Page 1

ISSN: 0729-6436

Quiet achiever changes the face of solar Dyesol mimics nature to notch up another breakthrough

The power of rooftops Novel CST for all types of roofs

Game changing impact on network operators Giles Parkinson assesses keys to future incentives

Brilliant Half Century My, how far solar has travelled ‌


issue 3

The Official Journal of the Australian Solar COUNCIL

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Contents Australian Solar Council Words by ASC CEO and Solar Progress Editor 2


Solar 2013 conference: Insights and updates 


State Branch activities


Brilliant Half Century – Reflecting on developments in solar technologies and applications


Conference images and quotes of note


ASC Membership listing56

Political update Greens Leader Senator Milne assesses the political landscape 



Solar energy developments Dyesol nurtures nature in significant breakthrough A solar cell that uses no silicon, instead mimicking photosynthesis 


Rooftop integrated concentrating solar power Tanzeen Sultana taps into novel CST for rooftops 14

Special features Doug Fletcher of Solar Inception reinforces the need for quality  16 Reality check: Giles Parkinson on network operators  20 Early PV in contrast with today’s PV: Bill Parker’s practical wrap 


Advanced microinverters



Solar community Solar citizens get serious 


Hidden Valley Cabins – off grid, off diesel and onto solar


News and views Local and global solar news




Advertorials: Solar products and services Clenergy, Fronius, Regen, Positronic, SMA and UGE

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

37 Front cover: Advances in domestic PV deliver greater sophistication and more user friendly processes


Editor Dr Bill Parker Phone: 0403 583 676 Contributors: Doug Fletcher, Giles Parkinson and Tanzeen Sultana 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.

SolarProgress | 1 Solar Progress is published quarterly.

Bill Parker Editor

John Grimes Chief Executive, Australian Solar Council

Energy Gluttony It is time to change our thinking about solar energy. For too long the energy debate has been framed as a choice between those who back economic development, and those who back sustainable development. The choice has been between economic progress or abating climate change. This is a false choice. We can actually have both. Because we use limited polluting fossil fuels, the mantra has been to use less, to do less to go backwards. Step back, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, and one thing is crystal clear, the power of the stars. Our sun provides an infinite supply of energy, without any harmful side effects. By harnessing this external star power we can power more, create more, develop more, and lift more people out of poverty than we could ever do by burning up the finite resources of the Earth. The sun’s power is truly awesome, and dwarfs any other energy source available to us. I for one am not interested in going backwards, in making do with less, in imposing limits on my children’s generation. I want more. I want development, I want growth. In short I want to be an energy glutton! The sun is the answer. The sun can do both at the same time. Join me in gorging on the infinite clean power of the sun!

John Grimes

A society based entirely on solar and wind energy derived electricity is yet to be achieved. However, looking at our historical effort in Australia and its spin-offs and market developments we can say with confidence that we are making excellent progress. The Brilliant Half Century presentations at Solar 2013 were wide ranging and thorough resumes of the history of the technologies, the people and our organisation. One conclusion from two prominent speakers was that we are not there yet. We need to leave behind the “hybrids” and go for the total renewables. The future will be a renewable electricity driven future, whether that is powering transport or buildings, using solar, wind and more. As well as issues of funding and the response of politicians, we face paradigm shift in the way we “manage” electricity production and distribution. Solar 2013 may well have been a watershed conference. This is discussed in depth in these pages. Naturally, we always see a broad range of exhibitors at our annual solar conferences, mainly the solar industry, but this year the people of Australia were also represented. Looking at Solar Citizens efforts (http:// ) you can get a regularly updated snapshot of basic data for your electorate, state and more. For the whole country in early July there was a total of 2468 MW installed and this was saving us some $550 million in avoided power bill costs. And herein lies the needs for the paradigm shift since this “lost” income is a significant dent in our state and territory government’s traditional income. And with this edition, I am proud to welcome a new contributor – Giles Parkinson. Giles produces the daily e-newsletter Renew Economy, a thoughtful and hard hitting publication that tracks the next industrial revolution, monitoring not just solar but the broader spectrum of activities and technologies that will constitute our new industrial society. Giles is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator. You can see his daily round–up at It’s well worth a daily read no matter where you sit in the renewable energy spectrum, and it is free to sign up.

Bill Parker

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

2 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

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Political update

The Greens vision for solar Solar Progress invited Senator Christine Milne to present insights into the Greens’ staunch support for solar and other renewable energies. The burning question perhaps is: what is more ambitious, maintaining high levels of carbon emissions or transitioning to 100 per cent clean energy?

The Australian Greens envision lots of solar in all of its forms – residential roof-top, commercial roof-top, large scale PV, large scale solar thermal and manufacturing! The reason is simple. The world needs to decarbonise rapidly to reduce the impact of global warming. The energy policies of the Australian Greens are based on the fact that we are in a climate emergency and the world needs to decarbonise very quickly. As was recently reiterated by the Climate Commission, if we are to retain a 75 per cent chance of constraining warming to 2 degrees Celsius (in itself a dangerously high temperature increase), then globally we can emit no more than 1,000 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2000 and 2050. In the 13 years since 2000, which is 26 per cent of the period, we’ve already used up nearly 40 per cent of that global budget. If we continue at this rate, and that seems pretty certain until at least 2020, then our allowable emissions budget will have been used up completely by 2028. If we are a society that cares about leaving a safe climate for our children, and if Australia is to contribute fairly to the global challenge of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees, our long-term carbon budget is going to be tight and emissions from the electricity sector must ultimately fall to zero. Nuclear energy is too dangerous and too slow to build, carbon capture and storage is not ready and very unlikely to ever prove cost-competitive. A 100 per cent reliance on renewable energy is therefore necessary and inevitable; it is just a question of when.

