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Utilities move to kick rooftop solar off the grid

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Utilities in Queensland are looking to limit and even stop households exporting excess electricity back into the grid from their rooftop solar panels, in a move that other Australian network operators are expected to follow – even if it does have the potential to accelerate grid defections and the so called “death spiral”.

New standards are expected to come into effect in Queensland’s Ergon and Energex networks next week – and become a fixed ruling from next January – that formalise a practice that has been going on for months.

Essentially, any rooftop solar system under 30kW will gain automatic approval from the networks, as long as it has equipment installed that can prevent it from exporting electricity back into the grid.

network 3The move is being introduced by networks in the name of grid stability – excess rooftop solar power in some feeders is getting to the point where it is creating reverse flows. The operators complain of oversupply and power spikes.

It has already been standard practice for networks to require large systems of more than 30kW to have export limiters to avoid what they call the “Christmas Day” effect – when large amounts of solar electricity are fed back into the grid when there is no demand.

This practice has largely gone on without controversy, because most commercial and industrial users are looking to consume most of their output anyway, a practice that is now extending to homes.

But the initiative also risks creating a new mindset among households and businesses for “self consumption”, and potentially, once battery storage costs fall far enough, to disconnect from the grid.

The average home consumers less than half the output of an average 4kW solar system – but since the tariffs paid for excess electricity have fallen so sharply, and in many areas are voluntary – households and businesses are now motivated to consume all the output on the premises.

That is encouraging households to look at battery storage, for use at night or on days with little sun. Ultimately, it may encourage households to look after their own needs and disconnect. Advocates such as Energy for the People say this could be attractive for some communities now. Even investment bank UBS has said it could be economically attractive for the average household in Sydney and Melbourne to disconnect from the grid by 2018.

The initiative has encouraged companies such as Queensland-based Renewable Energy Solutions Australia to introduce products such as VoltLogic,an inverter system that can limit power exported to the grid from solar systems, and which can be integrated with battery systems. It can restrict the amount exported, although its standard function is zero export.

RESA development manager Michael Le Messurier says in many ways it is a good outcome. Rural customers on “thin, weak” lines in Ergon’s network, for instance, were being told they could only put 1kW or 2W of rooftop solar when they were looking to install 4kW, 5kW or more.

“What it does do is encourages storage,” Le Messurier said. “There is a lot of interest in that, and one of the benefits of storage is that it reduces the upgrade costs of networks down the track.”

That appears to be a deliberate ploy by Ergon, which itself has recognized that it may be more cost effective for both it and its consumers to encourage customers to invest in renewables and storage, rather than rely on the expensive delivery of centralized fossil fuel generation along thousands of kilometers of poles and wires.

In more populated areas, however, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Network operators see their future in facilitating micro grids and the like, but providing consumers with the economic and technology incentive to disconnect could be counter-productive.

“More and more cases are arising where customers are looking to install solar, and only when they put the application in are these systems being knocked back to nothing,” Le Messurier said.

“In some cases, customers want to install a 15kW system but can only get approval for 1kW.”

Consumers in Victoria have also been told either that they cannot install systems, or will have to downsize the number of modules. There is anecdotal evidence this is also happening in other states.

Industry insiders say the “limiters” are essentially a means to “buy time” – a couple of years – to help networks get their minds around new business models, and new tariffs, that will allow networks to incorporate new technologies.

But others are concerned. John Grimes, from the Australian Solar Council, fears that these technologies are being potentially used as an excuse to slow down deployment of rooftop solar.

“It is not just potential changes to the renewable energy target that are putting the industry in danger. Technical barriers are also being applied inappropriately …. We are very concerned about the rise of what are basically trade protection measures.

 

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  • Andrew Thaler

    All wedges start with thin ends… and this is likely to be a rather large wedge over time :(

  • Matt Robinson

    Disconnecting from the grid means more than just getting storage (which in itself is a *bad* idea when applied at large scale due to the pollution produced by the battery manufacturing process). It will also mean a larger uptake of fossil-fuelled household generators.

    Even with battery storage, a home reliant on solar or wind does not have a guaranteed supply of energy at all times when it’s needed. There will be those times when the batteries are flat (or worn out) and the solar array or wind generator has no spare capacity to charge them. Solar arrays in particular decline in efficiency over time, so those lean times of inadequate energy will increase in frequency and duration.

    I don’t think anyone wants to see millions of suburban fossil generators in people’s backyards.

    People need to accept the fact that rooftop solar is not a money-making machine. Enjoy the benefit of clean energy while the sun shines and accept that you need the grid when it doesn’t.

    Please resist the urge to fill your garages with batteries and fossil generators and make things worse for our environment than they already are.

    • wideEyedPupil

      If batteries like the CSIRO developed Ultrabattery had good lifecycle economics and environmental impacts would you support them? I recall the LithIon batteries Better Place was deploying could be reconditioned many times and then the recycling into new batteries was for 98% of materials or something. We need to clamp down on manufacturing and whole systems design not forget about batteries.

      • Matt Robinson

        We need to take into account the sheer scale of battery production when looking at the environmental impact of the manufacturing process.

        For the world to rely intrinsically on batteries we would need trillions of tons of materiel just to produce the first iteration.

        Then we need to consider the impact of the reconditioning processes. It’s all very well to just consider your needs or your local community, but as a world-wide requirement batteries have a huge impact on the environment – even with recycling.

        However batteries aren’t the focus of my comment – fossil fuelled generators are. Even the best batteries go flat and need charging. If your charging system is off-line due to weather conditions or maintenance for longer than it takes to adequately charge them, you must fall back to the fossil generator. Very bad idea if you’re concerned about people’s health and our environment.

        • juxx0r

          What a load of rubbish. With 1 trillion being a thousand billion and there being billions of people, that’s a thousand tonnes of material per person for their batteries. Lol

          • Matt Robinson

            Tell me, how many tonnes of iron ore does it take to produce one tonne of steel?

            Or how many tonnes of materiel do we need to produce the lithium and other REE products?

            Not so ridiculous now, is it?

          • juxx0r

            You’re asking an extractive metallurgist.

            It’s hilarious.

          • Matt Robinson

            OK. Cool. Perhaps you can give me the real figures then.

            I will cheerfully amend my comment with your new expert insight.

          • juxx0r

            It’s not that simple, i’ll reply tonight when have more time. I’ll edit this comment.

          • Matt Robinson

            Can you give me a rough figure? 3 tonnes per person? 5 tonnes? I genuinely would appreciate it.

            In the meantime, I’ll amend my comment to read tens of billions of tonnes until your response.

          • michael

            maybe this ‘solution’ of solar with batteries, could be explained in the context of its industrialising third world potential? australian environmentalist do tend to be so myopic. the bigger picture is so much more interesting, hence the question of total tonnes required would be illuminating, if this is thought to say be viable as a 5-10% of the total energy consumption mix

          • Matt Robinson

            Thanks juxx0r. Great stuff! I appreciate your efforts.

            It’s not very often that someone makes that effort (including myself).

          • Chris Fraser

            juxx0r what a range of skills the blog brings in … !
            To be conservative could we start tentatively with 60 kWh per household and LiFePO4 specific density of about 200 Wh/kg x 8 million households ? Not sure if there are other assumptions but perhaps could you discuss those ? thanks.

          • sean

            about 1.3 tonnes of iron ore depending on your source.

        • nakedChimp

          You know, you sound like you’re afraid that urban subburbs will get rid of their grids within the next 20 years.. hehe, yeah right.

          Look mate.. you’re painting a picture with colors of the rurals for the urbans, that doesn’t work.
          Most of the population on earth lives in cities and doesn’t have the space to put up enough solar or wind or what have you to produce their RE locally. Not to forget energy needed for industry or transport.. they will need wires & poles no matter what to get the RE delivered to them.

          So calm down there and think in smaller numbers for the blokes out on the land and relax a bit.

          • Matt Robinson

            “Most of the population on earth lives in cities and doesn’t have the
            space to put up enough solar or wind or what have you to produce their
            RE locally” – I think a lot of city people with rooftop solar (including myself) would disagree with you there.

