Queensland Power & Solar Update


Map of Queensland

Here’s a quick round up of the latest news items around QLD power prices and solar power.

The QPC (QLD Productivity Commission) investigation into providing a “fair price for solar” has released a draft report saying (no big surprise) that they see no need to reward solar home owners for providing any sort of benefit to the network, whether feeding excess power back into the grid or helping to reduce peaks and slow down or stop investment in network infrastructure.

In fact, they reckon the STCs provided as a once-off up-front bonus to solar buyers are more than fair compensation for any benefits solar might provide to the network.

They even recommended that the 44c/kWh feed-in tariff be cancelled, rather than allowed to keep running to 2028 as it was originally put in place! Nice way to change the rules on people after they did the right thing!

By the way, just in case you were wondering why QLD power prices have gone up so much in the last decade, the QPC noted “escalating network costs have been the primary driver of electricity price increases over the last decade, accounting for 82 per cent of the 87 per cent escalation in electricity prices.”

So, it’s not all those solar “freeloaders” who have forced prices up after all?

And speaking of escalating network costs in QLD, that brings us to the REAL truth of the matter. How much of those costs has been justified vs unnecessary?

According to new analysis from Hugh Grant (no, not the actor, an Australian energy expert), some of the networks have been given a free hand to recoup more than TWICE as much money from the public as they should have.

Grant singled out QLD State Govt owned Powerlink as a particularly bad example. They spent $401 Million and got back returns of $9.4 BILLION (yes, that’s Billion with a capital ‘B’!)

That’s a 23x Return on investment, which puts them streets ahead of the shareholder value return compared to most ASX 50 companies!

So, now those of you in QLD can be comforted in the knowledge that things really are a lot worse than you think they are, and your govt owned transmission group has been a main player in the whole Game of Thrones debacle that is QLD electricity prices.


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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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