Climate Change Committee To progress action on climate change, on a range of policy fronts, the Greens insisted on the establishment of the Multi Party Climate Change Committee (MPCCC) as a condition of supporting the Gillard Government after the last election. The MPCCC designed the carbon pricing scheme and a range of complementary measures. To investigate what a 100 per cent renewable energy future might look like for Australia, the Greens negotiated, during the MPCCC deliberations for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to model the feasibility and cost. AEMO’s draft report on achieving 100 per cent renewable energy shows that by using a range of renewable energy options Australia can maintain existing electricity supply reliability standards. Similar results have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Policy by a

4 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

research group at University of New South Wales. It also shows there is a big future for solar. The AEMO report developed two scenarios. The first assumes rapid technology transformation and moderate economic growth and the second assumes moderate technology transformation and high economic growth. While obviously the results are sensitive to assumptions about that rate at which technology costs fall (and there have been criticisms made about AEMO’s assumptions about solar thermal in particular), it is interesting to note the projections. Below is a table setting out AEMO projections with respect to solar technologies in 2030 – remembering that is modelling for a 100 per cent renewable energy system. With a little over 2,000 MW of PV and with solar thermal yet to really get going it’s clear we should anticipate a massive expansion in the solar industry.

Scenario 1

Scenario 2


( per cent)


( per cent)

PV, rooftop





PV, utility





Concentrated Solar Thermal





Policy initiatives To help achieve the sectors potential the Greens have recently released three policy initiatives, and there are more to come before the federal election. These include: 1) The creation of an Energy Savings Agency, whose primary goal will be to place downward pressure on electricity prices. One of its main tasks will be to develop recommendations about fair prices electricity retailers should offer for distributed generation from a range of sources, including PV systems and battery storage. Calculating the economic value of electricity exported to the grid is complex and contested. To date this task, at least as far as PV is concerned, has been undertaken by entities such as IPART in NSW, Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission and the Queensland Competition Authority. Their approach, however, has been widely criticised as being limited and so unduly conservative as to be unfair to the owners of distributed generators.



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Political update

The recommendation of the Agency should be transparent, specific to particular technology types and could vary by region and/or time of day, noting the value of distributed generation is higher at peak times and in areas of requiring network upgrades. The Government will be required to either implement the recommendations and compel all electricity retailers to offer at least the rate recommended by the Agency or publish comprehensive statement of reasons as to why they were failing to do so. 2) Increasing the Renewable Energy Target to 90 per cent by 2030. This policy is based on the view that incrementalism is expensive and the cheapest way to transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future is to develop long-term plans to achieve it. It is also supported by the findings of the AEMO 100 per cent renewable energy study which showed that achieving 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 is projected to increase electricity prices by an amount similar to business as usual if there is at least some global action on climate change. 3) Increasing the guaranteed funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from $10 billion over five years to $30 billion over ten. This would increase spending from an average of $2 billion each year, to $3 billion each year. The CEFC seeks to overcome the range of financial barriers to commercialising and deploying cleaner energy technologies, including large scale PV and solar thermal plants. If we are to roll out renewable energy fast, the CEFC needs the capacity for greater investment. More detail about these initiatives is published at au/election2013.

Election issues With regards to the upcoming election, the most important thing is that the gains that have been made over the last three years, all of which are a result of the MPCCC process, are maintained. These include: • the carbon pricing mechanism, which will increasingly boost the relative competitiveness of renewable energy; • the independent Climate Change Authority, whose main job is to depoliticise the task of setting emission reduction targets; and, • both the $3 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the $10 billion CEFC, whose combined mission is to drive renewable energy research, development and deployment. Tony Abbott has promised to tear down each of of these measures and institutions, except ARENA. In addition, Abbott refuses to commit to the existing 41,000 gigawatt hour RET, with many of his Coalition members arguing that the target should be reduced because energy consumption has fallen. Standing up for these measures and institutions, all of which are essential to the solar industry, is simple – as well as holding the new Labor line up to account, the Greens have to prevent Tony Abbott from winning control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. How can the sector help itself? By publically communicating that all of these measures and institutions (and more) are essential and Tony Abbott’s current policies are not in the sector’s interest. 1 2 Elliston, B., MacGill, I. & Diesendorf, M. (2013) 'Least cost 100 per cent renewable electricity scenarios in the Australian National Electricity Market', Energy Policy.


