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Home hydrogen storage for rooftop solar? UNSW team says it’s coming in 2020

Home hydrogen storage for rooftop solar? UNSW team says it’s coming in 2020

By Sophie Vorrath / One Step Off The Grid / 20 March 2019

A New South Wales-based effort to develop renewable hydrogen storage solutions – including a 5kWh home solar storage system – has received $3.5 million in backing from green investment outfit Providence Asset Group.

Tamworth-based company H2Store is working on the technology in partnership with the University of New South Wales, which promises to overcome one of the key barriers to realising the potential of green hydrogen in Australia – storage and transportation.

“The biggest challenge with hydrogen is it is very low density, and it needs big storage tanks, which makes transporting it not viable,” H2Store’s Llewellyn Owens told the Northern Daily Leader last week.

“We’ve made a metal that absorbs the hydrogen and then releases it, which makes it very easy to transport. We’ve known that you can transport hydrogen this way for a while, but the metal had to be heated up to 300 to 400 degrees for the hydrogen to be released. This one basically operates entirely at room temperature.”

The UNSW said on Tuesday that the money from Providence Asset Group would be used to deliver phase one of the four-stage project, including the creation of a home hydrogen storage prototype to compete with – and even outperform – current home battery systems, like the Tesla Powerwall.

The team hopes to have a 5kWh home storage system prototype ready by the end of this year, and a product on the market late in 2020. This would be followed by a “ramped up” 15kWh commercial-scale storage system.

“We will be able to take energy generated through solar panels and store it as hydrogen in a very dense form, so one major advantage of our hydrogen batteries is that they take up less space and are safer than the lithium-ion batteries used in many homes today,” said Professor Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou from the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering.

“We can actually store about seven times more energy than the current systems.

“This means that in a residential scenario, people will be able to store a lot more energy using the same footprint as Tesla batteries, to potentially power their home, charge their cars and still have excess to sell back to the grid.”

Other benefits to the UNSW/H2Store’s technology, the team says, include a lifespan of about 30 years – compared with around 10 years for some batteries – and none of the fire risk associated with lithium-ion systems.

And at the other end of the energy storage scale, the researchers are also working on system for solar and wind farms that will include the design of storage vessels suitable for hydrogen export, and which could in turn have potential to replace diesel in remote generation and large transport applications.

“As the hydrogen technology develops, we will see a new cost-effective alternative to chemical batteries, remote electricity generation, household heating and increased range of hydrogen vehicles,” Owens said.

According to the Northern Daily Leader, the idea has attracted a total of $7 million in investment, with another $3.5 million previously committed by an unnamed company.

The $3.5 million from Providence Asset Group follows last month’s signing of a 10-year dealbetween the asset manager and UNSW Sydney to accelerate research and development of sustainable energy technologies.

UNSW Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman said Australia had a real opportunity to lead to world in hydrogen storage, energy and transportation solutions.

“This is a very exciting project and I am very grateful to Providence Asset Group for investing in the pioneering work being done at UNSW.  I look forward to watching the developments over the next 12 months,” Hoffman said.

Indeed, the investment from Pioneer marks the second financial endorsement of renewable hydrogen technology in as many days, with the federal government on Tuesday granting $3.1 million to a Toyota Australia project to establish a green hydrogen hub powered by solar and battery storage at one of its old car manufacturing plants in Altona North in Victoria.

An ARENA report prepared in 2018 by consultants ACIL Allen found enormous potential in an Australian renewable hydrogen market, including $10 billion in exports over 20 years, and 16,000 new blue-collar jobs, mainly in regional areas.

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

Australia makes major contribution to global big PV uptake

Written by Marija Maisch / PV Magazine / 14 March 2019

The latest statistics highlights Australia’s contribution to the global utility-scale solar PV installation figures.

Utility-scale solar generating capacity grew by almost 40 GW in 2018, reaching a total of 180 GW by year end, according to figures released today by Wiki-Solar, a U.K.-based compiler of utility-scale solar deployment data. While growth slowed down in the leading markets, the shortfall was made up by accelerating deployment in nations lower down the table, with Australia to the fore.

With central subsidies cut back in China under the government’s 5/31 New Policy announcement leading to an 18% fall in new PV capacity last year, the Trump Administration’s Section 201 tariffs taking a bite out of the U.S. market, and India affected by delayed and cancelled tenders, the utility-scale solar market was in for a slowdown. However, according to Wiki-Solar, the 2018 installation figures managed to match the record set in the previous year.

