Solar Not Solo

A Clarence Valley solar power innovation promises to significantly reduce household power costs and is offering hope to an industry sector which has had the rug pulled from under it.

In a first for Australia, Northern Rivers Renewable Energy (NRRE) has developed a system that manages a home’s solar and grid power automatically, to the advantage of the home owner.

Basically, the household’s entire electricity needs are stored in batteries which are recharged by mostly solar power.

Now – and here’s the innovation – if not enough solar energy is produced, for example if there is persistent rain, the system then uses the grid to recharges the batteries, using a combination of off-peak and peak electricity.

Trent Rogers, owner of NRRE, said the new system effectively “time-shifted” when a household needed to buy power.

“Naturally, people want to buy power when it’s cheapest,” he said.

Power comparison service Electricity Wizard said the standard peak electricity rate for NSW was 31.08 cents per kilowatt hour, while the off-peak rate was 15.51 cents per kilowatt hour (inc GST) while

A “service availability fee” (about $90 per quarter) will still have to be paid by householders to the electricity supplier of their choice in order to access the grid.

The system is a further development of NRRE’s national award-winning stand-alone power system which was awarded the Clean Energy Council of Australia award for best design and installation earlier this year. Mr Rogers said modern lifestyles meant most electricity was consumed first thing in the morning and in the evening.

“In this situation, installing rooftop solar can make you feel good but it won’t make much economic sense, particularly given the State Government’s present position with respect to feed-in tariffs,” he said.

“At the moment there is no government-mandated feed-in tariff available. Solar panels generate electricity during the daytime which, in many households, is when you’re away from home and not able to use the clean energy.

“Presently, with net feed-in systems, if you can consume the power while it’s being generated then you can reduce your electricity bill, but all of the excess power that you can’t use simply pours onto the grid and, without a feed-in tariff, you receive little or no payment for it whatsoever.

“Clearly, under the current government’s lack of incentives, rooftop solar is not economically attractive … until now.”

The new hybrid system starts at about $13,000 and Mr Rogers said that, based on current and projected electricity prices and depending on individual energy usage and network availability fees, it would pay itself off in five to 10 years.

Mr Rogers said his company refused to back down just because the government was not supportive of clean energy.

“It is vital that as a society we start being responsible for our impact on the planet and every one of my employees believes this,” he said.

by Australian Solar Quotes

The Author

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.

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