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Technology developments

Nature nurtures solar energy The story of another solar cell that uses no silicon, instead mimicking photosynthesis. Bill Parker traces the history and present day success of Dyesol. The co–invention in 1988 of Brian O’Regan and Michael Grätzel (then at UC Berkeley) of the dye solar cell can be regarded as a milestone in photovoltaics. The cell was based on a semiconductor formed between a photosensitised anode and an electrolyte. The work was developed by O’Regan and Grätzel at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and published in Nature 1991 describing the first low cost high efficiency Dye Sensitised Solar Cell. Then, silicon based PV cells were described as “prohibitively expensive”. The device was based on a 10micron thick, optically transparent film of titanium dioxide particles a few nanometres in size, coated with a monolayer of a charge-transfer dye to sensitise the film for light harvesting. The technology can best be described as ‘artificial photosynthesis’. Dyesol (ASX: DYE) more recently has used an electrolyte made of a layer of titanium oxide

8 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

and ruthenium dye deposited on glass, metal or polymer substrates. The term mesoscopic (particle sizes between visible and needing a microscope to see) has been introduced, particularly where a perovskite is substituted for dye as a sensitiser. Light striking the sensitiser excites electrons that are absorbed by the titanium oxide to produce the electric current. Compared to conventional silicon based photovoltaic technology, the technology has lower cost and embodied energy in manufacture, it produces electricity more efficiently even in low light conditions and can be directly incorporated into buildings by replacing conventional glass panels or metal sheets rather than taking up roof or extra land area. The outcome is the first 3rd generation PV cell that will operate well in reflected or refracted light, opening up wide opportunities for electricity generation. In 2010, solid-

state DSC performance was at a mere 5%, significantly lagging the performance of liquid based systems. However, subsequent technical advancement has been significant. Dyesol, through the work of its scientist Dr Peng Qin, based at the EPFL, has achieved solid-state laboratory efficiency of 11.3%.

Facilitating BIPV The breakthrough comes as the technology transitions from liquid-based to solid-state systems to meet the demands of product life and mass manufacture. The variation meets the technical challenges of mass manufacturing Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) products and will allow the company and its multi-national commercialisation partners to confidently address the multi-billion dollar global market. Dyesol is also confident of achieving industrial efficiencies greater than 10% because of the added simplicity of working with solid-state systems. At this level of module performance, the technology will be grid competitive – the "holy grail" for renewable energy technologies. Being solid state also means that issues of corrosion and thermal expansion have been eliminated and pave the way for direct application to glass and steel. The problems associated with liquid are history. This development is particularly important in solar markets where light conditions are suboptimal, such as Europe, North America and North-East Asia, where there is a considerable advantage over first and second generation photovoltaic technologies. Dyesol Chairman Richard Caldwell said: "The business case for solar remains compelling; however there is every reason to question which technologies will emerge from the current solar industry maelstrom as winners. The announcement in May represents a quantum leap for Dyesol and its commercialisation partners and

we look forward to a rapid transition from the laboratory to the production line". From its status as an original EPFL “pioneer licensee”, Dyesol (which listed on the ASX in 2005), has developed its own suite of patents and also has a commercial presence in Switzerland in its subsidiary Greatcell SA which continues R&D work with EPFL and has rights to commercialise EPFL advances. The company’s patents cover a wide range of Dye Solar Cell (DSC) applications from scale-up from cells and modules to entire DSC panels; miniaturised DSC devices, eg for powering remote sensors; multifunctional means for electrical device contacts; electrochemical surface modification for

enhanced device performance and higher device voltage in particular; and substrate preparation for reliable sealing.

Steel coating Of particular interest is the partnership with Tata Steel (part of the large Indian company) based in Wales UK where a process of coating steel with DSC is in development. It’s early days yet, but at the Shotten plant in North Wales, Tata (one of the world’s largest steel producers) has successfully completed the 11m pilot production phase of integrating DSC on steel sheets in coil coating. This, in its own right, is the world’s largest dye-sensitised photovoltaic module.

The module is over three metres in length and approximately one square metre in area and represents an important step in the development of large-scale micro energy generation capability within the infrastructure of buildings. The creation of the module has shown the potential, using continuous printing and coating processes, for scaling up the production of steel strips onto which a dye sensitised photovoltaic coating has been printed. Importantly, this is produced as a single length of coated steel, rather than separate cells connected together, and the breakthrough brings closer to commercial realisation the ambition to develop a manufacturing process that can produce long roofing panels with an integrated DSC function. Based on the successful pilot phase, the project has recently been expanded with intent to industrialise the manufacturing process as part of planning for commercial production.

Reference Brian O'Regan, Michael Grätzel. "A low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell based on dyesensitised colloidal TiO2 films". Nature 353 (6346): 737–740.

SolarProgress | 9

between 2008 and 2012

y b r a Sol S r e b m nu

Australian installed solar PV increased



reduction in module costs


Powerful facts


solar PV






Per watt

PV Module =


Have reached grid parity

Wholesale PV module prices predicted to be below US$0.50 per watt by 2015

20% of total system cost

Global PV cumulative capacity

is the fastest growing industry worldwide

2012 Global investment in energy sources:

Fossil Fuels

lowest: NortHerN territory


HigHest: soutH australia







10 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Percentage of homes* with solar Pv

*Suitable dwellings = owner occupied detached and semi-detached homes

Rooftop CSP

Rooftop integrated concentrating solar power There is an opportunity to use novel concentrating solar thermal systems for domestic, commercial and industrial rooftops. The application range is wide with domestic hot water, industrial process heat and solar air conditioning for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings all being potential candidates. Tanzeen Sultana explains why.