            People should not be encouraged to become their own energy ‘islands’ – whether rural or urban – because the energy grid, with all it’s faults, works the same way a city does. It provides the economies of scale that minimises the environmental impact for the energy generated and provides the reliability that goes with it.

            I think arguments like ‘hardly anyone will actually do it’ miss the point entirely.

          • nakedChimp

            So you’re worried about efficiency and use of resources in regards to how you harvest energy but not how you live?
            The average Ozzi in sub-urban Australia got a house with some green around it and lives like what 15-30min away from a workplace via car? Are you serious?
            Do you have any idea what that causes for an ecological footprint?

            If you got enough space to make your own energy island.. YES, put that roof-space finally to some good use and stay with the grid as long as it makes sense or you can bear the cost of that over sized thing. It’s not your fault if it get’s too costly.

            And if the network owners (which should be the community or a non-for-profit organization and not a single entity that works to maximize profit for itself) screw this up, who is to blame?

            Networks are natural monopolies and those should never be owned by for-profit entities in the first place anyway.

            What will happen if the Network operators go bankrupt, huh? They will sell those assets via an insolvency and somebody else will own them if they are good for something.. like a community or some RE project far off that needs it to transport energy.
            And they will only be able to pay what they think it’s worth it to transport the energy…

            You are afraid of network operators loosing their assets and those assets being transferred to probably not-for-profit organizations..

          • Matt Robinson

            Everybody should be concerned about the efficiency of their energy use, regardless of where they live. Part of that efficiency is having a grid to fall back on, because the economies of scale make it more efficient than having batteries and/or backyard fossil generators.

            If you live on acreage or in urban environments, you have the luxury of land area to make yourself an island. Whether or not you do so depends on your access to the grid and the cost/benefit of that decision, but the environmental impact should also be factored in.

            To you, it seems, the environment should be damned. I say that this attitude needs to change. I agree that sometimes there’s no choice, but to someone with access to the grid it makes better environmental sense to use the grid as a backup rather than use batteries and fossil generators.

            All your fluff over who owns the grid and what you think I’m afraid of, is irrelevant to my point. Speculation over who should own this infrastructure is also irrelevant. We need to deal with the realities, which are that right now we need the grid if we are to have any hope of keeping our emissions to a minimum, and we should be discouraging people from leaving the grid for the reasons I have previously outlined.

            If you want to lower your energy and fuel costs, you should start with how much you use and where you can make improvements. There are many options, from driving less, using a petrol/electric hybrid (NOT pure EV until we remove fossil from grid generation), LED lighting in the home, Solar PV on the roof, Heat pump hot water systems, DC motor ceiling fans, etc. The list is long, and it applies no matter where you live.

            Some of these things can have their own environmental impact (which can vary depending on where you live) so this must also be weighed against their benefit.

            Complete disconnection from the grid must be the absolute last resort.

            That is my point.

          • nakedChimp

            You really want to discuss efficient housing with me?
            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1987-0128-310,_Berlin,_Marzahn,_Neubaugebiet,_Wohnblocks.jpg
            I lived in an environment like that for the 1st 15 years of my life and we used public transport most of the time.. so don’t think you got me figured out.

            “To you, it seems, the environment should be damned. I say that this attitude needs to change.”
            *) Quite the opposite.. but I’m already past the naive worrying state you still seem to hang on to. My view is wider and longer.. if mankind doesn’t get it’s act together, the universe will take care of it and essentially not care at all what 8 billion naked chimps did to their miniscule liefboat in the vastness of emptiness.
            Something will come after us and evolve and do better or worse.. the universe itself can’t care less. So much space, so many worlds, so many opportunities for life/evolution/nature to go on.

            Having said that – I do care for the environment, the planet because I KNOW that mankind’s survival depends on it for the foreseeable future.

            “I agree that sometimes there’s no choice, but to someone with access to the grid it makes better environmental sense to use the grid as a backup rather than use batteries and fossil generators.”
            All true, but as I said you’re barking up the wrong tree..
            The problem isn’t HESS or EVs, it’s monopolies. I’ve been there and studied that years ago and do you want to know what my conclusion was?
            Get my ass out of the firing line and not wanting to be a hero.
            I just got 1 live and if the other, more influential naked chimps don’t get this (*), than for sure as hell I will not be the bearer of bad news or the Jesus/Gandhi/Lennon/Luther-King wanting to convince them otherwise.
            They have the wealth + power so they should bear the responsibility that comes with it.

            Now my personal situation is that I want to live where I am and the electricity here is being subsidised with $800 per year and I’m paying $2000 a year already. The four of us here use about 17kWh a day with a bad insulated small house and I drive about 25.000 km a year with the smallest useful car I can take.
            I will go off-grid asap to use the 10kW PV that’s on the roof already as I can’t put it into the grid here (the transformer is full already by 2 other dwellings who put 8kW peak into the 25kW thing).
            I essentially have to defect, no choice pal.
            Good luck to you.

          • Matt Robinson

            Relax, Mr Chimp. No one’s trying to ‘figure you out’.

            I lived like that for a while too. It is recognised as possibly the most energy efficient way to live, even if it isn’t the most desirable. If you combine that with the efficiencies I listed above, imagine how low your emissions footprint could become.

          • nakedChimp

            “If you combine that with the efficiencies I listed above, imagine how low your emissions footprint could become.”
            I think the lowest emission footprint I can do mankind a favor with would be zero.. so I better lock for a tree and some rope, he? More left for everybody else..

            As I said, there are mighty wealthy chimps and they have most of the responsibility. I take care of my own turf as far as I see sense in that.

      • Chris Fraser

        If 98% recycling was confirmed we would also get brownie points for not consuming as much, another bane of our (desired) way of life.

        • Andrew Thaler

          Lead Acid batteries are probably THE most recycled product on the planet. Recycling is quite efficient too due to weight/unit volume

    • Pedro

      I agree with you on this one. Large battery banks and a back up generator in everybody’s garage is a terrible outcome. But I think this outcome is highly unlikely for a number of reasons. For a start it is an expensive option, $10-20K on top of standard PV install. And having been in PV industry for 15 years I can count on 1 hand the number people who have installed grid interactive systems. Yes, there is keen interest but there are very few people who are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

      Another thing I have noticed among off grid customers is that they cease to be an energy consumer and become an energy manager. They work with their system so they don’t have to run the genset. I would assume anybody who decides to disconnect from the grid would behave the same. Its pretty easy, if its sunny use power and when it isn’t go easy on the consumption

      • stuart

        Pedro,

        Costs for energy storage systems have come down very substantially and should continue to do so in the future.

        Even today in the US, BALQON is selling energy storage
        systems (ESS) incorporating a Battery Management system (BMS) which you can simply hook up to your existing solar cells and inverter starting from US$3,350.(9 KWhr)

        Essentially they are selling the Chinese sourced systems but
        providing a US mainland point of contact, marketing and support.

        Potentially solar + storage could compete with Grid Electricity ( in Australia) at these price levels. The 9KWhr unit would
        probably be adequate for most homes.

        Larger systems are also available;

        $12,000 for 34KWhr ($350/KWhr)

        $6,650 for 18Kwhr ($370/Kwhr)

        http://www.balqon.com/store-2/#!/~/product/category=2860254&id=34783145

        http://www.balqon.com/store-2/#!/~/product/category=2860254&id=12477202

        http://www.balqon.com/energy-storage/

        BALQON themselves reckon that the batteries have a 3000
        cycle ( charge / discharge) life at 70% D.O.D.

        Interestingly the suppliers of the batteries (WINSTON) reckon the batteries have a 7000 cycle life at 70% D.O.D. WINSTON ( THUNDER SKY) have a track record of sorts for supplying large format batteries to enthusiasts building EVs in the days before EVs went relatively mainstream.

        http://en.winston-battery.com/index.php/products/power-battery/item/wb-lyp1000ahc?category_id=176

        One suspects BALQON in the US are taking a deliberately
        conservative approach to battery life to avoid litigation.

