Australian Solar Council Launches Save Solar Campaign

 

Concerned about the news that Australia’s government is considering cuts to the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the Australian Solar Council has launched a nationwide media campaign including its first ever television advertising. The campaign is specifically aimed at showing the benefits of solar power and the devastating effects that cuts to funding could have on the country’s economy – the 30 second TV advert contains powerful messages about Australia’s future if the RET is not continued. Both the TV and print media campaigns urge voters to seriously consider this issue when assessing which party to vote for in upcoming elections.

The RET initiative is designed to provide support to households that wish to install solar panels and power systems. For an average 5 kW system, sufficient to supply all the energy a home or small business requires, the RET subsidy presently stands at $3,450. Keeping the RET at the current levels is estimated to create 7000 jobs by 2020.

The demand for solar power is a huge industry across Australia with some 5 million people having access to solar-powered heating or hot water. In Western Australia alone there are around half a million houses with the panels installed, leading to huge savings for consumers (and often no energy bills at all). The issue is of primary importance in the forthcoming senate elections to be held in the state, and hence the timing of the Australian Solar Council’s campaign and accompanying discussions with leading political parties.

John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council, commented: “More than 500,000 West Australians with solar know solar cuts power bills and we want to make sure all West Australians can have access to solar. The Renewable Energy Target helps people who want to invest in solar for their homes.”

In 2015/16 projected figures indicate that Solar power will save Australians a considerable amount of money and will of course also help reduce demand on conventional electricity supplies, especially at peak times. Labor, The Greens and the Palmer United Party have all reiterated their stance to support the RET.

The print and television campaign has been widely promoted nationwide, and will remain in full force up until the Western Australian elections on April 5th. You can still donate to the Save Solar campaign here.

 

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.