This was achieved thanks to the contribution of the rising utility-scale solar PV markets, led by Australia, Mexico and Brazil. The role of Australia is particularly highlighted as the only newcomer to the the top 10 nations. “Australia roughly quadrupled its installed capacity in 2018. Just four years ago, the country barely scraped into the top 30,” Wiki-Solar says.

The global utility-scale installation figures may vary, depending on the source. For instance, Wiki-Solar finds China added over 11 GW in 2018, while the data from the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) indicate there was still 20 GW of large-scale, ground-mounted PV installed after the policy u-turn, after only 3.6 GW had been installed in the opening five months of the western calendar year.

But, the 2018 utility-scale solar boom in Australia is beyond any doubt. According to the figures released by Australia’s leading number crunchers Green Energy Markets, utility scale solar increased 300% – passing the 1,000 GWh milestone for the first time. A dataset compiled by Green Energy Trading showed there was 2,083 MW of big PV added last year, around half of it in Queensland, up from a meager 119 MW in 2017. 

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

Regulator sets higher rooftop solar target, no changes to price

Giles Parkinson / RenewEconomy / 12 March 2019

The Clean Energy Regulator has set a significantly higher target for certificates created by the small-scale renewable technology scheme, following the largely unexpected boom in rooftop solar in 2018.

The CER on Tuesday said the new target for 2019 would be 37 million certificates (STCs), which act as an up-front rebate on the cost of rooftop solar installations up to 100kW (and other small-scale renewable energy technologies too).

It is the highest target set since the start of the scheme in 2011, when a high “multiplier” resulted in an initial target of 28 million. The increase from 22 million in 2018 was widely expected after big growth in rooftop solar installations in 2018, when a record amount of 1.6GW was added to the grid.

“The calculated increase for 2019 is due to significantly more STCs being created in 2018 than projected and expected growth in STC creations in 2019, mainly from rooftop photovoltaic systems,” the regulator said.

But despite calls for the scheme to be scrapped, and fears in some quarters that the “clearing house” price of $40/MWh could be wound back, it appears to have been largely untouched.

Analysts say that the STC market had been operating under a cloud of uncertainty about whether government might reduce the clearing house price, particularly as it came under fire from trumped up claims in the Murdoch press – parroted widely by other media – about the cost of the system.

The Murdoch media claimed that the STC costs each household $200 a year. In fact, according to the Australian Energy Market Commission, it costs $32 a year. And while the increased target for 2019 may result in an rise in that cost, it would only be a few dollars.

And that does not include the benefits of rooftop solar, and its role in reducing the size of system peaks, pushing those peaks further into the evening, and lowering wholesale electricity prices.

Rooftop solar is also expected to form the basis of a major shift to a “decentralised” energy system, where around half of capacity and demand will be met by “distributed” resources such as solar, battery storage, electric vehicles and demand management.

Analysts said that the announcement from the CER should be seen as good news for the SRES, even though the target is front loaded and could cause “tightness” in the market in the first quarter.

The rebate is being progressively rolled back each year, and will be eliminated by 2030.

Some, however, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, supported by big utilities like Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, have argued that it should be scrapped, saying that the cost of solar has come down enough.

Defenders of the rebate say that it means solar can now be sourced more easily by those on low to medium incomes, who already account for the lion’s share of the uptake of rooftop solar. And it makes it easier to design schemes that allow access to renters and apartment dwellers.

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

A Quick Guide To Selecting The Perfect Solar Inverter For Your Home

Written by PowerArk Solar

Solar inverters are an essential part of any solar system; they are the brains of the network. Aside from the solar inverter’s primary role to convert DC power created by the sun into usable AC power (what we plug into our walls), its job is ever expanding. Inverters empower installers and proprietors to monitor how a system is performing.  This solar component have developed from single function of converting energy to various capabilities and functions. Each inverter ought to give options for additional uses and capabilities such as administrations, data monitoring, utility controls and applications— all to guarantee the inverter can work at the maximum level. Besides, while inverters comprise a little percentage of the system’s cost, keeping them running as productively and dependably as possible is crucial. Optimized inverter performance prompts more output production, yielding better returns for homeowners.

According to Clean Energy, here are some of the criteria to be considered:

Quality & Reliability

The only way to know if a brand or specific model has a proven track record of highest quality and reliability is to ask help from the experts.  The first thing to look for in a solar inverter is to see if it follows with the relevant Australian Standard (AS4777). It can easily be checked by visiting Clean Energy Council’s approved products list on their website. If the brand or model you are eyeing falls on the list then it must be a good inverter to use in your solar PV system.

Service, Support and Warranty

Typically, inverters like grid connected inverters have a life span extending from 10 to 20 years. You ought to anticipate that most will last 10 years minimum. Clearly, the longer the warranty, the more insurance you have for your inverter. But don’t forget to balance it against the inverter’s features.

