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Warren Buffett-backed BYD in Australian electric car deal

Warren Buffett-backed BYD in Australian electric car deal

Written by Simon Evans / Financial Review / 15 May 2019

Chinese electric car company BYD Co, in which Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holds a stake of 25 per cent, has signed a deal with an Adelaide-based group to produce an electric car for the Australian market from late 2020.

BYD Co has signed a memorandum of understanding with EVANT to produce three different right-hand-drive passenger vehicles, including a mid-sized sports utility vehicle and a large SUV.

EVANT is backed by investment fund Fusion Capital and transport group Nexport.

Fusion is a large investor in Brabham Automotive, which is separately building the $1.8 million Brabham BT62 supercars in a northern Adelaide factory under the leadership of David Brabham. Mr Brabham’s father was the late three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jack Brabham, who was dominant in the sport in the early 1960s.

EVANT director Christian Reynolds, a former Tesla engineer who was an operations executive for the United States electric vehicle pioneer led by Elon Musk earlier in his career, said the eventual plan was to manufacture the vehicles in Adelaide.

But the initial production would happen in China, with those vehicles then brought to Adelaide for modifications and upgrades for the local market.

“We’ve been on this journey for three years,” Mr Reynolds said.

He said the new electric car would be sold under a new brand, which would be unveiled in the next couple of months. “It will be a new brand to the Australian market,” he said.

Mr Reynolds said it would be pitched at the premium end of the vehicle market because of the advanced technology and quality build and would have a range of up to 650 kilometres  between charges.

“We’re looking at the premium space.” But he emphasised the price tag would be ”dramatically below” the prices at which  Tesla models sold for in Australia.

The BYD Co and EVANT tie-up comes as British billionaire Sanjeev Guptaaims to become the first commercial electric vehicle manufacturer in Australia.

Mr Gupta, whose GFG Alliance has been working closely with the UK’s Gordon Murray Design for the past 18 months on its electric vehicle strategy, is in the final stages of deciding which prototype vehicles it will use to launch into the Australian marketplace.

Mr Gupta said on April 29 he aimed to have a production run of between 10,000 and 20,000 in Australia and was leaning toward a ”smart car” for metropolitan users.

Gordon Murray Design is based in Shalford near Surrey in the UK and specialises in low-volume production runs, utilising lightweight materials and technology used in Formula One cars. Mr Murray is a former McLaren Racing technical director.

One of Fusion Capital’s directors is Mat Fitch, owner of Precision Components, a big supplier of automotive components to Holden when it was a vehicle maker in Australia. Precision Components has been diversifying since car manufacturing ended in Australia after Ford, Holden and Toyota all shut their plants in 2016 and 2017.

BYD Co is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

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Exxon predicted in 1982 exactly how high global carbon emissions would be today

Written by Kyla Mandel / Think Progress / 14 May 2019

CO2 in the atmosphere has reached unprecedented levels.

The concentration of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere reached an unprecedented level this month. Researchers at the fossil fuel giant Exxon saw it coming decades ago.

Measurements taken on May 3 at the world’s oldest measuring station, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, recorded “humanity’s first day ever with more than 415 parts per million [ppm] CO2 in the air,” according to the United Nation’s climate change Twitter account. As of May 12, levels have remained steady at 415 ppm.

Never before in human history has there been so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The last time scientists believe it may have been this high was 2.5 to 5 million years ago during the Pliocene epoch, when sea levels were 25 meters higher than today and global temperatures were warmer by 2-3 degrees Celsius.


Unlike back then, however, the record carbon dioxide emissions being recorded now are the result of humans burning fossil fuels, which releases harmful heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere. And scientists at Exxon predicted this decades ago.

According to an internal 1982 document from Exxon Research and Engineering Company — obtained by InsideClimate News as part of its 2015 investigation into what Exxon knew about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change — the company was modeling out the concentration of carbon emissions several years into the future.

