Adelaide University Solar Racer Taken For A Spin

Today the Solar Racing Team of the University of Adelaide gave Finn and I the opportunity to take Lumen, their solar racer, for a spin. And I was there to take Finn’s picture as he nailed it and completely managed not to hit or destroy anything at all. Well done, Finn!

Finn Peakcock sitting in the cockpit of the Adelaide University's Solar Racing Team's Car, Lumen, about to take it for a drive.

Finn, about to take the University of Adelaide’s Solar Racing Team’s vehicle for a spin.

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Coal Power Eliminated From South Australia With Help From Rooftop Solar

coal miners hat

The last coal miners in South Australia have hung up their helmets, and the last coal fired power station has shut its doors.

History has been made with the closure of the Northern Power Station which has eliminated the use of coal in South Australia. And I say good riddance to you, Northern Power Station. I’m sorry you are no longer providing employment for people in Port Augusta or at the Leigh Creek coal mine, but I’m not sorry you are gone because you kill people and I am a firm believer that electricity generation should be death light. [Read more…]

Fairfax Article Beating Up The Solar Industry is Scaremongering (but Greg Hunt still fell for it)

article screenshot

The Fairfax article published on 22 Feb 2015

The Fairfax papers’ coverage of the solar industry is usually spot on. But I think the latest article by Political Reporter Heath Aston is way off mark.

Greg Hunt must have salivated all over his iPad as he read the article yesterday morning. I can see him dribbling with delight at the rampant tales of rorted rebates and shonky solar systems.  And surprise, surprise: within a few hours of the article going live, Hunt announced:

“The poor installation of solar PV or installation of substandard solar PV has the potential to lead to fires with risks to property and human life. I’m sure you would agree that it is absolutely imperative that all panels installed must be of high quality and pose absolutely no threat to safety.”

I would like to ask Hunt how he thinks that it is possible to mandate that a piece of electrical equipment must “pose absolutely no threat to safety”. [Read more…]

SA Power Networks’ Shonky Voltages Causing Headaches For Adelaide Solar Owners

Most solar inverters will shut down at 257V.

Most solar inverters will shut down at 257V.

I’m getting reports that lots of solar owners in Adelaide have seen their inverters shut down over Christmas.

No, the inverters are not taking a break to eat mince pies and open their presents – they are shutting down because the grid voltage seems to be regularly going higher than 257V. Many inverters are designed to shut down when the grid gets this high, in order to protect the inverter electronics.

According to the Australian Standard (AS 60038-2012), the grid should be kept at 230V -6% / + 10%. So the highest it should get is 253V. [Read more…]

SA leads the way with 25 percent of households using solar: ABS

solar panels and south australia map

SA takes the medal for most solar systems per household.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show one in five households use some form of solar energy. The figures back anecdotal and other statistical evidence of a massive growth surge for solar that has occurred since the ABS first began publishing statistics on solar energy, back in 2011.

Then the figures were comparatively low with only around five percent of households using solar energy, said the ABS’ Karen Connaughton in a 3/12/2014 press release. However the change in just three years has been dramatic.

“Jump just three years, to 2014, and there are solar panels being used by fourteen per cent of all households.”, she said.

Add to this solar hot water and the numbers of households using solar energy in one form or another has jumped to 20 percent. [Read more…]

Are millions of solar roofs making solar farms pointless?

solar roofs and a solar field

Are solar roofs making solar power stations uneconomic?

Utility scale solar, or solar farms, are fields of PV panels which generate electricity that is fed directly into the grid.  Currently we don’t have much of this in Australia.  Over 99% of our solar capacity is point of use which is mostly on rooftops and the juice it does produce is first used to power the household or business it is on top of and then after that the excess is generally fed into the grid. [Read more…]

Will the states call the shots in solar power policy?

the states of Australia

The sweep of Coalition victories throughout the land has been abated with the narrow victory of the incumbent Weatherill government in South Australia but what does this mean for solar power policy?

As the always perceptive Giles Parkinson points out in his regular column for RenewEconomy, there is now some push back from state politicians over solar energy policy throughout the country. This (perhaps) as they understand (a) that the rest of the world is already moving towards a renewable future and (b) most importantly, ordinary Aussies have voted with their rooftops for a solar power policy.

“.. the return of the Jay Weatherill Labor government in Adelaide, the election of Will Hodgman in Tasmania, and the ambition of the ACT Labor government means that there are some counters to the apparently ideologically driven opposition to renewables in the federal government,” said Mr Parkinson. [Read more…]

South Australia Feed In Tariff Ends In September. What you need to know.

If you’ve opened any South Australian newspapers recently you’ve probably seen adverts from solar power installers screaming about the “IMMINENT REDUCTION IN THE SOUTH AUSTRALIA FEED IN TARIFF!!!”.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not one to bombard you with pushy sales spiel, or use impending rebate cuts to pressure anyone into buying solar.

But what I will do is calmly go through the facts about the looming SA Feed In tariff reduction, and crunch a few numbers, so you can decide if you want to get in on the SA solar action before the 30 September 2013 deadline that a lot of solar companies are getting all worked up about.

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Independent inquiry to support solar for Port Augusta? Yes minister!

yes minister

The news of a Inquiry into Solar at Port Augusta is awesome! But let’s hope it is not hijacked by vested interests…

Recent efforts by solar activists to force the South Australian government to replace the current coal-fired station at Port Augusta with a solar thermal power station appear to have borne some fruit. Last week SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis announced the setting up of an inquiry into the feasibility of building a solar thermal power plant to replace the ageing fossil fuel plants that currently supply 40 percent of SA’s energy. [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…]