Not so green on the other side

A few have asked about the result of installing solar panels earlier this year, and finally I have some info from the letterbox.

To start, we didn’t get a single bill since installing the panels until yesterday when the result of me having a go at the power company has finally resulted in the bill being delivered.

Of course the bill is now near on $700, and because they have wacked the whole lot together, it will be harder to really assess the impact – perhaps that is what they want – hide the myth.

There are two aspects to having solar power.  The first is obvious: during the day appliances can draw some of their power from the roof, rather than from the grid, saving the 26.4c/kWh

The second is whatever power is not used is fed back to the grid at 66c/kWh  Before I got the smartmeter, I watched the old one spin backwards, but the new one actually allows the company to know how much to refund. The old way is interesting to watch, the new way gets more money on one hand, but the tariff has also crept up to compensate (them).

So over the 76 days of solar power on the new meter, and being fully wired in, I got a massive $9.90 refunded.

Compared to the same time last year, my average daily usage dropped a whole 2kWh per day. Doesn’t seem worth the massive government investment to achieve such a minor saving.  $8000 invested to achieve a daily saving of 45c/day.  And 13c/day power back to the grid.

At that rate, the investment will have paid for itself in 38 years.  Glad I didn’t pay for it!  However, in fairness, that is not only over the winter period, but also a bill that was over 6 months.  I’ll wait for the next bill before passing final judgement.

Back when I thought about the solar panel, and thought about the shed, what occurred was that during a sunny day, any work I did in the shed would draw no power from the grid – enough power would be generated by the panel on its own, and any power not consumed would effectively offset power used by the shed in any evening.

So the shed is power neutral – thanks to the solar rebate.  Wonder if that was their intention?  They certainly don’t seem to achieve much more than that.

Bureaucracy is a painfully slow machine

Back on 18 May 2009, I wrote that Stu’s Shed will be getting a little greener, with the intro of a small solar system, funded 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 popular.

But in the end, it seems that we had just managed to get into the original solar scheme in time, and after a long 8 months, the system is finally installed, and generating a pitifully small, but free never-the-less amount of power.

Solar Panel Bank

It took about 3 hours or so for the install (our house is pretty convenient for that sort of thing apparently). We had to mount it on the west side of the house, rather than the north side, partly aesthetics, partly because we didn’t have sufficient roof space for all the panels on the north side anyway, so that will drop 20-30% of the power production.  Guess the building code needs modification to ensure there is sufficient north facing roofs for future implementations.

A pretty futuristic looking house now – Federation design, solar panels – a likely mix!  I’d have put it on the shed if I had a choice! At $8000 for the system, you wonder if the house price will be escalated by a decent proportion of that price, or whether people will take solar systems with them when they move homes.

Power Inverter

The DC comes off the roof to the power inverter, which then provides the power to the house power board.  The system as I understand it will feed unused power back to the national grid, but given the size of the unit, any power it generates will likely be consumed by the typical house loads.  I’m not sure exactly how this is wired – the way it was explained it feed power to the house after the house power meter, so whatever power it generates means the meter will slow down, (saving me money), and can even get to the point where the meter runs backwards (doubt that will ever happen!) Apparently the power company will want to install one of the new power meters now (at my expense), but there was a new issue raised about those meters.  The overall power generating organisation is trying to get peak power charges increased 500% over the next 4 years, and those with the new meters will be the first hit with the increased fee.  It may not happen, but it is a huge call to even apply to charge so much more for peak power.  If that ever goes through, I’ll be wishing that the 1KW unit I got was 4-5 times larger, and bugger the brown coal power generating companies.

And just to show Stu’s Shed has at least a component of solar providing its power…..

Dual Power Supplies

Cool 🙂

Footnote: I can honestly say I never thought I’d see it, but for the past couple of days, even with relatively low power generation conditions (ie near dusk), I’ve been watching the meter winding itself backwards quite happily. Unbelievable!

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.

Stu’s Shed goes a little greener

Or is that whiter when the carbon loading gets decreased?

I’m not weighing into the climate change discussion / arguments etc, but an opportunity presented itself, and that may be the end result, if not the justification used.  Australia’s primary power generation fuel is brown coal after all.

Through a government rebate initiative, and $8000 grant for installation of solar power systems, we are installing a 1kW system that is costing $8000.  No, it isn’t a huge amount of power generation, but the systems are typically very expensive, so being able to do it without dipping into our own pocket seems a no-brainer. If it wasn’t for the zero-net-cash aspect of it, we would not have made use of the government grant, nor had any solar system installed so a little is better than nothing.

The average over the year is said to be about 6kW / day.  It will be mounted on the house, and feeding into the house supply, but I like to think that while I’m in the shed, the first 1000W I use are solar (whether that be 1000W of my 2400W tablesaw, or half the dust collector’s power requirements or whatever.  The rest of the time the power being generated won’t get wasted – it will be utilised in the house keeping important things in the fridge cold 🙂

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