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Qld solar PV households face dramatic tariff changes

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Owners of household rooftop solar PV systems in Queensland face the possibility of dramatic changes to their electricity tariffs as the state pricing regulator looks for options to limit what it says are escalating costs of the feed-in tariff, and rising impacts on networks.

The Queensland Competition Authority delivered its final report on a fair price for solar on Friday, and made several key recommendations, and left open the possibility of others.

These include gross feed-in tariffs, the removal of any compulsory tariffs in the state’s south-east corner, and the imposition of time-of-use tariffs for solar customers. It also revealed that the Department of Energy Supply and Water (DEWS) had proposed limiting the amount of output from rooftop PV that could receive the feed-in tariff. And it sanctioned the right of utilities to refuse solar PV connections.

The recommendations came after it calculated that the cost of the now defunct 44c/kWh feed-in tariff paid for exports from rooftop solar systems back into the grid could total $2.9 billion over its 20-year life. This was arrived at after Energex, which operates the network in the south-east of the state, estimated that more houses than it expected would take up the tariff, and these households were installing bigger systems.

The Campbell Newman government brought the 44c/kWh tariff to an end last year, but gave households many weeks notice of the July 10 closure – sparking applications from more than 100,000 households, continuing the long tradition of governments, regulators and utilities grossly underestimating the attraction of solar PV.

Energex last year said it had expected that 25-30 per cent of these applicants would not follow through with a purchase. But Queensland households are clearly keen to lock into the tariff, and Energex has now reduced that estimate to between 10-20 per cent.

Not only that, the utility has noticed that the average system size in Queensland jumped to 4.5kW in the December half, blowing out its previous forecast of an average 2.6kW. And its estimate of the number of customers becoming ineligible because of moving house (when the tariff becomes redundant) has fallen to 4 per cent from 6 per cent.

Indeed, the scheme is now expected to cause 1,098MW of solar PV to be installed in Queensland at its peak in 2013 under the 44c/kWh tariff – 130 times the original estimate, according to the QCA. Energex also estimates that around 13,000 households a year will add rooftop solar, even without generous tariffs.

Households installing rooftop solar PV now can obtain an 8c/kWh rate, but this expires next year. The big debate in Queensland is what should happen then. QCA wants the cost of the current tariff to be passed from state-owned distributors to privately owned retailers.

It recommends a 7.55c/kWh tariff for exports in the future, well below the solar industry demands of between 11.9c/kWh and retail parity, but says even the 7.55c/kWh rate should not be mandated because of the level of competition in the south-east of the state. However, QCA does concede that Ergon should be required to pay export tariffs of between 8c and 14c/kWh in regional and remote areas, depending on the location and the price of energy.

The QCA findings have been controversial because the regulator has refused to calculate the benefits of solar PV on a network, and its downward impact on wholesale energy prices. It says these are either too hard to calculate or should be reflected in separate network cost assessments done by the Australian Energy Regulator.

The solar industry argues that this paints an unfairly biased assessment of the impact of solar PV. It notes that the QCA has campaigned heavily against what it sees as cross-subsidies from non-solar households to solar households, but has waived through larger cross-subsidies that allow retailers extra money to offer discounts to some consumers.

It has also ignored the cross-subsidy created when one household installs an air-conditioning unit: one $1,500 air conditioner is estimated to add $7,500 in costs to the network, according to the Federal Government’s energy white paper. The situation in Queensland is further distorted by the subsidy that reduces the real cost of electricity in regional and remote areas, and by artificial caps on consumer prices introduced by Newman last year.

Critics of the QCA say it is effectively protecting the billions of dollars in network investments in recent years. It is a situation highlighted by its attitude to solar users in Mt Isa and Cloncurry. This is an isolated network that gets its electricity from the Mica Creek coal-fired power station. The value of the power purchase agreement is confidential, but QCA says the estimated cost of energy is a massive $141/MWh –more than twice the national wholesale price.