Concentrating solar thermal systems offer a promising method for large scale solar energy collection. Although concentrating collectors are generally thought of as large-scale stand-alone systems, there is an opportunity to use novel concentrating solar thermal systems for rooftop applications. The thermal performance of a new low-cost solar thermal microconcentrating collector (MCT) developed by Chromasun [1], which uses linear Fresnel reflectors, is designed to operate at temperatures up to 200°C. We found that the MCT collector has relatively small heat loss compared to conventional flat plate and evacuated tube collectors at temperatures above 150°C and has efficiency about 60% at its design operating temperature of 200°C. The efficiency can be increased by improving the design of current MCT [2].

Why rooftop integrated concentrator collector? Rooftop collectors for solar cooling applications need to be very space efficient to deliver energy above 140°C to drive more efficient double effect absorption chillers. Conventional flat plate solar collectors need more roof area to produce sufficient heat for a low rise building cooling system and are limited to single effect chillers with lower coefficient of performance. By contrast, higher temperature systems, such as parabolic trough collectors, require more space to avoid shading as they track the sun, and have inherently higher wind loading. The MCT collector has been developed to overcome these limitations. Figure 1 shows an example of a typical concentrating solar thermal cooling system. The modules of this collector system are approximately three metres long by one metre wide and 0.3 metres high (Figure 2a &b). This provides a thermal system for rooftop applications such as domestic hot water, industrial process heat and solar air conditioning for a wide range of building usages. 12 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Figure 1: Concentrating panel solar cooling schematic

Figure 2: (a) Exploded view of a solar micro-concentrator system, (b) Cross-section of the MCT collector

Figure 3: Cross-section of the micro-concentrating collector showing modes of internal heat transfer

The absorber in the MCT is contained in a sealed enclosure to minimise convective losses. Figure 3 shows a schematic cross section of the MCT collector along with the internal modes of heat transfer [3].

Modelling the performance of the MCT A computational model for the prototype collector was developed using ANSYS-CFX [4]. It was found that the main heat losses in the MCT were due to natural convection inside the enclosure and radiation heat transfer from the absorber tube. Radiative heat loss increases significantly with emissivity and thus increases total heat loss [2]. Therefore, the selective surface is critical for receiver design to maximise the thermal efficiency. Temperature distributions in the cavity and near the receiver area in the collector are shown in Figure 4 from computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation. For the boundary conditions specified in CFD; the results showed significant thermal gradients in the cavity only around the absorber and secondary reflector.

In addition to measurements of overall heat loss, a particle imaging velocimetry experiment, a non-intrusive and indirect optical a flow measurement

Figure 4: Temperature contours, (a) in the cavity receiver, (b) near the receiver (absorber tube temperature 200°C and absorber emissivity = 0.2)




Rooftop CSP


Figure 5: Airflow near the absorber tube for horizontal collector, absorber heat loss Qabs = 100W, absorber tube temperature Tabs = 100°C (a) CFD, (b) Flow visualisation looking up towards the absorber tube


technique that gives an instantaneous local velocity vector-map over a two-dimensional illuminated plane, was used to visualize the flow field within the enclosure. The results have shown that the receiver heating creates a thin relatively high velocity layer of hot fluid near the receiver area (Figure 5).

Going outdoors To measure the instantaneous efficiency of the MCT collector, outdoor tests were undertaken. The test was carried out at temperature from 20°C to 70°C and was undertaken under AS/ANZ2535 [5] standard conditions. The incoming solar energy available for a single axis-tracking collector (ie MCT collector) was taken into account the cosine losses of direct normal irradiance due to the solar transverse and longitudinal incidence. The instantaneous efficiency of the collector was found to be 58 ̴ 60 % at ambient inlet temperature condition (i.e. the optical efficiency).

Future directions In Australia, Chromasun Pty Ltd will partner with the Futuris Group of Companies and the ASI in a $9 million project (ASI contribution $3 million) to develop and establish an Australian pilot manufacturing capability for the MCT concentrating solar thermal product. Phase 1 will include a pilot deployment with MCT collectors in Victoria at Echuca Hospital that will be coupled with a double-effect absorption chiller to provide air-conditioning directly from solar energy. Another pilot deployment will be built in WA at Little Creatures Fremantle Brewery coupled to an ammonia chiller to simultaneously provide chilled water and heat for boiler feedwater. Phase 2 of the project will involve developing and commissioning a hybrid (CPV-T) receiver manufacturing capability for integration into MCT units. MCT-Hybrid units will then be deployed at the University of Southern Queensland and at the Australian National University. Both these MCT-Hybrid installations will conveniently and simultaneously provide electricity and hot water.

Acknowledgment The author would like to thank Chromasun Inc., San Jose for their support and assistance during the course of this project.


