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ISSN: 0729-6436

Building a power station: electrons or steam? Options in solar thermal technology Running an electricity network Some hypothetical alternatives Building a technical Nepal Painstaking progress in the third world Central Victoria turns on to solar power What a difference a solar city makes


issue 2

Solar 2013 Conference & Expo Speakers and events

The Official Journal of the Australian Solar COUNCIL

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Front cover: Newstead’s conservation-oriented community embraces healthy lifestyles and solar power Image courtesy Central Victoria Solar City






38 Australian Solar Council

Special features

News and views

Foreword by ASC CEO and Solar Progress Editor 2 Solar project financing tour of Taiwan  6 SOLAR 2013 CONFERENCE & EXPO PROGRAM18 SOLAR 2013 CONFERENCE & EXPO KEYNOTE SPEAKERS  20 State Branch activities 49 ASC Membership listing 60

If I ran an electricity network Alan Pears reviews the 2012 Energy White Paper 12 Illawarra Flame at Solar Decathlon ‘energy olympics’ 22 Swedes aim high in transport renewables34 Central Victoria Solar City – changing the landscape38 Building a technical Nepal Peter Freere’s vision materialises 44

Australia China partnership Pain versus Gain Nigel Morris assesses solar industry’s vital statistics Local and global solar news


Yingli, Urban Group Energy, Refusol, Solar Inception, SMA, SunTrix and Schneider Electric  42 Solar company profiles 52 A listing of prominent solar entities

Solar advances and research Solar thermal technology <50 MW Carbon reduction Ventures – into CSP  CSIRO’s Solar Forecasting project

8 30

Australia’s Solar Installations 100 kW +


Political update


24 42

Tech Talk

Tech guru Glen Morris on PV maintenance 36

Advertorials: Solar products and services

Shadow Minister Greg Hunt outlines the Coalition’s energy policy  4

SOLAR PROGRESS is published by CommStrat for the Australian Solar Council (ASC). Solar Progress subscriptions: contact Anna Washington Executive Assistant, ASC or call 0409 802 707

ditor Dr Bill Parker Phone: 0403 583 676 Contributors: Peter Freere, Rob Fuller, Greg Hunt, Glen Morris, Nigel Morris, Wayne Smith, Nick Underhill Contributing editor Nicola Card National Sales Manager Brian Rault Phone: 03 8534 5014

Design & production Annette Epifanidis CommStrat Melbourne Level 8, 574 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 3004 Phone: 03 8534 5000 Australian Solar COUNCIL CEO John Grimes PO Box 148, Frenchs Forest NSW 1640 ABN 32 006 824 148 CommStrat ABN 31 008 434 802 Solar Progress was first published in 1980. The

magazine aims to provide readers with an in–depth review of technologies, policies and progress towards a society which sources energy from the sun rather than fossil fuels. Except where specifically stated, the opinions and material published in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or AuSES Ltd Trading as Australian Solar Council. While every effort is made to check the authenticity and accuracy of articles, neither ASC nor the editors are responsible for any inaccuracy. Solar Progress is published quarterly.

SolarProgress | 1

Bill Parker Editor

John Grimes Chief Executive, Australian Solar Council

Dramatic Energy Changes The way we generate, transmit, use and store energy is changing at a dramatic pace. Energy efficiency measures, a switch to renewable energy (solar and wind), increased distributed generation (like solar PV), and the prospect of battery technology at the household or local level (including in electric vehicles) are all having a dramatic impact. An Industry Protected from Change For almost 100 years the energy companies have not changed their business models. There was no reason to. Their charter was to deliver ever more energy to an energy hungry nation. In return they worked as monopoly or semi-monopoly providers. Better still when they spent money they put their prices up by a set margin that was guaranteed by government. A sector with a government guaranteed rate of return on all expenditure, which was not subject to outside influences and competition for over a hundred years. What a great business! The Right Response So the energy industry’s response to competitive change, outside pressure, and new technology has been predictable. At first ignore. Then attack. Then undermine and set up barriers. This is the phase we are currently in, and it has become increasingly polarised and political. In my view this will only end badly for the incumbents. Think Kodak, Chrysler and any newspaper you care to name. The sector needs to change, and change fast. We need to strike a new deal. A deal where we put a value on energy efficiency and align our interests. Where solar, and storage are integrated sub-station by sub-station to strengthen the grid and reduce costs. Where we plan for a transition to distributed renewable energy. The solar industry is the only industry worldwide which has continued growing and creating new jobs in the period since the GFC. As we transition to a 100% renewable energy system it is time for the incumbents to start embracing the new reality. Change is coming, ready or not.

John Grimes 2 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

I spoke about the extremes of weather in our last edition, as it was actually happening. Now, the Climate Commission has released its report ( The term extreme weather or climate event refers to “an occurrence of a value of a weather or climate variable beyond a threshold that lies near the end of the range of observations for the variable” (IPCC, 2012). You do not need to be reminded of the severity of weather patterns in the past few years, whether that is drought or flood or extremes of heat. The challenge is now one of adaptation. If you have the good fortune to live in a home designed for your local climate, it may not now be as effective at maintaining comfort as it was. Since design for the climate implies the use of climate data it follows that adjustments need to be made for new designs. At the other extreme of flooding, the planning of new residential developments must take into consideration the effect of flooding and building on low lying coastal areas or river flood plains. None of this is technically hard, but it requires well–informed local governments to enact sensible planning policies. On a domestic note, my last electricity bill was another extreme event. Enough was enough. I have placed an order for a system, thus joining the 1,000,000 and rising who are financially motivated to install PV. Of course, as some readers may know, this is not my first experience with PV but there is a massive difference now in the market compared to that of 1998. Then, at the time of installation there was about 4 kW total grid connected PV in WA. Now there is more than 275 MW. As long as the electricity retailers keep hiking up prices, that number will grow, even with a grossly unfair buyback tariff of 8cents/kWh. More on this in our next issue.

Bill Parker

Printed using FSC® mixed source certified fibre by Graphic Impressions Pty Ltd.

Political update

Coalition’s support for the solar sector Solar Progress asked Greg Hunt, Shadow Minister for Climate Action and the Environment, about the Coalition’s energy plans. Solar power will have a growing role to play in providing Australia’s energy needs into the future, both on a small and large scale. One million roofs across Australia now have a solar system installed. It is an important milestone and an indication of the Australian community’s support for solar. It has taken significant time to reach this level and there have been more than a few hiccups along the way, with a range of changing federal and state policies that have created significant uncertainty for the industry. That is why I am extremely mindful of the importance of providing much needed stability and sustainability for the industry. The Coalition has been very upfront and transparent about the policies it is taking to the next election, including our commitment to the Renewable Energy Target (RET), reducing Australia’s emissions and specific support for the solar sector. It is important to recognise that there is agreement between the two major political parties on the need to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions by five per cent by 2020. There is bi-partisan support for both the targets on climate change and the RET. The point of difference is how you get there. The Coalition has consistently argued that a Carbon Tax, which primarily drives up the cost of electricity, is the wrong approach. If it was being judged on its environmental outcomes alone, then it would be scrapped immediately because on the Government’s own figures, Australia’s emissions will increase from 560 to 637 million tonnes by 2020 under the Carbon Tax. On the key criteria for which it should be judged, the Carbon Tax fails.

The Direct Action Plan In contrast, the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan will cut emissions and will do it without a $9 billion a year tax on business and families. Our policy is to focus on emissions reduction by purchasing abatement at the lowest cost via a market mechanism. In that way we achieve our five per cent target but within a capped budget and with local environmental benefits, such as cleaning up landfill gas, revegetation or via energy efficiency in buildings. Also included in Direct Action is our promise to deliver One Million Solar Roofs. While Australia has now hit the one million mark, we still believe there is opportunity to further expand the market in a sustainable way. In response to concerns within the industry about programs that have been rushed out then scrapped, the One Million Roofs will occur through a staged roll out. The program will be delivered with a cap of 100,000 per year over the next decade. There will be a focus on low income earners to provide them with a means of combating rising electricity prices. The program will cover solar PV, solar hot water and heat pumps. Staging it over ten years provides the industry with a structure for planning and is an attempt to bring to an end the highs and lows that have traditionally plagued the sector. 4 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Greg Hunt (right) expresses support for the Australian solar industry The Coalition remains committed to the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target. It is a position we have re-stated following the recent review. As already mentioned, the Coalition is very much aware of the importance of providing certainty for the renewable energy sector and that any significant change would create sovereign risk. The RET was introduced by the Howard Government and we have been consistent in our support for the scheme, which assists in reducing Australia’s CO2 emissions. It is the RET that has been the driver of solar investment, along with the significant drop in costs, and will be into the future.

R&D We also know there is a role for research and development and so have given our support to the role of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. While there have been some significant disappointments in regards to the Government’s flagship projects, we believe with rigorous assessment ARENA does have a role to play. However we do not agree with the Government’s allocation of $10 billion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The Coalition remains critical of this process for it is putting $10 billion of borrowed taxpayers’ money on the line, without producing one extra watt of renewable electricity as it will still fall within the RET. As far as we are concerned, it doesn’t pass the sound financial management and policy test, particularly in the current context of a major budget shortfall. The Coalition has a strong track record on the environment and in its support of the solar sector. What we want to be able to deliver, if elected, is a policy that provides sustainability and a long-term future for the industry without constant chopping and changing. Solar has a key role to play in the energy sector and we encourage the industry to continue to invest and expand. The Hon Greg Hunt MP is Shadow Minister for Climate Action and the Environment.



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Taiwan Solar Financing visit a success Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes presents insights into the value of a recent visit by delegates to Taiwan, which boasts a massive solar industry. In March the Australian Solar Council coordinated a Solar PV and Solar Project Financing tour of Taiwan, the second largest solar manufacturing centre in the world. Delegates were introduced to pre-qualified solar financing contacts, as well as a selection of the best solar industry players in Taiwan. WINAICO was the primary sponsor of the trip, and we worked closely with Austrade and the Taiwanese Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to make sure the delegates got the most out of the visit. The unanimous feedback from delegates has been that the trip was definitely worth the effort, with the level of contacts and introductions exceeding their expectations. Delegates’ feedback to the Council indicates that all are now in detailed discussions with prospective partners.

China Visit Building on the success of this visit, the Australian Solar Council will lead a delegation to China in September. After visiting and meeting with around 100 companies in China over the past year, we have picked the best to include on the tour. We will send a more detailed program out shortly, and if you would like to express interest in joining the tour, or sponsoring the event, please send me an email at

Not on our Mailing List? If you are not on our email alert database, but would like to be, please visit Top: Delegates at the opening briefing session – John Grimes is centre front row, yellow tie Below: Factories Tour

Top: WINAICO Visit - Delegates get ‘up close’ to solar manufacturing Below: One on one Meeting Forum

6 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

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Solar advances

Cooma Tower

Do you want

electrons or steam

with that power station? One of the recommendations in last year’s ASI report (“Realising the Potential of Concentrating Solar Power in Australia”) was that Australia should think small when it comes to solar thermal power. This begs the question of how small is small? Bill Parker spoke to Rob Coltrona, the Managing Director of Carbon Reduction Ventures, about his move into solar thermal technology.

Australian CSP had its origins in the outback at White Cliffs with a 25 kW multiple dish plant. This plant can regarded as the birthplace of CSP in Australia, and from it came the Big Dish at ANU in Canberra, a 400m tracking plant. This has so far proved to be a challenge to transfer the technology to full commercial operation. Using the same basic starting point - that focusing the sun’s heat on to a receiver enables the production of steam - another pioneering venture began at Lake Cargelligo (500 kilometres west of Sydney) with the origins of the technology commencing in the late 90s with the work of Bob Lloyd. This 3 MW plant uses large graphite blocks mounted on a tower with an internal heat exchanger and a field of heliostats deployed to focus on the block. In theory, it could be ideal to supply a reliable quality of electricity to a “fringe of grid” or isolated township or mining camp.

8 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Fast forward to another venture. The intention here is to build a 1.5 MW plant at Morawa in Western Australia. Carbon Reduction Ventures, the company intending to build this small plant are using the same technology as at Lake Cargelligo under an agreement with Solastor Pty Ltd. But how was CRV conceived? Rob Coltrona has a background in technology development, a scientist by training, who chose to surround himself with a team of people with backgrounds in project management, utility experience and engineering. It grew from his experience in R&D commercialisation management at Murdoch University. But just how do you make the transition from R&D at a university to taking on a barely tried, as yet not commercial, new technology? Coltrona’s main driver was energy storage. His business interest was piqued by the model of SunEdison (a successful US company started in 2003 and supplying commercial, government and utility customers via

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small PV plants). But since PV had no viable large scale storage option at the time, the focus for him was on finding a new solar technology with storage potential. Pointing at production curves for PV versus thermal storage, he asks: “Why pay for a spikey output curve when you can have the reliability of a consistent flat result? The key issue is actually heat, and that’s a useful commodity; easy to capture, can be used very efficiently and with low impact.” In 2009 when CRV was just an idea, the options for technology development were few in the solar space, and an approach to Lloyd Energy’s Steve Hollis in 2009 proved fruitful. Hollis was keen to see the deployment of the graphite block system in WA. The work in New South Wales was underway to the point of delivering an output but at that stage had progressed no further. > 10

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Solar advances


The Challenges


OCR Fluid (vapor) Condenser Vaporizer

Liquid Pump OCR Fluid (liquid) Water or air

Heat Source

Organic Rankine Cycle

In 2012 CRV was successful in winning a WA Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) $3.775 million grant and the interest of the Shire of Morawa. Morawa is situated on the fringe of the South West Integrated System and one of the WA towns with poor electricity delivery. The company is now busy with the final feasibility study and construction may commence later this year. This technology is different from the now familiar CSP projects. In this case, heat is stored directly in a large graphite block. The block contains a heat exchanger circuit that delivers the steam. Otherwise, it is not all that different from other CSP plants in principle.

Beyond the “Flange” – the opportunities The standard steam turbine is commonly used for CSP plants. However, CRV are proposing to use the Organic Rankine Cycle technology because it allows power generation at lower capacity with higher efficiency and at a lower steam temperature, hence the possibility for lower-cost, smaller scale decentralized operation becomes more feasible. Rankine was a 19th century Scottish engineer and physicist. He was a founding contributor to the science of thermodynamics who developed the theory of the steam engine, but it wasn’t until the 1960s when Harry Tabor (a well known ISES personality) developed the Organic Rankine Cycle engine. WA had an ORC plant at Meekatharra with the first outback ORC installation, not ultimately a success story (wrong place, wrong time and not enough local experience). Now, with work of Mario Gaia at Turboden in Italy the ORC technology is mature and suitable. (The Cargelligo plant uses a simple steam turbine.) Rob Coltrona is quite sanguine about the process and talks about the numbers in blunt detail. “We have 100% heat in, 25 to 30% out as electricity; the rest requires further inputs to be cooled. But how much parasitic demand is there? How much cooling required?” he asks. “I can see the challenge being how to use that waste heat beneficially, and an example would be absorption chilling. The trade off between “valuable water” and electrons is a choice, so we need to manage the system to balance the technology to make the most of available water versus possible electrons”. There is no doubt that the CRV team will address that question in a creative way. In fact, such a plant could just as easily be used to rectify poor quality groundwater, for which there is a need in WA’s agricultural areas, Morawa included.

10 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Like the construction of anything, be it a hotel, building or swimming pool or a 1.5 MW graphite block solar thermal plant, many approvals must be obtained for the construction, and such processes are not normally fast. The project will also require approval from the WA Development Assessment Panel as it is over $5 million in value. Just another building for the building inspectorate to evaluate and make recommendations to the local councillors for a decision. However, establishing a functional proof of concept providing a better quality of electricity supply to an outback town could be the route to win hearts and minds of miners, indeed anyone wanting a regular, reliable process that produces electrons … or was that just plain heat? An argument that has endured for decades – PV or Thermal – is also played out right here. Short term, PV at megawatt scale wins financially, and if the end user wants proof, visit the Walkaway solar farm or one of the larger installations across Australia. Operation and management costs may be lower for PV (two people at Walkaway), but local employment may see benefits from CSP. Mirror cleaners in Spain have jobs where they never had any employment at all before CSP, with heat being an added benefit! Perhaps the biggest challenge will be optimisation. Beneficial use of waste heat is one aspect. Configuring the plant to maximise electron production or steam is another. Despite long–term costs of diesel being relatively stable, they are rising and there is a forward security issue, thus diesel displacement is a market, especially in WA.

