Rising Living Costs But It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

Solar power is one of the fastest-growing electricity sources in the world, and also one of the cheapest. There are now solar farms with lower generation costs than coal power stations, and the installed price of a home solar system is significantly lower than the electricity costs it saves. In most cases, you can expect to spend less than $7,000 on a 6.6-kW solar system after subtracting the nationwide STC incentive, even with high-quality components. However, your accumulated savings will likely surpass $14,000 in less than 10 years, which is double your investment!

Solar panels are only productive during the day, with most production taking place around noon when there is maximum sunshine. However, homes consume electricity throughout the day and night, and as a result, solar panels often produce more power than is required throughout the daylight hours. 

  • Many governments use a simple solution for this: your electricity provider purchases your surplus energy, and the payment is deducted from your power bill.
  • The rate you are paid for each kilowatt-hour sent to the grid is the feed-in tariff or FIT.

Before solar panels became popular in Australia, homeowners were offered very high FITs as an incentive to try the new technology. However, electricity providers now only pay a fraction of what they charge. For example, you may be charged over 30 cents/kWh when using electricity from the grid, while getting an FIT below 10 cents/kWh.

Feed-in tariffs are useful for making money with surplus electricity from solar panels. However, the economic benefit is higher when you consume a larger percentage of that energy. In other words, a kilowatt-hour saved is worth more than a kilowatt-hour sold.

What Percentage of Solar Generation Is Used at Home?

Homes with solar panels rarely consume all the electricity generated, since that would mean using all electrical devices at noon. The exact usage of solar energy will depend on your consumption habits, but many households fall between 30% and 50%, while the rest is exported to the grid. To demonstrate how this affects savings, we will assume that two homes have solar systems of the same size with equal productivity, but different usage habits:

  • Home #1 uses 30% of the solar power generated while exporting 70% to the grid.
  • Home #2 uses 50% of solar generation, exporting the other half.

The two systems in this example have a capacity of 6.6 kW, and they produce 10,000 kWh per year. Both homes are charged 28 cents/kWh for electricity consumed and are paid an FIT of 8.5 cents/kWh. The following table summarizes the savings and electricity sales in each case:

Scenario Savings ($) kWh Sales ($) Total ($)
Home #1 (30% solar consumption) $840 per year $595 per year $1,435 per year
Home #2 (50% solar consumption) $1,400 per year $425 per year $1,825 per year

Savings don’t appear directly in your electricity bills, since they represent energy that never crosses the power meter – it goes directly from the solar panels to the inverter, and from the inverter to your home devices. After going solar, you will simply notice that the quarterly power bill decreases.

On the other hand, solar energy that is sold to the grid gets measured by the power meter, and the amount can be seen in the electricity bill. The kilowatt-hours sold are multiplied by the feed-in tariff, and that amount is subtracted from your quarterly payment.

If both homeowners have a quarterly bill of $600 before going solar, they would notice the following changes after the installation:

    • The quarterly bill for Home #1 will decrease to around $390, and estimated kWh sales of $149 will be subtracted. The payment is reduced from $600 to approximately $241.
  • The quarterly bill for Home #2 will decrease to around $250, and estimated kWh sales of $106 will be subtracted. The payment is reduced from $600 to approximately $144.

In both cases, the return on investment improves when surplus solar energy is sold to your electricity provider. However, your power bills become even lower when you consume a large percentage of solar power.

How To Choose the Best Feed-in Tariff Provider?

You may be tempted to choose the electricity plan with the highest feed-in tariff available, but the answer is not so simple. Some providers will try to lure you with an attractive FIT, while charging a high tariff when you consume electricity from the grid. Unless you have solar batteries, you will likely depend on the grid on cloudy days and at night.

The best approach is estimating your quarterly bill after going solar as we did in the example above. A qualified solar company like Arkana Energy can analyse your previous bills, so you get a better idea of your consumption habits. Based on your actual consumption and the expected solar generation, you can pick the electricity plan that minimises your quarterly bills.

Want to find out more about how you can save on your electricity bill? Click here to request pricing.

Electricity Costs Are Rising Faster Than You Think

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has predicted electricity price hikes of up to 40 per cent over the next 24 months, in a sobering development for households already battling skyrocketing costs.

AEMO’s report comes amid growing pressure on the Morrison Government to act on soaring power bills — with the government repeatedly blaming state governments’ energy policies, but critics pointing to its own lack of climate change policy and delays on regulatory reforms.

Labor is calling on the Government to adopt its plan to halve power bills within two years. Opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler said an “extraordinary” 141 per cent surge in electricity prices was due to retailers hiking their rates, with figures showing NSW households were hit hardest by increased bills.

See “Wholesale power prices soared 141 per cent, year on year, and households should brace for more” ABC by reporter Daniel Mercer

What States are the Most Affected by Rising Electricity

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its latest report on electricity prices in Australia on Wednesday, revealing that some consumers are paying up to $300 more than what they were paying last year.

The ACCC’s report showed that Queenslanders saw the highest increase in their electricity bills at around $400, while Western Australians and Victorians also saw increases of around $300.

