Why Commercial Solar Will Have A Huge Year in 2014

meter going to 2014

Smart businesses will see their meters slow down in 2014

As solar fans look towards 2014 with a mixture of dread and anticipation, one thing seems certain; energy prices will continue to rise. Yes that’s right, expect your bills to go up despite Abbott’s promise to reduce them.

People who actually know how the National Electricity Market (NEM) works, understand what the climate-change denying knuckle draggers in government don’t. Even if they do ‘Axe The Tax™’  your electricity and gas prices are going in only one direction: up.  Smart Australian business owners are not expecting their bills to drop anytime soon, no matter what promises Abbott spews forth.

As a result, at SQ we are predicting an unstoppable adoption of energy efficiency measures in commercial buildings. Businesses will face rising energy bills if they do nothing, and when they realise they can’t trust the pollies to reduce their bills –  they will simply have to take matters into their own hands before overheads get out of control.

In particular the move towards energy efficiency for offices and factories in businesses both big and small should be right at the top of their New Year’s resolutions for 2014. Not only is the SQHQ bunker in Radelaide and key Sydney office solar powered (6kW Tindo/Solarbridge and 8kW Sunpower/Fronius respectively) but the Melbourne data centre where the SQHQ dedicated servers spin their stuff 24/7 will also soon have 100% of its power usage offset by solar energy. This thanks to the Data Centre’s power purchase agreement with a massive commercial solar farm in the glorious Swan Hill.

Great (you may say) but what of energy efficiency in large skyscrapers and factories? Funnily enough it is here that big energy savings can be made. The large roof space and 9-5 energy use profile of these buildings lend themselves instantly to the installation of the ultimate in office energy savings — that of solar panels.  Finn has written previously about the huge returns that can be had with commercial solar on the roof of an office or factory, but what’s a business owner to do when they run out of roof space for those shiny panels?

We wrote recently about perovskite, a mysterious substance found in the Ural Mountains in the middle of the 19th century. The great characteristic about the substance (apart from me making predictable jokes about it sounding like the baddie from a James Bond film) is that it has the capacity to replace silicon in solar cells.

We reported on Professor Henry Snaith (Dr No?) of Oxford University whose team was leading the research in this field. Now the latest manifestation of his work comes in the form of perovskite solar cells being applied to the windows of mammoth office blocks and skyscrapers to generate electricity.

To be successful as solar cells in windows, the cells need to be both energy efficient yet transparent enough to let light through. This is where perovskite is ideally suited. According to a Dec. 19 article in Chemical and Engineering News: “Perovskites have properties similar to inorganic semiconductors and show sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies of more than 15 percent”.

The real Bond-esque hero in this whole breakthrough is of course on-site energy generation for large businesses and office blocks. The vast expanse of glass housing our besuited workers will mean that new innovations such as the use of perovskite in windows could well be the future in commercial solar. The big energy utilities won’t like it of course, though with their history of standing still and rejecting innovation it may be a case of “shaken not stirred” on their part. (OK that’s the last of the Dad jokes left over from Christmas!).

All that remains is to wish all SQ readers a very happy, safe and renewable New Year.


  1. Climate Change Knuckle Draggers??? Do you mean those who don’t believe that man is responsible for a phenomenon that has been going on for millions of years, do you mean those who don’t swallow the ramblings of overpaid Climate Change Commissioners, do you mean those who don’t believe a word a certain Nobel prize winner said because his figures and “science” were so wrong it was embarrassing, do you mean those who watch the Weather Channel for their daily laugh as the “best Science” gets it wrong from day to day.
    As for alternative Power lets have a look back over the last 12 months of solar, panels that have been imported into Australia with only a 12 month warranty but sold to an unsuspecting public as the real thing. Panels that have the backs fall off after a couple on months on the roof of some poor unsuspecting person with no recourse as the company that installed it wont take responsibility and the manufacturer has gone out of business. Solar system that cause fires because they are either badly installed with inferior products or just faulty workmanship from the miriade of companies that popped up to get in on the Alternative power con
    Before you call other people names clean up your own act and that of those who are making money from the gullibility of the public.

    • Stop These Thingies says

      Good to see that the anti-science nitwits are back in form after the holiday break. Let’s hope they got plenty of literature as presents for xmas. A bit of variety in their fiction will be appreciated. Happy new year.

  2. Les Pittman says

    As a matter of fact what is happening today has not been happening for millions of years. Fossil fuel use on the scale of time is a matter of seconds, strange that it coincides with the rapid changes happening today… Les

  3. The main reason prices will continue to rise is poor economies of scale. If people use less electricity from the grid, this results in lower capacity factors that for a baseboard generator is not cost effective. Solution is to mothball units and this reduces supply, forcing prices up in the market. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work this out. Retailers and distributors should pay small PV exports the going market spot price or enter a long term contract. Paying $440/MWh for intermittent PV generation in Queensland is just plain economic lunacy. With electronic metering people should easily be able to make a bit of coin on hot days where the occasional $12,000/MWh spike occurs.

  4. Interesting thoughts people, thanks for your contributions.

  5. Evan Pritchard says

    I do find it interesting that no one really asks the question about what all the increased emissions are doing to our day to day health let alone their affect on the climate. Do we really want a situation when we can’t walk down the street without breathing protection because the air is so foul like some parts of China?

    Evan Pritchard, Heathcote Vic.
    5 x 130 watt Suntech panels, 200 watt small wind generator, Latronics 1800 watt inverter, Trace MPPT solar charge controller.

    • That won’t happen in Australia. Even an elderly coal-fired plant such as Hazelwood has electrostatic precipitators so the only smoke you’d see on a normal day is when they are clanged together to remove the soot. Overseas in many countries plants are free to pollute as much as they like with no restrictions. In fact, the Latrobe Valley has significantly better air quality than Melbourne. I’m not against higher penetration of small scale renewable generators, but they shouldn’t be given excessive subsidies that are paid by everyone else indirectly.

  6. Tony Waters says

    I would suggest that anyone who has been conditioned to disbelieve the evidence of climate change should read the Merchants Of Doubt the book explains how the big polluters hired public relations companies and renegade scientists to ridicule the overwhelming evidence of man made climate change, the renegade scientists were paid enormous amounts of money, and of course the Murdoch media and Fox hired shock jocks like old Dutchy Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones to dumb down the herds,
    The minds and opinions of the dumbed down are controlled by an extreme right wing media, and until Australia has a fair and open media this country will never ever have a democracy.

    • Exactly, Mr Waters. The MuShrooM farmers in the Main Stream Media have lots to answer for with their constant feeding of misinformation to the ‘herd’.

    • Just stop buying all murdoch media then we will get the truth on climate change and choose our choice of governments even agaist the bidding of the non believers on climate change.i stoped several years ago and saved enough to install solar.

  7. tony heneberry says

    Of course man’s phenomenal consumption and voracious use of fossils fuels has an environmental effect. It is ludicrous to deny it.

    But lost in this argument…climate change v deniers….is the inescapable logic that if we through so much waste of whatever kind….fumes… co2. ..packaging. …industrial waste….sewage….chemical effluents….We will inevitably create a very sick earth.

    We are thoroughly brainwashed into.believing that capitalism and economic growth are positive….BUT we’ll managed fair and healthy society and people can be achieved even with.economic contraction.

    It is a case of What you do (produce) not of how much you do.

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