SolarQuotes Bonus Vodcast: Smart Energy Conference

Join the SQ gang for a quick-and-dirty, on-the-road vodcast covering their first day at the Smart Energy Conference & Exhibition in Sydney, held earlier this week.

0:51 – Finn headed to the University of Technology Sydney, where he attended a presentation on a project where grid voltage has been controlled using nothing but solar inverters.

It turns out that while solar inverters have been known to cause overvoltage problems, they can also be used to actually fix the issue. Once Finn gets his head around a few aspects of reactive vs. real power, he’ll write up a blog post on the development.

3:22 – Ronald comments on the many solar panels showcased at the exhibition comprised of half-cut solar cells, DNVGL’s prediction world primary energy use (fossil fuels) will peak around 2035, and things aren’t looking good for Australia hitting its climate targets at the current rate of progress.

6:13 – Some of the other points of interest for Finn included:

– Rick Brazzale from Green Energy Markets believes solar feed in tariffs will reduce even if wholesale power prices increase (although they are expected to drop). The value of solar electricity will decrease simply because of the huge numbers of systems being installed.

– Mr. Brazzale commented that the home battery sector is one disaster away from industry collapse. Finn laments the focus on the retail side of home batteries in Australia, to the detriment of electrical safety. Ronald mentions a safer lithium-ion chemistry; lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4).

– A representative from NSW Fair Trading reminded attendees that in NSW (and some other states), an electrical contractor’s license is required just to sell solar power systems – and according to Finn, a number of retailers still aren’t aware of this.

– Battery expert Peter Coburn warned that installing the wrong battery brand could see home owners charged more for home insurance – a lot more. Mr. Coburn also raised end-of-life issues – disposing of one of the new generation battery systems could be a pricey endeavour.

– Finn says there were two standout products for him at the event. One was LG’s very first inverter, a hybrid type that will be available in capacities of 8kW and 10kW. Finn is sourcing more information on the unit, including pricing. The second product was the Fronius Primo Gen 24+, a single-phase hybrid inverter that will be available from July. The Primo Gen 24+ will be compatible with Fronius, LG and BYD batteries

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. Daniel Debreceny says

    Roll-up solar panels …. great for set-up of Green-Field sites.

    • I’m curious to see a bit more detail on that concept… if they are so light and quick to deploy, what keeps them from blowing away? Tent pegs? Or a couple of bricks?

      • Ronald Brakels says

        Long concrete blocks. I don’t have the information sheet I got from them with me at the moment, but I’ll look up the company name and find a link for you later.

      • Ronald Brakels says

        Here they are. They’re called 5 Billion Maverick:

        Just a couple of years ago their technique would have seemed wasteful, but solar panels are so cheap now not mounting them at the optimal angle is not a big deal.

        A drawback is, being so close to the ground and at a low angle, dirt will be more of an issue than for more traditionally mounted panels.

        This sort of deployment would be useful for say a mine as they can have a project life of under seven years. Because there are no ground fixtures the solar installation can be folded up again and moved.

        • Thanks Ron…

          I had a quick look and after some careful consideration… I think this is a Bloody Good Idea.

          It won’t be perfect for all applications (e.g. cyclone prone areas) but could certainly be useful for plenty of other places.

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