Features

Weather-proof, expandable and high-efficiency are just some of the best features of an inverter. These inverters are made to be weather-proof, so they can be in areas that may have some exposure to different elements. Non-weather-proof inverters may require some cages that will have an extra cost.

If you are intending to expand your solar power system in the future, you should consider buying multiple MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) inverter. These solar inverters have multiple MPPT trackers allowing you to add additional solar PV arrays later or install solar PV arrays at different orientations. Some solar panels have a small MPPT inverter attached to the rear of the module, usually called micro inverters.

An Inverter’s efficiency is as important of the features mentioned above. In inverter, efficiency is a measure of how well an inverter converts electricity it receives from energy sources into power that will be available in a home. Efficiency would only be a factor if two similar solar inverters had significantly different efficiency.

Monitoring

As mentioned earlier, inverters were not only made to simply convert DC power into useful energy in homes but can also be used to monitor the performance of a solar PV system. Some of the important information can be displayed are:

  1. Amount of energy (kilowatt hours) you have produced daily,
  2. the consumption of electricity (kilowatt hours) you have produced since the unit was installed
  3. the amount of power (kilowatts) the unit is currently producing
  4. the number of hours the unit has been producing power

Price

Inverters usually cost 20% of the whole solar system. Always remember not to buy the cheapest ones because there’s no chance of them lasting for 15 years plus. It better to buy reputable brands given that they are the most complex item on any solar PV system. In the event that you buy the inverter as a part of solar PV system, you can have a portion of the cost discounted as Small-scale Technology Certificates. You should bear the whole cost in case you’ll be needing to replace the inverter in any case, so it’s important to look for an inverter that will last.

Brands

Some of the best residential solar inverters in 2018 according to Clean Energy are:

  1. Fronius – Primo and Galvo
  2. SolarEdge – SE and HD wave
  3. SMA – Sunny boy
  4. Sungrow – SG-KLT

Aside from the mentioned solar inverters above, one of the brands that can check all the criteria enumerated is the recently launched Kehua (pronounced ‘kee-wah’) in the Australian market. The brand has a vision to provide reliable power solutions in various sectors from public power networks to residential power systems. Kehua integrating their passions and core values (RenewableReliable and Responsible) into their products making them an industrial-recognised Uninterruptible Power Supply and Critical Power Supply manufacturer.

In fact, their state of the art products are physical examples of high value/lower cost products with safe and reliable performance. This high-efficiency inverter is designed to reach up to 98.2% efficiency and it is the first cold-resistant inverter with superior operating temperature from -40C to 60C. Aside from that, this brand has an intelligent management system which save you from any hassle and update information about your system full record of Performance, Voltage Parameter, Temperature and so on in the form of graphs that can be export to Excel for a deeper analysis.

Whilst all of these inverters are an excellent choice for your solar power system, it is important to seek professional advice to determine which type or mode of inverter is the best for your system and energy needs.

Energy Stuff provides a full range of new solar systems which can include battery ready inverters or systems with integrated battery storage. We also provide smart energy management systems which will continue to deliver energy saving benefits into the future. We only use CEC accredited installers and we fully comply with the Victorian Govt. Solar Rebate Program. For further information call 1300 656 205 or go to our website at https://ongrid.energystuff.com.au/new-solar-system/

Victorian Registered Electrical Contractor Licence # 27787

Tesla’s base Model 3 may not arrive in Australia until 2020

Written by Bridie Schmidt / 7 March 2019 / The Driven

The most affordable version of Tesla’s Model 3 electric sedan is now available in the US, but there will still be a wait for those in other parts of the world, according to CEO and founder Elon Musk.

The Tesla Model 3 has been a game changer for the electric vehicle market, becoming the best-selling car in its class in 2018 and its arrival in Australia in mid-2019 will also mark a major milestone for the local automotive market.

With an asking price starting at $US35,000 (just under $A50,000 at today’s rates, but before GST and other add-ons)) before incentives and fuel cost savings, the addition of the “Standard range” Model 3 last week to Tesla’s US configurator was so gladly received it sent the EV maker’s website into meltdown.

Tesla also added a second upgraded version of the base Model 3 to its website, known as the “Standard Range Plus”, which for an additional $US2,000 gives the driver 20 miles (32km) more range, 10mph (16km/hr) higher top speed and a slightly faster acceleration of 0.3 seconds from 0-60mph (0-96.5km/hr).

However, although the more expensive Long Range and Performance versions of the Model 3 are now being delivered to long waiting customers in Europe and China, there will still be a wait for those wanting to purchase the cheaper versions.