Staying connected with the research bench It is hardly surprising that Rob Coltrona values his strong connections with the University sector. He sees this as an opportunity to generate more trained higher degree students and to maintain the link between operational technology and R&D. “The central question for them is about cycle efficiency, from the heat collection to the electron,” he says. We look forward to this technology being firmly embedded in all the markets that can benefit. Further Information

The ORC plant at Meekatharra

Special feature

If I ran an electricity network… Alan Pears takes a different viewpoint on the Energy White Paper 2012.

We have seen the release of the final Energy White Paper and the report of the Senate inquiry into electricity pricing. The final white paper was substantially improved from the draft. But it still rates a ‘fail’. The core scenario on which future energy policy is based is the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) ‘New Policies’ scenario, which is pretty much our past growth trajectory. The IEA’s ‘450 ppm scenario’ to limit global warming to around two degrees is largely ignored. The brief discussion on page 204, titled ‘Integrating a Changing Climate into Energy Planning’ focuses on climate adaptation and climate impacts on energy infrastructure. The overall position is that cutting emissions is not the responsibility of the energy sector, but is dealt with by other government agencies and COAG councils! So the Energy White Paper 2012, Australia’s energy transformation fails to confront fundamentals such as the IEA view that, if we are to limit global temperature increase to near two degrees Celsius, and global coal consumption will decline by 30% by 2035. Less than a third of the fossil fuel industries’ proved resources could be burned without exceeding climate limits. The white paper encourages people to explore different scenarios with the online eFuture model, developed by CSIRO. Unfortunately, this only allows consumption growth scenarios to be explored. Among other things, the paper argues that fossil fuels are not being subsidised, and that the generous taxation incentives simply reflect the varying risk profiles of different activities. An interesting interpretation. As usual, energy efficiency is dealt with last, in 16 of the 227 pages of text. Overall, this will be an interesting document for historians to look back at when they try to explain to future generations how misguided our society was, and why we failed to manage climate change.

Senate inquiry into electricity pricing This report is a thoughtful discussion of the shambles that is our electricity market. It has some useful recommendations and is well worth a read. But the Hansard records of the inquiry hearings are much more entertaining. Hansard shows how, on one hand, the existing energy sector is unanimous that there have been problems but that they are well on the way to fixing them, so they should just be left alone. On the other hand, they blame each other for the problems and express concern about the lack of information on which to base decisions. For example, the head of the Energy Department’s energy division admitted that his department

12 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

had done no analysis of demand-reduction activities and their relationship to electricity prices (Hansard 25/9/12). How can the department advise its minister for resources on energy policy without doing this? Those outside the mainstream energy sector were unanimous that the problems are serious and will require substantial change. For example, demand management expert Dr Paul Troughton estimated that $16 billion had been spent unnecessarily on electricity supply (Hansard p.67 27/9/12). The depth of the cultural problem in the energy sector is reflected in a comment by Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) chair, John Pierce, in the hearings (Hansard 25/9/12). He drew upon a football analogy, suggesting that the energy sector was just one specialist player, and that there were other specialist players responsible for environmental, social and other policy areas. He suggested that it was ridiculous for other players to try to tell a specialist player how to play as part of a team. He saw the role of AEMC as focused on economic efficiency: others should deal with other issues. He saw AEMC’s role as being “to inform other parts of government what the effect on this efficiency objective is of things they are thinking about…” He, like others in the energy sector, interpreted the energy market objective in very narrow economic terms and saw no role for energy policy people to help other agencies to develop joint policy. No wonder energy policy conflicts with other policies. While the inquiry and its recommendations are a very useful step, the big question is whether the energy sector will retake control of the agenda through management of the detail of ongoing changes. Or will they review their approach so it meshes with other government policies?

energy efficiency, fuel switching and demand management – so they are able to exert unfair market power. Networks are also paid based on the size of their assets and the amount of electricity supplied through their wires. The main risk networks now face to their businesses is that use of their capital-intensive networks will decline, while peaks become more significant. Unless regulators agree to them extracting higher charges from consumers or separating payment from electricity flows, this will reduce their profitability.

“So if I ran a network, I would broaden its activities into the competitive areas of the energy markets, both wholesale and retail, as well as the energy services market.”

If I ran an electricity network… Electricity network operators are the whipping boys of the industry, with some justification. But how could networks become part of the solution instead of part of the problem? At present, the core business of an electricity network is seen as ensuring reliable and safe supply of electricity to consumers from large power stations and measurement of electricity use for billing purposes. They have no direct links to consumers and their culture is based on building and maintaining poles and wires. Regulators treat networks effectively as regional monopolies – although as I have pointed out before, this is incorrect, as they compete with distributed generation,

SolarProgress | 13

Special feature

So if I ran a network, I would broaden its activities into the competitive areas of the energy markets, both wholesale and retail, as well as the energy services market. I would install regional electricity storage systems, which I could use to store low cost electricity and sell it at premium prices. This technology could be located strategically to also store exports from PV and other distributed energy systems locally, before they complicate the operation of the main network. This would allow ‘smart’ consumer technologies to interact better with existing ‘dumb’ grids, reducing the need for high risk investment in networks. I would seek a licence to bid demand management into the wholesale electricity market and set up a subsidiary business to develop this market capacity. I would minimise additional investment in the existing network so that depreciation and other allowances in tax rules would allow reducing returns from them to be managed. I would set up another subsidiary business to sell in-home and inbusiness displays and smart controls, on-site electricity storage, PV and stand-alone power systems, initially for fringe-of-grid customers, people in high fire-risk areas and where networks are under stress. This would include allowing consumers to share use of backup generators and storage within local areas. This could include leasing these technologies and providing ongoing fee-based maintenance and monitoring services, so that those with on-site equipment need not be deeply involved in running their energy systems. It might also include using under-utilised grid capacity to provide low cost backup. For the existing business, I would develop more sophisticated network pricing schemes so that PV, other distributed generators and energy efficient consumers gain benefit from avoiding demand or exporting electricity at times and places of most use to the network.

High risk areas in the Hills east of Perth. Poles and wires buried in the bush. This would encourage PV owners to consider orienting their panels to generate more in the afternoon or to install storage to allow them to complement the grid. This might be done through adding to existing feed-in tariffs at certain times of day or by offering rebates on energy bills based on actual avoided peak demand/exports at critical times. Remote management of specific equipment such as pool pumps and air conditioners and voluntary limits on peak demand, in exchange for discounted prices, could also be part of the new business model. Partnerships with welfare groups, community groups and other businesses, as well as separate subsidiary businesses, will be necessary to overcome lack of consumer trust in network operators, cultural barriers and limited internal marketing and sales skills within the network business. Some elements of this model depend on changes to energy market rules. But government policy makers should be supportive, as the alternative is higher consumer energy costs and potential business failures among network operators. Alan Pears has worked in the energy efficiency field for over 20 years as an engineer and educator. He is Adjunct Professor at RMIT University and is co-director of environmental consultancy Sustainable Solutions Reprinted from RenewEconomy of March 27 2013 with kind permission of article author Alan Pears

14 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

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Consultant's corner

Australia/China Partnership Wayne Smith presents insights into the power of China's solar industry. When Gough Whitlam in 1973 made the first visit to China by an Australian Prime Minister, he marked a profound shift in the relationship between the two countries and laid the foundations for a partnership that shaped Australia’s economy for decades ahead. The Whitlam Institute notes that as the then Prime Minister drove into Beijing, loudspeakers played Click Go the Shears, The Road to Gundagai and Waltzing Matilda, as well as Chinese revolutionary songs. When Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a similar trip 40 years later, the songs were missing but the relationship was stronger. Australia and China announced a new Strategic Partnership, which will include annual leader level talks and greater engagement between the two nations. The new Strategic Partnership builds on the themes outlined in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, which notes: The Asian century is an Australian opportunity. As the global centre of gravity shifts to our region, the tyranny of distance is being replaced by the prospects of proximity. Australia is located in the right place at the right time— in the Asian region in the Asian century. Australia’s clean energy industry will directly benefit from this high level partnership. The two countries have already forged a strong relationship over clean energy and emissions trading, and this will only grow in coming decades. Australia and China already have a strategic partnership when it comes to solar, and it is quickly transforming the two nations. Australian research and development, particularly through the University of New South Wales and the Australian National University, has driven innovation and the rapid growth of the Chinese solar industry. Around a dozen leading Chinese solar companies have Australian-educated professionals as their Chief Executive or Chief Technology Officers. China manufactures the vast majority of the million solar panels on Australian roofs. The Chinese Government’s strategic investment in solar has helped to rapidly reduce the cost of solar panels, making this investment even easier for Australian families.

Forging ties The Australian Solar Council has sought to amplify the Australia/China solar partnership, having led a number of delegations to the country and having hosted visits from leading solar companies. I was fortunate to represent the Australian Solar Council at a recent PV conference in Jinan, my second visit to China’s City of Springs and the

Model of a housing complex in Duzhou, China’s solar valley, with integerted PV and solar hot water. 16 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Wayne Smith visits China’s Solar Museum capital of Shandong Province. With more than 100 million people, Shandong Province is an important trading centre and a key part of Chinese history. It is also making its own mark on the solar hot water and PV market, through companies like Linuo, Hareon, Himin, CNPV and Hanergy. China’s Solar Valley in Duzhou (halfway between Shanghai and Beijing, and down the road from Jinan) is a perfect example of China’s ambition, positioning itself as a template for future Chinese urban development. In addition to its solar hotel and office complex – one of the biggest building integrated PV projects in the world – it will also be the site of a 10,000 personhousing complex with fully integrated PV and solar hot water. Huang Ming, the Chairman of Himin (the company responsible for the Solar Valley) is also Vice-President of the International Solar Energy Society. Shandong Province is just one region in which there is potential to strengthen the solar partnership. There is an extraordinary appetite for investment in Australia in large and small–scale solar, and an increasing financing capacity to underpin the appetite. There is also a great desire to learn from Australia’s experience, whether that’s in residential solar, programs like Solar Schools and Solar Cities, or in the roll out of emissions trading. The Asian century is an opportunity for Australian clean technology and solar firms – opportunities in research and development, training, development of standards, financing, among other areas. The solar partnership should continue to be strengthened through the exchange of ideas and people and greater understanding of our respective cultures and histories. Australia should be encouraging Chinese investment in larger-scale solar projects and Australia should be working closely with China to help it develop stronger standards, and an effective carbon price and regulatory environment. China is already the world leader in solar and wind manufacturing and will soon be the biggest market for both industries. Chinese companies like Yingli, Trina, Canadian Solar, Jinko and JA Solar are among the leading solar module suppliers. China is seeking to lead the next industrial revolution. The Strategic Partnership between both countries will help ensure Australian clean energy companies are well placed to reap the benefits of being in the right place at the right time. Wayne Smith is Director of Clean Economy Services

Solar 2013 Conference & Exhibition

Thursday 23 May – Friday 24 May 2013

MELBOURNE CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE The Australian Solar Council is proud to present its 51st annual industry conference & exhibition – Solar 2013 Conference & Exhibition. The Australian Solar Council has once again partnered with international organisation AUPVSEE to deliver expert industry leaders and showcase the latest in solar technologies. This free-to-attend event is expected to attract more than 2000 local and international industry professionals. The Solar 2013 Conference will feature three concurrent sessions and host a continuous stream of presentations from industry experts, covering diverse topics from current policy and market analysis, to financing of industry projects and industry case studies and best practice.

Industry and Policy Stream (day one) The opening Plenary Session kicks off with Industry Keynote Presentations from our Platinum Sponsors: Mr Doug Fletcher, Chief Executive of Solar Inception and Mr Samuel Yang, Chief Executive of Hareon Solar. Samuel Yang is an Australian solar success story virtually unknown in Australia. Samuel is an Australian citizen who is a graduate of Macquarie University (MA Economics) and has been central in founding major solar companies and is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of the Chinese photovoltaic industry and a low-key leader. 18 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Speaking for the first time to the Australian Solar industry at Solar 2013, Samuel Yang will give delegates a unique insight into the creation of the Chinese solar industry, and his views on the future of the solar industry globally. Day one morning presentations include an update from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Analysing Certificate Prices and Outlook with Ric Brazzale, Managing Director, Green Energy Trading. During the afternoon Daman Cole of Yingli Solar will discuss Global Trends in Solar, and John Todd, representing the University of Tasmania will present Practical Building Solutions in a Changing Climate.

Scientific Stream – A Brilliant Half Century (Day one) The Scientific Stream opens with Garry Baverstock AM, prominent solar architect/scientist along with world-recognised solar energy scientist, David Mills, presenting an overview of the vital role of the Solar Energy Society, first as ANZSES and more recently Australian Solar Council, in global renewable energy development. Australia was a leading nation in the development of solar powered water heating. Past CSIRO Chief Roger Morse was instrumental in the 1950s in stimulating Australia innovators to commercialise the thermosiphon solar water heater. The now famous closed couple system followed with great success. Graham Morrison, Australia’s foremost scientific expert will describe the successes of the past and how the setting of industry standards has helped this process and will drive a new wave of innovation in the future. The afternoon session will close with the Australian Solar Council President, Steve Blume, presenting on the Council’s future vision. Steve Blume will explain why the Australian Solar Council needs to emerge more into the premier industry advocate, as well as keep a healthy dialogue with solar experts, academics and professionals to ensure that proven innovations reach the market place.

Solar Installer and Designer Professional Development Stream (over two days) The Conference will also feature a two day stream focused on Solar Installer and Designer Professional Development Training. This Session is eligible for Continuous Professional Development points towards renewal of solar accreditation and is being organised in conjunction with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The morning of Day one will feature current industry issues followed by an Open Forum. Afternoon presentations focus on the nitty gritty of Warranty and Liability, Performance Statements, System Financing Options. Day two Professional Development Session presentations will open with Australian Solar Council presenting on Best Practice, Solar Plus and Design Case studies, before moving on to discuss Battery Back Up and Data Logging. Later in the afternoon the Clean Energy Regulator will present Audit Reports – The BEST and the WORST, followed by Network Penetration Issues with Max Rankin from SP-AusNET. Don’t miss this important industry program - join in and share your thoughts at the open forums, discuss current industry concerns and issues, and address the future outlook for the solar industry.

Day Two The day two Plenary Session kicks off with Keynote Presentations by the Hon. Greg Hunt, Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment & Heritage, the Clean Energy Regulator and Mr Oliver Yates, CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne opens the morning session before afternoon session highlights which include Solar Thermal’s Potential in Australia with Manuel Blanco, Director, Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative and An Update on CSP in Spain by Cayetano Lopez. Mr Lopez is Director General of the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT) – the Spanish equivalent of Australia’s CSIRO. His visit to Australia is being sponsored by the Spanish Government.

Exhibitors and sponsors The Solar 2013 Exhibition will showcase 100+ exhibitors with the latest innovation and products available, while providing the opportunity to network directly with policy makers, industry players, experts and consumers. A wide range of Australian manufacturers will be exhibiting and sponsoring organisations include Solar Inception, Hareon Solar, Yingli Solar, AC Solar Warehouse, Canadian Solar, Clean Energy Regulator, Enphase Energy, Green Energy Trading, Greenbank Environmental, Fronius Australia, LDK Solar, Lead Solar Energy, RFI Solar, Solarland Australia, Solar Plus and many more. Information about each of the keynote speakers features on the following pages. Register your free attendance online at: http://solarexhibition. For more information please visit:

Solar 2013 Conference Keynote Speakers

Following are brief profiles of Solar 2013 Conference keynote speakers. The Hon Greg Hunt MP Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage Federal Member for Flinders Greg Hunt was elected to represent the Federal Electorate of Flinders in 2001. In December 2007 he was appointed Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water, a role which was expanded to include all water responsibilities in September 2008. In December 2009 Greg was appointed Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage. His previous appointments included Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (January -November 2007) and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage (2004 -2007).

Christine Milne Senator for Tasmania and Leader of the Australian Greens Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania and Leader of the Australian Greens, is one of Australia's most experienced and respected environmental and community activists with a career spanning 30 years. After leading the successful campaign to protect farming land and fisheries from the Wesley Vale Pulp Mill, Christine was elected to the Tasmanian parliament in 1989 and in 1993 became the first woman to lead a political party in Tasmania. She was elected to the Senate in 2004 and to the Leadership in 2012 following the retirement of Senator Bob Brown. Christine's vision to address climate change and her unparalleled experience with power-sharing minority governments led to the establishment of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee and its successful negotiations to design the Clean Energy Future package. The package has placed innovation, opportunity and clean energy at the forefront of the transformation of the Australian economy for the 21st century.

