The Latest on COVID-19, Solar & the “New Normal”

 

We wanted to give you a bit of an update as to what the solar industry and the world looks and feels like in this “new normal”. First, a Thank You We want to thank each one of you for doing your best and staying safe during this pandemic. It hasn’t been easy. But we want to thank you all for the sacrifices you have made and will continue to make to ensure Australia stays safe. Victorians, we stand by you during another lockdown, and thank you for doing so. To all essential workers, thank you for continuing through what must have been a busy, scary, and stressful period. As unprecedented as this “new normal” is, seeing Australians doing their best and helping each other has been powerful.

The Bad News Australia still has the ‘rona. Victoria is in lockdown again. New South Wales could be going into lockdown again. We could all be going into lockdown again. Idiots keep breaking the rules. Reynold or Poh didn’t make the MasterChef top two. Angie and Carlin Split. The Australian economy is a bit sad. Married at First Sight still exists. People are still hoarding toilet paper. Prince Harry & Megs aren’t royals anymore. Your power bills probably increased because you’ve been home heaps too. The Good News Brexit is finally over. There aren’t limits on pasta anymore (as of today and today only). Tik Tok is still here. The amount of Zoom meetings your taking has hopefully decreased. We’re all sourdough connoisseurs. Solar installers are still installing (with many a COVID-19 safe protocol in place). Rebates are still there on a state and federal level to reduce the upfront costs of investing in solar. Solar is still a secure investment in your future, you are guaranteed some savings by installing and it will offset future costs of another lockdown (if there is one). The Hopeful News Solar and other renewable energy sources could be apart of boosting the economy in Australia post-pandemic. The Clean Energy Council’s CEO, Kane Thornton has written a personal plea to Canberra stressing that every dollar spent to aid in economic recovery could help or hinder Australia’s efforts to reduce emissions. He highlights how many jobs could be created by investing in renewable energy initiatives like solar farms, community batteries, hybrid farms and so much more. Christina Figueres, who works for the UN and is one of the architects of the Paris agreement, has made some compelling points.

Figueres questioned why Australia isn’t the leader of renewable energy and renewable industry given the amount of resources we have (pretty good question if you ask us). And made a very clever point that if the economy is going into debt for the purposes of COVID-19 recovery, that injection of capital is going to be paid back by future generations, so that capital should be invested in the interest of future generations (who want renewable energy please). But if Australia wants to see some change in this area, we are going to need a federal government who will put together a cute and stable investment environment for all these wind and solar projects to begin. Thornton also highlighted that a report by the Clean Energy at Work found that “if the federal policy vacuum continues, the renewable industry could actually lose upwards of 11,000 jobs in the next three years”. We remain positive that the state governments will continue investing in renewable energy. WA has been investing in community batteries, Queensland has found some big investors for some excitingly large solar projects and every other state seems so to have something on the go. Let’s hope the federal government can take the hint.

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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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