But, because of the contract signed by the state-owned utility (Ergon), with the state-owned generator (Stanwell Corp), Ergon is locked in to buying a certain amount of electricity from Stanwell. So QCA argues that there is no benefit from exporting solar from households back into the grid. It suggests no tariff at all for such exports, but if there should be one, it should be 6.3c/kWh, and makes the point that this would amount to a subsidy.

But given the nature of the secret contract between two state-owned corporations, the cost of which is passed on to consumers, exactly who is subsidising who?

Meanwhile, the QCA ignores both private and government assessments of the cost of large-scale solar and wind farms, saying that their average cost of generation is “much higher”. This is despite findings of the likes of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which said that the cost of wind was already much cheaper than new-build coal or gas.

QCA uses its judgment to suggest that the suppression of wholesale prices is temporary, and “should not be considered”. Analysts at investment funds UBS and Macquarie Group, and most international generators and even the former US Energy chief, Stephen Chu, agree it is permanent.

While the Newman government has said it will not revoke the 44c/kWh tariff, the QCA reveals that DEWS has requested it to examine other options for managing the ongoing costs of the scheme.

“DEWS suggested that, while the 44c/kWh rate is locked-in under legislation to 2028, there may be some flexibility to minimise costs by …. potentially implementing a cap on the volume of exports that may be eligible for the feed-in tariff, among other cost control options.”

QCA says there are various options on how this could be done. “However, this is really a decision for Government,” it said.

But as we pointed out last month, Newman is potentially playing a dangerous game of solar politics. Energex estimates that it will have 1,280MW of installed solar PV on its network by 2021 – and nearly two-thirds of this will come over the next few years, even without the generous export tariff, because households see it as a good hedge against rising electricity prices.

Energex says the increasing number of PV owners consuming their own generation will reduce total distributed consumption from its network by up to 1051.7GWh per year over the period to 2017-18.  It says this will increase network prices by up to 4.6 per cent per year. Similarly, Ergon Energy has estimated that in-house consumption will reduce total distributed consumption by up to 288 GWh per year over the period to 2017-18, and that this will lead to network price increases of up to 2 per cent per annum.  

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  • Rob Hunter

    Going “off-grid” just becomes more and more attractive doesn’t it! The policies of energy companies and political parties will drive people to look for an alternative. Going off-grid seems the logical way to go. The first company to provide the technology to do so, at an affordable price, should do very well indeed.

    • Louise

      Recently I read an article on inhabitat.com and I thought if it becomes evermore complicated to install solar, then people will start using the all in one solar panel/battery/inverter modules.

      http://inhabitat.com/plug-and-save-diy-solar-power-system-makes-residential-green-energy-more-accessible-than-ever/

      “Solar power is a great option for those who want to generate green energy for their own home, but unfortunately, renters and apartment dwellers don’t always have the option to install solar panels. All of that is about to change, though, with Sun Invention’s Plug & Save Solar System, the world’s first mobile solar panel with built-in battery storage and inverter.”

  • Sean

    Gah!
    all this fumbling trying to create a price fixed system, that doesn’t drive the supplier broke and provides services at reasonable cost is mind bending.

    Institute a local market based system, billed by the second, with a fixed fee related to the size (amps) of the connection and length to the local substation.

    this would kill off any huge fluctuations in price, as it would become incomprehensibly expensive to overload a market. local generators would be paid according to the benefit that they provide.

    long distance connections would be paid by margin attached to energy transferred.

    • Chris Fraser

      Good thought that. May we suggest that Generators pay variously towards THEIR consumption of the grid – all depending on a function of both demand for their meterable output, and the generators’ distance from THEIR customers – paid for by the kilowatt hour not a fixed cost !

      For the QCA nightmare is that customers’ demand for centralised energy is dropping. Clearly they fear the grid will have to be maintained by large fixed access charges (politically very troublesome for innovative Aussies looking elsewhere).

      • Claire

        This sort of already happens. In the NEM generators get paid for their generation at their local regional reference node – generally a centre of load demand like a capital city, with appropriate loss factors applied so the further the generator is away from energy users the less they get paid

  • Warwick

    Those who genuinely want a cost reflective network bill should be arguing for a demand charge being a larger portion of the bill as it best represents the cost of capacity investment by the network for each customer. That way, those with high air-conditioning load will pay a larger share and if those who have a PV system actually reduce their maximum demand they will have a cheaper demand.