20 | ISSUE 2 â&#x20AC;˘ 2013

Andrew Livingston Executive General Manager, Renewables and Carbon Farming Prior to his current appointment, Andrew was the Renewable Energy Regulator for the three years from 2009, overseeing the administration of the Renewable Energy Target for the Australian Government. Andrew’s extensive career in the renewable energy sector includes more than three decades in the planning, development and operation of electricity generation, water resource and renewable energy projects nationally and internationally, with senior positions in Hydro Tasmania, URS and the NT Power and Water Corporation. Expertise within the sector includes roles as an operational manager, consultant and project engineer.

Oliver Yates Chief Executive Office, Clean Energy Finance Corporation Oliver Yates was appointed CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation in November 2012. He has over 20 years of global experience in corporate advisory, financial structuring, project finance, debt structuring, equity raising and listings, with many years experience in clean energy. During his time at Macquarie Bank, Oliver was involved in establishing new businesses and growing operations internationally while leading the Bank's initiatives in wind, solar, biofuels, carbon credits and other renewable energy businesses.

Don Henry Chief Executive Officer, Australian Conservation Foundation Don Henry has been CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Australia’s leading national, not for profit environment organisation, since 1998. Previously based in Washington DC, he served with The World Wildlife Fund as director of the Global Forest program (1996-98), and as director of the WWF Asia-Pacific and South Pacific programs. In Australia, Don Henry has held the post of director at both WWF-Australia and the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. His honorary positions have included commissioner with the Australian Heritage Commission and president of both the Australian Committee for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Moreton Island Protection Committee. Don holds a Global 500 Environment Award from the United Nations Environment Program for his services to conservation. In 2008, Don was named Equity Trustees’ ‘Not For Profit 2008 CEO of the Year’. The prestigious award recognises outstanding leadership and is the pre-eminent award in the not-for-profit sector.

Stuart Wenham, Director of the Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence Stuart Wenham is a Scientia Professor at The University of New South Wales (UNSW) where he is Director of the Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence. The Centre is best known for holding the world-record for silicon solar cell performance and the successful development and commercialisation of several silicon-based PV technologies including Suntech’s Pluto technology and BP’s Saturn technology. He is also CTO of Suntech-Power, the world’s largest solar cell manufacturer in 2011. Stuart Wenham has been honoured with several National and International Awards including the 2012 Australian Collaborative Research Award (with industry partner Suntech); 2011 IEEE International Electron Devices Society’s J. J. Ebers Award; the 2010 Professional Engineer of the Year from the Institute of Engineers Australia; the 2009 IEEE William R. Cherry Award; and the 2007 World Technology Award for Energy sponsored by the New York Stock Exchange and Time Magazine.

SolarProgress | 21

Special feature

Illawarra Flame to shine at the Energy Olympics The University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra have joined forces to compete in the Solar Decathlon contest taking place in China. Nick Underhill of Team UOW who describes the project as ‘not your average university assignment’ explains why the team has selected a fibro build. Old fibro housing and energy efficiency are two things that don’t generally go together. Students from the University of Wollongong with TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute, however, are working to change that. The students, under the banner of Team UOW Australia, are developing a super efficient, solar powered retrofit demonstration for the prestigious Solar Decathlon China competition. The global competition pits collegiate teams from around the world in what is dubbed the ‘Energy Olympics’, organised through a joint initiative by the US Department of Energy and the China National Energy Administration. Team UOW saw a unique opportunity in the fibro. Known for their cheap build, the fibro is notoriously energy inefficient and significantly contributes to Australia’s environmental carbon footprint. Despite the challenges of a retrofit, Team UOW thought that it was important to provide an alternative to the standard practice of demolishing and building from scratch, which ultimately isn’t an environmentally friendly or energy efficient process.

The Solar Decathlon is the highest profile, interdisciplinary student-led green building research and innovation competition in the world. It challenges teams from across the globe, to design, build and operate attractive, effective, solar-powered houses that are not only energy-efficient but also cost-effective. It’s a ‘decathlon’ because teams are judged on ten criteria - including marketability, engineering, communications, and architecture. This year the competition has been organised by Peking University, will take place in Datong, China, and is expected to attract half a million spectators. Team UOW Australia is made up of a diverse group of students and is the biggest student-led project that the University of Wollongong has participated in. The students have symbolised their retrofit through the striking Illawarra Flame tree, with the renewal of the tree’s vibrant red flowers representing seasonal transformation and symbolising the future Team UOW see for the fibro home. The fusion of these ideas has taken shape as the Illawarra Flame House and looks set to help them stand out in a competitive field. The competition, however, does throw up some daunting challenges. The teams have to find the perfect balance of modern, attractive design, practicality and energy efficiency. The houses must also all be net-zero energy. The houses must be quick to assemble, disassemble and be easily transported. The Illawarra Flame House has already been built once and deconstructed for a mock build and public display at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus.

A first for Australia The competition is particularly significant for the team as they are the first Aussie team to ever be selected for a Solar Decathlon final and 22 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

the only team in the competition’s history to demonstrate a retrofit. This decision adds yet more complexity to an already very complicated build. The team has had to work with the limitations of an existing floor plan. A retrofit, however, allows them to avoid all the additional environmental impacts of a newbuild project and certainly makes their work more relevant and accessible to Australians in general. Team UOW’s foray into retrofitting couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. One of the biggest challenges facing Australia will be to adapt existing housing and commercial infrastructure to be more efficient. Popularised in the 1960s, fibro at its peak accounted for the external cladding of about 20% of all Australian homes. These houses were rapidly and cheaply built in great numbers during the post-war period to a standard design, using a minimum of materials. Team UOW’s goal is to show that fibro houses can be retrofitted to be ultra sustainable. The need, however, to assemble and disassemble the house in Australia, flat-pack the house for shipping to China, and rebuild the house in two weeks for the competition, means that they could not simply retrofit an existing fibro home. Team UOW have instead built a house based on an original fibro floor plan, altering the house only to allow it to be modularised for shipping and speedy assembly. Project Manager Lloyd Niccol says that Illawarra Flame provides an example of how the Australian housing sector can address issues of environmental degradation and growing electricity costs through the application of innovative technologies and creative thinking. “Since only one to two per cent of Australia’s housing stock is replaced each year, improving the performance of our existing buildings provides the greatest potential for immediate environmental improvement,” he said.

& SOLAR MODULES Despite Australia’s many natural environmental advantages, we still emit the highest amount of CO2 per person among the major developed nations. Our houses alone contribute to over 10% of these emissions and this is only set to increase as energy consumption in the residential sector is forecast to rise 78% by 2050.

Major innovations Team UOW has implemented a number of major innovations and adapted existing technologies for their Illawarra Flame retrofit. From water saving features to a smarter use of solar technology, Team UOW are using every trick in the book to give them an edge. The need for their house to be transportable, for example, has evolved into the use of prefabricated clip-on pods that contain many of the technological improvements required for a net-zero energy home. This means that the pods could be manufactured efficiently and cheaply off-site, then quickly fitted to a house being retrofitted. Not only would this minimise costs, but significantly reduce build times. Another innovative feature is the photovoltaic thermal (PVT) system that removes hot air sitting underneath solar panels. This has the combined effect of providing hot air for heating the home while simultaneously increasing the efficiency of the solar panels. In summer this system also cools the house by using night-sky radiative cooling. The PVT system is also linked directly to a thermal store made from phase change materials that in winter allows the system to accumulate heat during the day and then release it in the home at night. In summer the reverse occurs. Some of the features, while not requiring extensive technical innovation, just make sense. An ‘All Off’ switch, for example, to turn off non-priority electrical circuits and appliances, is a simple idea that will reduce standby equipment loads.

The motivation With these innovations and their unique design brief, Team UOW Australia will be a strong contender at the finals in August in China. But winning or losing isn’t the main concern.

What makes the Solar Decathlon so valuable is that the innovations developed can have a real impact on the real world. Lloyd Niccol attributes his motivations to the positive impact the Illawarra Flame could have on the lives of everyday Australians. “It’s great that the competition is so relevant to today’s energy cost-conscious consumers,” he says. “The project provides a potential example of how the Australian housing sector can address issues of environmental degradation and growing electricity costs using innovative technologies.” Similarly, Team UOW Marketing and Communications Manager Jack Breen says he is looking forward to contributing to the environmental discourse that has in many ways been hijacked by the political process. “It has been disheartening to see Australians disengage with really important environmental issues. Ultimately I would love to see the Team UOW narrative encourage people to reconsider the way they think about sustainability and energy efficiency.” Illawarra Flame project may already be doing just that, capturing the excitement of University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings.

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Left, top & below: The industrious UOW team fans Illawarra Flame into shape

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Nigel’s news and views

Pain versus gain;

the trials and tribulations of the Australian solar industry Nigel Morris says the solar industry in Australia has seen dramatic growth and is on the verge of a fascinating new era. But along with some enormous gains in the past few years, there has been some pain. Here he explores some of the industry’s vital statistics and considers how industry may need to respond to keep the balance in check. The Gains Australia is now back on the map in terms of global volume reaching position eight in 2012 market volumes. Reviewing markets with large utility projects underway shows we have a fabulous resource potential and some of the lowest installed prices in the world. With almost 2.4GW installed up to 2012, we’re well and truly back in black. In the background, we are watching PV driving down wholesale electricity prices through the Merit Order Effect, have rooftop penetration rates as high as 91% in one postcode and network penetration rates as high as 67% on at least one grid feeder. Australia therefore has some of the highest PV penetration rates in the world. One recent peer reviewed model conservatively valued the potential Merit Order Effect savings at $1.8 billion dollars, assuming 5GW was installed and compared to 2009 and 2010 demand profiles. These huge potential savings however, are conveniently overlooked when the “cost of green schemes” is analysed. That seems astounding; until you consider that a massive chunk of electricity revenue feeds State budgets and creates huge wealth for the private companies involved in conventional electricity generation. There’s not much incentive for them to fairly recognise all the benefits of PV. Traditional electricity companies are starting to just quietly note the impact, however. 24 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Queensland’s Ergon Energy which had previously been forecasting the strong potential for rolling brown–outs caused by soaring energy demand from the booming mining sector, quietly noted recently that the proliferation of PV had been partially responsible for avoiding this event. The significance of PV’s contribution in avoiding potential interruptions to Queensland’s entire electricity supply – and the business losses that would have ensued – was largely paid for by mums and dads in the sunshine State and yet seems to have been almost entirely overlooked everyone. The PV industry is also starting to rank in terms of an industry that generates significant revenues and employment too. Although not specifically mentioned in the 2010-2011 release of ABS industry statistics, we took a look at how we rank compared to other similar sized industry sectors. Grouping PV with 10 similar sized industries including internet publishing, warehousing and transport, libraries and creative arts, we represent around 1.3% of all industry sectors income in 2010-2011. Notably, they also represent around $33 billion of income, or 2.1% of 2011 GDP and employed around 1.4% of all the Australians working in industry. And where does PV sit within this sub segment? The PV industry generated an estimated $4 billion in incomes in 2011, making it the fourth largest earner and also sits at position 4 when

ranked by number of employees per dollar of income. As a sector, we employ more people than all the libraries in Australia, commission based non retail sales, arts heritage, internet publishing and broadcasting, water and other transport sectors. Who would have thought there would ever be more solar installers than internet publishing employees! Now of course, I’m cherry picking a little. PV remains a tiny sector (0.16% of all industry revenues) and because we don’t explicitly show up in ABS data yet, there could be some double counting but the point is, we are increasingly material as a sector; and I would suggest we are growing at a rate that far exceeds most other sectors. As if to prove this point of materiality, we recently passed the 1,000,000 solar homes milestone. This means that around 7% of the voting aged population now have PV installed on their roofs and if our duly elected officials haven’t picked up on this point, they ought to. Only a foolhardy politician would ignore the influence and preferences of this growing solarfriendly demographic. I suspect the size of our voting power is lost on most politicians and would strongly recommend they ask NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell what happens if you rile this group of determined and increasingly cohesive voters who have invested in the people’s power station. So we have unequivocally had some gain, but what about the pain?

“The significance of PV’s contribution in avoiding potential interruptions to Queensland’s entire electricity supply – and the business losses that would have ensued – was largely paid for by mums and dads in the sunshine State and yet seems to have been almost entirely overlooked everyone.” The Pain The flipside of the ever expanding solar leviathan is of course, some pain. Our electricity industry is reeling (although they might not openly admit it) from the lost revenues and has been caught unaware and unprepared. We estimate these lost revenues across generation, distribution, retail sales and royalties are probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year and that’s before

we take into account the diminishing value of the assets. It’s getting serious. Origin Energy noted in its half yearly review that retail electricity sales demand was down, partially because of the proliferation of PV. And all those “frivolous and failed” energy efficiency, insulation and light bulb swapping programs have had an impact too. Across the nation for decades it seems, Australians have been told to consume less, to reduce demand and to get

energy wise. Price signals, although hopelessly clumsy and poorly implemented in the majority of cases have become a budgetary sledge hammer to most Australians. They weren’t perfect but holy smokes, these programs actually worked and demand is down – to the complete and utter amazement of the energy sector it seems. I feel a certain amount of empathy for the revolutionary and stunning pace of change

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Nigel’s news and views

that is taking place in the energy sector. They do fulfil a crucial responsibility and are entitled to make a living and deliver a return. However, given the decades of discussions, pilot schemes and posturing it’s not like they haven’t had plenty of time to prepare –most have simply chosen not to.

Energy insights In January this year the US Edison Electric Institute (EEI) published a fascinating insight into the seriousness of the issue which has direct parallels to the Australia situation. The EEI is a trade group of US investor-owned utilities akin to the Electricity Supply Association of Australia of the Energy Networks Association of Australia. In their report they made several stunning assessments which provide great insight to their suddenly evident pain level. The first insight is into the furphy of intermittency and the long held public position that renewables can’t be the solution because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. The EEI admitted that things are changing; “There is a perception that customers will always need to remain on the grid. While we would expect customers to remain on the grid until a fully viable and economic distributed non-variable resource is available, one can imagine a day when battery storage technology or micro turbines could allow customers to be electric grid independent.” The report then goes on to warn of that the consequences of this are “irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects”. Irreparable damage is quite a statement and is followed up by even more, which consider the potential for our traditional electricity industry’s potential obsolescence; “The financial implications of these threats are fairly evident. Start with the increased cost of supporting a network capable of managing and integrating distributed generation sources. Next, under most rate structures, add the decline in revenues attributed to revenues lost from sales foregone. These forces lead to increased revenues required from remaining customers … and sought through rate increases. The result of higher electricity prices and competitive threats will encourage a higher rate of Distributed Energy additions, or will promote greater use of efficiency or demandside solutions. “Increased uncertainty and risk will not be welcomed by investors, who will seek a higher return on investment and force defensiveminded investors to reduce exposure to the sector. These competitive and financial risks 26 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

would likely erode credit quality. The decline in credit quality will lead to a higher cost of capital, putting further pressure on customer rates. Ultimately, capital availability will be reduced, and this will affect future investment plans. The cycle of decline has been previously witnessed in technology-disrupted sectors (such as telecommunications) and other deregulated industries (airlines).” Locally, this has been termed the energy death spiral by AGL, a perpetual self-feeding decline in revenues and increase in costs so we know that at least behind closed doors, the issue is front of mind down under too. Just how our utilities will adjust seems unclear.

Solar coaster ride I am also bearing witness to pain in the PV sector, despite the gains. Although the rebate solar coaster is slowly easing, good companies continue to fall victim to the inevitable surges and collapses in demand that come with short term political support. There have been more than 175 companies which have gone into liquidation, bankruptcy or de-registration in the past three years, some of them going down with millions of dollars in consumer deposits and supplier debt. Ironically, like the utilities our industry is faced with declining revenue streams too, although ours are due to cost reductions and competition rather than declining sales. In 2010 a good solar retailer selling one Megawatt of PV systems could reasonably expect to earn around $7 million in revenue and perhaps $2 million in gross profit, for example. Fast forward to 2013 and that same Megawatt now earns around $3.5 million in revenue and $0.7 million in gross profit, but as you all know, the overhead to sell that Megawatt hasn’t changed much. Even if you had doubled your sales efficiency, you have still gone backwards in terms of the real business results. A wise business advisor once came up with the adage “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality”.

Moving forward So our techniques, profit structures and margin expectations clearly have to change. Intriguingly, several recent articles have analysed the cost differences between the US, Germany and Australia. While the US seems to be loaded with unnecessary costs and high margin expectations, I would suggest that for Australia to be at virtually same price point as Germany, which installs around six times as much annual volume and much larger average systems sizes, something could well be broken here.