        Obviously the cycle life has a big impact on storage costs.

        3000 CYCLE LIFE

        $350 per KWhr / ( 3000 cycles x70% D.o.d) = 16.6 c/Kwhr
        storage cost

        7000 CYCLE LIFE

        $350 per KWhr / ( 7000 cycles x70% D.o.d) = 7.1 c/Kwhr
        storage cost.

        Certainly 7-17c/KWhr storage costs in combination with the
        unsubsidised costs of 11-15 c/Kwhr for rooftop PV could in some cases be competitive with current utility charges of 25-30c/KWhr in Australia.

        However bear in mind many households would only need to electrically store about 50% of the power that their PV system produces. An occupied household could directly utilise the other 50% especially if it has smart appliances and heatpumps (including for hot water). The immediate purpose of storage is to utilise stored energy to meet the evening peak demands ie “behead the Duck”.

        In that case the overall cost of the solar derived power is
        11-15c/KWhr (PV generation cost) + 50% of 7-17c/KWhr (storage cost) = 14.5-23.5 c/KWhr which is comfortably below current utility charges.

        • Pedro

          Stuart

          Thanks, had a quick look at the BALQON site. Pricing is very good. Have to agree that Lithium battery pricing is falling rapidly, which is not the case with Lead acid. You are right that on average 10kWhr of storage should be adequate to meet dusk til dawn loads most of the time.

          I do not think your cost break down is accurate. A system with storage requires an off grid inverter or grid interactive inverter. Top quality product that meets Australian standards and allowed to be grid connected to various networks legally would retail in the region of $6K for a 5kW unit. You need other related equipment like battery enclosures circuit protection and most importantly somebody who knows what they are doing to install. Install time would be approximately double that of a standard grid install. You can’t just add the cost of batteries to a grid connect system and that’s your system cost.

          If you want to get realistic costs for a grid interactive system fully installed ask a specialist company that can actually deliver. Ask for 10kWhr of usable storage 5kW of PV and an interactive inverter that can deliver a 5kW continuous load.

          • nakedChimp

            don’t make linear projections for the future..
            “I do not think your cost break down is accurate. A system with storage requires an off grid inverter or grid interactive inverter. Top quality product that meets Australian standards and allowed to be grid connected to various networks legally would retail in the region of $6K for a 5kW unit. You need other related equipment like battery enclosures circuit protection and most importantly somebody who knows what they are doing to install. Install time would be approximately double that of a standard grid install. You can’t just add the cost of batteries to a grid connect system and that’s your system cost.”

            Hybrid inverters are currently being introduced and developed.. the first models are as cumbersome and stuck/taped together from single pieces as the first inverters were.. just look at Selectronics or SMA for this.. 2 or 3 boxes for 4-7 grand each to get you 7 kW of off/on-grid system.. then look at what the chinese offer (or the rebranded onshore brands).. all in one housing for half the money. Now think 3-5 years ahead and you will get a hybrid inverter for 5kW with LiFePO4 charging logic for under 1 grand.. the LFP cells will sit inside a box that will be called ESS or HESS and contain 10-30kWh and have the size of a small fridge Price somewhere in the range of 2-5 grand.

            Now tell me where the electrician will need an extra day installing an extra box and wiring it into your power board?
            Especially as all other parts of the system will get cheaper and easier to install as well…

            It will be common in the rurals to have your own 15kW pv with 30kWh+ storage within the next 5 years if electricity prices keep developing how they do and pv off/on-grid system prices as well.

          • Pedro

            Thanks Nakedchimp

            I was not looking at future cost reductions as new tech comes on line. I was basing cost on what can be delivered now with what is currently off the shelf product that ticks all the regulatory boxes.

            I am aware that there are a few companies working on rack mount storage systems (about the size of a fridge) with all the power electronics/smarts installed and factory wired. Like you say it would be a simple matter to unload from a truck get an electrician to run an AC cable to the switch board and then DC from the PV. When this system is available in the market place install time should be quicker than it is currently for a standard grid connect system.

            From a personal point of view I would be quite skeptical of any new product from a new company using product without tested credibility. There are plenty of solar businesses that have been sent to the wall from the use of cheap crap grid inverters where the inverter manufacture has gone out of business and 5-10 year warranty is not worth the paper is is printed on.

          • stuart

            Pedro,

            You are correct that the use of the batteries does require a
            hybrid inverter and these are typically about twice the cost of a standard inverter. (see comparison below)

            http://www.alma-solarshop.com/search?orderby=position&orderway=desc&search_query=nedap&submit_search=Search

            However bear in mind it has been reported recently that the
            Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers are now moving into the hybrid battery inverter market and prices are reportedly falling rapidly reducing the cost differential
            with a standard inverter.

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/hybrid-storage-inverters-to-seal-the-deal-for-solar-50291

            The actual BALQON storage unit comes with its own enclosure and supposedly only needs to have four cables attached to it. A 9KWhr unit would probably contain about 100Kg of batteries and be the size of a standard refrigerator. I guess most homes would position it in the garage ( next to the
            beer fridge).

            Undoubtedly it requires personnel who know what they are
            doing to install it, but if you think about it the installation should be a lot more straightforward than installing PV panels on a rooftop and hooking up the cabling and inverters.

            I don’t think the inverter and installation issues will massively
            effect the economics of the storage proposition offered by BALQUON (assuming US prices translated to Australia)

            The big news is that barely 6 months after experts were
            stating that battery storage cost around EU 2250/KWhr units are available in the US for around US$350/KWhr.

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/could-2014-be-the-year-of-the-battery-47291

          • stuart

            http://www.aliexpress.com/item/220V-5KW-Hybrid-Solar-Inverter-combined-with-MPPT-Solar-Charger-Controller-and-Pure-Sine-Wave-Output/1876076141.html

            I realise it probably doesn’t meet Australian Standards and I cannot verify its quality, but 5KW hybrid solar inverters are available out of China for $1000.

    • http://www.reneweconomy.com Giles

      I agree it would be an inefficient outcome – a waste of resources and capital if everyone moved off the grid. That won’t happen, but it’s really up to the networks to come up with a better value proposition to take into account these new technologies. Blocking tactics may be a short term convenience, but it ain’t a long term strategy.

      • Motorshack

        I agree also. The basic problem here is not technological, but financial, and the solution to the problem will also be much more financial than technical. In a case like this the ultimate financial solution is often bankruptcy, with the attendant sale of unproductive assets at knockdown prices.

        The thing that I note is that it does not take a 100% defection of the clientele to put a business into bankruptcy, but only enough to make the business as a whole unprofitable. For many businesses that might be as little as 5% or 10%, and for most it is well under 25%.

        Nor do clients have to abandon a supplier entirely to produce this effect. All they have to do is to buy less than they did before, so if, say, 10% of the clients leave completely, or if all clients buy 10% less, the net effect is the same, total demand drops 10%.

        So, cheap batteries might make it easier to defect from the power grid, but even without storage the owners of rooftop PV systems will still be buying less power from the grid, and often a lot less, so the death spiral will continue anyway as more households buy rooftop PV systems.

        Nor do people have to be at home to take more advantage of self-produced energy from their PV systems. For example, simple timers can let a load of washing be run unattended, or a freezer to run mostly when the power is cheapest.

        Similarly, any amount of storage will contribute to this effect, so clients who do buy some storage do not need to buy enough to be able to defect completely. If they simply buy enough to let them self-consume another hour or so after sunset, then they will still be taking a big, juicy bite out of the demand seen by the grid, and at some point that will be enough to break the conventional power industry financially.

        Buying storage in small increments would also be easier on the clients financially, because they could use a pay-as-you-go approach instead of borrowing to make a big capital outlay all at once.

        Incremental purchases also make it easier to determine the right amount of storage without making a big bet up front. So, by adding storage slowly, only when there is a proven need for it, people will be much less likely to buy too much.

        In short, export prevention requirements will not stop the progressive reduction in demand seen by the grid, and that reduction will probably still be enough to put the conventional power industry into effective bankruptcy in the relatively near future.

