Has Stu’s Eco Shed had to revert to Brown Coal?

For some really strange reason, the Federal Government did not have any idea that when they offered Solar Power subsidies of $8000 for people to fit 1kW solar power units to their homes (which can fully pay for a 1kW unit, fully installed) that people would actually take them up on the offer.  The government have suddenly realised that they didn’t actually budget enough for it, and have prematurely ended the subsidy.  They budgeted for a bit over $150 million, and had to pull the pin when it got to $700 million.  Strangely how little warning was given for pulling the pin – hours, not even days.  With the original budget being exceeded by so much, didn’t they notice when 150 mill had become 300 mill, when 300 mill had become 600 mill etc?  Bet that didn’t happen overnight.

I got my application in on the 18th May, but I haven’t been able to contact the company as yet to find out if they actually submitted the application to the government in time to get the grant.  If not, then Stu’s Shed is going to have to continue to rely on the amazingly ecologically friendly brown coal power generation.  With the premature and surprise ceasation of the current rebate, there is no way that we will be able afford (or justify) the additional $4000 – $9000 odd that is expected to cost the household under the new proposed rebate scheme. (I have continued to try to get more info, and it is possible that we are lucky to have the application submitted in time.  Lucky for us, unlucky for all those who thought they had until the end of June.)

Pretty disappointing decision I must say.  Glad I don’t have investments in the solar power industry – bet they are hurting now, given all the panels they would have ordered expecting sales under the old scheme, that will not sell now that the price has been put out of reach of the average income earners, or at least will have to cover the cost of warehousing and loss of interest until those panels do sell under whatever new scheme is rolled out.

Oh well, back to sawdust, and away from politics.

4 Responses

  1. G’day Stu,
    Thanks again for taking the trouble to reply to a fellow woodworker. Kudos to you for even attempting to “go green” with solar power. I would wish for my next shed to be fully solar, but I imagine that even my little 3HP planer/thicknesser (from JET) might need more than a few panels for its current draw alone. I can’t even share its power board with my 2HP dusty without tripping out (man!) . I wonder if any of your site visitors has worked out just how much current would be required for your average workshop, and how many solar panels would therefore be needed. Good luck with the Canberra Beancounters! Regards, Gerry

    • I have absolutely no expectation that the solar will provide even 1/4 of my shed’s draw, but every bit is still interesting, and it really needs the industry to develop significantly cheaper components to make solar truly viable. However, by going with current technology still promotes the desire many have to utilise much cleaner power generation technologies.

      I for one am getting very sick of the rhetoric by governments about “carbon emissions”, “carbon offsets”, climate change etc, when they make no serious moves to stop Australia’s dependence on brown coal power generation.

      I have long spoken about the ideal concept of power and water importing and exporting, but it seems the argument never gets real purchase.

      The concept I came up with while still doing my Bachelor of Engineering was countries with an abundance of a typically non-exportable commodity such as power and water can never-the-less have a massive export market in that commodity. For example, New Zealand exporting power to Australia. NZ’s power generation is very clean, with a significant majority being hydroelectric. Australia’s power generation is exceptionally dirty, using brown coal. So instead of Australia processing aluminium in Australia (an incredibly power intensive process), they do it in New Zealand.

      Not by selling bauxite to NZ, then buying back aluminium, but by being allowed to build a processing site in New Zealand, and paying a lease for the land, and paying for the power (and water etc) that plant consumes. The processed raw material is then returned to Australia. NZ has effectively exported the clean power they have in abundance. Pretty idealistic, but it is a way of selling offshore something that normally cannot be.

      But anyway, a bit of a diversion. As far as power generation requirements for my shed, I would be looking at needing around 10kW to be fully power self-sufficient – about $50k worth! Guess there won’t be a government subsidy for that!

      What I’m sure many find incredulous is when you think of Australia, it has significant desert area (and remember this is a country the size of the USA!), so why are we not competing with the US on solar generation concepts, such as the steam generation units, powering steam turbines?

      Getting back to your dusty issue – I have been having the same problem until I gave the dusty a dedicated power point, and not part of an extension board. The dedicated power point is 10A, but each of mine have 15A breakers (these all professionally wired up to a switchboard I had put into the shed). Having decent power supply in the shed is an absolute dream after fighting for it for so, so long.

      It now has 2x10A power circuits, 2x15A power circuits and 1x10A lighting circuit. Bliss!

      (And getting back to the solar power, the 1kW unit will only supply about 4A of power, so 36A still has to come from the grid – you don’t get much for $8000!)

  2. […] by a government grant.  On 10 June, it looked like it might be a dead cause, with the government prematurely pulling the plug on the scheme because it was too […]

  3. Ah Stuart,
    Your 10kW would be your peak power draw, but the “duty cycle” is not high, perhaps only 10%. If so the 1kW solar supply would serve OK provided you can draw the extra 9kW from some other source when the machines are all operated together.
    Typically this extra 9kW comes from the power grid. It could come from batteries and inverter, or even an inertia machine like a motor with a very large flywheel (except it slows).
    The ratio of solar power to maximum power needs to be just better than the demand duty cycle.

    It’s fun to conjecture what can be done. Complications often are just that!! Cheers, Kevin

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