Nigel Morris presents a reality check on the solar industry’s character and nuances

I have seen evidence of PV retailers satisfied with a margin of $0.01c/Watt on PV panel sales recently, and a myriad of examples of selling below cost for short term survival, grey imports and less than scrupulous sale techniques, as if to prove the point. We have a huge disparity in pricing and offers in our market and few people I talk to are satisfied that the industry is helping itself to build a financially sustainable future right now. The downside of hyper generous market conditions is it attracts companies which can see short term potential and could care less about long term survival and so, we are living in a distorted world. But it’s not all bad. I still meet companies which are innovating, creative and profitable. I have watched companies quickly adjust their business models to adjust to changing market conditions before it’s too late and consumers seem to be increasingly savvy. Ultimately, the majority of industry participants are approaching their business in an ethical, considered and intelligent way. Markets being what they are, our industry will undoubtedly shake itself out like a hairy wet dog this year, following the global trends in the upstream PV manufacturing sector. The trick might be to not stand too close. Nigel Morris is director of consultancy Solar Business Services Winner: 2011 Australian Solar Energy Society “Advocacy and Industry Leadership Award” Finalist: 2013 A2SE All Star Energy Awards “Distributed Energy”

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Solar Installations

Bradshaw 402 kW

Kalkarindji 402 kW

over 100 kW

Lajamanu 288 kW Port Hedland Airport 120 kW

Marble Bar 304 kW Hamerslet Iron 151 kW

ALICE SPRINGS Nullagine 203 kW

Carnavon (Fullerton) 120 kW

Carnavon solar farm 290 kW

Alpurrulam 226 kW

Newman Airport 120 kW

Greenough River Solar Farm 10 MW

Yuendumu 240 kW

Ti Tree 364 kW

Uterne 969 kW ALICE SPRINGS Araluen Arts Centre 162 kW SOLAR CITY Airport (1) 308 kW Hermannsburg 192 kW Airport (2) 235 kW Crown Plaza (1) 305 kW Kings Canyon 225 kW Crown Plaza (2) 304 kW Desert Knowledge Australia 170 kW Ernaballa 350 kW

Kalbarri tracking solar plant 20 kW Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first large solar installation (1995)


Adelaide Showgrounds 1 1 MW

Perth Arena 111 kW Perth Zoo 146 kW

Wilpena Pound 100 kW Adel Adelaide Airport Showgro Way 114 kW 449

MELBOURNE METRO AREA Queen Victoria Markets 200 kW Monash University (Clayton) 153 kW ANZ HQ (Collins St) 138 kW NextDC 400 kW

Visit to download your free copy of this map.


Ballarat Solar Park 330 kW Bendigo Sol 300 kW Solar Photovoltaics

Solar Thermal

Solar City

Under Construction

Solar Related

Disclaimer: This map is intended as a guide only to notable solar plants/installations in Australia. Developments are constant and the publisher accepts no responsibility for any unintended inaccuracies. We welcome informed comment as the map will be updated on a regular basis for Solar Progress.

State-by-State Photovoltaics

Reef HQ Aquarium 153 kW Townsville RSL Stadium 348 kW

X Strata, Mt Isa 155 kW

NSW is estimated at 465.8 MW Queensland is estimated at 709.9 MW Victoria is estimated at 406.8 MW SA is estimated at 325.8 MW WA is estimated at 275.9 MW NT is estimated at 7 MW ACT is estimated at 30.3 MW


PVs across Australia total around 2,248.8 MW (Figures as of April 2013)


Fraser Coast Community

130 kW

401 kW

Hervey Bay Hospital 266 kW

Kogan Creek CLFR 44 kW University of Qld (Gatton) 172 kW

Dandiiri Contact Centre 1 284 kW Dandiiri Contact Centre Phase 2 400 kW BRISBANE Metricon Stadium Gold Coast 200 kW

Moree Solar Farm Liddell Rigby House 150 MW 136 kW Liddell CLFR 9 MW 1.5 MW Various Council laide ARENA (ex ASI) Sanvik Houses (Parkes) ounds 2 (Newcastle) Mining 250 kW yville 132 kW CSIRO Newcastle 9 kW Cadbury 102 kW Singleton Mildura Schweppes 400 kW 150 MWBarham Solar 100 kW Sustainable Farm 1 MW Kamberra Sydney Winery 146 kW Bridgewater BLACKTOWN AIDE Solar Systems Howlong Solar Plant 140 kW SOLAR CITY CITY 140 kW Royalla CENTRAL VIC ASC offices 20MW SOLAR CITY (ACT) Bungendore 200 kW


lar Park W

White Cliffs 45 kW


Greenway Investments Dandenong Wodonga 1MW D-AV 195 kW

BRISBANE METRO AREA Qld University of Technology 202 kW University of Qld (St.Lucia Campus) 1.2 MW

SYDNEY METRO AREA Newington Athletes Village 110 kW Olympic Boulevard 109 kW Olympic Boulevard (2) 150 kW Murray Rose Homebush 125 kW Sydney Superdome 70 kW Sydney Theatre Co. 384 kW Johnson and Johnson 200 kW Johnson and Johnson Nth Ryde 197 kW Kogarah 161 kW Coca-Cola Amatil/Eastern Creek 110 kW

The Greening of Australia

Monash University Berwick 114 kW

Solar Biomass

200 Collins St Hobart 106 kW




Renewable energy represents approximately 5.2% of total electricity supplied in Australia. Of that, hydro power dominates the scene at 63.4%, followed by wind power which stands at 22.9% and biomass at 11.5%. Solar comes in at 2.1%. Room for massive expansion. What will our map look like in ten years’ time? •Source: Wiki (2010)

Solar research

The solar forecast –

from CSIRO

The Mission: to create an accurate forecasting system for changes in solar radiation, to enable energy network operators to effectively plan and manage the solar-based contribution to their grid and market operations. The Project Leader: Peter Coppin of CSIRO. Here he provides insights into the efforts underway to sharpen knowledge – and forecasts. By Nicola Card Stating the obvious: sunshine is variable. It is difficult to accurately forecast as things can change rapidly due to cloud movements: PV generation can plummet by up to 60% in just seconds when shadows are cast. The subsequent inverter voltage collapse causes a challenge for operators who need to maintain a steady flow of energy to the grid. The hot topic of intermittency was the subject of a 2012 CSIRO report which confirmed the phenomenon discouraged development of large-scale solar energy power plants, and reinforced the need for a robust solar forecasting system to provide a service to the grid operator Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The good news is – a robust forecasting system is on its way. Announced late last year by the Australian Solar Institute (now ARENA), the Australian solar energy forecasting system is boldly touted as producing the most advanced operational solar forecasting system available. Big words, and indeed the Australian solar energy forecasting system (ASEFS) is one big $7.6 million project. Led by CSIRO it involves partners AEMO, Bureau of Meteorology, University of NSW, and University of South Australia along with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Together their expertise and efforts will change the future of large-scale solar in Australia by allowing the widespread integration of solar power into the National Energy Market.

30 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Steering coordination is CSIRO’s Peter Coppin who reiterated the importance of a consistent, stable supply of electricity, and says development of the best possible solar forecasting for the Australian electricity system will significantly boost levels of solar power on the grid that would otherwise be possible. “Our raison d’etre is to remove barriers to large scale expansion of the solar industry … investors aren’t going to invest in commercial-scale solar power until we can predict their energy yield, which is directly affected by intermittency,” he said.

Knowledge is power In the absence of forecasts the energy network can run out of reserves or ‘spinning reserves’. AEMO has successfully run wind forecasts since 2008, which has fostered the uptake of wind power on the grid, but without such data “You would not know what was going to happen – and if 2000 MW wind drops out and you have only a quarter in reserve … it hurts! When it’s windy other generators are backed off and AEMO has to allow for other rapid changes

“By early 2015 we will have the basic solar forecasting system up and running at AEMO.”

Looming clouds - all shade accounted for

“It’s a chance for Australian science to contribute to an operating system which will serve the solar industry – it is exciting stuff.” such as a front moving in. It’s much the same with cloud versus no cloud cover.” Coppin explained that AEMO runs a highly advanced system and is one of the few jurisdictions to manage all generation demand and flow on a five-minute basis, issuing requests for generation against which providers bid. Although the system is highly efficient it is also vulnerable to drops in grid demand, when solar panels and wind turbines are generating large amount of energy, which displaces the load. With two decades’ experience running wind power programs at CSIRO and extensive involvement in wind forecasting technical committees, meteorologist Peter Coppin was a natural to lead the solar forecasting project.

Breadth of project Rather than reinvent the wheel, the first part of the solar forecasting project will be configured as an extension to today’s Australian Wind Energy Forecasting System (AWEFS), with significant engineering computer extensions to cater for all the additional data. The second prong entails a science program that will improve the solar forecasting component. “It is a big expensive engineering (software) project as it is running the national grid – it has to be robust. The engineering component is run by AEMO and a European contractor who designed and built the software for the wind forecasting system, which is by far the world’s best. We can plug in our new data when it is ready,” Coppin explained.

Solar research

Big picture, large scale

“Confidence among the investment community comes from knowing that we have taken away that restriction; that we can deal with intermittency. Forecasting expands the amount of renewables you can take on the grid. It removes that particular barrier to development. We now have a lot more wind power in SA than anyone thought possible and the same will follow – logically – for solar. We will have a lot more rooftop PV and more large power stations in the future.”

“So we are not creating a new system, we are just adding the extra items required, for example more aspects of weather forecast and working out how solar generators will respond to that. It’s a chance for Australian science to contribute to an operating system which will serve the solar industry – it is exciting stuff.” Phase one which commenced early in 2013 runs for two years after which the engineering system and first round of science developments will be subject to cost benefit analysis. “We’ll get some basic forecasting going and see improvements and hopefully implement them into the future … in two years we will have the basic solar forecasting up and running at AEMO,” Coppin said.

Degrees of specialisation Scientists specialising in many fields of solar forecasting are involved. The Bureau of Meteorology’s enhanced cloud forecasting technique will be fine-tuning information on cloud types and impacts. (Compared to stratus formations, cumulus clouds have sharp edges, which cause swings from low to maximum solar generation in no time and unsettles the grid.)

32 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Predictions on variability in power outputs will be provided by sky cams and satellite imaging processes, short-term forecast as well as statistical data; namely a range of challenging technologies hence the “stitching together” of a broad consortium. NREL is providing expertise in cloud technology while the UNSW manages satellite based techniques and CSIRO handles sky camera techniques. The University of South Australia brings expertise in short horizon statistical forecasting, a common projection technique that works well with wind. Given the project takes into account the level of solar power generated on rooftop PVs, a special part of the program will be devoted to predicting the input of an entire city’s PV systems. Along with accurate solar forecasts ranging from the next five minutes up to seven days, the forecasting system will provide power plants with solar predictions for up to two years. “Without an investment in forecasting everything grinds to a halt,” Coppin said. The ongoing cost of running the system will be met through AEMO’s standard operation, and represent just a small increment in the million dollar entity.

Coppin is confident of one significant outcome: promotion of development of large scale solar plants; those larger than 30 MW need to apply for a connection agreement with AEMO and have to be predictable [with notification of down-time for maintenance] in order to maintain stability. Confidence among the investment community, he says, comes from “Knowing that we have taken away that restriction; that we can deal with intermittency. Forecasting expands the amount of renewables you can take on the grid. It removes that particular barrier to development. We now have a lot more wind power in SA than anyone thought possible and the same will follow – logically – for solar. We will have a lot more rooftop PV and more large power stations in the future.”

Worst case scenario A CSIRO staffer described the project as a “game-changer for the future of the industry” but what if things don’t turn out as anticipated? Could anything go wrong? The basic procurement of the forecasting system comes from Germany so the only thing that could go wrong is if the science is delayed or it is all too hard, Coppin explained. “However satellite processing imaging has been around for ages and we have two years to produce the outcome.” Give the far reaching implications of that outcome, the solar industry looks forward to 2015. More information:

Solar Forecasting project snapshot The solar energy forecasting system will use basic cloud forecasting techniques and statistics, collected from sites across the country, to supply solar forecasts ranging from the next five minutes to the next two years, as required by the Australian Market Energy Operator to accurately manage its energy loads to the network. The Australian solar energy forecasting system will cater for small-scale and large-scale PV and solar-thermal plants and distributed PV systems, and enable operators of larger systems to participate in the National Energy Market.

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Special Feature

Swedes aim high with Renewables in Transport Reducing dependence on fossil fuels for transportation is probably the biggest challenge for the world as we confront the twin problems of global warming and peak oil. Here, Bob Fuller on sabbatical in Linköping, Sweden takes a look at everything from buses and trains to bicycles and dogs pulling sleds. Swedes are well aware of what dependency on imported oil means, and the oil crises of the 1970s forced them to reduce their usage dramatically. The use of oil in the residential and services sector has fallen by 90% since 1970 largely due to the transition to electricity and district heating. Energy use in the transport sector, however, has proved harder to rein in. Despite taxes, subsidies and other incentives, oil products still supplied 91% of the country’s energy for transport in 2010 and continues to rise. It represents 23% of the country’s final energy use. As a member of the EU, Sweden’s energy policy is governed by EU regulations and directives. One of the targets is that 10% of the fuel used in the transport sector will be from renewable sources by 2020. Sweden is actually aiming to make its entire vehicle stock independent of fossil-free fuels by 2030. 34 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

The process of introducing alternative fuels has begun. Biofuels are now firmly established as transport fuel and over 60% of filling stations around the country now sell at least one renewable transport fuel, up from about 10% in 2005. This increase has been driven by legislation that requires service stations which sell over one million litres of petrol or diesel per annum to also offer fuels such as ethanol or biogas. E85 is the most common blend of ethanol available, a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol in summer, the ethanol component being slightly lower (75%) in winter. In 2010, the ethanol mix was 27% cheaper than petrol, resulting in some cost saving for the motorist even allowing for the lower energy content of ethanol. Despite the rising sales of E85, the number of new registrations

of ethanol-fuelled cars is apparently steadily falling. Sales of cars running on vehicle gas (natural gas and biogas) are rising, however. At the end of 2011, about 5.7% of Sweden’s 4.4 million passenger vehicles could run on predominantly renewable motor fuels. In 2011, the country consumed 420,000 and 295,000 cubic metres of ethanol and biodiesel respectively. However, only half of the feedstock for these fuels originated in Sweden. The main countries of origin were the Netherlands, the USA, Finland and some other EU countries. Cereal and oilseed crops are not seen as a long term solution but a good way to kick-start a change in the transport sector in the short term. The long term hope is that forestry and agricultural wastes, ie second generation biofuels, will provide the solution. However,

there is some concern that there will be competing interests for these wastes for other uses if large scale exploitation occurred.

The buses In Stockholm, buses can be seen running on biogas, ethanol and biodiesel but in Linköping, where I am based, all the buses run on biogas. Private cars and taxis can also access the fuel at certain petrol stations. The biogas is produced from a variety of sources, but principally the waste from a local abattoir which is transported by pipeline directly to the biogas plant (for more information see YouTube: com/watch?v=0B_9IKfrLJk). Other sources include household putrescible waste that is collected separately. The buses, incidentally, are well-used by young and old alike, and are not just the final resort of those unable to drive for various reasons (poverty, age, infirmity), as often in Australia. The buses run on time and the arrival time of the next bus is electronically indicated at many bus stops. Such measures greatly encourage the use of public transport. The energy used for passenger transport on roads increased by 6% between 1990 and 2009 but passenger-kilometres rose by 14%. This increase in efficiency is attributed mainly to the increased efficiency of passenger cars. ‘Ecocars’ are being encouraged in various ways. An ‘eco-car’ is defined as a conventional passenger vehicle whose emissions do not exceed 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. In addition, the emission of particulates from diesel-fuelled vehicles must not exceed five milligrams per km. There also are minimum requirements for vehicles running on alternative fuels, including electricity.

One of the policy measures to encourage the adoption of eco-cars is the carbon dioxide tax on petrol and diesel. Sweden first introduced these environmental taxes in 1991 – over twenty years ago! Biofuels are exempt from energy and carbon taxes if their production meets certain sustainability criteria. The current CO2 tax is 2.44 SEK/litre for unleaded petrol and 3.02 SEK/litre for diesel. (AU$1 (approx) = 7 SEK). The current Australian Labor Government baulked at this idea, ruling it out in 2011 and placed it in the ‘for the future’ basket.

