Queensland Government slashes Solar Bonus Scheme

QLD feed in tariffsDespite promises by Campbell Newman during his campaign that the solar bonus scheme would not be cut, the Queeensland State Government has now followed suit and become the last state in Australia to cut Solar PV feed in tariffs to the point where they may as well not even exist.

From July, the net feed-in tariff will be cut from a 44c/kWh to just 8c/kWh. This political backflip is bad news for the solar industry, but at least existing Scheme customers will continue to receive the 44 cents tariff (provided they maintain their eligibility for the scheme).

Customers who wish to access the 44 cent rate will need to lodge a network connection application before midnight on 9 July 2012 in order to be considered for the existing 44 cent tariff. This provides a notice period of 10 business days for people who have already purchased their PV system on the basis of the 44 cent tariff, but have not yet applied for the scheme. Customers in QLD, should visit the Department of Energy and Water Supply website (No longer available) or call the Queensland Government Customer Service Centre on 13 43 87.

The Queensland Greens believe the decision will create “uncertainty and service delivery problems for small businesses installing solar panels” and The CEC estimates that 4,500 jobs could go in Queensland. What happens now in the Queensland market will be interesting to see – in the last year Queensland accounted for nearly half the rooftop PV installations in Australia.

In stark contrast to this decision, the state government has subsidised coal and coal seam gas to the tune of  almost $7 billion in in the past five years.  In the same period, only $900 million was spent on renewable energy and energy efficient industries.

 
Germany hits solar records out of the park

According to the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR),  German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity last Friday and Saturday which is roughy equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity.  This is great news for another country that is set to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year.

Long term, all nuclear reactors will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

If you’re wondering just how much electricity that is, 22 gigawatts supplied nearly 50% of Germanys midday electricity needs.

As Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute, explained: “Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,”

Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources. This record breaking event is evidence that solar can be used at scale, and is a reliable alternative for every power needs (which many critics will often argue against).

In Germany, incentives through the state-mandated “feed-in-tariff” (FIT) are the lifeblood of the industry until photovoltaic prices fall further to levels similar for conventional power production… although, Merkel’s centre-right government is trying to accelerate cuts in the FIT, which has already fallen by between 15 and 30 percent per year, to nearly 40 percent this year.

Interestingly though, while feed in tariffs have also been slashed in Australia, we’re setting some records of our own and a good indication that the REC program is making a difference in down under.

 
Team Catavolt Take EFXC First Round Honours

The first round of the Electric Formula Xtreme Championship has been held over the weekend (Friday 20th April to Sunday 22nd April) and won by Newcastle’s Catavolt Electric Motorcycle Racing Team.
Team Catavolt would like to thank its sponsors Solar Power Australia and Enertrac Hub Motors for making it all possible.You can check out some of the action here

Since their first ever outing at Wakefield Park in 2011, Team Catavolt have shaved an amazing 15 seconds off their lap times, a true testament to the development in technology for these revolutionary machines.

Jason was able to set a new personal best lap of 1.15.852, some 4 seconds better than the team’s best lap time for 2011.  (More pics after the jump). Read More …

 
Australian breakthrough in solar cell efficiency

With support from the Australian Solar Institute, Associate Professor Tim Schmidt from the University’s School of Chemistry, together with the Helmholtz Centre Berlin for Materials and Energy, has developed a “photochemical up conversion” that allows energy, normally lost in solar cells, to be turned into electricity.

This new breakthrough means that low cost solar cells suitable for rooftop panels could reach up to 40 percent efficiency in the near future.

Using the new upconversion technique (a process which harvests the part of the solar spectrum currently unused by solar cells) will also eliminates the need for costly redevelopment of solar cells.

As Associate Professor Tim Schmidt explains, “We are able to boost efficiency by forcing two energy-poor red photons in the cell to join and make one energy-rich yellow photon that can capture light, which is then turned into electricity,” Read More …

 
Australian Resource Focus: Forecast is Fine

Forecast is fineAustralian Resource Focus speaks with Brett Sutherland about Solar Power Australia, how the company has grown, where it’s going and why solar is so important.

As the article points out, the solar market is no longer a niche area, it’s a highly competitive and whether or not you believe in global warming, the cost of electricity is sky rocketing and most people are looking at ways to reduce their energy bill.

As Brett explains, ” “What they talk about now is solar power achieving grid parity, and they believe in Australia it’s pretty close. What that essentially means is that your investment to install a solar power system to produce an amount of energy will be recouped within 25 years, which is within the life of the system. The price of power from the grid is regularly increasing, whereas the cost of solar power is coming down. So it definitely has a place.”

The full article is online at the AFR website. 

 
Solar Power Australia featured in Circuit Mag

Solar Power Australia has been featured as “Circuit” mag’s Company of the Month. It’s great recognition for the one of the country’s largest suppliers and integrators of sustainable energy products.

As Brett (our MD) points out, “We’re not just a household solar company like a lot of other companies – we actually come from an industrial background and are able to service industrial clients.” Customers can choose from a range of packaged deals or have a system tailored specifically to their budget and needs”.

Check out the full article after the jump or download the PDF version of the article here. Read More …

 
No easy choices for Australia’s many energy challenges

Australia has a number of Energy ChallengesAccording to a report from the Grattan Institute, Australia will struggle to meet its emission targets while producing electricity at a reasonable costs – that is, unless the government supports low emission technologies.

The Institute’s Energy Program Director, Tony Wood, believes the government must introduce new policies to support the carbon pricing scheme including boosting deployment of nuclear power, wind, solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, carbon capture and storage and bio-energy at scale. Read More …