According to a graph displaying the “growth of atmospheric CO2 and average global temperature increase” over time, the company expected that, by 2020, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would reach roughly 400 to 420 ppm. This month’s measurement of 415 ppm is right within the expected curve Exxon projected under its “21st Century Study-High Growth scenario.”


Not only did Exxon predict the rise in emissions, it also understood how severe the consequences would be.

“Considerable uncertainty also surrounds the possible impact on society of such a warming trend, should it occur,” the internal document stated. “At the low end of the predicted temperature range there could be some impact on agricultural growth and rainfall patterns which could be beneficial in some regions and detrimental in others.”

“At the high end, some scientists suggest there could be considerable adverse impact including the flooding of some coastal land masses as a result of a rise in sea level due to melting of the Antarctic ice sheet,” it continued, stating this would only take place centuries after temperatures warmed by 3 degrees Celsius.

Despite this knowledge, the company chose not to change or adapt its business model. Instead, it chose to invest heavily in disinformation campaigns that promoted climate science denial, failing to disclose its knowledge that the majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must remain untapped in order to avert catastrophic climate change.

The world is already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change. As the very first line of the U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment asserts, “The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country.”

From more intense flooding, drought, heat waves, wildfires, and hurricanes, the world is becoming increasingly aware of what life in a warming world will look like. In 2018, the United States alone experienced 14 different climate and weather-related disasters, each costing over a billion dollars.

The record carbon emissions recorded this month indicate things will most likely continue to get worse; carbon remains in the atmosphere for a long time, meaning it continues to warm the world long after it is emitted. “This is a grim reminder of the perilous path we are on,” climate scientist Michael Mann said.

Mann was one of three scientists to first release what is known as the famous “hockey stick” graph in 1999. The graph, illustrating temperature increase over time, takes the shape of a hockey stick due to the sharp increase after the Industrial Revolution. Twenty years after the graph was released, CO2 levels were roughly 366 ppm. Today, Mann told ThinkProgress over email, they’re increasing by about 3 ppm each year.

“If you do the math, we’ll cross 450 ppm — which likely locks in dangerous planetary warming of more than 2C/3.5F — in just over a decade,” he said. “That means we have to act dramatically, now, to lower global carbon emissions (by about 5-10% a year) if we are to avert catastrophic climate change impacts.”

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W.A. to fund solar farms in six remote indigenous communities

Written by Sophie Vorrath / One Step Off The Grid / 10 May 2019

Up to 4MW of solar will be installed across six remote indigenous communities in Western Australia, as part of an $11.6 million plan to slash the use of heavy-polluting and heavily subsidised diesel fuel.

The “low-cost and reliable renewable energy solution” was announced by the Labor McGowan government as part of its budget this week, to install an average of 400-600kW in each community, starting next year.

It’s a win-win for the Labor government, considering the project will slash the cost of providing power to the 100 per cent diesel fuelled towns, while also cutting the cost of the government subsidy paid to the state-owned Horizon Power.

The program is being rolled out alongside Horizon Power’s solar incentive project which encourages eligible remote communities to invest in their own roof-top solar on community buildings, with Horizon Power contributing 30 per cent of the cost.

Energy minister Bill Johnston said the roll-out of solar farms would also foster community development through local jobs, training and investment opportunities.

State Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt – who is also state Treasurer – said it would reduce power bills for community buildings and improve energy reliability at times when it can be hard to access diesel.

The communities set to get the solar power stations are spread throughout the state’s vast Kimberley region, and the include northernmost settlement in Western Australia, Kalumburu.

The government said on Thursday that construction was scheduled for Warmun and Kalumburu in 2020 and in Ardyaloon, Beagle Bay, Djarindjin/Lombadina and Bidyadanga in 2021.

Horizon says it intends to release a Request for Tender for the construction of the east Kimberley systems in May 2019.

“The program follows on from the launch of the McGowan Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy, which aims to deliver cleaner, affordable and more reliable energy,” Johnston said.

But the W.A. Greens say the lack of funds actually allocated to driving the transition to renewables in the state budget tells a different story.

