Excerpt from today's Courier Mail.
As a company, Driftwind Electrical has been operating for 20 years, we have seen a lot of solar companies, come and go in this time. While its been a fledgling new industry, in recent years, its a been a very cut-throat industry, and whilst prices have dropped on the solar products, due to high demand, there have been a number solar companies offering very very low prices, with how low these prices have dropped, while this might be good for the consumer's pocket in the short-term, its has proven these prices are unsustainable to survive in the industry and therefore its the consumer that loses out in the long-term, when the company is no longer able to service the warranties and their system for the warrantied years.
Driftwind Electrical, whilst being competitive in this industry, have also ensured that we could continue to service our existing and new customers. Driftwind Electrical is only too happy to help customers, who may have installed solar with a company who is now no longer around, with any warranty issues (including submitting warranty claims to the manufacturer, if these manufacturer's are still in the solar market place), solar system health checks, and any works that might need to be performed to keep your solar system running optimally.
Solar Safety in the Industry
As the Clean Energy Council points out: safety and quality are of vital essence when installing your solar system. Feel free to contact us to have a chat about installing a new system, or for your exisiting solar system, is it time for a solar health check to make sure your system is safe and performing optimally?
See the Clean Energy Council Newsletter below with more information about solar safety.
Last night 27th May 2019 ABC’s 7.30 Report highlighted some potential safety issues in the rooftop solar industry, but disappointingly didn’t give an entirely balanced perspective. Sadly, when stories like this come out our whole industry is tarred by the incorrect perception of poor safety and quality of rooftop solar – which we all know is generally not the case. There are over 2 million solar systems installed in Australia, and the vast majority are safe and reliable systems, while the percentage of potentially unsafe systems has continued to decline from over 4% in 2010 to 2.7% today.
In terms of safety, we would like to specifically address some points made in the program:
Firstly, there is more work to be done in driving up safety, standards and compliance across the industry and the Clean Energy Council is committed to leading on that front, working closely with the range of regulatory and safety bodies across Australia. This is an area we spend a considerable amount of time and resources enforcing and this will only increase as the industry grows.
In 2018 alone, the Clean Energy Council suspended 160 installers and locked 5500 models of solar panel out of the Australian market that were not up to the latest product standards. Our Product Assurance Program requires products to be certified to Australian Standards through accredited, independent testing laboratories to demonstrate they are of sufficient quality.
Our Product Assurance Program includes battery storage products. The ABC were incorrect regarding battery safety. There is already an agreed industry standard for batteries in place and it has been in place since 2018. Currently there are over 60 battery storage products verified to be meeting this standard and we will continue to drive up the standards of storage product offerings this way.
DC isolator switches: these switches are currently mandated through the Australian Standards by request from the emergency services. As mentioned in the report, we have been calling for a review of the Australian Standards mandating them for some time and will continue to do so - hopefully this will commence soon.
Issues with regulation of replacement solar panels: the STC regulations regarding replacement panels were recently tightened to address these concerns due to a relatively small number of these incidents occurring. This is not a widespread problem, and we believe the recent changes have addressed any issue.
As noted in the program, state electrical safety bodies are reviewing their inspection programs. We absolutely support this, including higher levels of inspections where appropriate.
Finally, these issues associated with rooftop solar would be picked up by regular maintenance and it serves as a reminder to us as an industry that safety and maintenance needs to be a key message we send to consumers. Unfortunately, the ABC didn’t include Kane’s comments regarding this, but the Clean Energy Council will shortly be ramping up our push to remind householders of the importance of periodic maintenance by an accredited installer.
Protecting consumers is of the highest priority, which is why there are so many regulatory requirements placed on the Australian solar industry and why we are continuing to set higher safety standards and increased compliance. There is obviously more work to be done regarding safety, but we should also be very proud of what we have achieved and the continuous improvement underway.
