Bashing solar panel owners again for higher electricity prices

Discussion in 'Energy' started by Mark, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I see on the news this morning owners of solar systems are getting bashed again as the "cause" of higher electricity prices... :rolleyes:

    Those greedy power companies had it too good for too long and are now whimpering as people move away from grid supply to their own power generation REGARDLESS of what subsidy they may or may not get to do so.

    Firstly, it was people simply using less power because the obscene rising prices of electricity (due to corporate greed) made running a standard home almost unaffordable for many so they resorted to burning firewood in the backyard to boil the billy and now it's also people giving the two fingered salute and installing PV systems on their rooftops.

    Just wait until cheap storage battery technology hits Australia and we see suburban homes shifting off grid power completely then we'll see some issues with who pays for grid power and how much.

    For decades green groups and the left wing media in Australia have been on our backs to go solar (even when it was too expensive to do so) and now that solar has become affordable solar owners are suddenly the baddies? Come-on!

    Non solar owners are not subsidising solar owners that's just political spin by inept governments and energy companies who are frightened about their market share and dwindling rivers of easy money flowing along the electricity grid back into their greedy fat wallets!

    RANT/ :mad:
     
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  2. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    They'd still be making huge profits, just less that they want from that particular side of the business. I think the electricity companies are also getting in the solar market and have created separate solar divisions of their own companies to chase those dollars. If they put the electricity price up then more people would move across to solar. They've invested heavily in the coal mines and want to continue to make stupidly huge profits from it. They're not stupid so they'll make sure they get involved in controlling the power one way or another. Even if you have offgrid power I'm sure they'll be in there with some kind of control over it.
     
  3. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    A good friend of ours is off grid on a farm in between Yelarbon and Inglewood and although they use the backup generator quite often, they have significantly cut down on costs of their energy use. Interestingly, for them to have grid electricity set up would have costed them twice as much ($70,000) compared to the off-grid solar/diesel backup generator ($35,000). Unfortunately, there are council restrictions as to who can and who can't be off the grid. I haven't researched it yet where I would like to move to, but I'm forseeing some administrative hurdles...
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'm sure you're right! The good news is it's easier to set up a solar company and be competitive than to buy into the coal power industry so those big piggy electricity companies will have true competition once their coal fired dragon runs out.

    Yeah, there's sure to be admin hurdles depending on where you buy. As the technology improves I can see regulations having to change however because people will demand a choice between grid and their own power supply.

    There are a few members here who are completely off grid (although they haven't been around in a while) it'd be nice to get their input...
     
  5. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    Imagine all the people in nsw at the moment with solar panels but don't have power because of the storms (grid is broken). Battery storage or micro grids might be getting discussed a bit while they sit in the dark.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
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  6. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    We have solar and it's great to see the electricity bills lower, but of course that doesn't cover our night time use. We are planning on installing some batteries and running LED lights and fans off them and anything else we can. Would be nice to be totally foo grid.
     
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  7. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Anyone knnow of any solar providers who can install a 'semi-off-grid' setup where you have a solar charging battery to feed the house with the usual AC power but then have grid electricity as a backup for when it runs out of steam?
     
  8. bearded1

    bearded1 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Hi Ash,
    I have stand alone solar at my place as Energex wanted $130,000 + to connect me to the grid. Anyway I'm pretty sure that any stand alone system could be easily programmed to use mains power rather than a back up generator. The management system we have (http://www.selectronic.com.au/sppro/ ) is able to use any AC input to replace the battery/solar input. The people we went through are called Infinity Solar and I think they have a branch in Toowoomba. This management system is excellent (many say the best in the world) and it is designed and made in Melbourne. The only thing that would make it better is that if it were designed and made in Queensland!!;)
     
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  9. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I know this is an old threat but new to forum so reading old threads. We are off gird because it would have cost the same to get power to our boundary as it cost to put in our off gird system. Decided to not include backup generator & have been through our first winter without any problems. As our house is new all our electric stuff is new too so everything is low energy using. We had the aircon on heaps no worries. With the SA whole of state blackout just happened we invited our family over for dinner & warmth. I am sure offgird will become more common & won't the energy companies hate it.
     