        We should also remember that efficiency measures will do the same thing, so even grid clients who have no PV or storage capacity can still be putting major pressure on the power industry – and they can usually save lots of money doing it.

      • Matt Robinson

        I agree, Giles.

        However it only needs to be 5 – 10% moving off the grid to start making a difference in a city. Would you want your next door neighbour firing up his genny regularly and at any time of day? I know I wouldn’t!

        The answer indeed is to have a better value proposition from the networks. One that benefits all parties (or at least fairly punishes poor behaviour). The Carbon Tax seems to be ineffective.

        Have you heard of anything that at least shows the right direction?

        • http://www.reneweconomy.com Giles

          I don’t think the carbon tax will have any impact on people staying on or off the grid. It comes down to business models – network operators in Australia are showing signs of understanding this, particularly in regional networks. If someone knows what business model will work, they will make a lot of money. It may be a bunch of different approaches.

      • juxx0r

        I don’t know how the grid is going to survive.

        When we get smart inverters, that can schedule power use, to the hot water system, to the air conditioner/heater to store heat, to charge batteries based on how much we might need in the next few days, we load shift as much as we can and we live in proper housing that’s comfortable and needs less heating and cooling.

        The power utility here in perth is complaining about where solar will go:

        https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/24342141/solar-may-fuel-grid-collapse/

        Nobody is going to give up solar when the grid is so expensive, so where to from here? it’s just gotta lead to storage, load shifting, thermal shifting. All of which means less from the grid. With increasing access charges, the value proposition isn’t working in their favour. It will start with the frugal users, i pay double the rate per kWh including the fees because i use so little. That almost brings storage into play for me.

        We just have to wait for technology to catch up.

    • nakedChimp

      “Disconnecting from the grid means more than just getting storage (which in itself is a *bad* idea when applied at large scale due to the
      pollution produced by the battery manufacturing process). It will also
      mean a larger uptake of fossil-fuelled household generators.”

      I wonder how you think people will propel their EV’s then?
      Currently an average NQLD houshold where I am uses about 25kWh per day according to Ergon’s last bill statistics I have here in front of me.
      Let’s say people manage to move 50% of that to sunshine hours (don’t have experience nor numbers for that, what are real live values for this?) and want to storage the other half to get through the night.. ESS/HESS then needs to be able to hold about 12.5kWh.. with DOD’s of 70-80% for a lifetime of the system of ~10 years you’re looking at about 18kWh raw storage for a day and maybe 35kWh for 2 days.

      Do you have any idea what storage has to go into an EV to make it useable in the eyes of the common puplic?
      Currently we’re talking ~0.3 kWh per km and people want at least a 100 km range per charge. This makes 30kWh and with 70% DOD it goes up to 43kWh. The Tesla S has got 85kWh on board..
      You see something there?

      ESS/HESS storage is just a small part of the problem you’re painting on the wall there. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

      • Matt Robinson

        You’re arguments are completely irrelevant to my point, Mr. Chimp.

        My point is about use of batteries when you already have grid access.

        • nakedChimp

          I already have grid access and the network doesn’t allow me to connect my solar to it – and I’m facing price raises and connection fees in the future.
          What would you do?
          Do you want to pay that for me?

          And what with Joe Average out there who decides to put 20kW of PV onto his roof?
          What’s he supposed to do when he can’t feed all that into the grid and the grid as a backup becomes more expensive(*) than having your own HESS?
          What’s he to do?

          *) I hope the naked chimps get all the costs (even the environmental ones) in there for both sides for a fair comparison..

          Also, how do you want to convert the profitable (for a few) networks into something that isn’t there to make profits but to just transport energy at self cost?
          What’s your stick?

          • Matt Robinson

            Still doesn’t change my point. Your solar still has benefit to you regardless of whether you can feed into the grid. It still saves you money whenever you use it’s energy over that of the grid.

            Take the benefit it gives you and enjoy it. Adding batteries may bring more benefit to you, but it has an impact on the environment and people should consider that when making their choice.

            This consume, consume, consume at any cost mentality has to stop. Make some better choices on how you consume energy first.

          • nakedChimp

            “Take the benefit it gives you and enjoy it. Adding batteries may bring more benefit to you, but it has an impact on the environment and people should consider that when making their choice.”
            Yeah, it will make the poles and wires obsolete.. less tree felling, less chemicals to keep them poles from being eaten by termites, less coal being fired and dug up.
            More electronics and batteries needed and more material turned over for that, sure. But it’s the same stuff they need for EVs, so economies of scale and environmental check ups on the large facilities that produce this will take care of that and make it greener than my current electricity and in future my transportation (unless you want me to use a horse).
            I’m fine with that.

            Again, I don’t think you need to fear that people in the sub-burbs and cities will drop of the grid in droves any time soon.. it will be the ones that are currently subsidized and which are not profitable that will (have to) defect. And those handful of batteries that will be installed in the sub-burbs/cities to make more from their PV, I bet drops in the ocean compared to what will be turned over for EVs. Also, old EV batteries will have a second life in those ESS/HESS before the need arises to recycle them.

          • TechinBris

            “Adding batteries may bring more benefit to you, but it has an impact on the environment”
            Not always, sometimes, maybe. Sorry, that is a blanket comment as we know that can be misleading. :)

        • TechinBris

          It would be nice if the Grid owners would take that extra power and instead of casting it into earth due to too much available energy at any time, pump it into melting salts and storing the thermal energy to generate steam later, when it needs too deliver power back to the grid, like a battery, for all for that are connected to the Grid. They are soon going to have to sell the advantages of being on the Grid, or people won’t be interested in it without benefit for the price we pay for it.
          If they offered the service at a price for the client to pump excess energy into it, with a small surcharge, but offer them 1 for 1 unit costs, they might be able to convince the people not to need batteries, but utilise their products.
          But the way, whilst they are treating Customers as Cows to milk dry, relentlessly, guess what will happen when people finally get the shits with being gouged at every turn, yes, they’ll walk and implement other options to the Energy Companies products for energy.
          Then as usual, we will witness it all as they will go crying to the Government for subsidies, because they are no longer getting their nice fat bonuses, due to declining revenue because people are disconnecting and want the Taxpayer to supply their needed welfare to maintain their profit margins so the Market doesn’t turn on them rabidly, as easy meat, due to displaying a financial weakness. Awwwww, the poor Diddums.
          As we see so often, they will probably get it from the likes of the Fossils we have governing us, we will finally have to pay for it anyway, whilst they skip their bonus money we paid for into Tax Havens.
          So soon, if they don’t make their grid as attractive or necessary to people, they cannot expect people to continue to allow themselves to be abused by their entity, just as they won’t tolerate someone abusing their entity.

    • Martin

      “Even with battery storage, a home reliant on solar or wind does not have a guaranteed supply of energy at all times when it’s needed.”

      Even with a grid, a home reliant on Western Power does not have a guaranteed supply of energy at all times when it’s needed.

      “It will also mean a larger uptake of fossil-fuelled household generators.”

      As does being reliant on the Western Power grid.

      So let’s get real, if the grid can’t supply clean and reliable power, I’m all for families and communities to become self-sufficient in this respect.

      “the pollution produced by the battery manufacturing process”

      Does this also apply to LiFePO batteries? Really? The general opinion seems to be that they are non-toxic and 100% recyclable.

      • Matt Robinson

        I think most people would agree that grid power in western countries is more than reliable enough to sustain our lifestyles. But if your point is that nothing is perfect, I agree.

        Just because the end product is non-toxic and 100% recyclable doesn’t mean the process to create it is. One thing I can guarantee is that it will take resources to produce it, and with current battery technology, some of those resources are quite rare, requiring further exploration, mining and consequently further adverse environmental impact.

        • nakedChimp

          Lithium Ion batteries are needed for transport anyway and in larger numbers than for HESS.. HESS is just piggy-back riding on that one.
          You’re barking up the wrong tree.