Figure 6: Efficiency comparisons

Qabs = Absorber heat loss, W Tabs = Absorber tube temperature, °C Tm = Collector mean fluid temperature, °C Ta = Ambient temperature, °C G = Radiation, W/m2

References A comparison of the efficiency of various types of collectors was studied and it was found that the MCT collector has relatively small heat loss compared to typical flat plate and evacuated tube collectors at temperatures above 150°C (Figure 7). A number of recommendations and areas for future work can be made. From our study, it was found that the receiver section in the existing MCT collector is the main heat loss and affects the efficiency of the collector and therefore, further design optimization can be carried out to investigate the flows in the receiver area by optimising the air gap between the absorber tube and secondary reflector and the glass cover and also a PV system can be integrated into system to make it a hybrid collector (up to 30% more efficient). 14 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Chromasun, Inc. (2012). San Jose, CA 95112, USA, Sultana, T., Morrison, G.L, Rosengarten, G. (2012). Thermal performance of a novel rooftop solar micro-concentrating collector. Journal of Solar Energy, 86(7): 1992-2000. Sultana, T., Morrison, G.L, Rosengarten, G. (2011). A Numerical and Experimental Study of a Novel Roof Inegrated Solar Micro-Concentrating Collector. 49th Australian Solar Energy Society annual conference, AuSES, Sydney, Australia ANSYS (2012). CFX Help Manual 12.1, AS/NZS 2535 Test methods for solar collectors: Thermal performance of glazed liquid heating collectors including pressure drop.

Tanzeen Sultana is PhD scholar and solar thermal consultant and researcher at the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW

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Business ethics

Solar Energy Professionals: How to Fly High with the Right Internal Systems In this article Doug Fletcher of Solar Inception advocates quality product via a reliable business. Solar energy possibilities abound. Consider the Solar Impulse. This Swiss-built aircraft, powered entirely by 12,000 solar cells mounted on the wings and horizontal stabilizer, landed at Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport on 16 June after a cross-country trip from California. Sporting the wingspan of a Boeing 747 but as light as a passenger car, the Solar Impulse also carried 400 kilograms of solar storage batteries, enabling 24-hour flight. Fast flight clearly wasn’t the point – the Solar Impulse had a cruising speed of about 70 kilometres. Instead, the goal was to demonstrate the immense possibilities of solar technology. A round-the-world sojourn is planned for 2015, and Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard believes small solar-powered airplanes could go commercial within the next five years1.

All solar professionals are connected This and other exciting solar energy advancements have resulted from the work of varied professionals, including investors, academics, researchers, designers, developers, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, salespersons, financing companies, installers and industry associations. We’re all part of the professional chain that ensures a bright future for this clean technology. Yet there are proven chinks in the solar success chain that share a common component –– lack of quality. Poor quality product design and manufacturing, faulty solar installation, dollar-driven sales, insufficient or nonexistent maintenance and/or warranty support have resulted in

16 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

unhappy solar customers, failed solar systems and crashed companies. Our industry is fast-paced and rapidly changing. It’s easy to miss critical elements along the way. Yet there are systematic approaches all solar professionals can use to ensure high quality results - results that will help grow our industry and achieve new and exciting uses for solar energy.

Robust Systems: The Quality Link “Not only is my short-term memory horrible, but so is my short-term memory.” Anonymous It’s well proven that human beings have limited memory. We are also subject to temptation – like cutting corners to complete an action and/or meet a deadline. That’s why it is so critical to invest in robust systems from the very start. You need core capabilities suited to your particular solar profession, your clientele and your business size and approach. By the way, “robust” doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or highly automated, particularly if you’re just starting out. Also, a ‘system’ can be a physical tool, software automation, and/or simply a well-thought out process. Yet regardless of business size or where you fall along the solar professional chain, you must have systems that enable built-in quality in all you do, and that capture the information you need to continually improve as you grow.


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Business ethics

• • • •

They include: the right financial system solid quality assurance reliable warranty backup system solid Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Financial systems that fit Finance is an area that affects all solar professionals. If you’re an academic or industry researcher, you have to stay within a stated budget. That means tracking your activity and related expense along the way. If you run a solar business, you need to match the finance system to your level, type and size of business. You must first determine the breadth and depth of information and analysis needed, then locate the bestmatched solution. For example, a basic accounting application like QuickBooks may be perfectly suited to individual contractors or small start-ups, but would be of no value to a large regional, national or international company. In those more complex environments, you must know where and how money is being spent on functions including physical infrastructure, employee salaries, commissions and bonuses, travel, sales and marketing, customer service, etc. Then you must analyse how productive your investment has been in each area, so that you can correct any deficiencies and plan effectively moving forward. More robust financial systems, such as ACCPAC, SAP or Sun Microsystems work well in these larger environments.

Quality Assurance (QA) System Quality assurance applies not only to panel manufacturers or solar distributors but also to individual professionals. It involves taking the steps necessary to ensure quality products and services that meet client expectations. Those who work in academic settings often have established QA processes and checkpoints already “built in” to the way they work. For example, a researcher studying and reporting on solar energy must verify that that his (or her) sources are accurate. Peer review of research conclusions further validates accuracy. These ingrained academic QA processes help ensure that research findings and recommendations are high quality and market-useful. Quality assurance steps depend on where you are in the solar professional chain. For example, developers or investors interested in large PV solar projects might have the following in their QA checklist: • Is the manufacturer solvent? • Has the company been in business for years?

• What are the product specifics, e.g., the ability to withstand extreme weather conditions, and the warranty claim track record? • What are the warranty details and is the manufacturer reserving funds for potential warranty claims? • Is there a third party, independent from the project, who will be present to ensure the project construction is completed to investor expectations? • Is there a solid operations and maintenance provider in place and committed for the long term?