Rail transport Rail transport accounts for about 10% of Sweden’s domestic passenger transport. Swedish Rail has a public environmental policy that complies with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation’s Good Environmental Choice criteria. Swedish Rail even offers a calculator on its website enabling people to compare the difference in carbon emissions between various modes of transport and destinations around the country. All the trains are powered by electricity, and only that which is generated by hydro and wind sources is used. As a result of using renewable energy sources, emissions from trains in Sweden are very low (0.0011 g/pkm) and overall produce less than 2% of the emissions of electric trains outside of Sweden. Despite low level local muttering about the trains, compared to those in Australia Swedish trains are ‘in our dreams’… They have long enjoyed the benefit of high–speed trains, while we have endless debates and studies about their value and viability. A Swedish bus fuelled by biogas

For example, it takes about three hours to travel the 450 kilometres between Stockholm and Gothenberg (Sweden’s second largest city) by train. There are fourteen trains per day. Contrast this with the two trains per day between Melbourne and Sydney (960 kilometres), a journey that takes approximately 11 hours.

Bikes and dogs Despite the snow and freezing temperatures, bicycles are also in common use around Linköping. Winter tyres with metal studs allow bikes to be ridden over snow and ice with relative safety. Helmets, as in Denmark, are not usually worn. In winter, beanies and hoodies are more common. And there is definitely no lycra, and lightweight road bikes are also rare. The ultimate in non-fossil fuel power vehicles might be the dog sled. However, according to a 1978 UNIDO monograph I have, a person on a bike is still more efficient than a dog in terms of the energy expended per kilometre. The dogs cost about $1000 each so it’s not a cheap solution either. On the other hand, it’s not half so much fun …

Alternative supplies As an oil–importing nation, Sweden is well aware that events outside its control may impact on its security of oil supply. Despite the country’s considerable efforts in terms of the developing of alternative fuels, encouraging cars that are more efficient and providing a good public transport system, the figures show that Sweden still has a long way to go to overcome its dependence on oil. In 2010 over 30% of total energy supply (by energy carriers) was from oil products. Their experiences indicate the magnitude of the effort that the rest of us, Australia in particular, have to make. Lest we cry poor or that our greenhouse gas emissions are much smaller, we are slightly richer on a per capita basis than Swedes and our per capita emissions are 3-4 times greater.

Further information An excellent reference for those interested in the overall energy picture in Sweden is Energy in Sweden 2012 available from: http://www. and%20figures/Energy_in_sweden_2012.pdf

Acknowledgement My visit to Sweden is courtesy of Deakin University’s Academic Study Leave program. The main focus of my research is to investigate Sweden’s greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies and what might be applicable to the built environment in Victoria. SolarProgress | 35

Tech talk

Solar PV

System Maintenance Solar system specialist Glen Morris wears many hats. The owner manager of SolarQuip is also Vice-President of the Australian Solar Council, a technical presenter at workshops and conferences, and contributor to Solar Progress. More recently Glen took on a role as guest lecturer at Swinburne University teaching SPS and GC short courses. Between commitments he penned these insights into the importance of PV maintenance. Recently I had a group of students up at my place learning about installing off-grid renewable energy systems. One of their tasks was to mount some second-hand thin film modules onto the roof of my house. These modules been out in service for about four or five years and had collected some dust in use and subsequent storage. In numerous installation standards and guides for calculating the performance of a PV system we are told to allow 5% for dust and dirt derating. I thought I’d test the thesis. Washing with soapy water first gave about a 5% increase in performance under full midday sun but left a film of soap scum on the modules. Subsequent hosing and mopping to remove the soap scum added another 5% performance, even after leaving the modules to warm up to normal operating temperatures. The overall outcome was a 10% gain by cleaning what looked like lightly dusted modules. Maintenance of a PV system is far more than just cleaning though. Considering the investment in power generation that many have made, it is really about ensuring the 36 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

financial productivity and safety of that system going forward. Apart from cleaning, other important tasks are checking for any physical damage, checking the performance of the system and inspecting the modules for any visible changes to the cells and module structure.

Some matters to consider:


. Confirm the system is working compare commissioning records (if any) with actual performance. Remember that modules derate their power very slightly with age (usually <0.5%/year) but this may not be a linear process. Some modules have a very noticeable drop off in performance in their first year or so and then stabilise. . Working at heights is dangerous. Consider employing professionals to perform this task safely if you don’t have the necessary skills and equipment. . Before undertaking any physical checks or cleaning, turn off the system. An electrical fault on the system could make the modules or frame live.

2 3

4 5 6

. Perform visual checks first - are there any damaged cables, modules or isolators? If so, call your installer before commencing any further maintenance.

. Wash the modules with plain water - a long handled brush with a hose fitting can make this activity much safer - sometimes even from the ground or the roof edge.

. Wait for the panels to warm up again and recheck the performance. Cool panels produce more power and may give a false sense of gain if you’re too quick in checking the change in output. And finally, while cleaning your panels, take the opportunity to look closely at the PV modules. If you notice any changes to the colour or evenness of the modules it may be worth having your installer investigate further. Some visual changes are harmless and just part of the natural aging of the modules but any evidence of overheating or “hot spots” are serious and the systems should be shut down immediately and professional advice sort.


Standards Since the publication of the new PV array standard AS/NZS 5033 last year, it has become mandatory for all systems to provide user documentation that includes a maintenance schedule. Check that you have one and observe its recommendations. Remember that after the installer’s workmanship warranty has expired the owner is responsible for the upkeep and safety of their electrical system. Glen Morris of SolarQuip is a specialist in solar technology and renewable energy solutions

Micro cracks in the PV cell itself may develop into hard edged discolouration lines. Under a magnifying glass you may be able to see evidence of melting of the fine silver fingers that spread across the cell. This is serious and may lead to overheating, cracking of the glass and failure.


Brown spots on the edges of the cells. If these are regular across the edges of the cells then they’re probably just the result of the support structure during processing of the cell in manufacture.

Cleaning a rooftop PV system The following images present some examples of visual changes to a PV cell

Milkiness: really just a cosmetic change of the anti-reflective coating on the front of the cell. Often there is no performance change due to this effect.

So called “snail trails” may be benign too. If the discolouration is only on the tops of the silver traces then this could be just contamination that has oxidised. If however, the cells itself has continuous cracks then you’re more likely looking at the micro cracking problem above.

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Solar city

Striking gold

of a different sort Solar Progress has enjoyed hearing about the initiatives generated by the nation’s Solar Cities program. Here we visit central Victoria to find out more about the burgeoning solar energy scene in Ballarat, Bendigo and beyond. By Nicola Card Back in the mid 1800s, central Victoria struck gold – literally. Once the precious commodity was unearthed it put a rocket under the population growth and infrastructure developments. Today, ornate buildings that shout opulence are testament to a once golden era. But the rush itself lasted just a few short decades as supplies dwindled. These days, that same region is tapping into a more enduring and more precious resource; this time around, it’s the golden rays of the sun. For the past few years the power of the sun has been a focus of the Central Victoria Solar City which has steered progress and developments in all things renewable energy. In just a few weeks the project’s Castlemaine office will be closing its doors as the nationwide Solar Cities project reaches its conclusion. But in many ways it’s just the beginning for central Victoria, with 14 municipalities now tuned in – and turned on – to solar and other renewable energies.

38 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

When we asked CEO Leah Sertori what distinguished CVSC from other Solar Cities, she had plenty to say. “What differentiates us is we established partnerships with the three small communities of Newstead, Kyabram and Murchison to trial a community based approach to a collective reduction in energy consumption through positive peer pressure. And we steered capital raising efforts to enable them to develop their own energy generation capacity asset – namely a power station. “This involved pre-feasibilty projects for the three towns, which considered [renewable power sources ] wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. We wanted to shine a light on the true cost benefits of distributed energy generation and this was achieved by establishing relationships with local government, chambers of commerce and local communities’ focus groups whose job it was to present cost benefits of programs.”

Sertori said the Kyabram group was “a fair way down the track” in contemplating the use of biomass (and an anaerobic digester), given the region’s strong primary industry sector which generates waste from crops and fruit. The group is in discussions with a private developer and looking at the community to form a company limited by share and to issue a public offer to raise capital to develop the energy generating asset. The model is not unlike Hepburn Wind whose local community raised $12 million and formed a co-op with a legal structure to create its own grid connected power station, namely a 2 MW wind turbine. Meanwhile, the townsfolk of Murchison have formed a community co-op to consider a bulk PV purchase. And as illustrated rather nicely in the photo on this page, Newstead residents are considering solar power options; the prospect of a gas-solar hybrid power station (with a gas

Left: Newstead’s clean green community Above: Ballarat Health Service electric car recharge Top right): CVSC participants the Worsfold family Right: Solar Hot water and PV array graces Ballarat Health’s QE centre powered turbine to get around storage issues) was subject to a full technological feasibility study. “The pre-feasibility phase looks at pay-back periods of fifteen to twenty years and assesses stakeholder viability, but for a community the size of Newstead the station was determined unviable on a cost versus energy savings basis,” Sertori said. “If they and four other commercial parties developed a power station to power the local community costs spread over 20 years would come in at a fraction of the current cost of power, but what stops them is the inability to pass electricity over different titles, only a distribution or transmission company can move electricity over different property titles.” Testing the water, CVSC approached Powercor and the Victorian government about exemptions but were advised the complex matter involves many key papers, and despite “interest” in further discussions, things are moving very slowly.

energy in Victoria produced over in the east or west – well away from major metropolitan centres. It is estimated 29% of generated power is lost during the journey. “It is better to generate electricity close to the source of consumption, and from renewable resources. There are cost savings and benefits, and local shareholders would have a vested interest in energy generation and consumption at a local level,” Sertori said.

Community enlightenment The variety of initiatives up for consideration is furthering the “energy literacy” of the community and taking thinking to the next level in terms of future technologies and the business models necessary to support them. In Sertori’s experience regional leaders have a strong track record of innovation and are adept at recognising opportunities, particularly in times

Local power Nevertheless, benefits of localised power sources are many and varied. Sertori points out that with a vested interest in cost savings, utilities could potentially save millions of dollars by deferring network augmentation, particularly infrastructure upgrades of single wire lines toward the end of the grid. Also to be taken into account are transmission losses; with most

CVSC CEO Leah Sertori

of great change, due to greater dependency on environmental conditions for livelihoods. Rather than debate climate change, leaders in regional Victoria are focused on adaptation strategies. Evidence can be found in the two major centres of Ballarat and Bendigo.

Solar Power plants Testing new approaches in local, large-scale solar, CVSC oversaw development of 300 kW solar parks in Bendigo and Ballarat. The ground mounted flat plate grid connected PV arrays with tracking panels and advanced inverter technology can produce enough power for 150 homes, the equivalent of each having a 2 kW PV system, or 420 MWh of solar energy annually. The clean energy output cuts carbon emissions by 567 tonnes, with CVSC selling the ‘green’ power to Origin energy.

“It is better to generate electricity close to the source of consumption, and from renewable resources. There are cost savings and benefits, and local shareholders would have a vested interest in how they generate energy and consume at a local level.” SolarProgress | 39

Solar city

Particularly helpful and informative on the financial side was Bendigo Bank, which provided loans that not only enabled development of the solar parks but also taught CVSC much about the enterprise model used to establish community banks, “and a good process for coaching community leaders through steps involved in forming company by share and appointing directors and raising capital to kick off a bank and also supporting it,” Sertori explained. She describes the two solar plants as “a gateway model” and says they wanted to prove the technology and demonstrate how well it would perform over time, the plants come with the bonus of low maintenance, not needing to be manned around the clock.

Swan Hill primary students participate in a solar boat program

In other significant developments, a matched funding deal saw Ballarat Health Services (BHS) pledge $800,000 toward PV and SHW systems. The outcome can be seen at various BHS sites: one 25 kW solar array, two Solar Hot Water units, two 9 kW green car shelters and two electric vehicles including a Mitsubishi I-Miev. Once the 35 kW solar array on the Cancer Centre building is complete, a PV energy information display will be installed in the foyer. Complementing all the very visible developments are the energy efficiency gains made by thousands of individual residents across central Victoria.

involved in purchasing solar systems, for many the complexity of information is a barrier to taking another step toward PV [but] we found that we could overcome those barriers by employing a team of home energy assessors who explained the offer in full.” Those attracted to CVSC community workshops were predominantly “baby boomer engineers wanting a new toy to play with! The initial take up of PV systems was 50 men to whom the technology appealed – they would check their inverter every day to see how much energy their systems had generated!” Of the five interventions, solar hot water proved the most effective, slashing energy bills by about 15%. Overall daily energy consumption fell by up to 5%.

Community solar trial


Conducted over three and a half years, CVSC Home Energy Assessors delivered 2750 Home Energy Assessments to regional households and presented more than 950 rooftop 1.5 kW Solar PV and Solar Hot Water Packages. The solar power package tallied $2580 with $199 paid up front and 0% finance (interest) over two years. Also on offer was a $750 retrofit rebate for energy conservation products including blinds, awnings, insulation and draft fillers. Interestingly, Sertori commented that “Customers are overwhelmed by the jargon

With all Solar City projects now complete and offices in closure mode, Leah Sertori reflected on the positives, saying: “I feel Central Victoria Solar City has achieved what we set out to, I’m proud of our consortium and the team who led the project who have demonstrated energy efficiency measures and their impact on daily consumption, but I get frustrated when the findings from our trial are not taken up by policy makers. “The time is now” said Sertori, who has communicated with key Victorian ministers over

Healthy clean energy

Tracking panels at Ballarat’s 300 kW Solar Park

PV education at Schools CVSC also joined forces with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to demonstrate how schools, teachers and students can create, and learn about, renewable energy and energy efficiency. This was achieved trough building retrofits, classroom activities and projects, and installation of solar infrastructure, an example being fixed and tracking panels at Swan Hill Primary School, whose students will use software to regularly monitor and report on energy generation.

cost benefits and other merits of developing regional renewable energy power stations while outlining need for reform to overcome barriers in regulatory (policy). “All Solar City findings need to be presented to a ministerial committee or a committee of leaders with power to create change [and should be] used wisely by governments drawing up energy policy in the future. “The [federal] government invested much in the Solar City trial; it would be wonderful if there was a whole-of-government approach to integrating all findings in a policy framework and revising uniform regulations. “It is frustrating that is not happening, or at the right levels, but I will keep pushing.” As the middle of 2013 draws closer so does the end of the seven Solar City projects ... but the sun continues to shine and its power and indeed potential has taken on a far greater level of significance to many thousands of appreciative citizens. The Central Victoria Solar City project is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of the Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Central Victoria Solar City Consortium, Sustainability Victoria and the Sustainability Fund.

40 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

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News and views

A round-up of solar power developments

Bosch puts kibosh on solar energy

SolarGas for

north west Australia

A $700,000 SolarGas™ project is aimed at developing a new gas-powered remote power station, suited to north west Australian conditions. The natural gas will get a renewable energy ‘boost’ before it goes to the turbine via a solar-driven chemical reaction that upgrades the natural gas into syngas, the solar-enhanced product containing 25% more energy than the original gas. The project taps into CSIRO’s expertise in solar thermal technology and solar syngas reactors in partnership with world leaders in power station technology, GE Australia and the GE Global Research Centre in the US.

Abu Dhabi

taps into solar power Abu Dhabi may be synonymous with oil industry but the Emirate has officially opened the world's largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, Desert Shams1. Costing US$600 million to construct, the 100 MW plant containing 768 parabolic trough collectors with 258,000 parabolic mirrors will track the sun from sunrise to sunset and provide enough power for 20,000 homes. The 192 rows of loops collect heat that drives turbines to generate power, saving 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Automated trucks will dust – sand off - the mirrors. Masdar owns 60% of the project, while France's Total and Spain's Abengoa Solar each own 20%. The UAE is the first in the Middle East and OPEC (oil exporting organisation) to begin producing renewable energy, but plans to generate 7% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. 42 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Bosch is selling or shutting down its heavily loss-making solar energy operations, a reaction to Germany’s cuts to green energy subsidies and relatively cheap Chinese imports flooding the market. PV panel production will cease early next year, with Bosch placing parts of the business on the market. Bosch has reportedly lost $A3 billion since it created the solar energy unit in 2008, and for Chairman Franz Fehrenbach "This is possibly the most painful experience that I have had to endure in my professional career." The unit which employs 3000 staff is the latest casualty of boom and bust experienced

in Germany's solar energy industry. The company is “considering all options” for its solar unit, having written off the assets entirely last year. Germany spurred a surge in solar panel installations by handing out hefty subsidies funded by electricity surcharges to encourage consumers to shift away from nuclear and fossil fuel, but the German government reined in subsidies to bring down overcapacity in the industry. A record 7,500 megawatts in capacity was added in 2011 to bring its total to 25,000 megawatts, nearly as much as the rest of the world combined.