          • Matt Robinson

            You’ve missed the point again, Mr Chimp. :)

    • RobS

      There is no need to go off grid to get around whats being done here and certainly absolutely no need for small generator backup. If you simply add enough battery storage for your evening and night time electricity demand then for the vast majority of the year excess power generation that previously would have been exported will charge your batteries for overnight consumption, in the depths of winter you will need to draw on the grid a littlle.

      • Matt Robinson

        You’re kind of making my point, Rob.

        However, determining what is enough battery storage is not ‘simple’ as you state. There are many factors to consider, and not all of them can be predicted.

        How do you accurately predict changes in future energy use in the home? Solar panel degradation over time? The weather? So how many hours of storage will you need? Don’t be fooled into thinking this is as easy as the storage/solar salesman would have you believe.

        Remember you are making decisions you need to live with for many years, not just the immediate future.

        But you’re right. As long you are connected to the grid, you have a backup plan. So the batteries become irrelevant and that’s a little more of our resources that can be left in the ground.

        • RobS

          If the battery is simply about maximizing self consumption of your own solar production then their exact size is irrelevant as are all of those factors you mention. If a 5kw system produces ~20kwh a day and you use ~ 10kwh during the hours of solar generation then 10kwh of production would be wasted under these proposed rules. Alternatively you can add a 10kwh battery store the otherwise wasted production and use it for your evening power needs. If your consumption changes then the grid remains. There is no need for complicated consumption calculations or projections of future changes. A small standardized easily mass produced storage system allows you to store surplus production and bring production into alignment with consumption patterns.

          An example of the sort of solution I am talking about is the Bosch BPT-S 5 units, a small refrigerator sized hint that comes in a 4.4, 6.6, 8.8, 11 and 13.2kwh capacities. These units are grid interactive, provide blackout UPS functionality, prioritises solar self consumption over use of grid power but seamlessly transitions to grid power when stored self production is exhausted. It also allows the optional capacity for integration with signals from a smart grid which prompts it to charge from grid power at times of low grid demand providing ancillary regulation services they become highly valuable as utility scale renewable penetration on the grid increases.

          • nakedChimp

            “These units are grid interactive, provide blackout UPS functionality, prioritises solar self consumption over use of grid power but seamlessly transitions to grid power when stored self production is exhausted. It also allows the optional capacity for integration with signals from a
            smart grid which prompts it to charge from grid power at times of low grid demand providing ancillary regulation services they become highly valuable as utility scale renewable penetration on the grid increases.”
            Exaclty. This will happen in sub-urban Australia.
            The grid will scale back and lose it’s profitability.. private equity holders will just jump the ship, but the infrastructure will stay and scale back over time.
            I really can’t see what the problem is, besides replacing coal-pits/oil-rigs with mines for some material that’s needed for the batteries.. and they have to be dug for the EVs anyway.

            The current grid owners have the options and can decide how this runs down. If they adapt we get grid-storage that is efficient and slightly profitable, if not, it will be local storage and the grid itself will become unprofitable.
            Their choice, not ours.

          • Matt Robinson

            I take your point RobS and you’re right. Batteries are an option if you don’t want to ‘waste’ any of that solar output. My point on that matter is to be aware of the environmental aspects of making such a choice.

          • Ken Linder

            Note that most people have bills large enough they use about 26.5 KHw a day for a small family. Here in SA, after the first 700 KWh (which is about 26 1/2 days of electrical use) they are paying 32 cents a KWh for that.

            If they have a 5KW PV system they only get paid back 8 cents per KWh *now* days, from the utility for their unused power. This creates a difference of 26 cents per KWh they they lose on the daily power transactions (sent to AGL in the day, and bought back at night).

            Now we are told (especially in SA) that Australians need to use as much of our PV power as we can when we are generating it – due to our unusually low buy back rates. That sounds simple; a lifestyle change right?

            BUT – recall here that most people are NOT HOME when their PV is at its high output times. They are at work/school in most prime power producing daylight hours – unless they
            are disabled, retired or have small kids (and believe that RAISING THEM themselves is important).

            Given that a PV system can only make power for so many hours a day (we know this) and that claims are that in SA this averages at 6.5 hours full production a day (however we tend to use 5 hours in math, as it is easier math and makes our math come out closer to real world production for polycrystalline systems)

            Again – this is complicated because people are not *home* at the right time (not at home) and are only home for about 128 hours of power use each week – most of them are the WRONG hours. So you simply cannot use the power when you make it.

            This means that even if you turned the power OFF when you slept you would still use power for about 9.5 hours of each day, when your PV averages very little output.

            For this power, the average house (according to my AGL statement and a bit of math) will pay at a rate of roughly 26 cents per KWh (and that is AFTER taking into account their PV feed-in at 8 cents KWh (32 cents per KWh – the 8 cents you get paid). So people have to pay for the 1517 KWh they will need that quarter (most of it to offset the time of day) which comes over to owning AGL $394.42 a quarter or $1577.68 a year.

            The Bosch BPT-S 5 is priced at $17,680.00 (roughly) uninstalled. So that means it will take 11.20 years to pay it off in the “difference in power not bought”. However the batteries in these things will be dead in about 5 years (and they are most of the cost). It is not break even. Not until the batteries cost less, or last longer.

            – or – you find a very good solar installer and DO NOT buy an all in one unit at an obscene price.

          • TechinBris

            There are batteries that last much longer, non-toxic too, but disadvantage is they are not as energy dense, not as efficient so you need to more to cope with it’s disadvantages. Mostly in demand in Industrial and Military, but have been popular amoungst Off-Grid installations due to longevity and they are almost impossible to ruin by overcharging or draining too deeply.
            Good thing is the Cell can be rejuvenated by new electrolytic and the old stuff poured (diluted of course) onto acid soils to balance PH. Probably every 15 to 20 years for that. Other bother is they are expensive to buy, but well proven as they’ve been around since Edison and Tesla (and still going).

          • Ken Linder

            The cost of that unit (without installation fees) is

            $17,680.00 and it is for a 5KWh PV system. A large number of people who are dedicated enough to buy one of these use more power than a 5KWh system makes, and have bought (or will be buying) a larger amount of PV than this. So this system won’t work for them. Then again all of the other BOSCH appliances made for the solar market (including their LPG/solar hybrid hot water systems) are 2 to 3 times the normal market price, and I doubt this is any different.

            In the case of roof-top hot water systems that use an LPG system for a boost, a good installer who knows their stuff can use all off-the-shelf pieces and give you a good system for 1/3 the BOSCH price and I doubt this is any different.

            Yes, in most cases your own hybrid system will void your warranty. However any Aussie who tries to get their warranty honored on ANY hot water system is in for a shock (unless they use ONLY filtered rain water). None of the water in our Aussie mains systems complies with BOSH (or other manufacturers) water standards. So just hooking the thing up to the mains water instantly violates your warranty – and this is especially true in Adelaide. In fact in Adelaide the water is of poorer quality, so bad that (as I read a year or so ago on a solar site) nearly all of the evacuated tube solar hot water systems made will die rapidly due to water quality…. yet local solar ‘experts’ who have been around for decades and KNOW this, still go ahead and install hundreds of the things every year knowing the system will die (form water quality and.or frost) and the homeowner will not have their warranty honored. So yes, there is always an issue with dodgy installers.

    • Ken Fabian

      People will use batteries if electricity suppliers fail to invest in large scale storage themselves. There’s not much doubt that economies of scale would favour the suppliers doing so. But even now the R&D investment in storage by electricity companies is so minimal as to be next to non-existent, yet solutions are emerging.

      I’ll be very interested to see how Isentropic Ltd’s pilot Pumped Heat Storage System performs; they claim it should deliver electricity to electricity storage at costs lower than pumped hydro and without use of toxic materials. http://www.isentropic.co.uk/news/77/66/New-electricity-storage-technique-developed-by-Isentropic-Ltd-to-cost-less-than-30-of-Pumped-Hydro-Storage

      Regardless, the need to reduce emissions from electricity production is not something that is optional given the irreversible climate consequences of excess fossil fuel burning – with real and unavoidable costs that accrue with interest over decades and centuries. We need to stop looking for and accepting excuses for why we can’t and make it clear that “can’t” and “won’t” just aren’t good enough.