Warranty backup: a matter of ethics The tumultuous ride of the solar industry proves one thing – any business large or small can disappear virtually overnight. Your professional reputation and business success rest on how well you care about and protect your customers over time. A solar installation is a long-term proposition and warranty protection is critical. Unfortunately, as solar enterprises have come and gone, the warranty protection they promise too often disappears with them. Here are some practical tips to ensure a sound warranty backup system. • Choose manufacturers and suppliers with longevity, financial strength and a reputation for quality products backed by solid warranty support. Most quality panel manufacturers warranty their products for 25 years (90 percent performance for 10 years, 80 percent through 25 years). • Ensure that defects can be identified and corrected. Track and measure the number and type of warranty requests and replacements that flow from and to your customer base. • Report problems back to the supplier or manufacturer, then follow up to ensure the defect has been fixed. Finally, even if you offer a warranty, make certain that you can pass warranty protection back to the product supplier or manufacturer if you move out of the market. Sounds reasonable, but too many solar companies have ignored this basic ethical tenet. Whatever happens, care about your customers.

A Must Have – Solid Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Managing customer relationships is the core around which any business is built. Truly “knowing” your customers -- who they are, what appeals to

18 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

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Solar Impulse is powered by 12,000 solar cells

them, what doesn’t, what you’ve sold them and what they may need in future, whether they are willing and happy to act as a referral -- can differentiate you from your competitors more than price ever could or should. A robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is as critical as having good sales and customer support staff. Every customer interaction should be captured, whether questions, general feedback, compliments or complaints. (Remember, someone who complains once is likely to complain again – and may well try to pass responsibility for the problem to your company.) If you are an individual installer or other contractor, you may not need to invest in an automated CRM system. But you should partner with suppliers who do – they will be an important source of QA backup. Also, a simple Excel spreadsheet can be your valuable QA tool. If you populate it daily with client information and related activity, you can analyse how well you’re doing in providing quality solar installations as you simultaneously build a record of potential client references. With automated CRM systems, you should ideally be able to analyse captured information from every angle – by post code, sales amount, product, what was sold where and when… name it. Your CRM can also provide valuable information about sales and marketing – it can help determine what’s working and what isn’t. Use your CRM system not only to interact with and communicate with your customers, but to find new and improved ways to operate. One final tip. When you install a CRM system of any kind or complexity, it will be a culture change for your employees. Training is essential and includes motivating staff to enter all needed information all the time. Remember, you cannot track or evaluate what you do not capture.

Never settle for second best There’s no doubt that all involved with the design, construction, maintenance and flight of the Solar Impulse depended upon systems and processes that were exacting and quality driven. The result was the first fuel-free coast-to-coast flight and the beginning of a new and potentially promising use for solar energy. Don’t take shortcuts by ignoring the importance of these system underpinnings. With forethought and the right quality-based approaches in place, our shared profession and our industry can continue to soar.

Doug Fletcher is General Manager of Solar Inception Pty Ltd. 1 Boyle, Alan, Solar-powered plane lands in Washington after 'pit stop' in Ohio, NBC News, 16 June 2013

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Market commentary

Solar energy

reality check Giles Parkinson who is founding editor of Renew Economy reviews the game changing impact of solar energy on network operators. At the massive Intersolar trade show in San Francisco in early July, there was no doubt what was top of people’s minds as they looked to the future of the solar PV industry. Storage is emerging as the make or break technology for the electricity industry – not just for manufacturers who hope to fulfil what some people believe will be the greatest economic opportunity the world has seen. It is also key for both consumers, who need to sculpture their own production and demand, and the network operators, who will need it to deal with the inevitable – electricity grids with high penetration of variable energy sources, wind and solar. Welcome to the next instalment of the energy revolution. “It is clear that with the transformation of the global energy networks, wind and solar will be the two main pillars of these new systems,” said Professor Eicke Weber, the head of Germany's Fraunhofer Solar Institute. "And to address that, we need to do something about storage. But it is the fastest growing sector and we will see big falls in costs." The beating drum of storage was one repeated by all who spoke at the conference. From California Governor Jerry Brown, who said that the energy systems needed to be compatible with nature, to the head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and just about everyone else who spoke about the prospects of the solar industry going forward.

Solar energy targets California finds itself at the cutting edge of renewable penetration in major economies, along with Germany. It has set itself a target of 33 per cent by 2020 and will likely meet that easily. The talk is that the next target currently being discussed by the legislature will move it to 50 per cent.

20 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

But as Edward Randolph, the energy director for the California Public Utilities Commission told RenewEconomy in an interview in July, if an energy system is going to get to 40 per cent or beyond, and wants to continue to make meaningful reductions in emissions, then storage is critical. And as the conference heard, there are two ways to look at the storage – one is on the basic cost, and one is on the value that it delivers to consumers, to network operators, or to both. Price is a basic function of technology costs, and is forecast to fall dramatically in the years to come. Value is a function on how a market is structured, and what incentives it provides. The key to the future is to ensure that those incentives reflect the technologies of the future, not those that have been incumbent for the past 100 years. This has a special resonance for the Australian solar market, which is now nearing penetration levels in some areas that are testing the boundaries of economics, even if they are still well short of the limits of technology.