Following the announcement of the Tesla Model 3 on Friday, Musk stated via social media channel Twitter that the base versions would arrive in Europe in around 6 months, with Asia in 6 to 8 months.

The Model 3 is slated to arrive in Australia in mid-2019, but it is expected that the Long Range and Performance will be the versions first made here in Australia, as has been the case overseas.

If the arrival of the base Model 3 follows the same delay as its appearance in China (about 4 months), this means that Aussies may not see the base Model 3 until early 2020.

That is of course dependent on when right hand drive versions of the base model begin production – Musk confirmed in a press conference on Friday that a blend of high and low-priced models would be in production at the same time, which suggests that the RHD base Model 3 production could start sooner than later.

With both the UK and Australia are patiently awaiting the start of RHD production, reports that Tesla has registered at least 2 RHD VINs has many reservation holders hopes up that a mid-2019 arrival in both countries will be achieved.

Of course, registration of VINs does not mean those cars have yet been built, but it is a step in the right direction.

When the base version of the Model 3 does arrive, it’s worth taking note that Musk himself has suggested that the Standard Range Plus version is better value for money.

“For a small amount more you can get basically a whole lot more like roughly 6% price increase gets you … almost 10% range increase and a 6% power increase and … mostly towards the premium interior,” he said at Friday’s press conference.

Worldwide, demand for the Model 3 is expected to be up to 500,000 units per year (annualised). Although Tesla has not released numbers of how many reservation holders there are in Australia, Musk said on Friday that those holding reservations would have first choice to purchase the base Standard Range Model 3 once it arrives.

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

Researchers Are Turning Windows into Green-Energy Farms with See-Through Solar Panels

Written by Louise Bevan / The Epoch Times / 8 March 2019

Solars panels, while a game-changing feat of engineering, have historically been—depending on your aesthetic preferences—a bit of an eyesore. But this is changing since researchers from Michigan State University have developed see-through solar panels. Completely transparent. Think windows. These ingenious panels will be able to provide numerous functions in future architectural design, not to mention other fields such as mobile phone technology, and cars.


The see-through cells can be used on buildings, mobile phones, and even cars

The American inventor Charles Fritts created the first commercial solar panel way back in 1881, describing it himself as “continuous, constant and of considerable force.” But the panels were somewhat inefficient: the design was perfected for commercial use in 1939 by American engineer Russell Ohl, who created the solar cell design that we have become familiar with today.

The Michigan State University research team, already having an engineering formula that worked, focused on transparency instead. What they came up with has been termed a “transparent luminescent solar concentrator,” or TLSC, which can function as a coating over clear surfaces like windows, harvesting solar energy without affecting the function of the window to let in light.


Dr. Richard Lunt leads the Michigan State University research team

The technology employs organic molecules, which function on a light wavelength not visible to the human eye. Dr. Richard Lunt is the assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU’s College of Engineering, and he explained in more detail: “We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared. The captured light is transported to the contour of the panel,” he continued, “where it is converted to electricity with the help of thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.”


TLSC could make a huge impact on energy efficiency

The design is ideal for use in architecture. As more solar energy can be harvested from the larger surface area of a building’s facade, as opposed to its rooftop, TLSC could make a huge energy impact on tall buildings. Especially glass ones. TLSC does not affect the overall look of the building or compromise the focus of the architectural design, but lends the benefits of a hyper-efficient energy technology to existing properties. TLSC can also be integrated into old buildings.

The New York Times reported favorably on the new technology: “If the cells can be made long-lasting, they could be integrated into windows relatively cheaply, as much of the cost of conventional photovoltaics is not from the solar cell itself, but the materials it is mounted on, like aluminum and glass,” they wrote. “Coating existing structures with solar cells would eliminate some of this material cost.”


The university team’s ongoing research is funded by the Center for Excitonics

Boasting a triple whammy of appealing characteristics— being transparent, impactful, and cost effective—the TLSC transparent cells could change the face of solar power completely. And if they prove commercially viable, Dr. Lunt continued, the power they generate could “significantly offset the energy use of large buildings.” The university research team has received funding from the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center financed by the Department of Energy, to continue their innovative research into the energy-producing efficiency of the transparent cells. Dr. Lunt believes that some basic modifications, such as stacking the cells, could increase TLSC efficiency from 1 percent to around 10 percent.

Dr. Lunt’s excitement reflects that of the team at large. “We’re not saying we could power the whole building,” he clarified, “but we are talking about a significant amount of energy, enough for things like lighting and powering everyday electronics.”

The future is looking clearer and clearer.