  • Chris Fraser

    I can agree with the current issue of grid stability, however DNSP thinking of limiting PV output would be all wrong. Whole networks should be able to distribute its PV output to control voltages, even on Christmas Day. To not do so is anti-merit order as the SRMC of PV is the best of any energy by type. All they have to do is employ existing technologies such as step transformers, and monitor the local output to control and reduce centrally-generated energy as needed.

  • Ben N

    Australian network companies could look to Germany for ideas on how to integrate PV. Check out slides 6 and 7 in this presentation.
    http://apvi.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Thomas-Stetz-Fraunhofer-IWES-Country-Report-Germany.pdf

    In the first example the PV capacity on the section of the network is almost 3 times the peak load. Slides 7 shows a substation where peak solar exports during the summer are larger in magnitude than peak winter load(..!)

  • Chris Marshalk

    “Utilities in Queensland are looking to limit and even stop households exporting excess electricity back into the grid from their rooftop solar panels”
    – So where does the “excess” electricity go if a household has no storage batteries ?????

    “Consumers in Victoria have also been told either that they cannot install systems, or will have to downsize the number of modules”
    – So it’s now illegal to install a system?? If I paid for a system, I now have to downsize???

    Sounds like BS to me !!! Solar is an un-stoppable tsunami !!!

    • RobS

      Same place it goes when there is a grid failure, nowhere, because if the circuit is opened PV panels stop generating.

      The utility can’t stop you installing a system but they can stop you connecting it to their distribution infrastructure ie the grid. Which is why the prediction that if this goes ahead people will simply install storage and tell the utility where to go.

      Solar is unstoppable, this is phenomenally short sighted knee jerk reaction which they may beleive will stop the collapse in demand solar is creating whereas in fact once battery costs come down a little it will accelerate the defections as people choose to go off grid entirely.

      • moosey

        What is to stop me from installing say a 10KW system, I wouldn’t need that much, in fact I would need less than half of that, so what is stopping me from sharing it with a neighbor who is willing to pay me a fair price for what they get in power, yet less than the network provider charges? it may mean that I have to also install something similar for my neighbor to stop power going to the grid and also a watt meter that shows how much power my neighbor is getting, but we would both win in that circumstance surely? would this be legal legal?

        • Horst

          A very interesting question, but I do believe it is ilegal, but what if you both owned the equipment and simply shared its output, and for good measure called it community power, what then?

          • http://www.reneweconomy.com Giles

            It should be legal but it isn’t. Sydney City is not allowed to share output from a co-gen or tri-gen system in one city building with another building it owns across the street. Ditto community owned farms, ditto neighbours. That will have to change though – virtual net metering, cloud based systems, or peer to peer selling provides an alternative. Otherwise someone will just string an extension cord over the back fence!

          • Ken Linder

            As technology matures and becomes very common, what is legal and waht it done stop[ being the same.

            Take web technology as a parallel. It use to be slow, and expensive. Bow days, in the US, Canada, UIK, nearly all the UE, Korea and Japan – most people have ‘unlimited’ data plans from their ‘wired’ ISPs; plans that do not ‘shape’ them at a certain use level (not true of cell based access). YET – even on THESE ‘unlimited’ plans, it is nearly always against your contract (technically not legal) to share your internet access with other people. BUT- I know internet equipment VENDERS here in SA who do this with their pensioner neighbors to be kind to them. There is also now a huge movement online that tells people just how to do all of this… and how to set up local free “hot spots” (even ones at a lower bandwidth) all to make SOME level of web access available everywhere for free. Now it happens that my provider cares a tiny bit less about all this, but then we have to have satellite internet to get it at all, and we get 40GB a month, not unlimited.

            SO here we are with hoomeonwer power in the same state that web acess was in a decade ago…lots of rules to protect the COMPANIES, which stand in the way of regular people doing the right thing. Meanwhile back in 1915 many people generated their own power, especially on farms, and local ‘mini-grids’ for a few houses were very common (quite normal).

        • Matt Robinson

          Why do people think that solar systems will last forever?

          Solar systems are subject to degradation over time. That means output reduces gradually as each year passes. It’s very unlikely that even after a couple of years you’ll still be getting the rated output you paid $$$ for.

          I have had 3.6 kw on my roof for more than 3 years and have seen significant reductions already.

          This warning is clearly stated in the product literature.

          • http://www.reneweconomy.com Giles

            Good quality systems have been shown to have very little degradation. Like cars, if you buy cheap panels, you get what you pay for.

          • Matt Robinson

            I did buy what was purported to be a good quality system! I bought Kaneka 110 Thin film hybrid panels and I paid quite a pretty penny for it too. How do you define a good quality system, Giles?

          • http://www.reneweconomy.com Giles

            One that has a 25-year warranty, not a five year one.

          • Matt Robinson

            In that case I have a ‘quality system’ as per your definition. My panels carry a 25 year warranty.

            So it’s basically hype that these system won’t degrade over their lifetime. I have first-hand proof of it.

            Before you say it, I have had a full check done on it, and the comment from the technician was ‘Your system is fine. All solar systems degrade over time. You can expect to see your output fall as the panels age.’

          • David Aked

            Your panels have a 10yr guarantee for 90% power production. If you can prove that circumstances have not changed (eg. Trees growing and shading panels/new infrastructure etc), then you are eligible to get your panels replaced under warranty if they have dropped below 10% within the 3 years. You may need to take it up to your installer first. Following that, you may need to escallate it to ombudsman.

          • Matt Robinson

            I think that just a cop-out. It’s not just about the panels. It’s about the environment they’re in and the circumstances that occur from time to time. For example I don’t have a perfect northerly aspect on my roof or a perfect pitch angle, but I do have a two storey home with no overhanging vegetation whatsoever.

            In reality, even with panels operating perfectly, the weather plays a huge role in the actual output possible. I have found that even with perfectly cloudless days (we get quite a lot in Brisbane), system output can vary as much as 20% day-to-day. This is based on me taking an average reading over a 10 minute interval at the same time on subsequent sunny days (I don’t have automatic sampling/reporting on my SMA inverter).

            So it’s exceedingly difficult (nigh impossible) to prove the panels aren’t operating properly. In fact the guy who recently checked my system said it’s in great condition.

            By the way, there is no such 10 year output guarantee clause in my warranty, although I am following up with Keneka – my installer (Solar shop) went under some time ago and I don’t trust the new owners. My panels are Kaneka U-EB110. If you can get me the official Australian Warranty on this product (not the U-EA110, which seems to be the only one mentioned on the web) I would appreciate it, as it was not provided in my literature at installation.

            So my point still stands. People have to accept that their systems are not guaranteed to provide all their rated power even during the warranty period. And in my case I am experiencing a decline over time.

            I understand this and accept it, but others may get caught up in the hype and have unrealistic expectations because the warranty says they will get within 10% of rated output for 10 years.

            I wonder if everyone thinks that a 10% decline in output over 10 years is acceptable anyway? I guess it all comes down to expectations. Based on what I’ve seen in discussions it seems a lot of people are expecting 100% all of the time.

          • Ken Linder

            I define ‘good’ as SunPower Corp e19, e20 and e21 monocrystaline, or (very hard to get as they are new) the new cells made like microprocessors are made (at half the cost and far higher output) which are being financed heavily by Seimen’s..

            We are in a wave of scams involving polycrystaline panels. A huge amount of polycrystaline is being sold these days as ‘just as good as monocrystaline but less expensive’ but they compare high end poly to mid level mono panels, and poly does not last as long; has a noticeably higher power drop off with use (in the first years and on-going) – *and* often poly does not produce more and more power in extreme heat conditions (level off around 44C whereas SunPower panels keep making more and more power)..

          • juxx0r

            Solar panels are rated at 1000W/m2. In australia they start off producing more because the sun is more than 1000w/m2. They end up running at their rated output after 25 years. There’s no issue here with degradation.

        • Miles Harding

          Remember we live in a legal app-store; There’s a law for that!