PV remodels the landscape This much was made clear in a fascinating insight into the dynamics of network operators at the recent Solar 2013 conference in Melbourne, and just how the arrival of rooftop solar in huge numbers is changing the nature of the energy game forever. The Queensland utility Energex is at the forefront of this because no other Australian network operator has had to deal with quite as much of a rush on solar as this network – centred around the state capital Brisbane and the high growth areas of south-east Queensland, including the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and their hinterlands.

“ The key to the future is to ensure that those incentives reflect the technologies of the future, not those that have been incumbent for the past 100 years.” Energex already has installed 212,000 systems and is still adding them at 3,000 a month. One in five solar available households have put solar on their rooftops and the rest are thinking about it - talk of time of use pricing and further increases in electricity prices is making sure of that. Mike Swanston, who goes under the title of “consumer advocate” for Energex, began his presentation by delivering a few home truths to the solar industry. The first was that the industry was kidding itself if it thought the network operators were not going to try to recover their regulated return on investment – even if solar was subtracting demand from the grid in a significant way. (The only obvious alternative is for the value of networks to be written down, particularly in light of some established over-spending.) Swanston also sought to dispel a few of the myths that have been circulated in the media. One was that solar had not been having an impact on coal-fired generation. He noted that some 700MW of coal-fired generation had been sidelined in Queensland, a comparable amount to the amount of solar capacity in the state. “You don’t need to be Einstein to work out where that energy has come from,” he said.


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“The essential problem from the network point of view is that they need to recoup their investment – which has been approved by regulators. … [and] it is quite clear that the utilities are going to have to find a new business model. Exactly how that evolves is anyone’s guess …”

Market commentary

But he gave some fascinating insight into just what impact high penetrations of solar are doing to the shape of the load curve – and on the habits of household energy users. Consider this load curve (in the graph below) from one of the network’s key feeders. (In California they call a similar impact the “duck curve”, but this is probably closer to a “sea horse”.) There was a time when night-time electricity demand was so low that governments had to come up with proposals such as off-peak hot water to provide the generators some demand. Now, the night-time use on certain parts of the grid is virtually more than the daytime. Partly this is due to the enormous number of appliances that are on stand-by or charging during the night – plasma TVs, laptops, mobiles, and games. Swanston said electricity from rooftop solar kicks in after the morning peak – to such an extent that on sunny days some feeders run backwards. Then, hey presto, the sun goes down, householders return, turn on the plasma TV and the air-con, and the load rises from 3 per cent to 100 per cent in the matter of a few hours. Swanston said there was no doubt that this was a network challenge. But it was not insurmountable. “We will fix it and we will deal with it.” To give an illustration of what has happened over the past four years, the graph below shows plotting the load on the same day (second Tuesday in October) as solar is being added to the grid. As Swanston summarised it – midnight hasn’t moved, the morning peak is down slightly, the midday peak is “going down the gurgler” and the evening peak hasn’t moved an inch. “That presents technical issues,” he noted. “It presents much larger commercial issues.”

Network investment So what does this mean for networks? The essential problem from the network point of view is that they need to recoup their investment – which has been approved by regulators. That, though, is the short term solution. As CPUC’s Randolph pointed out, it is quite clear that the utilities are going to have to find a new business model. Exactly how that evolves is anyone’s guess, but it seems pretty clear that it will evolve around preserving what remains of the grid and combining that with the “distributed model” that values new technologies and concepts such as “self generation” (ie solar), storage, and e-mobility, which is an American way of describing electric cars. As Swanston noted in his delivery to Solar 2013, the issues are not so much technical issues as commercial ones. Swanston vigorously defended the right of the network operators

CMD3A - IMPACTS OF SOLAR PV 2nd Tuesday of October for the last four years 180 160 140

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13/10/2009 12/10/2010 11/10/2011 (1,021 kW - 11.1 SH) 09/10/2012 (1,879 kW - 11.2 SH)

20 0

to recoup their investment, but he made clear that over the long-term it would require a change to the way that customers were billed – continuing on the kilowatt-hour basis would accelerate the “death spiral”, while raising fixed charges was also an unlikely long-term solution. (Others have pointed out that it would likely cause a backlash from consumers, and reduce incentives for energy efficiency). Swanston said battery storage would play a key role. The eventual solution would have to incorporate demand management – be that in storage (such as batteries), or in traffic control. Indeed, Swanston suggested that there would need to be a revolution in the way that electricity and grid access was charged. Battery storage would be important because it could flatten the remaining peaks. Home storage, where people had options and “could make their own decisions”, was the likely future. How that pans out for tariffs and networks was not yet clear. At the moment, the opportunity for battery storage was a straight arbitrage. “How cheap can I charge it, and how expensive can I spend it.”


The effect of Solar PV over four years at one location in Queensland. The daytime peak has gone but the night time peak is still there. A technical and commercial issue that can be solved.

22 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

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Solar 2013

Solar energy movers and shakers

If one word could sum up the Solar 2013 Conference, it would be honesty. A realistic picture of solar energy as it stands today and the opportunities that must be tapped into to secure a cleaner future. And that includes building momentum for change.