    What seems to be frequently overlooked is that rooftop PV makes no meaningful impact to maximum network dermand according to the network operators as the peak demand is rarely coincident with solar peaks.

    The point the QCA raises with regard to network benefits is that at best they are marginal and the actual costs such as issues about voltage control etc may exceed any benefit. On the point about the “downward impact on wholesale energy prices” the QCA rightly points out that it is just additional competition in the energy market and it is effectively impossible to measure or quantify its value…if you were to be consistent you would need to pay every household for when they didn’t consume energy be that through installing insulation, turning off your air-con or deciding to go on holiday to reduce peak energy demand. It might also be noted that January spot prices in QLD were very high and contract prices rose…so prices went up despite all the extra solar..this really shows the market dynamic is complex and even the estimate of a “fair value” for solar is volatile.

    So it’s good news for the roll out of PV and it will require changes to network charging. Though it must also be noted that retailers exercising price discrimination is not a cross-subsidy…why would they bother subsidising a loss making customer? It makes no sense. They’d make more money excising the loss making customers and keeping the profitable ones.

    • Paul

      “peak demand is rarely coincident with solar peaks. ”
      Wow, where did you get this idea from? I thought peaks in summer occur early afternoon as air conditioning struggles to cope with the heat of the day, doesn’t this coincide with the peak output from my PV system?

      • Warwick

        From reading the QCA report… Also submissions from Energex, Ergon, Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy. I suggest you read the Endeavour Energy report here (http://www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/Home/Industries/Electricity/Reviews/Retail_Pricing/Solar_feed-in_tariffs/24_Nov_2011_-_Draft_Report/Draft_Report_-_Solar_feed-in_tariffs_-_November_2011) or Ausgrid here (http://www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/Home/Industries/Electricity/Reviews/Retail_Pricing/Solar_feed-in_tariffs/11_Aug_2011_-_Issues_Paper/Issues_Paper_-_Solar_feed-in_tariffs_-_Setting_a_fair_and_reasonable_value_for_electricity_generated_by_small_scale_solar_PV_units_in_NSW_-_August_2011)
        or Energex here (http://www.qca.org.au/files/ER-ELTD-IssuesPaper-RevSolarFeedinQLD-0912.pdf)

        So essentially the networks say that there is no benefit from potentially deferred network investments due to embedded solar and there are potentially additional costs to the network for issues due to voltage control and administration expenses. So let’s not pretend that owning PV helps out everyone else, rather it is a private investment decision.

        • Jenny

          Yes the networks would say that.

          • Warwick

            I guess they would, they have the data…

          • Jenny

            and an axe to grind in its interpretation

        • Claire

          Well said Warwick. Networks have been saying for years that solar generally does not reduce their costs. It depends on the locality and concentration of PV, but it will sometimes increase network costs and sometimes not. It’s frustrating to continually hear those with PV claiming that their investment is benefiting others by way of delaying investment in infrastructure, reducing wholesale costs etc. The overwhelming reason people by PV is that it makes financial sense to do so with the generous subsidies available, and because they are in a position to make the investment.
          Today in the paper there are stories of people in public and rented housing sitting in the dark and going without food and medicine to pay their energy bills. These people aren’t in the position to invest in a 12 kW PV system and go off grid, so will have to wear the spiralling increase in network charges as PV continues to reduce consumption and push unit prices higher.
          Those with PV need to face facts that they have used, and continue to rely on networks which are expensive shared infrastructure. They need to pay their share.

          • Giles Parkinson

            Actually Claire, the QCA recognised that solar PV can defer investment in infrastructure and reduce wholesale costs, it just didn’t think it should recognise those benefits in the way it structured the feed in tariffs.