          The same used to be true of telephone lines being shared with your neighbor. — you couldn’t do it unless the PMG was invited to the party.
          I’m sure there are no rules preventing you wheeling a cart of charged batteries next door. Perhaps these could be in the form of an electric vehicle?

          I have have been assured that there are no legal prohibitions to setting up your own energy retailer, which would be able to do this.
          I am sure that there are effective barriers, but haven’t (yet) investigated how the rules are rigged to nobble the competition, thereby preventing citizens circumventing the non-performing state monopolies.

      • nakedChimp

        ..battery costs are already close to retail cost of electricity in NorthQLD calculated over 10 years for a state of the art LiFePO4 based system (example: http://www.positronicsolar.com).

        • Matt Robinson

          Over that same 10 years, however, your solar system would degrade substantially, making your investment in batteries more and more inadequate over time.

          • Alex

            Matt Robinson, as stated, a good solar system will continue to provide electricity for longer than the projected life of the batteries. Perhaps your fears could be addressed by having a Australian minimum standard for solar panels, as we do for car safety. Any quality solar panel will have a 25 year + warranty and the panels now are cheap enough that your concerns could be addressed by installing more panels.

          • Matt Robinson

            My high-quality solar panels have the same guarantee – and they have a disclaimer. The panels will last that long, but are *expected* to degrade in output over time.

            Beware the hype.

          • nakedChimp

            Panels that have been sold&installed within the last 5 years usually have a 80% performance warranty over 25 years.
            This means you loose 20% in Wpeak. This means my 10kW will come down to 8kW (just checked the datasheet).. big deal. So they need 20% longer to top up the batteries or I just did put a bit more up in the first place to account for that.

            Panels are usually paid off and ‘spent’ after 10 years from an economic point of view.

            The batteries you can buy won’t fare that well, at a DOD of 70% you will get 3000 cycles per the manufacturer (the ones I will get, not lead acid, those are way worse).. after that you count them as spent and you need new ones.
            3000 cycles is like what? a cycle per day = 8.2 years.. if you have less demanding DODs even longer.
            So the panels will outlive the batteries two fold.

            And if we recycle everything 10 years down the road and put state of the art tech up and put state of the art batteries into the garage, what’s the problem?
            Material by then hopefully get’s 99+% recycled and the missing piece for making new stuff is energy, renewable energy.

            Man 10 years from now cars will drive themselves and planes will fly electric and brave entrepreneurs will be busy bringing in asteroids for rare materials.

    • Peter

      Maybe someone should take crap down Tony Abbots dumb throat.

  • Peter Davies

    Don’t worry the utilities have the onsite consumption issue covered as well, they are moving to introduce a 6c/kWh “Grid demand reduction charge” levied on the difference between pre and post onsite power generation. It won’t be that transparent though, simply an increase in the network charge to the affected customer. The claimed rationale is that it does not unfairly hit loyal consumers stuck with the gold plating of networks in the expanding demand model they were built on. Anyone with the audacity to think they are not a captive market and actually have choice will be secretly punished.

  • Murphy

    Industrial era of burning stuff is over. The howling victim hood method, ‘industry in danger’ is a cracker.

    The smarter more innovative power industry in SA do produce and manage 20% – 40% renewables without using ‘what are basically trade protection measures’ in banning home producers. It was corporate power industry in SA helped us buy our first solar. We did not take any public funds, just paid it off over time.

    As basic survival need power rates above all else but food, water, shelter. Those off us gone off grid have done so to lighten the global load where able and glean some independence from those industries entitled to bleed us all dry. To suggest we are the problem is just jaw dropping to behold.

    We haven’t abandoned the community power grid in SA. We work in collaboration. Is why our focus locally is on storage, serves a smarter balanced distribution for all.

  • Peter Campbell

    We just need someone to build some more pumped hydro to soak up the excess PV output when it is going cheap and sell it back to the retailers when the sun goes down.

  • JohnRD

    The “surplus” solar power is being produced at essentially zero cost. The idea of replacing this clean, zero cost power with dirty expensive power seems obscene. It looks to me as though our incompetent power industry are going to repeat the stuff-up they made when they spent mega bucks on the grid instead of doing the smart, lower cost thing and installing rooftop solar in locations that would reduce grid loading.

    • Ken Linder

      They wanted that better grid so they could pay less for their power, and charge people more for each KWh – an experience that a lot of people have had when they got their smart meters. That is why the utilities WANTED wanted smart meters. Having more links in the system does make it far less likely to fail, and give power seller more places to buy power from (and more choices on price).

      Note here than until very recently the power producers were getting 3x the actual reasonable rate for wholesale power, as the estimates used to set those rates were THEIRS and highly inaccurate. That is no longer the case.

      They also did “the bigger grid” in part because our existing grid was horrid. The entire thing had been ignored almost completely for 40 years plus. Private companies did not invest because their mangers are rewarded for not spending money; so they do not – not on their watch. They don’t give a damn about what it does 2 years later when they are gone (grid falls over, or it coast 10 times as much to fix). Public utilities (power or phone) were all viewed as cash cows. Short term budgets were the only consideration. Every Premier just let the next guy pick up the bill for what they would not do in their term of office.

  • sean

    Careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

  • Kayla Flamenco Malaysia

    I think Queensland elec suppliers are running a bit scared, they have not come uo with an excuse that South Australia is already doing. I think they are trying to justify their existence, and they will definitely keep prices high. They can’t stop you from going off grid using your own storage, the biggest benefit is yours, you’ll never have to deal with them again, and they are seriously nite liking it. Watch Newman try now to deal it, he’ll possibly attempt to outlaw solar power all together, oh and by the way I believe he has panels all over his own roof.

  • Liza Neil

    Who owns the grid in QLD? Haven’t we all been contributing to poles and wires for all of our lives? Isn’t this energy discrimination? Couldn’t we equally kick off the coal generators?

  • Iansnz

    It will clearly be better for all if we can use the local network to facilitate and balance the local demand with the availability of local renewable generation resources. The smart solution will offer a collective win-win approach that maximises use of renewable generation resources with the network ability to seamlessly and efficiently integrate, control and balance the use of energy.

    Network stability and load sharing issues are the elements of expertise and life for the staff of a network company. However, proposed solutions like “no more connections” will inevitably be self-defeating for the network company, unless it is seen as short term and part of a transparent transition process.

    Smart technology solutions are already available, and more are coming all the time, but commercial and regulatory barriers need to be removed to achieve an optimum outcome for all.

    Smart solutions will require us to develop a shared vision and exceptional leadership will be needed to implement the transition process. If we do not change, governors (financial, commercial and governmental) that hide behind out-of-date regulations and historic commercial brick-walls will destroy the value inherent in a local distribution network. Network owners and the community will be the losers if we do not find appropriate solutions.

  • DoRightThing

    The democratization of the grid has begun and will eventually transition to a P2P model Internet of energy.
    If the major suppliers don’t play nice, then communities will create their own grids, linking from neighbour to neighbour and share the cost of maintenance.
    Extrapolating, the utility companies will be left with an empty grid and hardly an employee in sight, unless they adapt to function as part of the community and evolve to facilitate economies of scale in renewable energies and storage, and grid maintenance.
    Adapt or cry.

  • Paul Hoover

    allowing too much money to influence better choices for energy is the issue. For one thing lets drop the global warming issue (not saying it is or isnt happening) but with all of us all wanting equality to all resources shouldnt we put down are childish ways and come to the conclusion we are going to need to develop all the different energy sources if we are going to make it to another century without more war and destruction

  • Fiona Cameron

    Do the new rulings in Qld only apply to new systems installed after next
    January? Or is this a way of cutting off input from all those on the
    44c feed-in contracts?

    • http://www.reneweconomy.com Giles

      Just new systems as far as I am aware. They have a contractual obligation to pay for 44c.

  • Sun Downer

    ECAT = the dead EHV and HV grids

  • Ken Fabian

    Distribution was separated from production to allow generators with the capability to take advantage of high wholesale prices during peak demand periods. Now that generation from PV is providing supply during the daytime and shaving the top of the peak they are complaining bitterly!

