated, or, is a “normal” (physical) reading.

    I hope that you find this helpful.

    • Entertaining, anyway….An easier and more accurate way to work out your bills is to go stand-alone; the bill’s then same every month.

      • R . Stewart Chapman says

        What’s stand alone ?

        • Go offline altogether. Apart from anything else you’ll avoid the $600 a year you’d normally pay to be connected and nothing else.
          Spend your money on as many as you need ~ dirt cheap these days ~ solar panels and some BASIC batteries (lead-acid deep cycle) which, though not over-cheap for a consumable, are affordable (and sometimes you can get a REAL good deal). Wire it all together (simple ~ plug-and-play) ~ add a basic inverter* and away you go.

          Or if money’s real tight start very small and add as-and-when. But you’re on your own and of course will adjust your lifestyle to suit. (there are endless variations on that theme, and plenty of people willing to help/advise.)

          As a guide, y’wouldn’t pay more than $1 per watt (and as low as 60/ cents) for useful panels and something under $2 per amp-hour for suitable batteries. I’ve lived with solar for 35 years and have worked out all the lurks and perks. Until recently I was using less than three KWH per day and selling the rest to Origin. Here in Victoria you generate (yearly average) about 4.5kwh for every kw of panels you put up…..so that’s a base to work off.
          As I say there’re all sorts of variations to a theme. Contact: [email protected] if you want some details. Point is it’s all up to you; but it CAN be done…simply and easily.

          * the inverter thing offers a LOT of variations ~ and many people pay way too much for super-sized g-whiz technology they don’t need….and which can blow up as easily as an el-cheapo one (or lots of little ones) can. And there are still more options—-> instead of using 240vac for Everything, consider using some car-bits from the wrecker (lights, radio/tv etc) and running them directly off your batteries. The possibilities are endless.
          All the best.

  3. It is interesting to compare the debate about marriage equality to the debate about energy policy. On the former, Turbull has chosen (rightly or wrongly) to “canvas” voters, while on the latter he is allowing the conservative arm of the Coalition to dictate policy, regardless of what voters think (and there does appear to be evidence that the majority of voters support the adoption of a RET and a move away from using fossil fuels.
    Regardless of whether one were to argue that the SSM postal survey is a good or a bad thing, it is probably a valid observation that there is an inconsistency of political approach and will to deal with these issues.
    What could possibly also be argued is that there is a relative lack of enthusiasm of the Australian public to get involved in energy policy debate, compared to the debate about marriage equality – the former having a direct impact on the daily lives of all Australians, every day of the week. (That is not to negate the importance of addressing the issue of marriage equality.)

    • ….chortle….. ‘Marriage equality’ and ‘energy policy’ do have something in common.
      ‘Equality’ (least of all ‘marriage equality!) DOESN’T EXIST anywhere in the known universe. The concept only has any value by mutual agreement ~ we agree that 1+1=2 so that our concept of arithmetic works. (eg Y’can’t PROVE that 1+1 DOESN’T = 13.357

      Likewise, ‘energy policy’ doesn’t exist either ~ except as a nebulous concept. 😉

Speak Your Mind


%d bloggers like this: