A draft price determination released on Wednesday by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCoSA) has recommended setting a minimum price for the solar energy generated by South Australians. ESCoSA has proposed setting a minimum price of 7.6 cents per kilowatt-hour to be paid by electricity retailers for electricity generated by rooftop solar panels. The move has been applauded by the Clean Energy Council, which says the measure would help protect the state’s consumers –particularly households and small businesses – who were “investing their money in good faith to take the sting out of their rising power bills.”
“South Australians investing in solar power systems deserve to be paid a fair value for the clean energy they provide to the power grid,” said Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh. “While ESCoSA’s recommended minimum price for solar doesn’t fully do this, the proposal by some electricity retailers to take away this minimum altogether had raised major concerns for consumer and industry groups. It could have been much worse.” Marsh said the decision to retain a minimum price for solar was something the industry had argued strongly for. “We are extremely pleased to have the industry’s concerns acknowledged by the head of ESCoSA. Introducing a mandatory minimum price will help to ensure a fair go for solar customers.”
In other news…
Mid-year global solar PV demand has reached a record level of 17GW, on the back of a new Q3 record of 9GW – a 6 per cent increase on the previous quarter (Q2’13) and almost 20 per cent up on the same quarter last year (Q3’12), according to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report. Solarbuzz analysts say the mid-year surge in new PV installations is almost 3GW more than the solar industry has ever achieved in the past. “The record levels of mid-year demand in 2013 have been critical to the overall recovery of the solar PV sector,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Restored confidence in end-market growth is allowing leading solar PV manufacturers to pursue aggressive shipment strategies within both established and emerging territories, despite previous concerns that trade wars could dampen growth.” Solar PV demand is forecast to grow to 10-12 GW during Q4’13, with a characteristic year-end surge from China and the US expected to account for 50 per cent of demand in the quarter.
The NSW government says more than 90 per cent of the state’s dwellings will be excluded from any new coal seam gas activity, after conducting extensive mapping to set out the CSG exclusion zones. After announcing, in February, a 2km buffer zone for residential areas, state planning minister Brad Hazzard says the promised buffer zone will apply to 95 per cent of NSW dwellings. The Australian Greens have welcomed news of the extent of the NSW exclusion zones, and have called for other governments – including the federal Abbott government – to follow suit. “This is a win for some of the passionate communities of New South Wales who have locked the gate to the big mining companies threatening to ruin their land, water and livelihoods with coal seam gas,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said. “However, if the New South Wales Government accepts that CSG is too dangerous for urban areas, they need to accept it’s too dangerous for rural communities and prime agricultural land. …Federally, the Abbott Government needs to start listening to the community and the science on coal seam gas, instead of bullying the states into removing what little safeguards they have against this risky industry.”
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.