According to the report, these price increases occurred in states with the biggest dependence on coal and gas, and the market volatility for those fuels was having an outsized effect on power prices.

How to Beat the Energy Price Hike

Energy prices are rising, so we’ve got some tips for how to beat rising energy prices. The first thing you should know is renewable energy provides a natural hedge to this, while also decarbonising the grid.

Renewable energy provides cheap electricity, energy independence, so the price of electricity generated by a solar power system is effectively fixed. Fossil fuels become more expensive and their use becomes less desirable due to climate change concerns, renewable technologies are becoming increasingly attractive — and they’ll remain so even if fossil fuel prices come down again in future years.

Solar technologies have come a long way and are now very efficient, meaning they’re able to produce greater amounts of energy for less money with more reliability.

It’s never been a better time to protect your family from energy inflation, 1 in 4 Australian households have already protected their families. Fix your electricity bill with your own renewable solar power solution. Make the most of the government’s generous incentive program to offset the solar installation cost & eliminate energy inflation.

If you’d like to find out more about installing a solar power system, battery solution and what government incentives you’re eligible for please contact us here.

 

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Solar Stories in the city of Brisbane

Solar Stories in the city of Brisbane

From Southbank to the Sunshine Coast, from the Brisbane River to the heart of Brisbane CBD, this city at the head of the sunshine state has lots to be proud of when it comes to solar power systems and clean energy.

Here a few solar stories and achievements that have taken place right here in the heart of Brisbane.

Brisbane Airport solar panels project as good as done.

First announced in October 2017, and now ‘practically completed’ (meaning it’s now in use!) is 23,000 solar panels installed over six different sites across the airfield. They cover around 36,000 square metres, some on roofs and some on the ground. At the time of building, the airport said it was the largest single rooftop solar panel installation at an Australian airport.

It’s estimated that the solar panels will supply close to 20 percent of the airports’ electricity needs. This is significant as airports are notorious for having serious energy demands. The carbon offset scheme is estimated to be the equivalent of planting 50,000 trees or taking 1,500 cars off the road each year.

The designers and builders of this project are hoping it can influence other airports as they believe they are the perfect place for renewable energy: the ample amount of open field and roof space makes them perfect for these kinds of installations.

Brisbane man invents small solar light for the underprivileged.

His name is Simon Doble and his invention is called Solar Buddy and it’s helping countless children who live in poverty around the world to live with regular light. These small contained units use solar small solar panels and can last for up to 10 hours.

After a marriage breakdown, the English born man found himself alone in Australia and wanted to transform his pain into something positive. Hearing stories about refugees around the world resonated with him in a deep place and the desire to create an experience of ‘home’ propelled him to create something that might provide that sense for those without access to electricity.

The invention has attracted the attention of the United Nations and Simon is now a key supplier of renewable energy solutions for aid agencies around the world. Also in process is the opportunity for Australian children to learn how to make these lights –learning both new skills and education about those less fortunate.

Giant water battery helps reduce university energy demands

Just outside of Brisbane, at the University of the Sunshine Coast, a giant chilled water-battery is saving up to 40 percent of air conditioning costs. It’s estimated that this invention will save around $100 million over the next 25 years!

The design won the ‘Out of the Box’ ideas award at the Global District Energy Awards. This comes with a plan for the university to be completely carbon neutral by 2025.

Universities have a large energy footprint and this is a fantastic step toward their goal of 2025.

Ipswich shopping centre has one of the largest solar carports in Australia.

Lying on the Bremer River, located in the south-west of the Brisbane metropolitan area is the town of Ipswich – renowned for its architectural, natural and cultural heritage with more than 6000 heritage-listed sites and over 500 parks. Now, and as of 2015, it contains one of the biggest solar carports in Australia.

Providing shade for cars while transforming all that glorious sunshine beaming down day after day is a perfect way to not only reduce emissions but gives the possibility to reduce costs for local businesses.

The directors of this project want to be an example for many other such sites that have large car parks such as hospitals and big retailers. 

Brisbane classroom taken completely of the grid

One of the first of its kind in Australia, this completely functional and aesthetically pleasing building is providing quality education with no need to be connected to the electricity grid! We wrote more about this here

These are just a few of the incredibly inventive ways the beautiful city of Brisbane is leading the charge in the coming world of renewable energy!

Why Brisbane is a good place for solar power

Why Brisbane is a good place for solar power

Yes, Queensland has been dubbed The Sunshine State as is displayed on every number plate in the state. And Brisbane is the capital of this magically named place.

So it would seem the perfect fit that a city full of sunshine would derive its energy from that fiery ball up in the sky.  Is solar power and the sunshine city a match made in heaven? 30% of homes in Brisbane who have already installed solar panels on their roof (one of the highest rates in capital cities in Australia) would probably say yes. So let’s have a closer inspection as to why Brisbane city is the perfect place for rooftop solar.

Sunshine, Sunshine, Sunshine.

Thankfully the capital of Queensland lives up to its reputation by getting ample sunshine all year round. According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Brisbane averages about 5.2 hours of peak sun per square meter per day. So what does that mean in terms of electricity generation, or in other words, how much usable energy does that translate into?