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

Why Shell bought Sonnen: Value is in behind-the-meter potential

Written by Andy Colthorpe / Energy Storage / 7 March 2019

The sonnen smart energy storage system enables the Clinica Comunitaria de Utuado to provide urgent healthcare services to a remote community in Puerto Rico. (PRNewsfoto/sonnen)

SonnenBatterie system installed at a clinic in Puerto Rico. Image: Sonnen.

So, at the beginning of this year, the editorial team at Solar Media (which in addition to Energy-Storage.news also includes PV Tech, Solar Power Portal and Current) sat down to figure out what the big topics would be, and the general outlook for 2019.

While many in the industry have been enthusiastic about the potential of residential and other forms of behind-the-meter energy storage for some time, and the technology is ready to go, it’s been difficult to really demonstrate the total value that home storage systems could provide. This year we’re seeing evidence that that has changed.

It allows individual users to become more independent of big utilities and to maximise their use of solar energy, but it can also help the grid, by connecting together – or aggregating – dozens, hundreds or even thousands of units at once and providing a sort of combined and controllable single asset to the grid operator or utility.

There’ve been indications from all over the world that that potential is starting to be tapped, with so-called virtual power plant (VPP) projects springing up from Canada to Australia. This week analysis firm Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables reported that in the US, the market for behind-the-meter storage for the residential space has now gone well beyond the eco-conscious early adopters.

New utility programmes, a report from the company stated, now see energy storage as an enabler of effective time-of-use-rates and tariffs for electricity purchase, which can be a powerful tool in managing peak demand, or in providing grid services.

And perhaps the biggest indicator of the recognition of BTM storage so far in the first few months of this year has been the acquisition of Germany-headquartered battery storage and energy services provider Sonnen by oil major Shell. Royal Dutch Shell, to give the company its full name, has agreed to buy Sonnen through Shell New Energy, having already led an investment round in the storage company worth €60 million (US$70.23 million) in May last year. The overall acquisition cost of Sonnen is thought to be in the hundreds of millions.

Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann says that quite simply: “Residential storage is just shortly before the inflection point of becoming a mass [market] end product. More and more large corporations are recognising that.”

Corporate owners, independent customers?

In the past week, Siemens launched Junelight, its own brand storage systems for the German market, where Sonnen currently holds a leading market share, according to various sources. Ostermann says that since Sonnen launched its SonnenBatterie systems in 2010 until around the time of Tesla’s Powerwall launch in 2015, the majority of competition was nationally based. Today, he says, competitors are increasingly international and “big corporations” are the simple way he describes how he sees the future profile of competitor.

“You sometimes see large corporations, playing on an international level, come and go. We saw that with Mercedes. They joined the market and technically they were operating in all geographies: the US, Australia and Europe, but after a year they left the market. Same thing with Samsung SDI, they showed up with a full-integrated storage solution available internationally but also decided to leave the market again. The competition today is really much more global and the competitors who are really relevant for us in this game become much more and more large corporations.”

Joining a large corporation such as Shell hopefully won’t dilute the pro-renewables, energy independence and eco-friendly message that Sonnen has always carried with its brand, but Ostermann says that synergies with other Shell Group companies – with the oil major on a wave of smart energy acquisitions at the moment – will provider a deeper foothold for Sonnen in the market and add even more value for the parent company.

UK-based First Utility is now Shell-owned, as is UK aggregator Limejump and EV company New Motion. Ostermann says Sonnen “could develop solutions” with New Motion, or Sonnen storage units and services subscriptions could be bundled with First Utility offerings, even in Germany where First Utility is now also setting up. Limejump’s chief Erik Nygard told Solar Media’s UK editor Liam Stoker last week that similarly, the opportunity to connect and combine with Shell’s newly acquired smart energy business is “definitely an interesting prospect”.

“The equipment we provide is a solution for residential customers. A customer can supply themselves with self-generated solar power on the one hand, on the other hand, in the bundle with First Utility, First Utility could provide that customer with the remaining grid power that they still need. The customer could buy this as a package. It’s a very nice opportunity to offer more complete packages to the residential customer,” Ostermann says.

‘We will see a lot more geographies become residential energy storage markets…’

With solar becoming households’ favourite way of powering their daily lives, and batteries a way to enable that, many providers across the residential solar – and now storage – space are targeting becoming a full “one-stop-shop” solution provider for customers, as seen in the US with the likes of Tesla and Vivint, and internationally through SolarEdge’s acquisitions of Italian EV charge company SMRE and lithium battery maker Kokam. In Sonnen’s case, they also now have a tremendously powerful backer.