Solar Inception appoints new National Sales Manager Solar Inception has appointed Paul Scerri as National Sales Manager. Based in Melbourne the experienced sales and business development professional will lead Solar Inception sales throughout Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and other international markets. Paul will also be heavily involved in business development, broadening the company’s reach into new vertical markets and geographical territories nationally and internationally.

Paul Scerri brings 24 years of proficiency to his new position, most recently serving as Sales & Marketing Manager for Bosch Solar Oceania. He says “Solar trends have proven that high-quality solutions are the answer to both client need and industry growth. Solar Inception’s success is based on this approach and my goal is to move Solar Inception to the list of top 10 PV solar distributors in Australia.” He is Secretary of the Australian Solar Council (ASC).

Apple’s solar powered iCloud

data centre. Up to 75% of Apple’s energy use comes from clean power. The fuel cell farm was developed by Silicon Valley startup Bloom Energy, and the live system is currently at 4.8 MW. The company wants to double the size of the fuel cell farm and will be installing more enough fuel cells to bring capacity up to 10 MW. The existing 20 MW solar farm uses solar panels from San Jose’s SunPower. Apple has also decided to double the size of the farm and by year’s end will have an installed annual capacity of 167 million kWh from local Apple-owned clean power projects. The company will sell the power from the Maiden plant fuel cells to the local utility … the fuel cells will use biogas from landfills, and will be “directed biogas” in that it will be injected into natural gas pipelines.

Apple’s nerve centre in North Carolina, US, has flicked the switch on the first halves of both its massive solar panel farm and adjacent fuel cell farm, and is using the systems to power its US$1billion centre. The clean power projects are said to be among the largest non-utility owned systems in the world, and integral to Apple’s plan to use 100% clean power for its data centers. The company is producing enough clean power at the Maiden facility (focused on its iCloud services and part of the plan to provide more music, media and other applications) to provide 60% of the total energy for the

Global solar PV industry … a net energy producer Fact: The energy used to produce solar panels is intense; the initial step in producing the silicon at the heart of most panels is to melt silica ore at 1650°C using electricity, commonly from coal-fired power plants. The conundrum: The meteoric rise in solar power production over the past decade has exacerbated global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels in the manufacture of solar panels. The turning point: Is now. According to Dr Michael Dale of Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project, last year the electricity generated by all the world's installed PV panels probably surpassed the amount of energy going into fabricating more modules.

How many more warnings are necessary … ? Better news: Continued technological advances - declining energy inputs required to manufacture and install PV systems, thinner silicon wafers, less highly refined materials - will see the global PV industry “pay off its debt of energy” as early as 2015, and no later than 2020. “To be considered a [genuine] success …PV panels must ultimately pay back all the energy that went into them; the PV industry ran an energy deficit from 2000 to now, consuming 75% more energy than it produced just five years ago,” Dale says. Further information: Michael Dale and Sally M. Benson Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (7), pp 3482–3489

Plug and Play solar ‘Plug and Play solar’ is a CSIRO led project to develop energy management software to manage the various renewable and traditional energy sources of a building or site. Some remote communities and mining operations are turning to solar but the variable nature of solar sources means fossil fuel backup systems are left running.

The beauty of Plug and Play is it enables energy supply managers to ‘plug’ in the various sources and the system automatically and intelligently ‘plays’, or works out what source to use, such as when to schedule the diesel generator or make the most of the solar panels and when to charge the batteries. The $2.9 million project which involves ABB Australia and the US NREL will take several years to complete.

Spotted in the LA Daily News Some lines we would like to borrow “When Sen. Gaylord Nelson created the first Earth Day 43 years ago … solar energy was taken about as seriously as flower power and the music of Jimi Hendrix. Today going solar no longer conjures up images of a hippie living off the grid in Berkeley or Santa Monica. Instead, solar power is being pursued by retail giant Wal-Mart and economic behemoth China - evidence that solar has gone mainstream.”

In late April Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery warned that the world is tracking toward a temperature increase of more than 2°C this century and many projections indicate 4°C or more. Temperature increase must be limited to 2°C to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change. Recently, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California stated CO2 was approaching a symbolic (and sinister) milestone of 400 parts per million, based on the Keeling Curve which uses an ultraprecise device known as a manometer for atmospheric measurements at Hawaii's Mauna Loa, Antarctica, Tasmania, and northern Alaska. When Charles David (Dave) Keeling instigated atmospheric CO2 measurements back in March 1958, the first recording stood at 316 ppm. CO2 was around 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution, and for the past 800,000 years, CO2 levels have never exceeded 300 parts per million. "I wish it weren't true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat," said Scripps geochemist Ralph Keeling, who in 2005 took over the Keeling Curve measurement from his late father. "At this pace we'll hit 450 ppm within a few decades." If the rate of fossil-fuel burning continues to rise on a business-as-usual trajectory, CO2 will continue to rise to levels of order 1500 ppm. The atmosphere will not return to preindustrial levels even tens of thousands of years into the future. SolarProgress | 43

Special Feature The town of Dhulikhel

Building a Technical Nepal

In his current role as R&D/Energy Advisor with World Vision, Dr Peter Freere visits developing countries. Here he reveals a previous chapter in his life which involved educating the Nepalese in a bid to shed light and fuel progress on renewable energy. Introduction When I first arrived in Nepal in 1988, there were microhydro prototypes in production and I designed one of the types of voltage regulators for the induction generator microhydro systems. Returning in 2002, except for that a civil war was on, not much had changed. Nepal is a land of opportunity and receives billions of dollars a year in aid. It seems that technology is transferred, but not the understanding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; probably because that takes multiples of the funding time scale. For example, some development groups install white LED lighting systems. It does raise the quality of life, but rarely are there any local repair centres, and often little ability for people to raise their income.

Development Work Nepal is full of skilled people: carpenters who can carve idols by eye, weavers, vertical axis watermill expertise and farmers who can wrest a living from

44 | ISSUE 2 â&#x20AC;˘ 2013

a cliff face. New roads are built, some villages have remote area power supplies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; usually by solar or microhydro, large hydro systems are built, food aid is flown in to areas of shortage, new schools and hospitals are built. Although it helps, it is only a small dent in the needs. But the economy is not big enough to supply the country with its development needs - and much of the existing development and technology is from international sources. It became clear that one of the needs was to train people how to design, manufacture and maintain energy equipment, and especially how to design energy equipment so that an income could be generated.

University Education In 2002, I was invited to the first non government university in Nepal, Kathmandu University (near Dhulikhel on the road to Tibet), to start research in the electrical engineering

department and to assist bringing the education up to international standards. In common with many universities, the main aim of many of the students was largely to achieve a good mark - largely by rote learning. I estimated that only two students out of a class of 50 were actually interested in their field. Because I wanted the students to understand the course material, I broke up the project groups of 13 students, and ran as many individual projects as possible. There was also a lot of plagiarism but I failed in my attempt to get the department to even consider a policy on plagiarism. There were several universities with fairly well equipped laboratories. So what was the problem? One factor was that the laboratory equipment was locked up to prevent theft, so the laboratories were mostly unusable. As now we would need to do much more laboratory work, I requested that the equipment be made available and the head of department spoke to

the students about being responsible. In four years, only one piece of equipment was stolen. Thieves who had stripped another laboratory were later caught and explained they had not stolen from our laboratory because people were always there, day and night. A laboratory should be an alive focus, both work and social for those working there.

Above (from left): A country in transition mobile phone in the right hand, and a left hand using a stone to grind herbs and spices; A traditional vertical axis water mill; A village near Jumla, Nepal, without grid electricity; Bottom: The town square in Dhulikhel and; (inset) A doorway inside Dhulikhel

I was asked to see if I could repair any of the undergraduate microwave laboratory equipment. As the equipment was not working, I asked how students managed to do any experiments and was told that the lecturer would set up the experiment and explain what the results would look like if the equipment was working! I had heard often that it was not possible to conduct research as there was no money to buy equipment. There was some equipment, and we needed only a little bit more to be set things in motion â&#x20AC;Ś after buying $300 worth of meters locally, we could begin. The issues were now: how to increase the knowledge and experience of university staff, how to enthuse students to take responsibility and use initiative, how to train them to think creatively, to

be dedicated, and to develop an entrepreneurial approach.

The Training I had started by building a research group at the university, KUPEG (Kathmandu University Power and Energy Group). We received a small grant from SINTEF (Norway) to work on wind turbines to employ two research assistants. We started making a wind turbine with fibreglass blades. First we made a mould from plaster of Paris for the blades â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but after six weeks the plaster had not hardened. We then used cement. But the gel coat didn't gel, the releasing agent didn't release and the blade was as smooth as a barnacled boat. But it was a beginning - and it led to hand carving blades from wood.

SolarProgress | 45

Special Feature

This method became our model. The research group was paid for by industrial contracts from local companies and international research and development grants. We developed four major areas of work – wind turbine design and construction (blades, tower, generator and controller), hydro electric controllers, battery electric microbuses and white light emitting diode lighting. When training people, the exact area of work is not as important as the learning of the application of design, logic and good practice. A company approached me one day for assistance because their picohydro voltage regulator only worked with incandescent lamps. With compact fluorescent lamps, the voltage regulation was terrible. From the circuit, I realised that there was no feedback. This means that the voltage was not measured and compared to what it should be. If a large company could not solve this, then probably the skills were not in the country. So using this project, I could teach students how to design regulators with feedback and there was an income to employ the research assistants. The work on the microhydro controller led to a series of developments - including being able to start electric motors. With the induction generators used, it takes a 5kW generator to start a 1kW induction motor – and this is too expensive. We branched out into medical equipment repairs for a local hospital, and university research equipment design and construction. A lecturer in physics had done his PhD in the Czech Republic in surface modification of plastic with plasma arcs. He contracted us to design a piece of equipment that would produce an electrical plasma arc with an adjustable voltage of up to 20,000 Volts with an adjustable frequency of

10kHz to 30kHz. We succeeded, and the lecturer could continue his research in Nepal. At this time, with very low grid voltages at 170V in the evening, the incandescent lamps were a dim orange and the fluorescent lamps often not working. Our microwave oven would stir, but not heat. Many houses had no power and working by kerosene lanterns or candles is terrible – so at night most activities would stop. When there is no light and it is pitch black, 5 lux is enough to get around with. In Nepal, lighting should usually be measured on the floor – as most people do everything on the floor. (Even traditional kitchen knives are blades with the sharp edge facing upwards, held between your feet as you sit on the floor. Vegetables and meat are cut by moving the food down over the knife edge.) The incandescent lamps flickered whenever a water heater with a thermostat along the road, would turn on and off. Compact fluorescent lamps (CLFs) are very voltage tolerant, and do not flicker, but reliable ones were too expensive (several days’ wages for a tradesman), so I bought a reliable compact fluorescent lamp for our neighbour. It meant that the tea shop they ran from their bedroom was now bright, probably attracting more customers, but their electricity bill dropped from $4 to $1 per month (saving two days’ earnings). As reliable compact fluorescent lamps became cheaper, people started buying them themselves. We investigated ways of maximising the light from compact fluorescent lamps, most of which emit light from the side. We positioned the lamp horizontally and placed a 30x30cm square aluminium sheet on the ceiling above as a reflector, and found that it doubled the lux at ground level.

Most weeks, the electricity would go off for several days at a time, due to overloading, bombs knocking out power lines, or landslides taking out power poles. Regular blackouts were also caused by a lack of generating capacity. One morning there were six landslides over the 4 kilometre road between our home and the university. Because of the blackouts, I installed a 300W PV solar system on my home, but hidden, to prevent appropriation by any warring parties. With 400Ahr of batteries, it usually guaranteed three hours of power a day (enough to run a refrigerator or washing machine). To save power, I installed the first white LED lamp in this area in my house. Later, the research group started manufacturing rechargeable battery white LED lamps for residential use. A 1W white LED lamp is sufficient for reading underneath it, and cast enough light to see around a room. The training was quite practical in design, manufacture and testing, but also training to work to budget and to deadlines. What it did not do was train people how to conduct research.

Research and Development At the time in Nepal, there was no active research degree in engineering. Staff were regularly sent to other countries to do a higher degree, with the intention that they should return better qualified to the university, but many don't return. I and two others proposed that a research master's degree be established, to enable staff to be trained at the university (hence keeping their services while doing the degree, and possibly afterwards for a while). This was approved. The first research master’s student joined our group and he addressed the practical problem of the best way to get

Top row from left: A picohydro system without voltage control; The working wind turbine designed and constructed in Nepal; The first 200W picohydro system able to operate an angle grinder. Bottom row from left: Solar dryer at Shaan Furniture; And its interior; New design of a Kathmandu battery electric microbus.

46 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Above from left: Rechargeable desk and night lights manufactured by KAPEG in Nepal; Blackout curtains and group built seminar table; Weekly seminars Right: Research assistant, Pramod Ghimire, teaching in the laboratory; Parash Acharya and Rakesh Sinha ultimate stress testing a hand-made wind turbine blade (93kg).

single–phase power from the three–phase generators that were used in the microhydro systems. This resulted in some excellent work and the thesis was passed by a German university. Unfortunately the degree course was abandoned for political reasons, but I am hopeful it will be reinstituted.

Developing the Research Group To be effective in getting a research project underway required more than working 9am4pm up to six days a week. It was necessary to live near the university, and persuade the students and research assistants to do the same. Due to the regular blackouts, we built a larger UPS, so that if all the power went out for hours at a time, we could at least keep one computer going and run seminars. In order to develop team spirit, we made our seminar table by hand. It started as a single piece of wood 4.5m long, 60cm wide and 10cm thick. For some of the students and assistants, it was their first time using a saw. We rostered teams of two people to work on the table for two hours at time. To develop some pride in the building site around our office and laboratory, we landscaped the garden and built a patio from the left over bricks. Later, we staged our own conference (over a few days) in a mountain town. Afterwards, some of the students spent a few days trekking in the Himalayan mountains.

Strike action As part of the civil war effort, regular strikes were called in support of the Maoists, while the government imposed curfews. Strikes were typically in the education or transport sector.

Sometimes there were general strikes. As these strikes were enforced, strike breakers were punished – sometimes viciously. But during a general strike you could usually continue to operate a shop provided it looked closed. The front door would be locked, but there would be an open side door to a darkened shop. Similarly, the university had to look closed. I wanted to introduce the idea that to be professional, we needed to organise ourselves to meet our deadlines, so we installed blackout curtains in the lab and office and operated behind them, unseen. All benches and tables were 2m long, so that in times of curfew, we could sleep on or under them. When the strikes became too dangerous, we moved the research group to my home, where students could hide behind walls and curtains and continue working. Also, when the town’s water main was turned off by a disgruntled neighbouring town, we collected rainwater. To further develop the group and people's knowledge, we instituted weekly seminars. Everyone had to present, even our secretary. Since it was the only regular seminar series in engineering, other also groups started to present. As the knowledge and experience of the research assistants increased, they started to take some classes.

Continuation We discussed the prospect of civil war making it too difficult to keep operating and the possibility of moving to India to continue the work. However problems emerged elsewhere. With all the experience in the group, more opportunities arose – solar timber dryer, maintenance manuals for the 650 electric

minibuses of Kathmandu, consultancies etc. The research students started to publish internationally and their confidence increased. Some gained scholarships from prestigious Europe universities. However in a highly class sensitive society, this is dangerous. Suddenly, I was given the choice of staying on provided I stopped: all research, all work with industry, all consultancy work, and closed the research group. This prompted my resignation, and a little later I left Nepal (a foreigner cannot stay in Nepal without a visa connected to an organisation). To keep the knowledge and experience alive, some of the research students and I set up an engineering company, KAPEG (Kathmandu Alternative Power and Energy Group). I’m pleased to say the company continues to this day. It sells white LED lamps and advanced microhydro controllers and is working on the completion of a locally manufactured wind turbine. One of the managerial problems for KAPEG is that after a few years of working at the company, experienced staff often get scholarships and leave to study for a higher degree. I support this, as it is the only way they can continue to develop. From time to time, between scholarships, they return, and there is a job for them at the company. With their new found knowledge and experience, they can progress the company. I was with one of the company directors, walking through a timber yard and furniture factory, considering what could be done in the energy field at the factory. As he looked around, he said "There is just so much opportunity here". He'd got it.