“The only commitment … made to assisting the transition to renewables is two specific solar projects,” Greens WA climate and energy spokesperson Tim Clifford said.

“And though they are important and valid projects, the spend is nothing compared to more than $41 million dollars that is just being given to the fossil fuel industry and related infrastructure.

“Rather than endorse the recently rescinded EPA guidelines to make big polluters offset emissions, the McGowan government is gifting hundreds of thousands of dollars to the sequestration project; to a company that has paid just $50 million in tax from an $8 billion profit,” Clifford said, in reference to Chevron.

“Spending three times as much on the big polluters of our planet, rather than clean energy, clearly shows were the state government’s priorities lie.”

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Ikea to begin the sale of solar modules in Sweden

Written by Emiliano Bellini / PV Magazine / 9 May 2019

By 2025, the furniture giant plans to offer solar panels worldwide at its stores. The company is in negotiation with potential partners and a supplier for the sale of PV panels in Sweden, which is planned to start in the autumn.

Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, will begin the sale of its “Solstrale” PV modules in its domestic market after the summer.

The Swedish multinational said it intends to benefit from the lessons learnt from its sales of solar panels in Germany – where it has encountered problems with a consumer watchdog – and from ItalyBelgium, Holland and Poland.

“The positive development of recent years, not least with simplified regulations and better profitability, has meant that the conditions for investing in solar panels in Sweden today are very good,” said Jonas Carlehed, sustainability manager for Ikea Group in Sweden.

The Swedish government has improved regulations for solar in the past two years and has increased the budget for rooftop PV rebates several times.

Ikea said it is in negotiations with potential suppliers and partners for the Solstrale offer in Sweden. Finding the right partner may help the retailer avoid issues such as those encountered in Germany, where consumer association Verbraucherzentrale NRW said Ikea’s advertising campaign to promote its solar offer was misleading as it did not sufficiently outline the different roles played by Ikea and its partner Solarcentury Microgen (Germany) GmbH.

Ambitious plans

In its statement, Ikea added it is planning to expand Solstrale sales to all its markets by 2025. “We want to help our customers to produce their own renewable energy at home which is good both for the climate and the wallet,” the company said.

Ikea also sells PV modules in Switzerland and the U.K.

In a recent interview with Signe Antvorskov Krag – global development leader for Ikea’s Home Solar business – pv magazine editor Becky Beetz discussed the flat-pack furniture retailer’s PV business model.

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Federal Election 2019: Charging an electric car with solar panels could take up to five days

Written by Lanai Scarr / The West Australian / 10 May 2019

Labor’s plans to have Australians charge their electric vehicles via solar panels on their rooftops could see some cars take up to five days to fully charge.

The West Australian can reveal an analysis of some of the electric vehicles available on the market and how long they would take to charge if a familyrelied solely on a 5kW solar panel system – the typical set up for a standard household.

A Hyundai Ioniq, which has the smallest battery available on the market, would take 1.4 days to charge, assuming a 5kW home solar system that produced 20 kWh of electricity without any battery storage.

A Nissan Leaf would take two days to fully charge and a Tesla Model S would take five days.

A family could charge a vehicle in six hours overnight using home solar, but only if they installed a home EV charging station ($1500), a 10kW solar panel system (between $10,000 and $14,000) and a $30,000 home battery system (2 x 18 kWh batteries).

In a transport strategy document released by the Queensland Labor government in March it encouraged charging via a home solar set up.

“Operating costs are 65 per cent lower than traditional cars, potentially making EVs a more affordable transport option in the long-term,” the document stated.

“Charging using a home solar system would reduce (operating costs) to almost zero.”

Bill Shorten last night did not deny home solar charging was part of his plan to achieve Labor’s target of 50 per cent of all new vehicles to be electric by 2030.

Premier Mark McGowan also would not rule out support for home solar-only charging when approached by The West Australian.

Labor want to encourage people to use solar powered roof panels to charge their electric vehicles.Picture: Supplied

Mr Shorten has previously claimed electric vehicles would take just 8-10 minutes to charge.