“I think there are synergies [with other Shell Group companies]. On the other hand, Shell is already present in more than 140 countries around the world and some of them are already interesting as markets for Sonnen as of today, some of them will become interesting in the future”.

Central Europe is still Sonnen’s biggest market, while the company has opened up an assembly plant and made a big push into Australia, in addition to a growing presence in the US – where it also has a factory in Atlanta, Georgia, and the UK. Home energy storage already makes economic sense in some places, could be at its inflection point in several markets soon; and there remain few parts of the world where it is unlikely to ever reach the mainstream, Ostermann says.

“Japan is a market we will look into closely in the near future. We’re also looking at other geographies in Asia, such as the Philippines, which we will look at more intensively in the future. There are a couple of countries in Africa, so, just to give some examples, there’s Nigeria or South Africa, where we have preliminary plans to enter these markets. Then you have new markets in Latin America, where we’re looking at the moment,” Ostermann says.

“At the end of the day, due to the fact that renewable energy generation is already price competitive all over the world, and storage prices come down more and more, I deeply believe that we will see a lot more geographies in the future that turn out to be residential storage markets.”


The company’s units have also been deployed as part of a Centrica-led ‘Local Energy Market’ trial in the UK. Image: Sonnen.

Value of distributed flexibility

Sonnen has been one of the early proponents of using home energy storage as an aggregated asset launching SonnenCommunity in late 2015, the same Year Zero that Powerwall was released. SonnenCommunity added a layer of tradability to energy, allowing community subscribers to ‘share’ their power with each other via the grid and the SonnenCommunity software and hardware platform. So does Sonnen’s Christoph Ostermann think the potential impact and value of digital energy services such as energy trading or the VPP model has been underestimated by the wider energy sector – perhaps until now?

“I think so, but on the other hand, it’s not so easy to do, either. We had a tough time getting pre-qualification for Germany and during the process you have to demonstrate to the grid operators that you are a reliable partner that can deliver what has been processed. This process in Germany is non-standardised and non-defined, so you have simply to get along with the TSOs by yourself, they are not waiting for you and you have to convince them that you can perform,” Ostermann says.

After making an investment in essentially providing grid services for free and proving it works however, it is now a ‘nice and profitable business” for Sonnen, the CEO claims.

“So, I think it’s underestimated on the one hand but on the other hand, especially in the beginning, for distributed storage, especially residential storage, because we talk about a very high number of units with a relatively small amount of power and of storage capacity, it’s really a tricky thing when you start doing that.”

The need for this flexibility provided by storage becomes more critical the higher the penetration of renewables and the fact is that the increasingly distributed nature of energy – adding EVs, PV and batteries at home level, for instance – is rapidly giving distribution grid operators more volatility in demand from residential customers.

“Even in Germany where we have a pretty modern grid infrastructure, this causes more and more problems and issues, and with large grid-scale storage, you can’t do a lot there. When it really comes to the depth of the distribution grids, you are well better off with a certain number of residential storage units. I really think that the trend is our friend here, and that we will see a very nice business for the future.”

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

Rooftop solar trading platform cuts out energy market middle man

Written by Sophie Vorrath / One Step Off The Grid / 7 March 2019

A ground-breaking rooftop solar trading platform that cuts out the energy market middle man and allows consumers to buy and sell renewable power at prices negotiated among themselves has been launched across four Australian states.

The platform – which, among other things, provides access to solar for consumers otherwise unable to invest in the technology – was opened for registration on Thursday by upstart retailer Energy Locals, in partnership with solar trading software developer, Enosi.

Under the new partnership, customers can negotiate the sale of excess rooftop solar generation at rates individually agreed upon with their chosen buyers, in a way the two companies hope will take pressure off the grid and – for consumers – eradicate hidden fees.

As Enosi CEO Steve Hoy explains it, customers of Energy Locals will be able to trade with each other, set their own price – a maximum buy price, or a minimum sell price – and nominate a person or business they wish to sell to.

The buyer pays the grid tariff – which of course varies on different parts of the NEM – while the seller gets the price negotiated, which could range from zero, in the case of charitable or family solar donations, or might be slightly higher than the applicable solar export tariff.

For households with no one party nominated to buy their excess solar, they can trade into a pool of buyers, which is set up like a stock market, with maximum and minimum prices set every half hour, and trades are reconciled at the end of the month.

All Energy Locals customers, meanwhile, pay a flat, GST inclusive membership fee of $4.50 a week, and default grid electricity usage is charged at Energy Locals’ wholesale prices.

But as Hoy points out, the solar trading platform is about more than helping customers save a few dollars on energy bills.

