A Roundup of This Week in Solar


Some stuff happened this week in the solar realm, so we thought we would give you a roundup of what’s happening in Australia to keep you up to date.

A New Garden for Townsville

Townsville skyline solar roundup

Townsville is set to have “solar trees” installed in a bid to connect the CBD to their sports and events stadium. These trees are multifunctional, they will beautify the area and be a water feature whilst also generating solar power. What’s particularly exciting about this is how these trees are planned to assist with economic recovery post pandemic lockdown. The state treasurer and Townsville City Council will be putting a combined total of $8 million into the project. The project will create around 120 direct and indirect jobs during its construction, whilst also encouraging anyone who visits the stadium to walk through the attraction and into the CBD. The placement of the trees is quite strategic, gently guiding people into the CBD in the hopes they enjoy local restaurants, bars and retail stores who have all suffered due to the pandemic lockdown.

MP Reminds Us That Melbourne is Not the Centre of the Universe

Peter Walsh MP Victoria Solar Roundup

Victorian MP Peter Walsh has highlighted that the Solar Homes Program is Melbourne centric, and there are Victorians living in rural areas (like his electorate, Murray Plains) who also want to use the rebate. The Andrews Government claims that since the Solar Homes Program was launched in 2018, more then 79,000 Victorian households have installed solar. However, every postcode in Murray Plains is excluded from the Solar Homes list of eligibility. To refresh your memory, the program expanded its initial postcodes in November 2019 from the initial 24 to 104. And in March 2020 this number was upped to 247 postcodes. Unfortunately, Murray Plains was not apart of this increase, but this sort of vocal pressure by Walsh hopefully will see more of rural Victoria be included in the scheme shortly.

Buy Now Pay Later is Taken to Competition Tribunal

On the 9th of June the Australian Competition Tribunal heard arguments for the New Energy Tech Consumer Code about what to do with buy now pay later finance in the solar industry. This form of finance means consumers can easily become a victim of predatory lending and inflated prices. Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) is making the case for the consumer as this type of finance is unregulated. CALC is set to provide the Tribunal with evidence that Australians purchasing solar with this form of finance are being significantly overcharged. Buy now pay later finance also means a consumer can purchase solar without being assessed if they are suitable for the loan which can be dangerous. This news is just a reminder that buy now pay later is not the best way to finance solar and can seriously affect your debts, credit history and life. This is an extension of the “interest-free” advertising you see, if you’re investing in solar that has no interest or with buy now pay later finance, it’s likely there are many hidden fees or the price is inflated, so please be wary (and compare quotes to be sure).

IKEA has Launched Their Solar Offer in Oz

Ikea Solar Roundup

Ikea have launched its Solstråle range in Australia, making us the first market outside of Europe who can purchase a home solar kit from their website. The range is made in collaboration with leading solar energy provider, Solargain. Ikea has been selling their solar systems to customers in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, and Belgium since June 2019, so launching into Australia is very exciting. The collaboration is hoped to encourage customers to live a more sustainable life and to remove the barriers around investing in renewable energy. By the end of 2020, Ikea will be producing as much renewable energy as it consumes, and by 2030 it aims to be climate positive.


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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.

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