The answer to this will depend on both the size of your solar power system and how much energy your household uses.

The average Australian household uses anywhere from 15 to 25kWh of energy per day. If you’ve installed a 5kW solar pv system then the energy generated per day will be around 20kWh. A 5kW system is one of the most popular systems as it relatively matches your daily electricity needs while being great value for money. 

If your energy demands are higher than this (and you can determine this by looking at your electricity bill) then it can be worth your while investing in a larger system.

Incentives thanks to the federal Renewable Energy Target (RET)

The RET website states that they want to create “a financial incentive for the establishment or expansion of renewable energy power stations, such as wind and solar farms or hydro-electric power stations.” They’re constantly updating their terms and regulations, so it’s worthwhile keeping an eye out on their website for the latest updates.

Currently, the incentive results in up-front discounts on the installation of a solar pv system. How much you can save depends on factors such as the location of installation and the size of the system. However, there’s a good chance that you’ll around 30-40% of the initial installation cost.

In Brisbane, in real terms, for a 5kW system, this means a discount of somewhere around $3,000! It’s not just the sunshine that makes Brisbane a good place to install solar.

Batteries.

We’ve talked before about how solar battery storage is changing the game of how we use and consume energy. While there is still a long way to go in making battery systems truly efficient and affordable, the pace at which technology moves will surely bring this into existence faster than we think. 

The main deterrent to installing a battery storage system at the moment is the expense. For a system that includes battery storage, Brisbane still sits somewhere in the middle of Australian capital cities. Despite Brisbane’s current, relatively low electricity prices, the prices of electricity from the grid only seem to be rising. There’s no doubt that as these prices rise, and battery storage decreases, getting some solar panels on your roof will be even more enticing and lucrative.

A good investment.

Payback periods for Solar systems in Brisbane are relatively short.  A 5kW system can be expected to be paid off in around 5 years. Add to that over $1,000 a year in savings from electricity bills, and there’s no doubt you’ve added value to your home.

In saying that, there are some horror stories of cheap and poorly installed systems that fail in a couple of years. To ensure that you are adding value to your home, there’s no room for shortcuts. Make sure you pay for the highest quality product and the highest quality service.

Solar powered schools – Welcome to the future.

Solar powered schools – Welcome to the future.

Last year a school in Brisbane became the first in Australia to take a classroom completely off-grid. Relying completely on renewables, this  Australian first has set the precedent for many more similar trials around Australia and is an exciting development in solar.

Bracken Ridge State High School trialed the new technology, developed by a company called Hivve, for 5 months last year which relies on rooftop solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall battery system. 

These aren’t some kind of backward buildings either: picture laptops, internet and one of the most stylishly designed classrooms you’ve seen. Compared to the somewhat awful looking portables and demountables you most certainly encountered in your young schooling life, these self-sufficient classrooms have a lot to boast about.

The classroom is entirely energy self-sufficient, and this even takes into account those pesky cloudy days. Executive director of Hivve, David Wrench, said that even on successive cloudy and rainy days, the solar battery capacity never fell below seventy percent.

Amazing news for solar power in Brisbane, and no doubt for the whole of Australia!

Not only was the trial a success in energy production but it also saved the school money.

Wrench estimated that this classroom alone would save the school $3,000 a year on their electricity bill. Perhaps surprisingly, the cost of installing the solar power system was cheaper than if they had connected to the grid.

However, the trial was made possible thanks to a $370,000 grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).  ARENA and Hivve are working in close collaboration to try and change the norm by delivering sustainable solutions to the varying troubles within the Australian schooling infrastructure. This will no doubt require a little bit more support from the Australian government.

It’s happening in NSW as well.

St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Holsworthy and Dapto High School were also among the first to trial the classrooms. They are currently in operation and will be evaluated as the year comes to a close.

The trend seems to be moving south too. Amity College in Illawarra, after being shocked at the cost of connecting to the grid to power their new campus, approached Hivve to see if they could work on something together. The result, as of only term 3 this year (yes, 2019)! It is an entire campus that operates on high quality solar.

The system generates more energy than they need during the day, and the ingenious battery system stores the excess overnight. The Director of Finance at Amity is thrilled with the outcome, saving money on installation and energy bills. This is great news for all lovers of sustainability and solar, and will hopefully open new doors for all kinds of construction and infrastructure in the future.

A bit about the Hivve system.

The clean energy system is called Hivve iQ and can be integrated into any school building. The company was started with the desire to create learning spaces with teachers and students in mind, as the research shows how influential the classroom environment impacts learning.

Hivve classrooms are not only completely off-grid, but they also have real-time energy metering, CO2 metering, data capture, and communications. Hivve iQ not only monitors energy use, but the classroom’s air quality is also measured and regulated.

The Hivve project is a true collaboration engaging with partners from ARUP (an international and innovative design and engineering firm), battery storage from Tesla and the government organisation ARENA.

This all-Australian company could, as director David Wrench said, “help schools reduce costs and emissions, while also reducing reliance and demand on the grid.”

Let’s hope so!