“Oh, it can take … it depends on what your original charge is, but it can take … 8 to 10 minutes depending on your charge, it can take longer … ” Mr Shorten told Sydney radio Kyle and Jackie O last month.

However even using a specialized home charging unit from the electricity grid, a full charge at home would take a minimum of two hours.

The Coalition would like to see natural take up of electric vehicles increase to up to 18 per cent of new car sales by 2030.

Chief Executive of the Australian Automobile Association, Michael Bradley, said it was important whoever won government that they supported motorists.

“Any transition to widespread use of electric vehicles can only be successful if a wide range of complementary transport, emissions and energy policies are put in place,” Mr Bradley said.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor last night said Labor had not done its homework on its signature policies.

“It is impractical to expect Australian families to charge their EV’s off their rooftop solar,” Mr Taylor said.

“Australians would either need to leave their vehicles at home all day to charge, or invest in an expensive battery and solar set up. This is yet another example of Labor not doing their homework on their reckless policies.”

A Labor spokeswoman said: “The Liberals don’t believe in climate change, that’s why they resort to spreading lies and running hopeless scare campaigns.”

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Renewable energy leaders welcome $75m cash injection Labor promise for sector

Written by Ashleigh McMillan / The Curier / 3 May 2019

Renewable energy leaders have welcomed a funding promise for training in the sector, as Ballarat hits ‘critical mass’ with wind energy.

Labor leader Bill Shorten promised on Thursday to put $75 million towards building Australia’s renewable energy sector, which he said will create 70,000 jobs.

National director of the Australian Wind Alliance Andrew Bray said if it goes ahead, the program would be a real “boost for getting younger people involved in the renewable sector”.

“It means you can have jobs in places that were previously dependent almost solely on agriculture,” he said. “Jobs in agriculture go up and down, depending on the seasons and commodity prices, but these are long-term jobs and they’ve meant that young people can stay in local towns.

“Part of the issue for rural and regional Australia has been keeping young people, and having the jobs for them to stay around.”

Ballarat is now directly tied to renewable energy – not only for the hundreds of wind turbines dotting hills around the region – but for a training centre now being created in the city by Federation University.

The $12.5 million Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre, the first of its kind in Victoria, will train apprentices in the installation and maintenance of wind turbines, solar panels, and domestic batteries, as well as site safety.

Labor has said they will put $45 million towards apprenticeship incentives through which employers could get up to $8000 for taking on a trainee.

The apprentices themselves would get $2000 to help with education costs.

Mr Bray said programs like those at FedUni will be working on the “latest, up-to-date technology” and will work closely with industry, while also having the possibility of a dependable job nearby once they complete study.

“In Ballarat, it’s reaching a real critical mass, there’s now hundreds of turbines around that need technicians to service them.”

If successful at the May 18 election, a Shorten government would also put $20 million towards upgrading TAFE facilities, so equipment at the sites such as batteries and solar panels are industry standard.

A further $10 million would go into a clean energy training fund so workers can be trained and upskilled for renewable industries.

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South Australia solar farms switch off as prices fall below zero

Written by Giles Parkinson / RenewEconomy / 2 May 2019

The two biggest solar farms in South Australia were switched off for long periods this week as wholesale market prices fell below zero – the result, apparently, of new “zero price clauses” in power purchase contracts.

As RenewEconomy reported on Tuesday, and updated on Wednesday, wholesale prices in South Australia fell below zero for extended periods on Tuesday (nearly six hours), and on Wednesday (nearly four hours).

This was the result of high wind and solar output, as well as relatively low demand, and export limits (down to 50MW) on the main link to Victoria because of maintenance works, which meant that excess renewable production could not be traded interstate.

As Dylan McConnell, from the Climate and Energy College in Melbourne, points out, and illustrates with the graph above from the OpenNem resource, the state’s two biggest solar farms both switched off power on Wednesday.