Indeed, the two companies share one overriding goal in this venture, which is “lifting the veil on a deeply distrusted industry and giving customers transparency and control over pricing.”

“We’re removing the need for someone to be reliant on a traditional retailer with integrated centralised generation, that is produced a very long way away,” Hoy told One Step in an interview on Thursday.

“At the moment, customers are just purely price takers. They’re really completely exposed to whatever games (gen-tailers) choose to play in the wholesale market.

“There’s not a lot you can do about it if you can’t invest in solar or your property isn’t suitable.”

According to Energy Locals CEO Adrian Merrick, this has been particularly evident in the Victorian market, of late, into which the company is set to launch, but has been holding off, on account of it “looking nuts.”

“What we’re seeing in the market is the integrated generators and retailers have actually been choosing to run their generation less,” Merrick said.

“At the end of January, we saw people taking some very odd decisions about when to run and not run their plant, and all sorts of strange forced outages.

“We believe there are a lot of offshore derivatives backing their position, which means they were covered from a financial point of view.

“So if you’ve got four units and you take one of them off-line in a major heatwave, you’re going to make a lot more money running three units at high prices than if you had all four running,” he said.

“I think it would be very interesting to look at the next set of financial results… (it would likely reveal) yet more evidence of just the extreme amount of money that people are making from what is a completely broken wholesale market.

“It’s actually a relatively small number of people that are screwing the market in this way. Less than 100 people. Some smart rule changes would deal with this.”

For now – and Energy Locals will be opening for business in Victoria in the next few weeks – the two companies are working with the market they’ve got, and doing what they can to offer customers what they believe is a better and fairer system.

But Hoy and Merrick both note that a few tweaks to market regulations and structure would be very welcome.

“We have designed this so it fits into the market the way it is, but it would benefit form more cost reflective tariffing in many ways.

“We’re trying to support people who don’t have solar, so we would like to see grid tariffs being shared between sellers and buyers.

But they’re not holding their breath in the wait for progress.

“This kind of product directly challenges vested interests in the industry,” Merrick said.

“Customers are going to be much better off when the status quo in this industry is broken.

“What we’ve got here is a platform and proposition for customers that will be able to demonstrate how a rule change would find its way through to lower bills for customers.”

That said, adds Hoy, “the main reason (we’re doing this) is to give people a little bit of control on where they’re getting their energy from.

“It’s a way of proving the providence of (the electricity), and we can prove that the generator didn’t sell it twice – that he doesn’t get a feed-in tariff from (Energy Locals too).”

A neat example Hoy puts forward is based the local primary school.

“Schools struggle to justify solar on the roof, because the school day ends at 3.30pm, and then there are weekends and school holidays.

“But if they can sell that excess solar to the parents, then you’ve got this natural marketplace and the parents are likewise supporting the school.

“In the same way, at the middle of the day, when the school’s energy needs are highest, they can buy from the parents, who are mostly out at work.”

So who can opt in? At the moment, any customers of Energy Locals in south-east Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT can register their interest to take part. Victorian customers can also register to join the platform, but will have to wait around three more weeks until Energy Locals launches in that state.

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

Take it from Melbourne, the First Renewable-powered City in the Country

Written by PowerArk Solar

Melbourne is breaking barriers and continuously proving that it is not impossible to create a cleaner city by using renewables. Deputy mayor, Arron Wood proudly said, “It’s a pretty nice New Year’s resolution to go to 100% renewable energy,”. It is because in time with the new year, Melbourne has become the first capital city in Australia to have all its council-owned infrastructure powered by renewables. “We are immensely proud to be the first Australian capital city council powered by 100 % renewable energy,” He added “Every light on our streets, every treadmill in our gyms and every barbecue in our parks is now powered by renewable energy,”. This transition to 100% renewable means that council gyms, libraries, childcare centers and establishment are now fully-powered by renewable energy.

The people behind the project

This milestone has been achieved by the help of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP) agreement which paved the way for the developments of Pacific Hydro. This partially-completed 80 MW wind farm located at Crowlands has now started supplying clean energy to the city. Pacific Hydro has installed 25 of the 39 turbines and energy has begun flowing into the grid, according to deputy mayor.

The Crowland’s wind farm was funded by a power purchase agreement with the Melbourne City and 13 other councils and institutions composed of Melbourne city, RMIT, Federation Square, City of Port Phillip, Yarra City, Moreland City Council, Bank Australia, Zoos Victoria, Citywide, National Australia Bank, Australia Post, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and NEXTDC. Melbourne City Council is also the first in the country to introduce a renewable energy power purchasing agreement (PPA). The group have decided to purchase 88 GWh of electricity every year, of which half of the energy will be produced by the 80MW Crowlands wind farm.