SolarProgress | 47

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Solar products services

Forging a presence In mid 2012 Australia welcomed a new player to the market: Yingli Green Energy. Rather than take its time to settle in, the company fast gained a presence by striking a partnership with Solgen to supply a mighty 1,250kWp of solar installations at more than 20 buildings as part of the sustainable City of Sydney program. Among the string of sites powered by Yingli Solar are the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, Redfern Oval, Sydney Park Pavilion and Epsom Road council facility. The industrious activity here is very much in line with Yingli’s view of the world. Work with key partners in providing solar to key projects. Yingli’s operations which now span five continents, with gracing residential, commercial, and utility sized installations in in over 20 countries, including Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, South Korea, China, and the United States. The globally tally comes in at more than 4.5 GW and driving developments are the 16,000 people employed worldwide under direction of HQ in Baoding, China. Here in Australia Daman Cole’s role as Commercial Director is to build distribution channels to the market and secure key customers for project partnerships throughout Australia and New Zealand. “We specifically chose to enter the local market in mid 2012 as we viewed this time to be a great opportunity support our international partners in maturing the market in terms of advocating better quality modules that ultimately provide a better yield and long term performance,” he told Solar Progress. “We are excited about the Australian market for the years ahead.” Proving an asset to his undertaking is the company’s string of credentials; Yingli Green Energy was one of the first solar entities to gain ISO certification for reusability and waste recycling. “Our certification SA8000 (Social Accountability) is a standout as we’re the only solar company with this certification,” said Daman, who listed the full complement as follows: UL and TŰV Rheinland Quarterly Factory Inspection; ISO 9001 (Quality Management System); ISO 14001 (Environment Management System); and ISO 18000 (Occupational Health and Safety System). “In another first, Yingli Solar got on board with the World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers Program which has ambitions and targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2015,” Daman said. “Other companies across the globe have made the same pledge but we were the first renewable energy concern to cross-promote with WWF on this important environmental initiative.”

“We believe it is our responsibility to convert the sun’s endless power into affordable green energy for all” YGE Chairman Miao’s mantra

The company’s association with FIFA continues with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where the name Yingli Solar will be in the spotlight with ten other big brands including McDonald’s. “The FIFA partnership is in line with our brands and values in that anyone in the world can play soccer, which is one of the most watched sports around the world. Our focus and ability is to supply affordable green energy to all,” Daman explained. Yingli solar panels will be installed across key stadiums in Brazil while the company name, which is to be positioned alongside McDonald’s, will be broadcast and seen by the millions around the globe tuned in to matches. Market swings Despite Yingli’s impressive scorecard – during 2012 PV module shipments shot up by 43.2% year on year to reach a historic high of 2,297.1 MW – the highly competitive market saw Yingli chalk up a negative 3.2% gross margin. The figure is in sharp contrast with the 16.7% recorded in 2011. But as Daman Cole commented: “Our strategy was to work hard to significantly increase our volumes and become the largest PV manufacturer in the world, and in this we were successful. But with last year’s plummeting prices all solar companies around the world took a bit of a hiding. For our part, our performance was not one that will stop capabilities, as we are focusing more on building manufacturing capability for the year ahead, and our global market share and margin. Yingli Solar continues to grow. “We believe in key relationships, and here in Australia we will continue to align ourselves with key partners as we have done around the world for the past 26 years.” More information: Level 20, Tower 2, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney. Ph:1300 309 489

Good sports, good track record With a penchant for pole position, Yingli Solar in 2010 became the first renewable energy company (and the first Chinese company) to sponsor the FIFA World Cup. Under the program “Football for Hope. Energy for Hope” 20 state of the art football stadiums were developed for the benefit of African children. All stadiums are powered by the sun, courtesy of Yingli Solar.

Opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 48 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Australian Solar Council State Branch activity NSW Branch

Tasmanian Branch

Noel Barton, President of NSW Branch

Matthew Pettit, President of Tasmanian Branch

The NSW Branch’s 2013 program of Information Evenings is in full swing. Taking place on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the University of Technology in Sydney, these events typically attract an audience of 25-40. At our February meeting the main speaker was Mary Hendriks, a long-time active member of the NSW Branch. Her presentation was entitled “Community Solar, What's Happening Globally and Where are the Projects in Australia”. The talk included a segment by Dennis Silvers from Central Coast Community Energy, a group which is developing two solar projects for community involvement in the Central Coast region. The Future Directions speaker was Nicky Ison who is Director of the Community Power Agency and a Research Consultant with the UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures. We had two senior speakers at our March meeting. The first was Steve Murray from Spectrum Automation on “Solar Cogeneration”, in which he described a commercially available combi-system that delivers both PV electricity and hot water. The second was Shantha Wanigathunga of SW Engineering Consultancy who spoke on “How to Design Cogeneration Plants for Success in Australia”. In the talk he described reasons for the frequent failure of industrial cogeneration projects. At the April meeting, Noel Barton (Sunoba Pty Ltd and NSW Branch President) will speak on “Embodied Energy in Batteries and other Storage Devices for Solar Power”. The talk will discuss embodied energy requirements and show that on this metric batteries are poor, solar thermal is good and geologic storage is excellent. The Future Directions speaker will be Nitin Nampalli, a PV student at UNSW.

State Conference: Practical Building Solutions in a Changing Climate A community conference on solar options for homes and small businesses organised by the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Solar Council will be held on Friday 5 July 2013 at the Stanley Burbury Theatre, University of Tasmania, Hobart. The one-day conference on Friday 5 July “Practical Building Solutions in a Changing Climate” will explore solar and energy efficiency options for homes and small businesses in an environment of changing weather patterns, changing regulations and changing energy costs. The four main sessions are as follows: • Climate Change – Implications for Buildings; • Building Materials and Energy Use; • Operational Energy Requirements; and • Building case studies. Most speakers are now confirmed. Papers can be refereed if submitted before 10 May (enquiries to John Todd mobile: 0419 307 084). A tour of residential and small commercial buildings will take place between 9am and 4pm on Saturday 6 July. The building tour is not included in the conference registration Details of registration and sponsorship are available on the ASC website ( or contact Carmel Clark at



Technical expertise in: • Project management • Consultancy and tailored project solutions • Renewable Energy compliance • System design • Training and capacity

Australia’s Clean Energy Educator for: • CEC accreditation for electricians and engineers • Professional training publications and resources • Approved courses under CEC Continuous Professional Development

FREE CALL: 1300 265 525 | tel:+61 (0) 2 9024 5312 | | SolarProgress | 49

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Adam Pearse, group CEO

Urban Group Energy takes a major stake in Sungrid Urban Group Energy (UGE) recently acquired a major shareholding in Sungrid, the Australian solar panel brand. UGE, head quartered on the Central Coast NSW, is rapidly growing its operations and saw an opportunity to broaden their range of products, more the while strengthening their brand in the process. In just over twelve months UGE has stepped into efficient lighting, PV Solar, energy management and consumption monitoring equipment. The company continues to make headway in the renewable energy sector and is fast becoming a recognised leader in this space. Adam Pearse, group CEO, saw the opportunity to expand its business in to product development. “We had been working with Phil Livingston for some months and we were very impressed with Sungrid’s stringent quality assurance and quality controls procedures for their product development. As we continue to grow the UGE global brand it is imperative we have the correct measures in place to service the energy efficient market,” he said. Phil Livingston, former CEO for Sungrid who joins UGE as group Chief Technical Officer said “I am delighted to join UGE at this exciting time. The company is well poised to expand into new market opportunities and the

acquisition of the Sungrid brand, Sungrid’s quality related processes & systems and overseas infrastructure, will further enhance UGE’s capability to meet its corporate objectives.” UGE now plans to develop innovative technology for the renewable energy market and with already a deep understanding of this industry, and looks foward to developing UGE products and services. About Urban Group Energy Urban Group Energy are world leaders in energy efficiency. Our core business is creating energy efficient solutions using state of the art equipment and the latest technologies. We pride ourselves on our one-stop range of solutions, pursuing reduction of the global carbon footprint and protecting our environment for future generations. Urban Group Energy’s services include everything from energy efficiency product development, efficient lighting, solar wholesale, commercial solar and energy retail. For further information:

Opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 50 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

The Australian Solar Directory 2013 The Inaugural Directory for Solar Professionals in Australia

Solar Directory 2013

Enphase Energy

Blue Sun Group


CAT Projects

phone email address website

1300 326 688 or 07 3266 8668 31 Depot St, Banyo QLD 4014

Blue Sun Group P/L is an Australian owned company with its head office in Brisbane, specialising in Renewable Energy Products. Photovoltaic modules, roof mounting systems and other renewable products are designed in Australia and manufactured by Blue Sun Group.

• •

CAT Projects is Australia’s pre-eminent renewable energy engineering consulting practice. Bringing the rigour and pragmatism

Russell French 03 8669 1651 1420 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA 95462 USA website

Enphase Energy is the world’s leading microinverter system provider, pursuing unique, high-tech innovations to continually advance the performance and intelligence of residential and commercial solar energy systems.

expected from a leading engineering firm and

With over 380 employees worldwide and offices

the 30 year heritage of working across remote

in six countries, Enphase has shipped over

monocrystalline and polycrystalline

areas of Northern Australia, CAT Projects has

3,000,000 units since introducing the world’s

photovoltaic modules for the recreational,

designed and engineered some of the largest

first microinverter system in 2008. Continually

on grid and off grid market.

Solar projects in Australia. CAT Projects also has

innovating, Enphase is now selling its third

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extensive experience internationally, including

generation microinverter. Enphase went public in

systems using 6061 top grade aluminium

winning Australia’s most significant engineering

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has global alliances with largest inverter

award, the Sir William Hudson award, for its


work designing power systems in India.

Blue Sun Group produces •

phone 08 8959 6240 email address Desert Knowledge Precinct, South Stuart Highway, PO Box 8044, Alice Springs NT 0871 website

contact phone email address

Carbon Management Solutions

phone email address website

1300 902 110 19 John St, Lawson NSW 2783

With over 10 years’ experience in the solar

Fronius Australia

Chubb Insurance Company of Australia Limited

contact phone email address website

Kevin Stevens 02 9273 0136 L29/2 Park St, Sydney NSW 2000

contact phone email address

Adrian Noronho 03 8340 2900 90-92 Lambeck Dr, Tullamarine VIC 3043 website

Austrian inverter manufacturer Fronius has been developing and innovating power electronics

industry, CMS is one of Australia’s leading

Insurance for solar companies. Chubb Insurance

since 1945. Today Fronius is a leading

wholesalers of solar power panels and inverters

is a specialist worldwide insurer that addresses

provider of welding, battery charging and solar

and is well respected within the solar power

the established and emerging risks faced by

electronics technologies. With operations

industry. We develop, source and brand our

solar companies. Our specialist underwriters

spanning the globe Fronius serves the Australian

own products to a nationally recognised

offer tailored insurance solutions to meet the

market with a subsidiary in Melbourne which

industry brand. Our mission is to measurably

challenging exposures of this industry, frequently

includes a local warehouse, technical support, a

reduce energy consumption and greenhouse

offering coverage features that were previously

repair centre as well as a sales organization. This

gas emissions by providing to the domestic,

unavailable. It’s no surprise that Chubb has

unique combination of strong local support and

commercial and industrial markets highly reliable

become the insurer of choice for many solar PV

global experience results in premium quality and

and cost-effective renewable energy solutions.

companies around the world.

customer service.

52 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Krannich Solar Pty Ltd HARELEC

contact phone email address

Jamie Harrison 02 6581 1201 4/9 Blackbutt Rd, Port Macquarie NSW 2444 website

REFUsol GmbH contact phone email address

Giovanni Siano 03 9339 5100 or 03 9339 5104 96 Lambeck Dr, Tullamarine VIC 3043 website

contact phone email website

Your Best Partner for Photovoltaic

REFUsol is a leading manufacturer of solar

We specialise in commercial & industrial grid-

Krannich Solar is a global leader in the

connect & off-grid solar systems, and integrated

distribution of photovoltaic systems with

energy solutions, combining solar with other

more than 20 branches and 1.2GW systems

systems such as air-conditioning, lighting,

installed worldwide. We are determined to

power factor correction, load management and

provide strict quality control, effective logistics,

Building Management Systems.

and consultancy services topped with an

Also specialising in 15kW solar trackers.

outstanding product portfolio. With extensive know-hows in roof top as well as commercial

35 years of experience, expertise, capability,

solar, our experienced team will be on hand to

resources and a proven track record of over

answer all of your questions and discuss new

8MW ensure a successful project, regardless of

business opportunities.

location or size. Licensed in NSW, ACT, QLD and VIC; pricing projects Australia-wide.

Murray McNaught 1300 146 346 43 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill QLD 4059

When it comes to picking a company to provide you the best solar power or hot water system, the choice can be mind-boggling. Choose a quality partner you can rely on: Infinity Solar.

inverters. With over 48 years of experience in power electronics, REFUsol is one of the top five providers of solar inverters globally and one of the fastest growing companies in this field. Our goal is to maximize the yield of our customer’s photovoltaic installations through our awardwinning and cost-effective inverters – starting from small roof installations to larger solar power plants.

Schneider Electric (Australia) Pty Ltd

PLP Solar

Infinity Solar

contact phone email address

Dean Stratton 0408 555 580

contact phone email address

Matthew Greely 02 8805 0100 190 Power St, Glendenning NSW 2761 website

PLP Solar is an Australian company dedicated to the manufacture and supply of high quality products for the PV industry. PLP Solar also has the ability to assist in delivery and implementation of both residential and commercial PV projects.

contact phone email address

Pacific Head Office 1300 369 233 78 Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park NSW 2113 website

Schneider Electric offers a complete solution for photovoltaic integration and connection including power conversion (inverters, transformers and switchgear), electrical distribution, monitoring, supervision and technical support. Schneider Electric provides the full solution from the panel DC output to the grid connection. Focused on making

We believe in the power of the sun, but more

In-house engineers can provide expert

energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the

importantly we believe in our workmanship,

consultation and design services, to ensure

company’s 140,000 plus employees achieved

quality products and friendly local service. That’s

clients get the most out of their PV systems

sales of 24 billion euros in 2012, through an

why 99% of our customers recommend us and

and assuring the project will be managed in a

active commitment to help individuals and

we’re one of Australia’s top 10 solar companies.

seamless and professional manner.

organizations “Make the most of their energy.”

SolarProgress | 53

Solar Directory 2013 Si Clean Energy

True Value Solar phone Wholesale - 1300 336 737 Service - 1300 767 771 email address 15 Isles Dr, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450 website

Sunowe Solar Pty Ltd

phone Residential - 13solar (13 76 52) Business - 03 9006 7198 website

As one of Australia’s longest established solar

True Value Solar is Australia’s largest solar

companies we have taken great care in the

specialist, installing and maintain state-of-the-

selection of our wholesale solar products. We have over 24 years continuous trade and have established partnerships with the industry’s best suppliers positioning us to deliver cutting edge solar solutions. With one of the most advanced solar repair facilities in Australia we have a dedicated expert

contact phone email address

Terry WANG 03 9544 5022 9/45 Normanby Rd, Notting Hill VIC 3168 website

art solar systems on the rooftops of residential houses, businesses, community organisations and schools right across Australia. TVS is part of the German-based M+W Group, a global leader in engineering, construction, project management and advanced technology facilities. As a result of its partnership with M+W

Sunowe Solar Pty Ltd is the subsidiary of

Group, True Value Solar not only benefits from

SUNOWE Photovoltaic (Zhejiang Sunflower

its local expertise from years of working on the

Light Energy Science & Technology LLC) in

ground in Australia, it also draws on the depth of

At Si Clean Energy system performance,

Australia. SUNOWE Photovoltaic is a renowned

resources and knowledge that M+W possesses.

reliability and service are paramount.

Photovoltaic Solar Manufacturer with a

service team for all inverter service, repairs, warranties and technical back up support.

worldwide presence. Our engineers have over

Solar Inception

20 years of experience i n the PV industry,

Vulcan Energy Pty Ltd

which combined with top technology from US, Germany and Japan makes SUNOWE modules, one of the highest quality products on the marketplace.

contact phone email address

Paul Scerri 03 9017 1010 16/1 International Dr, Westmeadows VIC 3049 website

Solar Inception Pty. Ltd. is an Australian owned and operated company that is a single-source provider of quality grid-and off-grid solar power


phone 1300 884 898 email website

contact phone email address

Rob Campbell 07 5593 5553 or 0414 925 222 43-45 Dover Dr, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220

Vulcan Energy is a long established multidisciplined group incorporating construction,

products and professional services. The company

SunTrix is an Australian owned and operated

service and renewable technologies supply

is equipped to meet small through large-scale

company, servicing the commercial (small

and installation. Using a pragmatic approach at

solar project needs. Financially strong, with

and large scale), wholesale, residential and

ways to solve immediate issues related to the

highest-quality manufacturing partnerships

community sectors of the solar industry.

creation and distribution of electrical energy. Our

and an established distribution channel, Solar Inception is positioned for continued success and longevity in a shifting market. The company serves clients through nationwide distribution, and also provides solar installation planning, design and implementation for commercial

SunTrix is not just ‘another solar company’. We provide a full turn-key solution for our clients, focusing on best practice design and installation, solar expertise, value products and personalised customer service.

current R&D focus is on Grid Demand solutions using the latest available battery technology. Our Grid Demand and Sun Sink storage units are set to revolutionise the power industry by eliminating the need for massive peak demand infrastructure, at a low ongoing cost. Our unique

installations of all sizes. Solar Inception includes

Suntrix have the resources and know-how

design uses a high voltage low current model

customers throughout Australia, Asia, New

to provide services and partnerships with

making it compatible with 95% of existing solar

Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

manufacturers, suppliers, investors and builders.


