E-News Issue #127
Australian Rebate and Feed-in Tariff News
During the past month there has been good and bad news for the solar industry.
Solar Homes and Communities Program Rebate :
First the Rudd Gov't axed this rebate which offered a generous rebate for grid feed systems. This rebate was initially set up by the Howard Gov't for a 5 year period. The Rudd Gov't in November 08 announced that it would terminate early on 30 th June 09. It also promised that there would be a smooth transition to a new (but less generous) Solar Credits program. Then on 9 th June it axed the rebate with 5 hours notice because it was 'too popular'.
Renewable Remote Power Generation Programme:
The Howard Gov't had also set up the RRPGP (Stand-Alone Solar Power) program which offered a generous rebate to those living off the grid and who chose to go solar rather than live off a polluting petrol/diesel gen set. This was also supposed to go for a 5 year period. Persistent industry rumours that this rebate would also be axed early proved true on 22 June when it was terminated without notice.
Solar Credits Rebate:
Both of the above rebates were supposed to be replaced by the Solar Credits scheme which would pay up to a maximum of about $7,500 on a new system with 1500 Watts of solar panels. The so called smooth transition to this scheme went pear shaped when the Gov't tied this legislation to its Emissions Trading legislation. This is being blocked in the Senate by all opposition Parties.
Grid Feed in Tariff:
I did say there was some good news - on 23 rd June the NSW Gov't finally announced its Grid Feed in Tariff (FIT) policy. It will start on 1 st January (not sure why they can't start it earlier!) and will pay $0.60/kWh for net exported power. This is not as generous as the gross FIT which would pay a premium for all solar power produced, and not just the portion that was exported.
However, it is still a huge improvement over the present system of 'net billing' which pays the same for export as you pay to purchase the power.
First of all let me explain what a Net FIT means. I sometimes refer to it as an 'instantaneous net' calculation. Lets say your solar panels are producing 800 Watts and the only appliance on in your house is a 200 Watt fridge. This will result in the meter showing you are exporting 600 Watts. If this occurs for 2 hours, you will have exported 1200Wh or 1.2kWh. Your credit for this will be 1.2 x $0.60 = $0.72.
This type of FIT billing greatly advantages those who use little power during the day - eg everyone is at work/school or on holiday. If you already have a grid feed system, you can look at your last few bills and multiply your export by $0.60, instead of the present $0.16, to get an idea of your savings after 1 st January.
Unfortunately, if you don't already have a solar grid feed system, it is difficult to estimate your savings.
If you have a very large daytime electrical load - eg several computers, fridges, pool pump etc) your annual saving from a 1kW solar system will be what it is under the present net billing system - about $300/year.
On the other hand if you plan to go to Europe for a year, your total export from a 1kW system amounts to a credit of about $1100!
Clearly the vast majority of us will get credits less than this. I have had a look at my own power bills for the past year. I have a modest power usage - only the fridge on during the week days, electric cooking, cooling and heating, medium size TV and computer. I have a 1kW system and a solar hot water system. My current 3 monthly bill is about $90. Looking at my last 2 bills, I calculate my export rebate will be about $143/quarter or $572/year.
Overall, my bill will be in credit, even after the 20% power cost increase next month.
At the moment, Country Energy issues a cheque if your account is in credit. I assume this practice will continue.
New Efficient 240V Fridge
One of our customers located a new 240 Volt fridge.
It is a 416 litre Stainless Steel with an ice cube maker - Electrolux TM4200SC-R
367 kWh/ year = 1005Wh/ day (measured at 32C for 24 hours continuous)
Start up current 7.46A (1790W)
Continuous current 0.67A (161W)
Cost approx $1530 from a large white goods retailer.
Solar Hot Water Feedback
Previous newsletters have discussed a number of issues about solar hot water systems sometimes producing too much hot water.
Dan suggested: I have two panels and a 300 litre tank, but in the summer it gets so hot that the tank can dump due to high temperature. The solution that works for me is to cover one of the panels in the summer with shade cloth, but you need to select the correct panel. Cover the panel which is first in line, and not the one which feeds the tank, otherwise you may disrupt the thermosiphon (circulation).
Cheers from Dave and all the RPC crew.
Dave Lambert (Director)
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