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Queenslanders continue to chase rooftop solar dream

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The hunger for rooftop solar continues to grow in Queensland, with another 3,250 rooftop solar arrays being officially metered in March, and more than 4,000 new applications received in the same month.

As this graph below shows, the number of applications has rebounded strongly in the last few months, taking the industry – which had expected a continued fall-off in the uptake of rooftop solar as tariffs were unwound – by surprise.

energex applications

The surge in installations has taken the south-east Queensland region to more than 250,000 homes with rooftop solar – and the total inverter capacity to more than 800MW.

In turn, that makes rooftop solar in the south-east corridor managed by Energex the sixth biggest power station in the state, as this graph below reveals. More than 11 per cent of total residential power consumption in the area is now sourced from embedded generation – namely rooftop solar.

energex powr station

 

New data from Energex delivers some other interesting insights. One is that the actual amount of money paid out for feed in tariffs is declining.

That’s because around 700 homes changed owners, meaning that their rooftop systems changed from the old 44c/kWh rate to the 8c/kWh rate. That is bringing the average feed in tariff down to 37.5c/kWh.

Almost one in five solar PV systems in the state are now on the 8c/kWh tariff. From July 1, new installations are not guaranteed any tariff – they will have to negotiate with their retailer. Interestingly, the level of self consumption is also increasing, as this graph below shows. Part of that is seasonal (people use more electricity at home in summer thanks to air-conditioning, but given the rate of installations over the past year, these graphs seem to indicate more fundamental changes in patterns.

energex FiTR

While the real cost of those feed in tariffs is falling, the cost levied on consumers, however, will continue to rise because the state government under charged in the initial years.

Finally, the Energex data underlines the fact that Australia, unlike any other country, remains a uniquely household market.

Of the 251,972 solar installations in the Energex region as at the end of March, more than 250,500 are on domestic premises, although the interest in commercial solar is growing. There are no utility scale solar installations in the state.

Finally, this graph below shows the installed capacity of solar within the Energex system, and how it has shot up over the last four years since the premium (44c/kWh) tariff was first introduced. The red signals the amount of capacity that does not enjoy that tariff. Gradually, as the red displaces more of the blue, solar will emerge as low cost, sustainable power source.

energex solar installs

 

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  • Paul

    What do you, or is the generic definition of a term a ‘utility scale solar installation’?

    • Giles

      Changes from place to place. I would suggest minimum 5MW, others say 10MW, others say 3MW. Most would agree some sort of installation that sells primarily into the grid, rather than for consumption on site.

      • Dave Blake

        I had 3kWh solar installed 25/6. Energex changed the Tariff 11 meter on 11/7. In the post today, 16/7, a letter from Energex.

        “Your meter has altered, because of damage or you intstalled a PV system. Your AGLenergy plan is based on your meter type and configuration. When changes to your meter occur, it sometimes means changes to your Energy Plan pricing stucture. Therefore we are writing to you to let you know we have updated your Energy Plan prices. blah,blah blah, rabbit, rabbit, drivel, drivel. then, Please read the pricing table overleaf”

        (all prices ex GST)
        So old tariff 11 26.73 c/kWh
        New tariff 11 28.01 c/kWh

        Old tariff 33 18.05 c/kWh (note controlled load on seperate
        New Tariff 33 20.00 c/kWh meter, not connected to solar!!!)

        Old Supply Charge 50.21 c/day
        New Supply Charge 83.41 c/day

        Feed in tariff 8c kWh (I m currently feeding in 32c/day)

        What a blatant ripoff, the best bit being an increase in Tariff 33, on a different meter, not “solarised”, but still gets an increase.

        If I wasn’t on the aged pension, I would spend the money on a hybrid system and use their electrons at my convenience, not be a pasty to their dirty little price hikes.

        Dave

  • Ben N

    Energex’s PV might pass Millmeran and Callide C on the generators chart if Marginal Loss Factors are considered.

    • Giles

      Well, it certainly passes Tarong if you consider half the units are in mothballs!

    • RobS

      With average system sizes of 3kw and monthly installations at 5,000 and rising we can expect ~15Mw of additional solar PV capacity to come on line monthly which should mean regardless of loss factors solar PV will surpass Millerman and Callide shortly in capacity lifting solar to 4th largest generator in the state.

  • Bob_Wallace

    How long do the original FiT contracts run? I’m wondering when blue bar decay will set in due to contract expiration.

    • Giles

      Amazingly, out to 2029. But any change of ownership of home, or – I believe – extension of system, causes contract to expire.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Thanks.

        • Ronald Brakels

          And that’s why it would be wrong for these people to disconnect their hot water systems from the grid and connect them to a stand alone solar panel that no one needs to be told about.

          What we could really use is the option to voluntarily forgo the high feed in tariff in return for a wad of cash. Technically, the way to gouge the most value out of people, sorry, I mean the most efficient way to do it might be some sort of reverse auction.

  • JamesWimberley

    Why is there so little commercial rooftop solar (say 10kw-1MW)? Does Australia lack a Walmart or IKEA to show the way? Such commercial investors are often motivated by reputation as well as profit. Or is commercial solar uniquely disadvantaged compared to other countries? The international norm is a mix of residential, commercial and utility. Normally a commercial investor would want a power takeoff contract with the grid for weekend production.

    IKEA is solarizing its shops in Spain with large car park installations even against the shambles of Spain’s solar policy. I don’t know if they have negotiated special deals with the utility, or are playing a long game waiting for a policy change, or whether there’s so much sun that a purely self-consumption project pays off without feed-in or batteries.

    • Gem

      Currently there are only about 7 IKEA stores in the entire of Australia (http://www.ikea.com/au/en/preindex.html) and they are, or at least the original stores, were franchised. That’s not to say that they couldn’t lead the way, however one of the larger chain supermarkets, Coles, or Woolworths would be better placed to do it.

  • http://slickercity.net kristian handberg

    There’s some quite astute observations behind this article Giles – well done. Sixth biggest power station + FiT payment reduction should really speak to all but the idealogues.