Any positives for solar power under the new Coalition government?

How will solar fare under Abbott and the Coalition?

How will solar fare under Abbott and the Coalition?

Here at SQHQ — as with all of those supporting alternative energy — we’re surveying the damage after the Coalition’s expected yet stunning landslide win on Saturday night. Both the Liberals and Nationals took a slash and burn approach to solar power in Australia and the whole renewable energy sector during the campaign. This approach included policy announcements such as the gutting of ARENA and the end of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and “Sloppy” Joe and his finance mates have given no inkling of changing their minds on this all important issue. See last week’s article for more details. [Read more…]

Combet pulls plug on rebates: solar coaster in full flight

Greg ‘kneejerk’ Combet seems to enjoy the solar coaster

What solar buyers need to know: If you buy a solar system after the 16th November 2012, you have to have it installed before Jan 1 2013 to claim the current rebate. If your system is installed after that date your solar system will cost approximately $1,000 more regardless of what size you buy.

Well that was quick wasn’t it? Just when you thought the Federal Government’s collective speed on any given issue was only marginally faster than my first car (a VW Type 3: nought to 50 kms/hr in 30 minutes) … out comes a lightning-fast decision from the desk of Climate Change Minister Greg “Coalface” Combet. [Read more…]

The inflated STC Price Scam : The Solar Cowboy’s Favourite Trick?

a cowboy

Don’t fall for it!

I’m angry.

I get a lot of emails asking for me to look over quotes. I try to answer every one. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to reply, but generally I manage to reply.

Tonight I got 3 emails in a row with quotes from 3 separate companies which all appeared to be trying the same trick. They appear to be deceiving the customer into thinking they are getting a great deal and then hitting them with a bill for thousands more than the quoted price when the system is installed.

I love the solar industry, and to see these guys operating like this makes me so freaking angry I want to scream! [Read more…]

Interview with Paul O’Reilly of the Rainbow Power Company

Rainbow Power Company Logo

Rainbow Power Company – one of Australia’s oldest solar companies

In this, the first in what we hope will be a number of interviews with solar opinion leaders, business people and experts in the solar industry we chat with Paul O’Reilly, director of the Nimbin-based Rainbow Power Company. Sit back and enjoy as Paul talks feed-in tariffs, the almost constant boom and bust cycles in the Australian solar industry and his optimism for the future.

The solar industry must have changed a lot since Rainbow Power Company first set up? Do you think this has been for better or worse?

[Read more…]

The STC Price: Is Your Solar Installer Ripping You Off?

A solar crook

Short Answer: Probably Not.

Longer Answer:

Ah, the joys of STC prices! Every so often I get an email from someone who is desperately worried that their solar installer is using the STC price to rip them off.

The suspicion is usually kicked off by one of two things: [Read more…]

How To Read A Solar Panel Specification: Part #1 Power & Temperature Specs

Magnifying the NOCT on a solar panel specification

Discover how to read a solar panel specification

Does a solar panel specification with “Max Power” rated at, say 190W, really produce a maximum power of 190W when it is on your roof in the blazing sun?

Short Answer: Not on your nellie!

The max power rating (in Watts) that your solar panels are rated at is the figure that everyone quotes when talking about “panel size”. If the installer or salesperson talks aout a “190W or 250W panel” they are talking about the “max power” rating of the panels. This rating is based on the power output measured from that panel under “Standard Test Conditions” (STC) that, unfortunately, are a long way from “Real World Operating Conditions”.

[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…]

Solar Subsidies : Let’s get the facts straight

Despite running a popular Solar Power website, whose revenue is seriously helped by generous Federal and State solar subsidies, it may surprise you to learn that I’m not a huge fan of government subsidy in any shape or form. Mainly because I have worked for the government and seen how inefficient they really are. Trust me it is frightening.

I would be happy for the Feds to completely scrap their solar subsidy, called Solar Credits, and let the economics of small scale solar stand on its own merit through innovative finance schemes designed by innovative Solar Installers. [Read more…]

Push to Make Electricity Retailers Pay as NSW Coalition Continue Solar Spin Cycle

The issue of solar energy, and more importantly the backflip on the Solar Bonus Scheme continues to dominate debate in the NSW Parliament “bearpit”. Heroic efforts by the Coalition to contain fallout are matched only by attempts by certain Liberals to accept credit for the turnaround.

Meanwhile injecting a new angle into the sorry NSW solar debate, NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye has led his party’s endorsement of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) recommendation that NSW electricity retailers pay the full cost of the solar power they receive. [Read more…]

How Economically Viable is Solar Energy?

By Rich Bowden

A recent report by the University of Melbourne’s EnergyResearchInstitute has found that, not only is solar energy a viable form of energy, but that costs will compare favourably with traditional fossil fuel technology in the very near future.

The report, the Renewable Energy Technology Cost Review May 2011, was commissioned by  government climate advisor Ross Garnaut and included the current and expected future costs of three forms of renewable energy; wind, solar and thermal. [Read more…]