Commonwealth Bank spending your money on solar?

cba logo with our additions

The purchase of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest tracking solar power plant in Alice Springs raised a few eyebrows this week, garnering a bit of rare (but much-needed) good publicity for the venerable Commonwealth Bank along the way. [Read more…]

‘Walk for solar’ latest to demonstrate grass roots support for Port Augusta solar power

port augusta solar thermal plant

Can people power get one of these built in Port Augusta?

The Victorian solar industry and supporters are the latest to suffer what is becoming an event as predictable as Gerry Harvey whinging about online retailers at Christmas time. This was when Premier Ted “The Blade” Baillieu’s government announced a slashing of the state’s feed-in tariff from 25 cents per kilowatt hour down to 8 cents.

However despite being hammered left, right and centre by newly-installed conservative governments across the nation, solar energy in this country has always enjoyed massive support from ordinary folk.

So why don’t the pollies (like video refs) see the game the same as the punters? [Read more…]

Year Zero approaches with Comrade Tony Number One in waiting?

Tony Abbott on telly

Tony seems to be struggling with the reality of affordable solar

After a week which saw Opposition Leader Tony Abbott perform more gaffes, backflips and nonsensical quotes than the average Barnum and Bailey circus, your columnist thought it high time to check out The Man’s policy on clean energy. This was a bit more difficult than first expected due to the fact that Big Tony, and his front bench colleagues….er… don’t seem to have a properly functioning clean energy policy to present to the Australian people. [Read more…]

Solar intermittency can be managed: CSIRO report

Sun and clouds

Do those pesky clouds mean we can’t use solar as base load power?

One of the chief criticisms fossil fuel narks level against solar power is its alleged inability to provide baseload power. This is defined as the minimum amount of energy needed over a 24 hour period to satisfy the utility’s customers. What about cloud cover? This is the critics’ plaintive cry and rallying point as they call for further subsidies for their beloved, earth-destroying coal and oil fuelled energy sources.

They have a point though, what of cloud cover (known as solar intermittency) reducing solar’s effectiveness? According to the aforementioned narks, solar power is unable to provide energy reliability due to this factor preventing the full exploitation of the sun’s energy potential and therefore cannot be considered a reliable form of energy. [Read more…]

Debate rages over Budget 2012 and solar power

Wayne swan putting the 2012 budget together

Wayne Swan’s budget was good for solar

Debate continues to rage in the press over the last week as to whether or not Treasurer Wayne Swan’s much lauded Budget 2012 is good for the future of solar power in this country. The Treasurer’s delivery and demeanour gave no real hint of the speech being one that could be considered pro or anti renewables and solar pundits have split over what the Budget will mean for the Australian solar industry. [Read more…]

Pay-As-You-Go Solar Arrives In Australia

Sim Cards

PAYG Solar Too?

Have you considered installing a domestic solar system but have been put off by the initial cost? Then the recently-announced unveiling of a radical new pay-as-you-go plan in Australia may be for you.

According to an April 21 report in the Sydney Morning Herald, an American company, Sungevity Inc., has teamed up with Lismore-based solar installer Nickel Energy to set up an Australian subsidiary, Sungevity Australia, which offers free solar panel installation. [Read more…]

Silex steals the solar show

solar concentrator mock up

We mocked up Silex solar’s concentrating solar technology in the SolarQuotes garden using our unwanted Shannon Noll Cds.

Good news stories about the Australian solar industry have been as rare as hen’s teeth lately. With the taking of the cudgels by state governments to the highly successful feed-in tariffs (can someone please explain that again — just one more time!), to the slow sinking of the fed’s Solar Flagships program, to the march out the door of Australian solar manufacturers, its been a grim time for solar fans.

[Read more…]

Rubbishing the idea that solar power is not commercially viable

Bin with solar panels

Australian waste management group Veolia Environment Services are very proud of themselves this week as they prepare to celebrate the installing of their brand-new, state-of-the-art solar powered energy source at its Arndell Park facility in NSW.

On Feb.23, the company will be hosting a knees-up to mark the recent installation of the 50 kW solar panel system, which has been added as part of the company’s drive towards boosting its renewable energy source. The project — in collaboration with BP Solar and installed by Solar Technology — is a key part of the Blacktown Solar City project, described, a little breathlessly in a company press release of Feb. 14, as being derived from “…a $94 million Australian Government initiative to help lay the foundations of a sustainable energy future.”

[Read more…]

What is solar tower technology?

News that the Perth-based renewable energy company Hyperion Energy is planning to build a solar tower in mid-west Western Australia sent your correspondent scurrying to the research files this week.

According to the company website, Hyperion have purchased a 127,000 hectare site near the town of Tuckanarra. The site is near mines and an airport and is judged to have a low risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes or cyclones. Chiefly though, the main advantage of the site for the location of a solar tower is the “horizon solar radiation of 2300MJ/m2” (read huge), according to the company.

The theory behind the solar tower technology sounds simple enough. A flat, large expanse of a greenhouse-like material is spread around the base of a tall tower. When the sun heats the air under the material it rises (remember your science?) and as such has only one place where it can go: the central solar tower (see diagram). The hot air is forced through the narrow space of the tower where it causes a wind which turns a number of turbines inside the tower.


Diagram showing how a solar tower works.

Hyperion points to three key advantages of solar tower technology over other forms of tapping the sun’s energy.

[Read more…]

How NOT to save $1,000 on your solar system

I got this email today:

“Hi Finn,

I’ve got a quote for a 1.5kW solar system for $2500 and a 3kW system for  $6000. I want 3kW. Why don’t I just buy 2 x 1.5kW systems???

Cheers, Bob”

Bloody good question Sir!

In fact I can’t believe more people don’t ask this question. But, as always, if something seems too good to be true…

[Read more…]