Source: CEC newsletter - May 2019
Information Update 16/03/2018 @ 11.30am Rooftop solar and battery systems: No interest loans and rebates
Updated 16/03/2018 -11.30am
Driftwind Electrical team had discussions with Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy regarding the offer for interest-free loans and rebates this morning @ 11.30am.
We were advised that this is currently being reviewed and tweaked to determine eligibility criteria before being rolled out. Please continue to review our Website and Facebook pages regularly as we will be updating on this as more information is provided.
Information below prior to 16/03/2018
Queensland has the highest uptake of solar PV installations in Australia. To drive continued uptake of solar, and support customers to adopt battery storage technology, $21 million is being invested to provide no interest loans for these technologies.
The no interest loans enable households and small businesses to take control of their own electricity consumption, address electricity affordability, and provide access to the necessary upfront capital required to purchase systems.
Customers can save up to $700 per year by installing these new technologies.
Note: Actual savings depend on a range of factors, including how much of the power generated is used by the customer.
No interest loans for solar and battery systemsNo interest loans for rooftop solar and battery systems will be made available during 2018.
Rebates for systems including batteries
To complement the loan scheme, and recognising the higher costs associated with batteries, we will provide a rebate on battery systems.
The rebate will be made available in 2018.
You can find out more on the QLD Government Website
Applications for the energy efficient appliance rebate are now open.
To help Queensland households improve their energy efficiency, $20 million has been committed for rebates on approved energy efficient appliances under the Affordable Energy Plan.
Customers can save up to $50 a year by using an energy efficient refrigerator or washing machine. An energy efficient air conditioner could save up to $100 a year.
Rebates availableRebates will apply to purchases on or after 1 January 2018 for the following household appliances:
The scheme will end when the funding is exhausted, so payment of a rebate is not guaranteed.
Eligibility criteriaIt’s important to determine the best appliance for your needs.
The following information regarding energy efficient appliance rebate eligibility is provided as a guide only and does not entitle you to a rebate. We will check your eligibility for a rebate as part of the application process. Please read the rebate terms and conditions (PDF) to determine your eligibility before applying.
To be eligible for a rebate, the appliance must:
Read the full list of eligible 4 star or higher appliances:
Note: If you purchased your appliance on or after 1 January 2018 and before applications opened, you have 30 days from the date applications opened to submit your application in full - apply by 20 March 2018.
Positive Payback for householdsPositive Payback lets you earn rewards by using energy saving technologies and switching to economy tariffs for air conditioners, pool pumps and hot water systems.
16 February 2018
Lowering your energy usage and considering off-peak options are two of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce your electricity bill.
Lowering usage also reduces the need for more infrastructure development (e.g. poles and wires) which will help electricity costs for everyone over the long term.
Using less energy also means less pollution and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, so not only will you save money on your energy bills, you will also be helping to save the environment.
This guide has several suggestions for reducing energy costs around your home and business.
How to save
If you're like most households these days, looking at ways to decrease your energy costs, then the Government is offering incentives under the "Affordable Energy Plan"
Affordable Energy Plan: making electricity more affordable
From 1 January 2018, more than $300 million of initiatives will make electricity more affordable for residential and business customers. Under the plan, electricity prices for typical household and small business customers will remain below inflation on average over the next 2 years.
Follow the links below to find out more about the rebates on offer and other plan initiatives.
Help for households
$50 per year electricity rebate
Over the next 2 years, $200 million from the dividends of government-owned corporations are being returned to Queensland households in the form of a $50 per year electricity rebate. Find out more.
Energy efficient appliance rebate
Rebates of up to $300 for eligible energy-efficient appliances ($20 million). Find out more.
Rooftop solar loans and rebatesTo drive the continued uptake of solar, we have allocated $21 million over 3 years in no-interest loans and rebates for Queenslanders purchasing rooftop solar and battery systems. Find out more.
Solar for rental propertiesOften tenants aren’t able to benefit from solar because landlords have little incentive to invest in it. A $4 million trial with up to 1,000 houses will provide incentives for landlords to install solar for their rental tenants.