The Bungala One and the semi-complete Bungala 2 projects cut output from around 1030am, ahead of the anticipated zero pricing event, while the newly-complete Tailem Bend solar farm cut power off on both Tuesday and Wednesday from around 11am as the prices hit zero. Both projects were offline for nearly six hours on Wednesday.

Both the 220MW Bungala projects and the 95MW Tailem Bend projects have long term power purchase agreements with Orign Energy and Snowy Hydro respectively.

But a new feature of PPAs being signed in Australia these days is a “zero price” clause that means that the off-taker will not pay for the output of the solar farm at the contracted price if the market price falls into negative territory. This is considered a major risk in states like South Australia, and Queensland.

This is because the off-taker does not want to pay twice – once for the contracted price to the solar plant owner, and secondly the market price for the output. As a result, the solar farm is switched off.

In the case of Tailem Bend, that must have been frustrating because the solar farm only reached full commercial operations, and permission to operate at full capacity, on April 29, the day before the zero pricing events.

The first 110MW stage of the Bungala solar farm was completed last year, but the second 110MW stage has been working slowly through its permissions. It only reached its next stage of permissions, which allows output of around 30MW, in recent weeks, but also had to switch off when prices fell below zero and to lows of minus $120/MWh.

In any case, negative prices should not be a long term phenomenon, even if the growth of rooftop solar matches periods of minimum demand, an event that the market operator says could start to occur within a few years.

The addition of more battery storage and pumped hydro will be able to soak up the excess wind and solar output, and act as a “solar sponge”, even when the links to other states are constrained. Certainly, more solar farms will be looking for storage of one to two hours to soak up the output in such events. Being switched off is not part of the business model.

For the moment, installations like the Tesla big battery operated by Neoen at Hornsdale have been having a party this week, getting paid to top up when the prices go negative, and then selling into the grid when prices rise again. As some industry analysts have noted. this is a great opportunities for household solar and “visual power plants”, as well as charging electric vehicles.

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The hidden culprits around the house sending your winter heating bills soaring

Written by Jenny Brown / Domain / 2 May 2019

Main image: Many houses are hiding ways that your send your bills skyrocketing. Photo: Leigh Henningham

Here they come again, those icy fingers of winter that – unless you’ve been a diligent eco-fundamentalist and very effectively insulated your house against heat-in and heat-out issues – you’re bound to feel sneaking in through any gap in your home’s thermal envelope.

You’ll feel it in the deep south, in the mountains, in the inland on those chilly and starry winter nights, and even in southern Queensland for those few cool weeks of July and August when a breezy Queenslander design works the wrong way. If you haven’t got a heater pumping, you’ll be dreaming of a log fire.

If you’re in a draught-porous house that, as energy efficiency consultant Richard Keech says, “acts like a leaky bucket”, you’ll also feel it in your hip pocket.

Sustainability Victoria says heat loss, which can affect a majority of houses, can push your winter energy bills up by 25 per cent.

And, it gets worse. For every degree you set your heating thermostat above 18-20 degrees, the energy costs rise by 10 per cent.

The cooler weather can have all us of pining for a log fire.

Yet, says Keech, who has conducted 500 energy efficiency assessments on Victorian homes in the past five years, the motivation for people to review their home’s “24/7 uncontrolled ventilation issues” – draughts – is motivated more by their comfort level than it is about reducing costs.

“They find they’re just not warm enough. And when people can’t stay warm or cool enough, it really focuses the mind,” he says.

There are the obvious heat leaks: draughts under doors and the poorly insulated walls, floors and ceilings. “I could go on forever,” says the engineer who has a masters degree in environmental energy efficiency.

But there can also be many unexpected holes in your home’s thermal envelope. Keech lists downlights, extractor fans, wide-mouth chimneys and poorly-sealed door frames and window architraves.

“Even in a well-insulated house the thermal performance will be dominated by the worst performing bit,” he says.

“(Older) downlights can be surprisingly problematic as they’re often designed to let air pass through them. They also leave a hole in the insulation. Some houses have dozens of these lights, and it’s like having a bloody big hole in the ceiling.”