          • Warwick

            Quoting the report…

            “Establishing the network costs and benefits arising from installation of PV generation is
            clearly not straightforward. There is evidence that increased PV penetration can reduce costs
            in some circumstances and increase costs in others. The most persuasive information before
            the Authority tends to suggest that the latter impact may be more significant, at least in
            aggregate terms. This issue is discussed further in Chapter 6.
            With regard to the benefit of reduced peak demand due to PV generation, the Authority
            considers that this is currently unlikely to be of significant impact in Queensland. Some
            submissions correctly noted that the greatest impact would likely be in areas dominated by
            daytime commercial loads, which coincide with the typical generation profile of PV
            installations. However, networks are designed and built to handle the highest peaks, which
            typically occur outside of this time. Figure 3.1 shows an average PV net export profile for a
            sample of customers in South East Queensland on the highest peak demand day during
            2011-12, charted against the Energex net system load profile (NSLP) of that same day. As
            this illustrates, the impact of PV generation diminishes prior to the onset of the highest
            evening residential peak, which the network is built to withstand.”

          • Claire

            Thanks Giles, Sorry if I was unclear. Based on commentary from networks around the country over the past couple of years it seems that there is not a general rule saying PV will reduce/delay investment. Sometimes it will, and sometimes the existing networks require augmentation to cope with high PV concentrations, meaning more investment is required, and in other situations it doesn’t change the way investments are made at all. It depends on the specifics of the local network.

          • Giles Parkinson

            Quite so, but as the CSIRO technical boffins said last year, if networks aren’t able to absorb up to 40 per cent renewables, then they are not really trying very hard and the cause lies elsewhere rather than with the renewable technologies.

          • Hi Warwick – Does their analysis of peak load take into account the load served by PV? It seems to me that just looking at the metered load does not give a picture of what the peak would be without PV.

        • Derek

          It’s important to remember that domestic PV is measured by the utilities as a reduction in load. A graph of demand prepared on current data has a peak shifted towards evening because domestic PV has already dented the true peak. Interesting graphs for SA at https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/20950/width668/t855pr3w-1362451968.jpg.
          That said, the situation may be rather different in Qld because of the lack of daylight saving. In my view, Qld should advance its clocks as a one-off. Just think – Qlders could boast of being ahead of Sydney and Melbourne for half the year.

      • Concerned

        Paul, if you actually look at the relevant information, you’ll find that peak period goes far beyond your perception.
        For example: http://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/Data/Price-and-Demand/Price-and-Demand-Graphs/Current-Dispatch-Interval-Price-and-Demand-Graph-QLD

    • Warwick

      Doug,if your question is whether or not the networks are looking at whether the PV is exported from the home or consumed internally then you are missing the point. The networks look at PV production and the loads on the distribution feeders. Ignoring local issues around voltage and intermittency, it matters little to the network feeder in aggregate whether your PV output is consumed in the home or by your neighbour as either way, any PV production should reduce demand in aggregate when it is producing. The evidence from the networks is that PV usually does not contribute to reducing peak load at the times of maximum network demand. Don’t take my word for it, read the network business submissions.

      I guess one other issue is that even if instances could be found of PV being coincident with peak network demands the only value is if PV delays future network investment. So in the current situation that much of the market has seen stable or seen declining demands for electricity then there would little opportunity for PV to delay investments that weren’t even happening.

      • Jenny

        The problem is that the power generators have no way of knowing on a dumb grid how much electricity is being fed from domestic rooftop PV in real time because it is not metered in real time. Moreover with nett metering there is no information on the total power produced, only the exported power. This means that they are not in a position to make assumptions whether or not it reduces peak loads or in aggregate since and only appears to the generators as a drop in demand during peaks and an inaccurate measure of energy consumed in aggregate.

        • Warwick

          Jenny, by “power generators”, I assume you mean large scale generators? These generators don’t really care what PV is doing in real time as their job in the wholesale market is to match the dispatch instructions of the market operator, AEMO. It is true that additional solar may make AEMO’s forecasting job more difficult but they seem to be managing pretty well so far.

          The point you miss is that some customers have net metering and others gross. The networks have a good idea of the number of installations and their size (especially where a FiT is a distribution funded levy)plus they have real live data from a number of customers in their network area. Given a known performance of PV given insolation they have a very good idea of PV production whether or not the energy is exported or consumed internally. Even more simply PV only produces when sunlight is strongest so if the network peak is at 6pm as is often the case in summer for some networks, you can be pretty certain that PV is not helping minimise peak demand. Also, I guess you could meter everyone’s PV and domestic consumption in real time at the half-hourly interval but the costs would likely be prohibitive, especially if the roll-out of smart meters in Victoria is anything to go by.

          PV is a good technology and costs are falling fast but pretending that it reduces network demand despite the lack of evidence is not in consumers’ interest.

  • Jason Dow

    Hi,
    This is what an industry and a political system looks like based on consumption when savings and efficiency from new technology makes the business model fundamentally untenable…
    These problems are highlighting the fundamental issues in a transition off a system based on constant growth in consumption.
    I support this transition but there are legitimate concerns around the interoperability of a system that REQUIRES

  • Claire

    Why should PV owners be rewarded for reducing the wholesale price of power? Just like in any market supply and demand are balanced on price. If you increase supply and decrease demand, the price goes down. If each of Origin, AGL and Energy Australia built another 2000MW of coal/gas generation the wholesale price would also go down as the energy market is already oversupplied. Are you suggesting that these generators would be due some sort of payment in recognition of the “service” that they provide of lowering the wholesale price?
    A low wholesale price isn’t even a good outcome for renewables – how many times have wind developers complained that the big retailers won’t write them PPAs at a reasonable level? The long term wholesale price + REC price projections just doesn’t support it

    • Louise

      Claire,

      I will wait another 3 years for energy storage costs to drop. My 5kW system will be upgraded to a 12 kW system and I am going to buy batteries and disconnect form the grid completely.

      I believe in doing not just talking. I will do my bit to help the environment.

      What I don’t understand is that even though the utilities are in the best position to generate clean energy, they are not interested in doing so, they are not interested in living in balance with nature.

      The electric utilities will learn when their last customer goes off grid, but not before. They will simply run out of customers.

      I would not want to be in the ice box manufacturering business or the horse draw carriage business. I prophecy that the electric utilities will join those two industries.

      It is time to see the signs of our times.
      Soon we will not be needing to upgrade the grid, due to lack of demand.

      No doubt the fossil fuel industries will continue to buy politician who are keen to pass any legislation as long as the price is right.

      How many politician work for their constituency and how many work for the highest bidder?

      • Claire

        Louise,
        Privately owned utilities can’t just switch off their existing assets and invest billions in non-economical renewable generation. They would lose money and go bankrupt, the directors would be completely derelict in their duties and would quite rightly be held to account by their shareholders. That’s why it’s so critical for the government to set policy positions that make renewable energy cost-competitive – like carbon pricing and the renewable energy target. Several utilities have been vocal in support of these policies like Momentum and AGL.

        As for the ‘fossil fuel industries’ buying politicians – pretty much all coal fired power stations in NSW and QLD are owned by the state governments. These governments prioritise cheap power over environmental performance; only voter sentiment will change this, but most voters are more worried about their bills. It’s hardly a conspiracy.

        • Suzy

          What this highlights to me is that the corporate model is the cause for the failure to switch to renewables on a large scale – not the lack of demand or technology. If utilities are state or cooperatively/community owned they do not have to return increasing profits to shareholders from year to year, they have to fund upgrades and maintenance and provide a service to the whole community with a product the community decides to support (if a section wants to support renewables, part of their tax is invested in a switch to renewables). A privatised utility is required to maximise profits each year without ethical/environmental considerations as long as they fulfil current legal requirements which may not reflect the wishes of the utility’s customers.

      • Chris Fraser

        Nevertheless i can see Louise’s point about consuming more of our own energy where it is produced. It appears to be more sustainable. In spite of energy losses associated with batteries, there are efficiency gains to be had just there. Some centralised generators cop losses of up to 90%. It should be about sustainability and efficiency, not just whether or not we save on the investment. I can understand problems associated with the ‘spiral’ by having large numbers of people go off grid, but it would be the only way to change the view that the grid must be so bulletproof. There are so many other risks that the supply of energy faces anyway. There must be a genuine reduction of centralised energy consumption, tested under various economic conditions, to enable better grid design. The grid should serve its customers not itself.

      • Joshua White

        …and how many dills elect politicians? (doesn’t matter WHO you vote for ~ if you play the ‘game’ it’s YOUR fault!) and pay taxes to support the bastards in the manner YOU can’t afford.

        How is a political/taxation system different from a mafia protection racket:- The godfather says if you don’t hand over a % of what WE say you’re worth we’ll hurt you.

        Fair bloody dinkum.

    • Joshua White

      Never heard of contractual deals?
      Make a deal and you should have to stick withg it, regardless of anything else. I reckon a class-action is called for.

      Meanwhile why don’t you people STOP electing politicians and paying taxes to support the bastards?
      They can’t jail everybody!
      (Don’t you regret turning over you weapons to John Bloody Howard?)

  • Jenny

    We have already decided that when we move and thus lose our current 52c feedin tariff and go down to 8c we will install batteries and go off grid, or, depending on the costs, a hybrid system where the grid becomes the battery of last resort only if it cheaper than increased solar capacity and battery storage. It would be our intention to feed absolutely no power into the gold plated grid to power the neighbour’s air conditioner.

    If enough people do this then watch what happens to the price of grid connected power.

  • Twisting and turning in every direction but the future-we are all wise to their crap now!!

  • Roger

    Just the Liberal’s trying to stop people getting cheap power from Solar and Wind . All LNP states have slowed or stopped money flowing into Green Power projects to protect their Dirty power stations and Overseas owned assets . They are the dinosaur party .We just don’t have time to wait for them to evolve. If Can bull starts on us solar producers,(200,000+) there will be a Class action.

    • Concerned

      Roger, I think you’ll find to be fair, that the scheme was introduced by another flavour of politics both State and Federal.
      The QCA has provided a background report, for discussion by the current incumbent government. (Interestingly, polls show their popularity has not waned in any significant manner)
      That is all it is, and it is now subject to political discussion. Until that discussion has taken place, we do not know what the outcome will be. Interestingly, I heard the minister Mark McArdle interviewed on radio on Sunday on this very topic. There was no cut and dried opinion on the direction in which the government will move.
      The various solar schemes were poorly constructed, and disadvantages those on lower incomes who are unable to participate. Although some on lower incomes have taken advantage, the majority involved are middle-class or have the means to participate, meaning those who do not, are subsidising those who do. Is that fair?
      Basically, the scheme is a form of middle-class welfare, a type of welfare widely disliked by those of the left.

      If the scheme had been properly designed in the first place, then these problems would not have arisen, including the contribution to network problems et cetera.

    • concerned

      Roger,further:

      Regarding Mr. Newman, I believe Queenslanders have some idea as to their future?
      Newspoll’s latest quarterly result for state voting intention in Queensland, covering 1130 respondents from January through March, suggest the gains Labor made amid last year’s budget cuts have faded away, returning them to the territory of last year’s disastrous election result. The primary votes of 27% for Labor and 49% for the LNP closely reflect the election figures of 26.7% and 49.7%…
      The two-party preferred score of 62-38 compares with 62.8-37.2 at the election and 56-44 in the last Newspoll… Newman’s lead as preferred premier is out from 45-29 to 53-21.
      ReachTEL also published its latest monthly automated phone poll for Channel Seven last week… This had the LNP up 0.7% to 47.8%, Labor up 1.3% to 30.2%, KAP down 1.4% to 10.1% and the Greens up 0.1% to 8.0%. On my reading of two-party preferred, Labor made a rounding-assisted one point gain on the previous month’s poll, putting it 59-41 behind rather than 60-40.

  • Louise

    The web site below has a video on
    “All-In-One solar panels, panel-microinverter-battery charger-normal household power plug, to be inserted into the normal household socket”.

    Make sure to select the English version of the web site.
    http://www.suninvention.com/index.php/en.html

    At the bottom of the page on the right hand site is a video with an English flag in the centre.
    The video is not a YouTube video and I don’t know how to extract a direct URL/video address, to post it here.

    Anyway it is almost 12 minutes, English; and it nicely describes how the power generated is stored in the solar panel and consumed when needed.

    I did some Google research and their are at least to different companies offering similar All-In-One solar panels.

    One with li Ion batteries and one company with Ni-Fe batteries.
    It looks like they use normal solar panels, add an micro inverter, add a battery charge controller/battery charger for the battery type required, li-ion or Ni-Fe and an electrical extension to plug into a power board or a standard power socket in the wall.

    Apparently, the electricity generated is not feed into the grid but stored in the battery and when electricity is needed, it is drawn form the battery first and once the battery is depleted, then the system uses grid electricity.

    _
    That system would overcome the newly introduced problem where home owners get paid 8 cents for fed in electricity and have to buy electricity back at 3 to 4 times the rate they are been paid for producing.
    _

    Once again members of the “Citizen Initiated Energy Transformation” are out doing corrupt politicians and their fossil fuel masters.

    .

  • PhilK

    My father has been running a fully self sufficient house for over 40 years with solar, wind and if required a phase 3 generator to recharge 24 marine batteries with the house totally running on DC, car radio CD, LED TV, LED lighting. With a natural creek for water supply. So if he can live comfortably with all the mod cons of todays society it won’t take long for this to be a main stream technology.

    • Concerned

      Brilliant,how do I do that in suburbia,and what,probably stick wood in my electric oven as well?

      • Suzy

        …by covering your roof with PV roof tiles (in near future) or panels (now) and becoming educated about your own households energy needs and uses plus wastage. The suburbs have a lot of roof space available and in Europe, groups/villages have developed common renewable systems based on their local strengths (solar, water, thermal) with community investment. Why should this not be possible in our suburbs?

        • concerned

          I have PV and Solar HW.
          Works fine ,and does not need a lot from the grid.However I live in Brisbane with less than ideal insolation.For instance over the last two weeks poor output from PV and Solar Hot water.A need for the grid.
          Even with storage, and you lived on the coast you would need a lot to cover such periods?

          • Jenny

            I live in Brisbane as well. Our combination of solar HWS and 2.5kw solar PV power probably reduces our consumption from the grid by about 60-70%. We have probably reached near the limit on energy efficiency in lighting, appliances and limiting standby loads. This means we could probably manage with a 5Kw off grid system though this might mean switching to gas for cooking which unfortunately is still a fossil fuel. I would like to see improvements in battery technology before I would make such a move. In any case if we move we will lose our current feedin tariff and I would rather feed my surplus power into batteries to consume later than sell it to the grid for 8 cents a unit.

  • imsikofit

    fact is to get 44c we paid high price for install, which has now gone down. how dare anyone take our contract away, via fees. I spend a disability payout on that, my only money no super etc. as usual no care for the planet or huge pays to GOV. coffers and ministers, just DEFRAUD us… huge wastE NEWMAN…and again as with water, when we cut our wastage, E.G. costs THEY PUT THE PRICE up ANYWAY. criminals. IDIOTS dont realize we are paying same price for power as everyone, the buy back from grid is helping the companys to not have to ESCALATE infrustructure. so they are conning you, or the jealous who haven’t got it, are wingers. SOLAR panels should be subsidised to all. to save COSTS AND THE PLANT,,,newman

  • Alfred Jones

    The tariff now from Ergon, paid as from October 1, 2014 is 6.53 cents per kWh, here in Regional QLD we have no competition, Ergon is the supplier and that is it. Initially, the public might have been installing Solar Panels, to save big money, however, I was led to believe that the previous Governments, both State and Federal, promoted this scheme, to help prevent Global Warming. Surely, it is better for everyones health, to have Solar Generated Electricity, than burning thousands of tonnes of coal at the power stations, which must be creating pollution in the air, for everyone to breathe.
    If there is Global Warming caused by pollution, should we not, be trying to prevent this happening, for the benefit of our Children and Grand Children, or has that all gone by the board now, so that Governments can make more money