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  10. Berkeloid

    Berkeloid Active Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for bumping the thread, I hadn't seen this one and it's a topic that interests me. Working in the IT industry there is a lot of equipment used to manage the electricity supply to data centres that could be very useful in a home situation with similar requirements.

    For instance most data centres use grid power, and when that drops out they switch to batteries/inverters for a few minutes while the generators warm up, then they switch over to generator power. The switching equipment can be programmed very flexibly, and is often available very cheaply if you are lucky enough to find a data centre being refurbished. There are a number of different suppliers for this type of equipment if you want to buy new - even Dell can sell you some of this stuff. However the irony is that although the second hand stuff is almost free, the brand new stuff can be extremely expensive. Large companies are the target market, where they will pay top dollar for brand new products with on-site warranty, because they can't risk second hand gear (which is why the used stuff is so cheap - nobody wants it.)

    My own plan, should I ever build my own house, would be a system where the whole house is powered from two inverters (so should one break, the other can take over). These inverters would be powered from a bank of cheap car batteries (like many data centres are), and the rest of the system would consist of various ways to pump power into the batteries - solar, grid power when there's no solar, wind power, etc.

    This type of design would mean that there is zero power interruption when the power source is switched, because the inverter is running constantly off battery power which never gets interrupted. You also wouldn't lose power completely if there isn't enough power coming in from the solar panels or wind generator, because you'd just start to deplete the batteries - but that little bit of power coming in would still go into the batteries and make them last a little bit longer.

    The inverter is also cheaper because it doesn't have to be grid-connected and sync to the grid, which reduces cost and complexity.

    I'm not sure how this compares to what's available from solar power installers (since my experience is only from the IT side of things) so I'd be interested to know what options the people here with solar or who are off-grid are using, as far as how the inverter is connected and what is used for failover if something breaks or one power source is unavailable.
     
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  11. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    We went totally off gird so we don't have the situation of switching that you are describing. I think it really depends on how much power you use. This varies amazingly. The guy who did our system was telling us of another setup he did near us which is always running out of power because they us 90kWhours a day! We use about 5 and on a really cold day we did get up to 10. I don't consider that we are scrimping on power use. Our house is totally electric and we turn on the TV or the oven or whatever without thinking can I afford to run this. So what they were doing to use 90 I don't know. Though I do know that spar baths are very power hungry. But I don't like spar baths so that doesn't worry me.
     
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  12. bearded1

    bearded1 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    As mentioned before we are totally off-grid, but I have a mate who I catch up with weekly at Blokes Group whose power bill is over $2000.00 per quarter. It's just him and his wife and they have a pool. Our system is 16 kw with a back up gennie and it runs three dwellings (House, Granny flat and shed). The backup comes on only when it has been raining/cloudy for a day or two and when we use our 2400w oven when the sun is not shining. I'm so glad we chose to go this way and not pay the money energex were asking to grid connect us:-:chuffed: Stick it to the man!
     
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  13. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    We have just come out of our first winter off grid. SA had the biggest floods they have had for a long time so there were multiple days where it just rained non stop but our system copied really well. The lowest the batteries got was 50%. They are lithium batteries & they charge up surprisingly quickly . Basically if it is daylight even pouring with rain something will be going into the batteries. We aren't big power users & probably could have gone with a smaller setup but we worked out what we needed on our power usage in the house we had. The trouble with doing that was everything electrical in that house was old & inefficient & now in our new house everything is new & so much more efficient. Still it means we don't have to worry if I am cooking while the aircon & TV & video are going.
    How much people paid for power is truly amazing. When I was working we used to compare power bills. Some people were paying over $1000 a quarter while we averaged about $200. this was back about 5 years ago. Hate to think what they are paying now. SA has the highest power bills in the country allong with the highest state levies & charges but that is a whole different story.
     