Downlights can be troublesome for allowing draughts into your home. Photo: iStock

Keech says simply replacing bulbs is not recommended because although it does improve lighting efficiency, it’s a lost opportunity to improve other problems. “You need to replace the entire fitting with one of the new sealed LED fittings that are not that much more expensive.”

A similar cumulatively significant cause of heat loss can be all but invisible to the untrained eye. But when he sees a tell-tale line of dust along a window sill or door frame, “it’s a sign of a persistent draught”.

When Keech looks above a window or door jamb, which most home-owners would probably never consider inspecting, he often discovers gaps.

“Typically, they can be enough to put a credit card into. But some are big enough to put a finger into,” he says. “This is sloppy building work, and if they’re in all rooms, in aggregate, they can add up to metres of leaks. Architraves need to be properly sealed.”

Beneath a door, a permanently affixed draught stopper that can be as little as $7 at your local big box hardware outlet, or by adding a sticky strip around the whole door jamb, “are not the best ways to seal a door because they disregard the fact that most doors are warped, typically at the top and the bottom”.

Exhaust fans, when in not use, are also a big culprit. Photo: iStock

Exhaust fans that aren’t spinning can also “let air pass through easily, which is another big hole. You can either replace them or cover them with a backdraught protector”.

Old style chimneys that aren’t in operation are a huge problem but are another of what Keech calls “the low hanging fruit” of his “weak link analysis” of poorly-performing houses, because they too are generally affordable to seal up.
“We do that by carving a block of foam rubber that can be used to plug the chimney, but that is also removable.”

Counterintuitively, perhaps, the author of the chattily informative blog New Energy Thinking and a book, The Energy Freedom Home, Keech says it’s the vintage homes that may start with the worst problems but that have greater scope for improvement “because they were better built”.

“A lot of newer homes have problems that are harder to fix because they have more downlights and often have no eaves.”

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Rushed Queensland solar rules to drive up costs: CEC

2nd May 2019 / EcoGeneration

New rules rushed through by the Queensland Government are likely to hit the commercial solar sector hard when they come into effect in less than two weeks, and will make it harder for the state to meet its own renewable energy target, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Anna Freeman, the Clean Energy Council’s director of energy generation, said the new regulations for solar meant that electricians had to be used for work such as carrying unplugged solar panels or bolting them to a rail.

“This is like having to call in an electrician to hang a TV on a bracket on your wall. It’s absurd. It would be virtually impossible to electrocute yourself by handling an unconnected panel. You’re at greater risk from plugging in a toaster at home,” Freeman said.

“The changes will drive up the cost of building both large solar farms and commercial solar systems installed in places like shopping centres, schools, swimming pools and factories.

“Estimates from solar businesses are that the cost of building commercial projects will increase by 10-20%, delaying the payback period for businesses and schools and making many projects unviable.

“Combined with the effect on large-scale solar farms, these changes will slow the installation of solar across the state and make it more costly for businesses to control their energy costs.

“Not even an electrical apprentice will be able to handle and attach an unconnected solar panel, so the opportunities for apprentices to work in the new solar industry are going to be slashed. At the very time in which the Federal Labor Party announces its commitment to boost apprenticeships in renewable energy, the Queensland Government continues to persist with a regulation that will kill off many clean energy apprenticeships.

“From 13 May, those businesses which already have projects under construction are going to have to wear this extra cost, without the ability to pass this on to their customers. This means many small- to medium-sized businesses will be out of pocket,” she said.

Freeman said the sudden regulatory change had not been justified, with the government not able to demonstrate a single safety incident on a solar farm relating to the mounting and fixing of solar panels.

“To our knowledge, no other jurisdiction on the planet has such extreme and unnecessary regulation in place,” she said.

“We are asking the government to immediately delay this new regulation before people start losing their jobs, so that proper consultation can take place with the solar industry.

“If the Palaszczuk Government is willing to return to the table, we are confident that we can work co-operatively together with all parties to find a way forward that does not destroy jobs and investment.”