Extra assistance for regional Queensland customers
EasyPay Rewards for regional Queensland
A rebate for regional households ($75) and small businesses ($120) that register for direct debit and monthly eBilling ($15 million over 3 years). Find out more.
Energy Savvy Families
This program provides digital meters to eligible low-income families in regional Queensland to help them gain a greater understanding of when and how they use their electricity. We are investing a further $4 million to extend the program to a further 4,000 low-income households. Find out more.
Removal of non-reversion policy
Up until recently, regional customers who left Ergon Energy for another electricity retailer were not able to return to Ergon. We are removing this policy for small business customers and households. These customers will be able to return to Ergon if they wish, and take up the EasyPay Rewards plan. Find out more.
Business Energy Savers Program
This $20 million program will benefit agricultural customers and large businesses by expanding existing energy audit programs and funding for energy efficiency upgrades. Find out more.
You can find this information on their website
Regular maintenance of a solar PV system will ensure it is performing at maximum efficiency and minimise the possibility of hazards – it’s just a shame not everyone does it.
It might be great to harvest free electricity from your own rooftop power plant but if you want it to work properly you have to look after it. A few simple checks and some housecleaning now and then may be all that’s needed to keep a system running efficiently.
In 2012 solar consultancy SunWiz looked at data from 8,000 PV systems connected to NSW network AusGrid and found the average small-scale system was performing nearly 19% below capacity, with around 18% of systems performing 20% below expectations and 7% about 40% below expectations.
That was six years ago and here’s hoping things have improved since then, but system owners shouldn’t be complacent about their investment. Maintenance of a solar PV system is about so much more than cleaning the modules.
“System maintenance is crucial to the ongoing optimised performance of the system – if you want it to go well, you’ve got to look after it,” says Solar Analytics technical sales account manager Brett Bidwell.
The basics of maintenance include looking at the performance of the inverter and going over the solar array structure, the cabling and assessing whether anything has contributed to the system performing properly. The causes are not always related to sloppy installation standards or cheap equipment.
“Over the years I’ve seen ants, termites, possums, cockatoos, rats – you name it I’ve seen it destroy a solar power system,” says Bidwell. “Cows, horses, sheep – the whole lot. I’ve seen bats roosting under arrays, all sorts of things.”
Many variables that are completely unforeseen and unpredictable may impact the performance of a system, Bidwell says, so owners should understand why an annual inspection by a qualified solar installer – even it is to clean the panels – will be a good way to spot and fix issues that could become serious if left to fester. “There are opportunities there for maintenance to be discussed [with owners] very early on in the piece, even before the purchase of the system,” he says, emphasising that solar sales companies and installation companies should clearly explain the benefits of maintenance to their clients.
Installers are working all hours to get systems on rooftops, with record numbers of Small-scale Technology Certificates created last year and hopefully the same again this year, so how can they be expected to find the time to go around maintaining the 1.6 million systems already in place? Simple, says Bidwell – employ more people.
For a start, installers who have contractual commitments to maintain systems should manage schedules and staff especially for the purpose. “Suddenly you’ve got a crew running around doing regular maintenance,” he says. “Quite often the return on investment of those types of funding approaches is completely dependent on the optimised performance of the system, so that if it works better you get paid more.”
Any good commercial and industrial solar system agreement should include a clause about operations and maintenance, Bidwell says. “It’s not an option. If it’s not there, you’re dealing with the wrong people.”
At the Clean Energy Council, technical and compliance officer Luke Pickles says it’s not really incumbent on the installer to carry out maintenance – it’s up to customers to request it. “The problem is there’s a cost associated with doing maintenance and people normally buy a solar system with the purpose of saving money, so there’s a disconnect in that respect,” Pickles says. “But some companies that sell a system may include a maintenance visit as part of the sale price.”
