Trends from Intersolar & July Synopsis

Trends from Intersolar; Market Synopsis: market leaps to 85 MW registered; QLD 50% of STC market; RockClimbing in Geneva
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Intersolar Confirms:
Australia is the best country for solar power

Australia is world renown as being the land of sunshine, kangaroos, and koalas. I like to remind my international solar colleagues that we also have spiders, snakes, sharks, and politicians  (in increasing order of danger). Australia’s solar industry has had more than our fair share of premature changes to incentives and policies. So on my first visit to the world’s largest solar trade show, it was eye-opening to discover that (contrary to my expectation) the Australian solar power sector has a lot going for it.
I spent one and a half days engaging with industry analysts from around the globe. First at SolarPlaza’sDemand Conference, then at the IEA-PVPS meeting of national solar organisations, where I was representing the APVA. The other two-and-a-half days was spent wandering through a solar exhibition space bigger than the entire Melbourne Convention Centre. Here’s a reminder of why Australia is the best country for solar power, followed by a summary of technology trends at Intersolar.

Unlike many countries whose incentives targeted solar farms, our incentives targeted voters. This created a formidable voting block that has prevented retrospective changes to feed-in tariffs, as the NSW and Queensland governments have discovered. Many European countries have suffered far worse fates. Indeed, unlike the Czech republic, we have a right to self-consume the power we generate (something the Queensland Competition Authority tried to scrap but backed down in the face of overwhelming opposition). Still, everyone is horrified that our net metering occurs on a half-hourly basis; in most countries ‘net metering’ occurs on an annual basis. And while we receive little value for the excess power, thanks to the greed of network operators (mostly owned by state governments), a solar power system can offset some of the highest priced electricity in the world with some of the world’s best solar resource. This means that despite the lack of PV-specific subsidies, Australian solar power has great economics, economics that are thankfully no longer dependent upon PV-focussed incentives.
Still, our political influence pales in comparison to that of the German solar power industry. I was shocked to find they only self-consume 20% of the power generated from a 5kW system (in Australia the figure is about 50%). This leads to high dependency upon the government-set value given for exported power. But rather than settle for a smaller system that would increase self-consumption levels, the German solar industry organisation is able to powerfully tell the German government that if it wants to achieve its energy transition (away from polluting sources), they must provide sufficient incentive for solar. Meanwhile, the German government has created an incentive that will keep everybody happy, including the networks. There is an upfront subsidy for grid-interactive battery systems that act to increase self consumption – the same solution that could provide a superior-value alternative to network augmentation in Australia. Like Queensland, Germany is also considering how to ensure that solar owners pay a fair share of network costs, though hasn’t yet identified a sensible answer.

Latest trend: battery storage and battery-backup grid-interactive inverters. The German government has created a subsidy for battery-backup grid-interactive systems, which means there’s a plethora of batteries and inverters at intersolar this year, all drawing a crowd. I was happy to see Selectronic’s Australian-made technology creating some interest, and to see the Kaco-branded Selectronic-Kaco joint developed product attracting attention on Kaco’s stand. Despite there being only sufficient funding for 5000-7000 systems in Germany, Australia is likely to be a beneficiary of the technology development that occurs in this space. 
Hot Topic: Anti-dumping tariffs – its likely that the price of solar panels in Europe will rise due to the introduction of punitive tariffs on Chinese panels. Most of the people I spoke with weren’t happy with this situation. Of course, there is likely to be flow-on effects of price and providers into Australia.
Biggest Difference to Australia (apart from beer on tap at many stands): The data logging provider SolarLog was always busy. Logging system performance is essential in Europe, where investors want to track their return.
Coolest technology: Solar drones – infrared cameras mounted on high-power drones for finding hot spots in faulty solar panels, an essential technology to quickly cover the thousands of panels in a solar farm. (This narrowly beat an electric wheelbarrow wheeled about by a Bavarian woman in high heels; panel-cleaning robots came a distant third).
Watch this space: Refusol’s PV hot water heating system – its retrofit-able, and direct DC so eliminates roof plumbing, but unfortunately it won’t soak up your excess AC production. Also, there’s some whitegood manufacturers bringing out smarthome/solar friendly equipment that will be able to increase self-consumption of generated solar power, thereby improving economics. 

Trends from Intersolar; Market Synopsis: market leaps to 85 MW registered; QLD 50% of STC market; RockClimbing in Geneva
Email not displaying properly? View it in your browser.
What next?
Infrared Drones Spying on Faulty PV Panels
Like Notes from the worlds largest solar fair (... or why Australia ain't so bad) on Facebookcomment on Notes from the worlds largest solar fair (... or why Australia ain't so bad)share on TwitterGoogle Plus One Button  

Intersolar Confirms:
Australia is the best country for solar power

Australia is world renown as being the land of sunshine, kangaroos, and koalas. I like to remind my international solar colleagues that we also have spiders, snakes, sharks, and politicians  (in increasing order of danger). Australia’s solar industry has had more than our fair share of premature changes to incentives and policies. So on my first visit to the world’s largest solar trade show, it was eye-opening to discover that (contrary to my expectation) the Australian solar power sector has a lot going for it.
I spent one and a half days engaging with industry analysts from around the globe. First at SolarPlaza’sDemand Conference, then at the IEA-PVPS meeting of national solar organisations, where I was representing the APVA. The other two-and-a-half days was spent wandering through a solar exhibition space bigger than the entire Melbourne Convention Centre. Here’s a reminder of why Australia is the best country for solar power, followed by a summary of technology trends at Intersolar.