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Small Commercial, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems. Energy Stuff only uses CEC accredited installers and we fully comply with the Victorian Govt. Solar Rebate Program.

For further information please call us on 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au

NSW lifts solar feed-in tariff range, as electricity prices refuse to fall

Written by Sophie Vorrath / One Step Off The Grid / 29 April 2019

Solar households in New South Wales could soon be paid more for the rooftop generated power they export to the grid, after the state’s recommended feed-in tariff benchmark was raised from the 2018-19 range of 6.9-8.4c/kWh, to 8.5-10.4c/kWh.

NSW pricing regulator IPART said last week that it had decided to boost the recommended FiT range for the 2019/2020 period by around 2c/kWh to keep it in line with the wholesale electricity price, which was forecast to move higher.

The increase in the benchmark rooftop solar FiT range – which serves only to guide retailers, and is entirely voluntary – comes a year after it was controversially slashed by some 44 per cent, from 11.9-15c/kWh in the 2017/18 period to 6.9-8.4c/kWh.

As we reported at the time, IPART justified the cut in the solar FiT by reasoning that wholesale electricity prices were forecast to fall in the coming financial year.

This reasoning was not received well, however, with critics noting that falling wholesale electricity prices could be at least partly attributed to the market impact of rooftop solar.

Now, with electricity prices forecast to go up, so is the recommended FiT range. But IPART still argues that solar households should not be rewarded financially for any benefits their investments might bring to the broader grid, through reducing emissions in the electricity sector, shaving daily peak demand, or avoiding the need for costly infrastructure builds.

In its report published on Friday, the pricing regulator said that while solar panels could help reduce wholesale prices during the day by increasing the supply of electricity in the market, this in turn could cause other generators to exit the market faster, leading to higher prices.

And it pointed to recent reviews by the AEMC and the Victorian Essential Services Commission (ESC) which found that potential network benefits were too variable between location, across times, and between years to be well suited for remuneration via a broad‐based solar tariff.

“Like the other generators that impact prices, solar customers should not be additionally compensated or penalised for their impact on wholesale prices,” IPART says.

“For example, a new gas generator or wind turbine that contributes to reduced wholesale spot prices does not receive any additional payment to reflect the lower wholesale price. It takes the same market price as all other generators, and so all customers benefit from lower prices.

“Likewise, a customer who consumes electricity by switching on an appliance and thereby increasing the market demand for electricity and electricity prices for all customers is not required to compensate the other customers for these higher prices. These are normal outcomes of a competitive market.”

IPART also argues that forcing retailers to pay a higher feed-in tariff to solar households in New South Wales would result in higher costs to retailers, which would mean a roughly $45/year increase in prices across the board, including to non-solar homes.

“Households without solar panels should not have to pay even higher retail prices to reduce the bills of customers with solar panels,” the IPART report says.

“This would disadvantage the households who are unable to install a solar system themselves (for example, because they rent or they cannot afford the upfront costs).”

All that said, the table below – also published by IPART – shows that most retailers in NSW are actually paying a solar feed-in tariff to customers that is higher than the recommended range. In some case, quite a bit higher.

A further table published by IPART (below) shows the range of time-dependent solar feed-in tariff benchmark ranges recommended by IPART – a measure it brought in in the 2018/29 period under request from the state government.

The “specifically requested” change, as IPART explained last year, means retailers can choose to offer a tariff that varies depending on the time of day the solar customer exports to the grid. But as IPART noted in its report last week, most retailers are choosing to ignore this option.

“Retailers may offer different feed-in tariffs throughout the day to reflect (the daily) variation in wholesale prices,” the report says.

“Our time-dependent benchmarks provide guidance about the value of exports at different times. But retailers do not have to offer a time-dependent option for customers, and most are continuing to only offer an average rate for all exports.”

Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Small Commercial, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems. Energy Stuff only uses CEC accredited installers and we fully comply with the Victorian Govt. Solar Rebate Program.

For further information please call us on 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au