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  14. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Very inspiring both Flatland and bearded1.
    I missed your original response bearded1 and went with a 5kW hybrid inverter through a company called SAE (I introduced the system in another thread: Recommend SolaX X-Hybrid inverter for solar energy generation).
    Looking back, I would have gone with a larger capacity inverter but I am even wondering whether it would have been possible given that the property we live on was already on the grid with Ergon.
    We generate about 25-30kWh on our panels on a good day (10-15kWh on a cloudy/rainy day), which is on the whole enough to keep us not requiring much energy from the grid, except for when we use more than 4.6kW at any one time (which exceeds the inverter's ability to provide the power and therefore has to be supplemented from the grid). This was only possible when we replaced our old electric hot water system (4kW for 3-4 hours per day) with a heat pump hot water system (about 800W for 6-10 hours per day).
     
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  15. David - coona

    David - coona Active Member Premium Member

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    Totally off grid here also. We have 3 small 12volt setups. Each 3 x 125watt panels, 1 x 880amp/HR 2 x 1075amp/hr, each has a 2500watt 240v inverter. 1 set runs the chest freezer, 1 set runs the upright freezer as a fridge, the last set runs the lights, microwave, tablets/phones etc. Would have cost 70k to get mains, all up cost us 11k. We have gone 10 days of less than 2 hours of sun, had to juggle loads on the last 2days. Been doing this for 4 years now so the wife is getting very good at it.
     
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  16. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I think are more people decide to go off the gird the power companies will push more and more for the same deal that the water suppliers have. If there are water pipes going past your house you have to pay a supply fee even if it isn't connected. The SA power companies are already trying to get this. Then it will depend on what is defined as power going past your property. Our neighbours across the road have a power line that runs parallel with our property but about 100 metres from the road.
    Just as an aside a friend of ours was trying to get a bank loan for a farm block. The block has no power and his idea was to go off gird solar as the quote for bringing in power was over $100,000! You could get one hell of a big system for that. Anyone bank said even though he had half the cost as a deposit they would not loan the money because the block has no power. When he talked to the bank explaining the situation he has basically told "this is our policy so that's how it is . talk to someone who cares". I was really surprised by that thinking
     
  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    The major corporations scratch each others back - it really is an us/them relationship and it has been like this for a long time... We are basically fodder for greedy corporate giants and the only thing that stops them eating the grass down to the roots is the limited competition and regulation we have left, for now.

    I'm all for a capitalistic society but when it comes to residential energy, water, and refuse, I believe the State should own it and ensure the prices charged are reasonable otherwise the greedy pigs will simply keep feeding until there's a major collapse due to finally breaking the back of the poor and middle classes.

    Everyone knows power prices have been out of control for a decade (at LEAST) but nothing is being done about it and nothing will get done because we live in a world where politicians have no conviction and society would rather quibble over identity politics etc instead of real issues destroying households.

    Pensioners and young people renting trying to save for a home worrying themselves sick each quarter about paying their continually escalating power bills is a disgrace! :mad:
     
  18. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Would have to agree to the above sentiment. I must say I'm disappointed with the return on a 5kW system here in Qld. Lots of sun, averaging about 25kWh/day generated and despite using <3kWh/day for the last 3 months on battery backup, it has not offset the cost of having the privilege of grid power. $130 credit for the generated power (at the measly 4c/kWh rate offered), and $33 of usage charge at the 26c/kWh rate, then a $92 service fee (for the 94 days of having the infrastructure) as well as a $20 meter service charge. All that means still having to pay money to Ergon despite not using much electricity at all in a vacated home, and generating all that electricity for them.
     
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  19. David - coona

    David - coona Active Member Premium Member

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    Ergon are on to a great thing, buy for 4cents sell for 26cents, no generating maintenance costs. Got to love privatization!
     
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  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    We got our system on the old scheme so get paid 51c per kw which is great but a matter of time b4 the govt goes back on their word and tries to revoke it.

    Something big has to happen in regards to energy prices in Australia or we'll hit a wall in the near future.

    How Australians are paying 4 times USA per kwh for power is pathetic!
     
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