Update on 44c FiT rule changes
On 15 February 2018, the Queensland Parliament re-introduced a Bill to change the Electricity Act 1994 (Qld). This Bill provides the industry with clearer rules about adding PV panels, generating systems and/or energy storage devices (such as batteries), to PV systems that already qualify for the 44 cents/kWh Feed-in Tariff (44c FiT) without forfeiting this premium tariff.
If the Bill is passed in its current format, 15 February 2018 will be the date that the changes come into effect rather than the previously advised date of 15 June 2017.
Therefore, if a customer with a PV system that qualifies for the 44c FiT does any of the following after 15 February 2018, they may forfeit eligibility for the 44c FiT (subject to some transitional provisions described later in this Update):
Until the Bill is passed, if we receive an application for an array upgrade on a 44c FiT-eligible PV system that will create a total array capacity exceeding the rated AC power capacity of the existing inverter/s, our Solar Team will contact the applicant to confirm their intent. The applicant can then choose to:
Remember that under the energy legislation and our connection contracts, you must obtain our consent before making modifications to a generating system (including, but not limited to, increasing array or inverter capacity and changing export limitation settings). This consent can be requested by lodging a network connection application through our Electrical Partners Portal.
If a customer entered into a contract to purchase additional panels that take the total array capacity above the inverter capacity before 15 February 2018, those panels can still be installed without forfeiting the 44c FiT if:
We understand that one or more panels in an array may need replacement under warranty. These rule changes have implications for the customer’s 44c FiT eligibility where the array with failed panels is already the same or a higher capacity as the connected inverter(s). We also understand that the existing panel wattage cannot always be matched exactly due to discontinued panel models, leaving only higher-wattage panels available.
We have worked with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to provide the following guidance:
Battery energy storage systems
The changed rules are designed to allow customers on the 44c FiT to install a battery system if they wish, without forfeiting the 44c FiT. However, it is important to note that the system cannot be programmed in such a way that could result in the battery discharging while the PV system is operating or more electricity being exported than would otherwise be possible.
Applicants should attach a schematic diagram to any application to add batteries to a 44c FiT-eligible PV system, including a description of the battery charging/discharging mode, demonstrating compliance with these requirements. Applications to add a battery system to a 44c FiT-eligible PV system are being processed on the understanding that the programming will comply with the changed rules.
Please note we use automated meter data filters to identify sudden increases in exported electricity volumes. If we investigate and identify a battery system that is not compliant, the 44c FiT will be forfeited. The installer may also be referred to the Clean Energy Council.
Additional generating systems
The Bill clarifies, rather than changes, the current policy about adding additional generating systems to 44c FiT-eligible PV systems. If any type of generating system is added to the same tariff circuit and operates at the same time as the qualifying PV system (except during a network outage) or is able to export to the grid, eligibility for the 44c FiT will be forfeited.
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About Solar Industry Update
This newsletter will keep you informed about what's happening in the solar industry and any changes to compliance, rulings and legislation.
More than 50 per cent of Australia’s coal fleet will be over 40 years old by 2030, and the Australian electricity grid – along with these ageing fossil fuelled power stations – are increasingly vulnerable to worsening extreme weather events.
If we are to reach zero carbon pollution well before 2050 in order to effectively tackle climate change, we need to increase our reliance on renewable energy. But did you know Australia could reach 50 per cent renewables by 2030 – without significant new energy storage?
The Climate Council’s latest report on renewable energy and battery storage in Australia points out a range of factors that have helped us reach the cusp of a future where energy production is sustainable – and reliable.
The Fully Charged: Renewables and Storage Powering Australia report reveals over 20,000 new household lituim-ion batteries – used for renewable energy storage – were installed in 2017. That’s up from 6,750 in the previous year. Over the last eight years, the cost of lithium-ion batteries fell by 80 per cent. By 2025, the cost will halve again.
Read the full article here www.businessinsider.com.au/australia-renewable-energy-2018-2