54 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

SOLAR PUMPING SYSTEM Livestock Tank Filling Homesteads Mining Vineyards Rivers, bores, creeks

The SubDrive SolarPAK System packs a punch in remote locations in need of water. Get a rugged, high-output system that tackles all the challenges of harsh environments. Discover the new power in solar pumping and get the quality you expect from the name you already trust. You’ll find everything you need with SubDrive Solar.


FE901 12/12

• • • • • •

Advertorial –

Solar products services

Refusol’s high efficiency solar inverters for solar installations in Mulwala Solar inverter manufacturer REFUsol GmbH has equipped Club Mulwala and Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort with its high efficiency solar inverters. Both plants were built by the local solar specialist, Purtle Electrical Pty Ltd. The 80 kW and 95 kW installations took only four weeks with four men each and were connected to the grid immediately after the set-up was finished. For the installation the solar inverters REFUsol 010K and REFUsol 020K were used due to their high efficiency and ease of installation. The three-phase string inverters belong to a series of 8kW, 10kW, 13kW, 17kW and 20kW string inverters which are suitable for rooftop systems from 8 kW upwards, right through to megawatt parks. They comply with all requirements for IP65 protection and their housing provides reliable protection from dust and water, including high pressure washing. Therefore, these systems can be installed out in the open without any problem. All five string inverters are easy to handle and compact, for example they can be installed on an area smaller than three A4 pages laid side by side. Operation and monitoring are easy, further facilitated by the graphic display, the integrated RS485 interface and an Ethernet connection. Fast MPP tracking and a wide input voltage range also ensure the high levels of efficiency that are typical in REFUsol systems. Even at low irradiation, the three-phase inverters achieve an efficiency of up to 98.2%. As a result of these high efficiency levels, convection cooling is all that is needed to dissipate the heat. Thanks to the low voltage fluctuations against earth, the transformer-less devices can also be used for many thin-film modules. The integrated data-logger can send all important operating data to the REFUlog internet portal. For visualization and evaluation purposes, data can be transferred via the standard cable or an optional wireless connection using the new REFUconnect radio module. “The Specifications of the REFUsol inverters was exactly what we were looking for: efficiency was very high, the price was right and we could also use REFUlog the professional but easy monitoring system”, confirms Nick Purtle, Manager of Purtle Electrical Pty Ltd.

Solar Inception announces SolaGRID ESS Turnkey Energy Storage Solution Smart Storage Reduces Energy Costs; Boosts Power Efficiency Solar Inception Pty. Ltd. recently announced a smart renewable energy storage solution that can capture energy from multiple sources, including solar, wind, hydro, diesel Genset and the grid, and then use the stored energy on demand. SolaGRID ESS is a fully integrated and expandable lead acid gel energy storage system suitable for standalone (off-grid) or grid-coupled operation. Available in eight models, the SolaGRID ESS offers from 4.6 kW to 8 kW power supply capacity in 10 kWh and 20 kWh modular units. SolaGRID ESS is packaged in an aesthetic, weatherproof enclosure that can withstand extreme climate conditions. The system is easy and quick to install. Its modular design accommodates storage for small to large green energy systems and storage capacity can be easily expanded as power needs grow. “By simply connecting a few AC cables, the SolaGRID ESS solution is ready to go”, said Jeremy Tranter, Electrical Project Engineer for Solar Inception. “The off-grid, standalone SolaGRID ESS models store energy when renewable power generation is abundant, and then use the stored energy when the generation is insufficient. Similarly, our grid-coupled SolaGRID ESS units save power from the grid during off-peak times when the price of power is low, then supply the stockpiled energy at peak demand time when the price of electricity is high. The net result in both instances is to reduce the overall price of electric power, while optimising the use of lower-cost renewable energy.” Quality-Driven, Durable Performance SolaGRID ESS systems are built to perform efficiently and consistently for prolonged periods; for example, over the entire lifecycle of a solar energy system. Each SolaGRID ESS system comprises high-quality SMA Sunny Island/Sunny Backup inverters and BAE Secura Solar batteries, and is built in accordance with stringent safety, system design, installation and maintenance standards, including AS 3000, AS 4509, AS 4086 compliance and NPER/RPEQ/CPEng/CEC certification. (For specifications and more information, see the SolaGRID ESS data sheet.) Pricing and Availability SolaGRID ESS models are available immediately and are priced beginning at $16,871 (exclusive of GST) for a 5 kW/10 kWh standalone system. Available models include: · 4.6 kW standalone models with 10 kWh or 20 kWh · 5 kW standalone models with 10 kWh or 20 kWh · 6 kW standalone models with 10 kWh or 20 kWh · 5 kW grid-coupled models with 10 kWh or 20 kWh For more information, visit au, email, or contact the company directly at its offices in Queensland: 07 3166 9598, Victoria: 03 9017 1010 or South Australia: 08 8372 7808.

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 56 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

The SMA Sunny Tripower offers more than ever before New sizes available to suit the residential and small commercial markets The new SMA Sunny Tripower 5000TL - 9000TL perfectly complements the existing Sunny Tripower range. With cutting-edge technology and top yields, this inverter is setting new standards in its power class. Its technical specifications set the standard for mid to large scale residential PV systems and smaller commercial plants. Packed with great features, the Sunny Tripower boasts a peak efficiency of over 98 percent, provides for easy system design, and can play an important role in grid management. The Sunny Tripower enables the true three-phase feed-in of solar technology which simplifies design and balances output. This makes it easier to design a plant with incredible precision. This Sunny Tripower also has two independent MPP trackers for Optiflex, the Multistring concept for asymmetrical current distribution. “Installers benefit from a high degree of module compatibility and seamless construction that exactly suits the required number of modules with just one inverter,” Product Manager Wilfried Vogt said. Another key attribute is the shade management feature OptiTrac Global Peak. This is the best solution for efficient operation of partially shaded arrays. OpticTrac Global Peak generates much higher yields in systems with partial shade compared with conventional MPP trackers. It always hits the global maximum power of the string which can be significantly higher than that of the local maximum power that is located by traditional MPP trackers. This innovative feature ensures the inverter performs at its peak efficiency of 98%. As well as improving on Bluetooth® communication with an external Bluetooth®-antenna, this new Sunny Tripower model comes with integrated SMA Webconnect as standard. This new direct data exchange interface facilitates quick communication with Sunny Portal, which allows the user to track the key performance data and control up to four inverters. Any possible abnormalities or interferences in operation will be quickly detected, and a notification will be sent by email through the Sunny Portal, ensuring that the Sunny Tripower secures optimal plant availability. The Sunny Tripower 5000TL – 9000TL is AS/NZS 5033 compliant. SMA has been providing innovative solutions for over 30 years, using exacting German engineering to produce the highest quality products. The Sunny Tripower 5000TL - 9000TL is light and easy to install weighing only 37kg. Additionally, the brand-new slim design means that significantly less installation area is required compared with other Tripower models. The Sydney-based Service Team at SMA Australia is available on 1800 SMA AUS and provides a high level of local technical support.

Are your customers


Sunsink Solar Storage uses the latest battery technology to collect and store solar PV energy for use when it is most benificial to the system owner. Sun Sink units can deliver power at times when grid power is at it’s highest price. The system comes complete with five years warranty and a full service scheme for the life of the unit. Future-proof design ensures the unit can adapt to future grid demand applications. The units are small, efficient and SAFE. Available sizes: Sunsink 5 - Five Kilowatt hours of Storage (Suits systems up to 3KW, priced from $3000) Sunsink 10 - Ten Kilowatt hours of Storage (Suits systems up to 5KW, priced from $5000)

Size selection will depend on daytime usage, refer to our website for further sizing data. Systems can be applied to each string, so multiple units can be added to achieve 15-60 KWH of storage.

SolarProgress | 57

Advertorial –

Solar products services

Commercial focus for SA solar company SunTrix Providing solar for SME and large scale commercial businesses is a big focus during 2013 for South Australian solar company, SunTrix. Having sold more than 35,000 solar panels (8.5MW), supplied and installed solar for more than 1000 residential properties last year – and providing an unmatched wholesale service to providers – SunTrix has expanded its business to focus on commercial installations. SunTrix Managing Director, Jenny Paradiso, said the company, which was launched in 2009, was thrilled to be working on large commercial solar projects and installations for SMEs and not-for-profits, and was looking forward to supporting other businesses looking to invest in solar. “We are now being recognised for our best practice in design and installation and are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with major manufacturers and suppliers,” Ms Paradiso said. As a respected wholesale provider, SunTrix also has an extensive range of solar installation products from mounting systems to inverters and panels. “Our CEC accredited design services allow us to stand out from the rest, as does the high level of customer service we offer. Our products are readily available and in stock to ensure we can offer same day delivery, often direct to the installation site,” Ms Paradiso said. In July, SunTrix will release a new monitoring system which has been developed and designed in house. Via a smart phone application, the system will allow customers to monitor the output of their inverter from anywhere in the world. “There are very few other systems in Australia and overseas which have the same functionality and price point, so we are delighted to be able to offer such a unique and innovative product to our customers,” said Ms Paradiso, adding that new standards AS 5033-2012 and IEC 62109-2 would mean every inverter installed after July 16 would require an alarm to notify consumers if their inverter experiences a fault. The SunTrix monitoring system will notify the consumer and installer via SMS/email/fax when a fault occurs – helping to reduce installation costs by eliminating external wiring to an alarm. The system is also essential when the inverter is to be installed in locations that would make other relay-type alarms impractical.

Schneider Electric’s PV solutions A global company with more than 175 years of experience, Schneider Electric provides bankable photovoltaic solutions for any size installation, together with an electrical balance of system warranty plus local, longterm support. In addition to solar inverters and monitoring, Schneider Electric can provide switchgear and circuit protection, power conversion substations, transformers and array boxes. Schneider Electric products are present at every link in the energy chain, helping customers get the most efficient solar harvest from their installations. One of the key pillars of the Schneider Electric’s offer is reliability. All of the Schneider Electric PV solutions, from small scale residential to utility scale systems, have been validated through intensive testing to ensure operation in the harshest environmental conditions. For utility and large scale solutions, the ConextTM Core XC Series has best-in-class peak efficiencies up to 98.9% and a field proven industrial design based on Schneider Electric industrial power drives. The ConextTM Core XC Series includes an innovative fast sweep MMPT algorithm (Maximum Power Point Tracking). Its flexibility allows the inverter to be configured with voltage and power outputs up to 680 kVA. ConextTM Core XC series inverters also offer unique versatility through fully configurable firmware, enabling easy field upgrades of the unit to follow fast evolving grid interactivity requirements, and are a masterpiece of our integrated BOS solution package for utility-scale plants, together with our lightweight PV Box offering and new ConextTM Control monitoring and control solution. Schneider Electric™, the Global Specialist in Energy Management™, is at the forefront of PV technology, helping to ensure an optimised energy harvest over the lifetime of any installation. Pacific Head Office 78 Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park NSW 2113 Phone: 1300 369 233

SunTrix 95 Graves St, Newton 5074 Box 200, Campbelltown 5074 Phone: 1300 884 898

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 58 | ISSUE 2 • 2013

Book Review:

Advertisers’ Index

Concentrating Solar Power technology: Principles, developments and applications

Bosch Clipsal Schneider


Dr Keith Lovegrove, Head of Solar Thermal for the UK-based IT Power joined forces with Wes Stein, CSIRO Manager, in editing Concentrating Solar Power technology: Principles, developments and applications. Wasim Saman Professor of Sustainable Energy Engineering, University of South Australia reviewed the book on behalf of Solar Progress.

Ena Solar


Franklin Electric


Goodwe Power






Pioneer Group


Having been engaged in solar thermal research and development for many years, I wondered about the value of reading this new book. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality and depth of information this book brought together. With the current resurgence in concentrated solar power as a serious contributor to future world energy supply scenarios, the book is timely as it provides a much needed single resource for both old hands and new players in this area. The book comprises three parts. The introductory part overviews the fundamental principles, resource and economic evaluation and siting issues. Part II goes into the technical details of past and current installations. It includes chapters on collection technologies (trough, linear Fresnel, tower and dish) as well as chapters on energy storage, hybridisation, CPV systems and market penetration issues. The final part overviews current state of the art

Issues each year Circulated to Read by up to

and latest research, development and potential applications including material development and optimisation of the major components and the system as a whole, industrial applications, solar fuels and solar chemistry. While the emphasis is on technology development, the book does not overlook economic, social and other aspects essential for industry development and large scale take up. It provides a comprehensive record of recent experiences from solar power installations which have been springing up in many developed and developing countries around the world. The book is a valuable reference reflecting the current state of concentrating solar power technology. It has been written and edited by leading international industry and research experts. Although the printed version is rather expensive, it is a must as a comprehensive reference to students, researchers and all those involved in the development, installation and operation of solar thermal and other associated plant and components. The publisher "Concentrating Solar Power Technology: Principles Developments and Applications", was produced by Woodhead Publishing Limited (UK) as part of their series in energy.

4 5000 18,000

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The Australian Solar Council’s flagship publication Solar Progress

Spread the word about YOUR business Did you know? By advertising in Solar Progress you are reaching key decision makers across the full spectrum of Australia’s solar energy industry.

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The magazine is circulated to 5000 people across Australia with a stake in solar energy: researchers, engineers, renewable energy consultants, training organisations, solar installers and architects, officers in state and federal government, students, and the general public.

More and more solar professionals are turning to Solar Progress as the definitive source of industry information.

Solar Progress is distributed at solar conferences and presented to prominent overseas solar specialists during overseas delegations. Establish your presence in the solar energy industry by promoting your goods or services to the wider solar community.

Contact Brian Rault or 03 8534 5014 to secure your advertising presence

Diamond Member

ASC Corporate Members Issue 2- 2013

Hareon Solar

Sponsoring Members Benq

SME Business Members 24 Hour Efficient Energy ALCO Battery Sales Autonomous Energy Blue Mountains Solar P/L Bramalco P/L

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Shanghai BYD Co Ltd

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Shanghai JA Solar PV Technology Co Ltd

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SMA Australia P/L

Positronic Solar Data and Electrical PowerWill New Energy Technology Co Ltd

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Large Business Members Bosch Solar Energy

MaxiSolar P/L


More Clean P/L.

DKSH Australia P/L

Nu Energy

Q-Cells Australia P/L Rainbow Power Company Ltd REFUsol Regen Power P/L Renewable Concepts P/L T/A Baker Renewable Energy Schletter Australia P/L Schott Australia P/L SI Clean Energy P/L Solar Charge P/L Solarmatrix SolarMax (Sputnik Engineering Australia and NZ P/L) SolarReserve Solarsave NSW P/L Solco Ltd Sunburst Solar P/L Suntech Power Australia P/L Suntech R&D Australia P/L SunTrix Urban Solar SA

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Purchase your products from the only supplier that can give you real time assistance on the job with back up support, service and warranty repairs 1300 767 761

Products ~ Engineering ~ Support

Sunny Tripower 5000TL - 9000TL

The three-phase inverter for residential and commercial markets The SMA Sunny Tripower offers more than ever before, with new sizes available to suit the residential and small commercial markets. Packed with great features, the three-phase inverter provides for easy system design and plays an important role in grid management. Optiflex technology ensures the highest in flexibility while combining peak efficiency with the OptiTrac Global Peak system to generate the highest in yields. It has an excellent peak efficiency of over 98 percent and the MPP trackers adjust the voltage and current of a PV array so that it operates at its maximum power point. Webconnect, the new direct data exchange interface, is a standard integrated function for quick communication with Sunny Portal, which allows the user to track the key performance data of the system. The Sunny Tripower 5000TL â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 9000TL is AS/NZS 5033 compliant.

1800 SMA AUS

Solar Progress Issue 2 2013  

The Official Journal of the Australian Solar Council