    Let daytime energy get cheap on the back of PV. Let businesses and non PV homes that can take advantage of that cheap energy use it.

    Seems like opened up markets are suddenly not so popular with the open energy market advocates when the competition isn’t between the big players playing for the profitable cream.

  • Ben Courtice

    By refusing approval for new connections, grid operators could “set the rules on the ground” without any formal (government) policy to halt solar. Forcing people to go and buy expensive batteries is totally unfair. This is what happens with a privatised, compartmentalised network – a mess of competing interests and no overall plan being followed.

  • Robocop5626

    If the usage of storage batteries for home power was a simple as loading a flashlight, the utilities could be in deep trouble. but it is not and it is doubtful the majority of panel owners wish to undertake the learning curve to successfully become an off grid setup. It all sounds too good to be true because it is. A sufficient storage battery bank can be quite expensive an initial cost. Then the controlling devices must be mastered. And what of the overcast or stormy days that deplete the reserves? How many households will elect powerless days in order to spite the utility. The issue here in the US is the people who install solar and sell power to the utility and eliminate they monthly bill which is used also for upkeep of the grid to deliver them power when needed. The maintenance costs are being concentrated on the poorer folk who cannot invest in such technology. Most solar installers desire the safety net of grid tie in for peace of mind as almost all households, other than dedicated remote off grids, are energy hogs! Our grid is way out of date and overdue for an upgrade nationwide.

  • Tim Blackburn

    There are a few more pieces to this puzzle that seem not to be being discussed here.

    – House hold energy consumption needs to go down further. This can be achieved in many ways. Personally I wish some government would have the balls to legislate a higher minimum “energy efficiency” requirement on new buildings. Double glazed windows work both ways and help keep heat in when you need it and keep you house cooler when you have the air conditioning on. Better insulation. Better eves on windows depending on the orientation of the building. Installation of LED lighting. That’s just a few, but all go a long way to house hold consumption.
    – An uptake in better appliances. Heard about a fridge that has two doors. The top one, about a third of the height of the fridge has your milk and drinks holders. When you open that door you don’t loose all the cold air, it reduced energy consumption by over 60% or something.
    – Smarter homes via technology will be coming along. Stuff like routing air between rooms, automatic lights that turn themselves off, etc, will all help to again reduce consumption.

    All that stuff reduces the amount of of storage capacity you need for night time.

    On the note of storage, community sized ventures can also help here. Stuff like methane generation from sewerage plants. Weight towers where excess day energy is used to move weight up that can then be released at night and generate electricity via turbines. That’s just a couple.

    And to help offset the amount of storage you need (or to boost day time generation) houses can be fitted with one or two small wind turbines (those who are concerned about birds and bats being chopped to bits you can mount the blade inside a light weight cage which bird can see and that bats avoid because of their sonar). And solar water is good for people who like to wash (themselves and/or their cloths) after the sun goes down.

    There is a lot more to “getting off the grid” than just solar. It’s coming people, embrace the change!!!

  • Ken Linder

    The real reason for this is HERE

    http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/03/wind-solar-pushing-down-price-of-electricity-in-australia/

    This is not really about the grid. The grid is in bad shape in SA. That much is true, but it is not the real reason. IN 2014 home PV kept the grid propped up in a terrible heat wave, and this OUGHT to have made AGL executives HAPPY. It did not.

    Sure there are real problems in the grid – all due to decades of not being properly maintained. In SA this was about keeping ETSA’s yearly incomes higher – done by state Premiers who wanted the books to look better while THEY were still in office. Nobody wants to pay for normal maintenance on THEIR watch in this era. Not in public utilities (with politics and perceptions in the spotlight) or in private utilities where managers want to keep costs down while THEY are in charge..

    As a result many utilities (private & public) have had to spend billions to fix the accumulated problems of decades, in order to be able to work well with the national grid. In utilities like AGL that used to be publically owned, these are problems that were left un-fixed by decades by managers who were FORCED not to do their jobs by various Premiers.

    ** Back to the real reason for all this **

    *** note this quote ***

    ESCOSA – against the wishes of the conventional energy industry – has
    redrawn the way that [wholesale] prices should be estimated. It was a bit of a
    no-brainer, because ESCOSA had previously allowed the wholesale price
    allowance to reflect what the utilities estimated as the long run
    marginal cost of energy. But it turned out that this calculation was up
    to three times the actual cost – ESCOSA had allowed electricity
    companies to pass on a rate of $90 per MWh, although the cost of the
    electricity on the open market had dropped to as low as $30 per MWh.
    — end quote ——

    So ratepayers pay on average (as we have a tiered system) about 30 cents per Kwh, which translates to $300 a MWh, and the utilities trade this for $30. Ehem.

    AND, ESCOSA got wind of how the industry was overpricing all of this and changed the rules for wholesale prices here in SA. Aside from your bill going down a bit, this had THIS RESULT …

    —— quote ——-
    This, in turn, has led to the state’s two coal-fired generators, to be put in mothballs
    because the ageing plants can no longer make money with wholesale prices
    falling so low. The two plants that once provided 30 per cent of the
    state’s energy have now been shunted out of the market by a combination
    of wind and solar – apparently more expensive – and lower demand.
    — end quote ——

    The SA power generation system & grid are crap and have been for ages. It was not maintained. Those of us who recall older days know that ETSA used to pay massive amounts every year for the damage they did to peoples (and businesses) equipment – -blown out by dirty power and spikes. Those who bought into AGL did not look before they leaped. AGL was purchased (as a ‘pg in a poke’) for far too much money.

    Meanwhile the cost of renewables has come way down, at the same time prices to energy customers have been kept high artificially. We have had wholesale power rates for the last 5 years that were LOWER than 10 years ago, with higher customer prices than ever..

    In 2012 the web was full of information on how PV and wind was forcing down electricity prices. Most of the PV is on peoples houses. This is also an effort to “get back” what the bigger utilites (who refuse to change) see as lost possible potential revenue from people who might just get PV in the future.

    They want to turn people away from PV by NOT letting them sell back to the grid… and these days that SAL BACK is crappy to new adopters of PV anyway, so it is NOT why people do it.

    What they WANT to stop is ALL RENEWABLE and it is evident that home PV is making a large (and growing) impact on their bottom lines. YES they still make money off of nearly all home PV users. After all they DO charge an average of 30 cents for what they buy from people for 8 cents. You know… the added income the view as a loss (not as income they get without having to maintain a thing) when you sell them power in the day – if you PV system in large enough and most are not – and then buy some at night. They see this as a loss of 18 to 24 cents on every KWh.

    For an average family with a 2.5 to 3.5Kwh system, half their bill is just GONE. AGL does not want to pay them for the 8 cents a KWh they pay right now in the day. They want a piece of that “missing money” BACK (they want their 8 cents back). They do not want things to go they way they will go – no matter what they do.

    ** AND THEY ARE IDIOTS ***

    Battery tech is already undergoing a massive change, and soon it will
    cost far less to put a PV system (with a battery bank) on your house
    than it will cost to be on the grid. Many new PV systems come with micro inverters and small lithium
    batteries on EACH PANEL just to give you a few hours more power from
    your daytime power generation (so AGL never sees that power and YOU don’t have to pay a 28 cent difference to get BACK at night, what you sent to them in the day).

    For a few thousand more, if you sleep normal hours (I
    don’t I am disabled) you can get through your SLEEPING HOURS on battery
    power alone and people WILL figure this out.

    What they don’t get is they are pushing people off the grid entirely by doing this.

  • Ken Linder

    — quote —
    The average home consumers less than half the output of an average 4kW solar system –
    —————–

    I have no idea where you got that. This would require them to only use about 10 to 12 KWh a day, and the only people who do that live in small flats and only go home to sleep.

    * a 4KW system will make about 20-22KWh over the average Aussie day.
    * the average 4 person house uses 24KWh a day.

    * the average 6 person home uses 31.6KWh a day

    And when Aussie folk go solar, they tend to put on a lot more reverse cycle then they had before in order to put their power to use when it is being generated (especially ion summer days)