The project that creates jobs

Aside from the fact the this is a very helpful move for the city of Melbourne, another benefit of this achievement is the creation of additional jobs. So far, the project has created more than 140 jobs during its construction and could increase until the project is totally completed in May.  There are more than 40 large-scale wind and solar projects either under construction or with pending approval in Victoria while 26 projects are already producing electricity. The sector is expected to create 6,000 annual jobs.

The result

With the implementation of the project, Victoria is still on track to surpass its renewable energy targets of producing 25% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020 and 40% by 2025. Though, it is said to be an ambitious and expensive project, the deputy mayor has something to say – “When people say to me that it costs money to support renewable energy projects, well, we are actually paying for our renewable energy projects through our efficiency projects,” Aaron Wood said. This initiative from Melbourne challenges other states and cities to kick any doubt and hesitation towards renewable energy today and in the future.

Energy Stuff provides a full range of new solar systems which can include battery ready inverters or systems with integrated battery storage. We also provide smart energy management systems which will continue to deliver energy saving benefits into the future. We only use CEC accredited installers and we fully comply with the Victorian Govt. Solar Rebate Program. Finance can be arranged for as little as $2.96 a day. For further information call 1300 656 205 or go to our website at https://ongrid.energystuff.com.au/new-solar-system/

Victorian Registered Electrical Contractor Licence # 27787

Does heat help or hinder solar panels?

By Daniel Keane / ABC News / 4 March 2019

Main image: PHOTO: More than 20 per cent of the nation’s homes have solar installations. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

The future of solar energy in Australia has never looked brighter.

Solar firms and farms are springing up across the country, and more than 20 per cent of the nation’s homes have solar installations.

There is also largescale investment by state governments in home battery schemes which capture energy generated by rooftop panels, with the aim of driving down household power bills.

But despite their growing popularity, there are still some lingering misconceptions about how solar cells work, especially in very hot weather.

“A solar panel is a bit like the silicon chip inside your computer, if it gets too hot it doesn’t work quite so well,” University of WA resources scientist Ray Wills said.

Parts of southern Australia, including Adelaide, are currently enduring an unusually hot start to autumn.

Temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius are expected across South Australia on Saturday, with temperatures in the high 30s forecast in parts of Victoria.

Will the heat help or hinder solar panels?

In sweltering conditions, many will switch on their air conditioners, driving up demand for electricity.

While it is easy to assume that blazing sunshine would boost the performance of solar panels, generating more power, that is not necessarily the case.

“A really hot day, you’ll actually produce less power because the solar panel gets so hot,” engineer and solar analyst Finn Peacock said.

“The heat from the sun actually degrades the efficiency of the panel.

“So the perfect conditions for solar are strong sun but cold, which is pretty unusual unless you’re in the Arctic.”

What works best?

In order to work at maximum efficiency, the perfect temperature for a solar panel is about 25C.

But that refers to the temperature of the panel itself, not the atmospheric temperature.

“On a 45C day, I would expect the panel to be at least 75C, so the panel is 50C hotter than the optimum,” Mr Peacock said.

For every degree above that optimum, power output will decline by about half a per cent.

“If it’s 10C higher than normal, it’s underperforming by 5 per centwhich is not a lot,” University of NSW solar researcher Renate Egan said.

It’s all about light, not heat

There are different types of solar energy production: solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal.

As its name suggests, solar thermal harnesses the heat of the sun and operates in a similar way to a coal-fired power station — it boils water and generates steam.

But most rooftop solar panels and solar farm projects in Australia are photovoltaic — they convert light into electricity.

“The way solar PV works is that you have this material, typically silicon, and there’s a certain kind of magic that goes on in silicon,” Associate Professor Egan said.

“It’s known as a semi-conductor, which means it conducts electricity some of the time.

“When you shine a light on [it], it generates free electrons and those electrons can then travel, so it becomes a conductor when it’s exposed to light. That’s how a solar panel works.”

The reason extreme heat hinders that process is because of the basic physical properties of the semi-conductor.

Is this bad for power bills?

Not necessarily.

While electricity output from household solar panels was likely to drop on Saturday, that doesn’t mean homes would stop producing their own power, or even be producing less power than they need.

“It’s not a show stopper. It’s still very useful to have solar during a heatwave. If you’ve got a good system, it should power your house through,” Mr Peacock said.

“You may produce 30 kilowatt hours in the day instead of 40 kilowatt hours in the day, but if you’ve got a reasonably efficient home that would be way more than enough to power your home through the heatwave.”

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems so call us if we can be of support 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au