Unlike many countries whose incentives targeted solar farms, our incentives targeted voters. This created a formidable voting block that has prevented retrospective changes to feed-in tariffs, as the NSW and Queensland governments have discovered. Many European countries have suffered far worse fates. Indeed, unlike the Czech republic, we have a right to self-consume the power we generate (something the Queensland Competition Authority tried to scrap but backed down in the face of overwhelming opposition). Still, everyone is horrified that our net metering occurs on a half-hourly basis; in most countries ‘net metering’ occurs on an annual basis. And while we receive little value for the excess power, thanks to the greed of network operators (mostly owned by state governments), a solar power system can offset some of the highest priced electricity in the world with some of the world’s best solar resource. This means that despite the lack of PV-specific subsidies, Australian solar power has great economics, economics that are thankfully no longer dependent upon PV-focussed incentives.
Still, our political influence pales in comparison to that of the German solar power industry. I was shocked to find they only self-consume 20% of the power generated from a 5kW system (in Australia the figure is about 50%). This leads to high dependency upon the government-set value given for exported power. But rather than settle for a smaller system that would increase self-consumption levels, the German solar industry organisation is able to powerfully tell the German government that if it wants to achieve its energy transition (away from polluting sources), they must provide sufficient incentive for solar. Meanwhile, the German government has created an incentive that will keep everybody happy, including the networks. There is an upfront subsidy for grid-interactive battery systems that act to increase self consumption – the same solution that could provide a superior-value alternative to network augmentation in Australia. Like Queensland, Germany is also considering how to ensure that solar owners pay a fair share of network costs, though hasn’t yet identified a sensible answer.

Latest trend: battery storage and battery-backup grid-interactive inverters. The German government has created a subsidy for battery-backup grid-interactive systems, which means there’s a plethora of batteries and inverters at intersolar this year, all drawing a crowd. I was happy to see Selectronic’s Australian-made technology creating some interest, and to see the Kaco-branded Selectronic-Kaco joint developed product attracting attention on Kaco’s stand. Despite there being only sufficient funding for 5000-7000 systems in Germany, Australia is likely to be a beneficiary of the technology development that occurs in this space. 
Hot Topic: Anti-dumping tariffs – its likely that the price of solar panels in Europe will rise due to the introduction of punitive tariffs on Chinese panels. Most of the people I spoke with weren’t happy with this situation. Of course, there is likely to be flow-on effects of price and providers into Australia.
Biggest Difference to Australia (apart from beer on tap at many stands): The data logging provider SolarLog was always busy. Logging system performance is essential in Europe, where investors want to track their return.
Coolest technology: Solar drones – infrared cameras mounted on high-power drones for finding hot spots in faulty solar panels, an essential technology to quickly cover the thousands of panels in a solar farm. (This narrowly beat an electric wheelbarrow wheeled about by a Bavarian woman in high heels; panel-cleaning robots came a distant third).
Watch this space: Refusol’s PV hot water heating system – its retrofit-able, and direct DC so eliminates roof plumbing, but unfortunately it won’t soak up your excess AC production. Also, there’s some whitegood manufacturers bringing out smarthome/solar friendly equipment that will be able to increase self-consumption of generated solar power, thereby improving economics. 

Market Synopsis

PV Market

  • 85 MW of PV was registered in May, a substantial upswing on the prior months’ figures.
  • Queensland was the hot market in May (and again in June), responsible for the entire upswing and returning to 40% of the Australian PV market in May
  • Though many are feeling the pain, some are doing well enough to compensate for others’ losses. Similar volumes have been registered this year as at the same point last year – true nationally and in each state. However, this is because there are far fewer sales but the average system size has increased to compensate; nevertheless business profitability is difficult due to declining system prices. 
  • With the highest PV density of any postcode in the Nation, 4109 (Robertson, QLD) wastes least of its incoming solar resource. 575 kW of PV per square-kilometre – equivalent to 0.575 W/m2 of PV coverage. 

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STC Market

  • Last week was the biggest week for STC creation for many months, and particularly notable as 90% of STC creation was from a 1x multiplier (earlier weeks relied heavily on the 2x multiplier to achieve high volumes).
  • Queensland represented 50% of STC creation activity last week – their SBS-surge is certainly noticable.
  • There are still seven large STC creators with deep pockets (or poor STC strategies) that are holding 100% of what they’ve ever created. The question is: when will the Clearing House shift, and by how much?
  • The weekly and monthly STC creation tally are displayed on our website – check in regularly.

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Solar Hot Spots

Now there’s no solar multiplier, where should you target your sales? This information could help:

  • The region surrounding Townsville continues to be the nation’s hottest spot for solar.
  • While Tasmania still enjoys a feed-in tariff, those people in Launceston have developed a taste for PV.
  • There’s a solar Paradise in NSW, postcode 2360 posting some record figures.

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PVsell News 

We’ve made the following additions to PVsell over the last month:

  • Electricity tariff entry now more closely matches most electricity bills
  • The printout of your solar proposal is better than before
  • You can create your own graphs based on the outputs of our calculations

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SunWiz Activities

In the last month, SunWiz has:

  • Compared the cost-effectiveness of AC with DC runback on string and central inverters in a ground-mount solar farm
  • Performed financial evaluation for a number of commercial projects on behalf of clients
  • Continued analysis of the National Solar Schools Program
  • Presented at Intersolar and the SolarPlaza Demand Conference
  • Visited solar colleagues in Sweden, Switzerland, and England 
  • Rock Climbing and paragliding in Geneva and Chamonix; enjoyed the endless days in Stockholm, where the sun moves sideways; cycled around the Stockholm Archipaelgo with my father (who I had to push for the last 5km to our destination when his chain broke while attempting a cheeky overtaking manouver – not about to live that one down!); envied surfers in the river in Munich

To learn more about what we can do for your solar business, visit www.sunwiz.com.au

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My dog Sunny, inspecting the solar panels on a home-made solar tricycle that was passing through Byron Bay.

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