May 2013 probably seems a heck of a long time ago … but time does not diminish the importance or the relevance of the academic, scientific and business presentations delivered at Solar 2013. Here we present some of the key messages that were delivered by the top line-up of guest speakers.

Big picture Kicking off proceedings was Simon Corbell, ACT Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, who is driving the push toward 90 per cent renewables for Canberra and carbon neutrality in the ACT. A key step forward will be delivered by the 20 MW PV plant being developed at Royalla, 23 kilometres south of Canberra. Fernando Salinas of project developer Fotowatio Renewable Ventures said “Full marks to the ACT government for understanding the project and its deadlines” and revealed that development will come in at $186 mWh. Funded to the tune of $87 million over five years, Manuel Blanco, Director of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative outlined some of the major ‘big picture’ projects underway in conjunction with six universities. Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes was hailed as a key industry contributor, so much so that “The Grimes Era” of decarbonisation and commercialisation was named for him. 24 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Simon Corbell

Samuel Yang All ears were tuned in to Samuel Yang of Haeron Solar who presented an overview of the mass production of panels leading to cost cutting exercises, and China’s push to reduce fossil fuel coal plants with wind power and other clean energy. The Australian educated expert and PV pioneer declared:

“Australia has the most stable government system and a rich sunshine resource which is a gift of our god – so use it!” Wise and profound words. To get there, the industry needs both recognition and support, which is forthcoming from ARENA which has approximately $3 billion to invest in renewable energy projects. Strategy Manager Lara Olsen provided an update on funding allocation which is based on demand and supply opportunities, and where renewables would do well such as in remote and off-grid regions. Big numbers are involved: R&D $400 million to $500 million; Demonstration $1400 million to $1700 million; and Deployment $1000 million to $1300 million. (See page 32 for more.) Stepping in for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet was Kate Lundy who itemised key initiatives in the Clean Energy Plan and

Market wrap Using a series of smiley to glum sun faces, Ric Brazzale of GET who boasts three decades’ industry experience presented an animated – yet realistic – wrap of the market. A beaming sunny face graced residential solar PV (less than 10kW) due to the 300,000 systems (near 1GW) installed in 2012. Glum suns sat alongside solar hot water indicating its continued decline, also large scale solar with few projects committed. Ever the star gazer is Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services who addressed the practical impact of exchange rates and warned importers to tread carefully, noting however that in the long term the impact of fluctuations is minimal. By his estimates approximately 200 solar related companies representing 5% of the total have left the industry. Energex Consumer Advocate Mike Swanston noted that around 700MW (equivalent to Queensland’s solar capacity) of coal-fired generation had been sidelined in the state, and he remarked that network operators would do all they could in a bid to recover their regulated return on investment, even if solar was subtracting significant demand from the grid. Ric Brazzale of GET

“The carbon price provides a secure and predictable framework for the Australian solar industry [and] by 2050 we could derive 50% of our power from wind and solar,” she announced. For his part Oliver Yates of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation explained the stability that the CEFC could bring to the sector and why the cost of finance was so important. “Much of Australia is semi-Kodak at present … but we are here to assist in clean energy programs, if you have got a decent proposal just approach us [CFEC] … we are like an investment bank, a dedicated financier.” Addressing political concerns raised by conference participants, Yates explained the CEFC had a statutory obligation to continue its mission until such a time as the Clean Energy Act changes, but that from about 10 August no large contracts would be awarded. Shadow Minister for Climate Action Greg Hunt described the unique position of solar energy in the renewable energy sphere and outlined the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan which aims to cover eight million roofs with PV. “The answer lies in driving down the cost of electricity,” he said. “The Coalition will have draft legislation in 100 days and policy in 150 days … our goal is to reduce emissions at the lowest cost … to create an underpinning long term sustainable framework ... low cost distributed energy which takes the pressure off utilities.” Hunt’s address sparked uncertainty and a series of hard-hitting questions about project investment, CEFC and ARENA.

Quality matters For his part, Doug Fletcher of Solar Inception advocated the ethical imperative of business, stating: “Industry peaks and troughs have caused problems across the board … robust systems underpin quality …” (Read more on pages 16-19.) Later in the day Glen Morris of Solar Quip reinforced the ‘robust’ message, promoting ongoing training for quality installations and systems via the ASC’s Best Practice Program. Answering his own question about what was important about solar modules Daman Cole of Yingli listed warranty replacement, long term warranty, quality, independent testing and price.

Oliver Yates

ARENA’s role in driving billions of investment dollars in renewable energy by 2020. “A thriving solar industry plays a vital role in a clean energy future,” she said, listing several significant localised PV projects of the 58 earmarked that tally $7.5 million. Lundy also touched on the CEFC’s role in driving loans and equity investments in clean energy worth $10 billion, with a corporate objective to overcome capital market barriers.

Doug Fletcher of Solar Inception

Solar 2013

Solar messages, solar citizens Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation is a softly spoken man with a hard hitting message: “Millions of Australians care about renewable energy and their voices need to be heard,” he said. “It is important that Australians who are pro-solar to rally to generate more political power. “Visit your local MP, give people hope and build momentum for change.” He urged industry delegates to inform thus empower their customers, to connect them with environmental associations and present a powerful catalyst for change. The newly formed Solar Citizens campaign (see page 37) is an ideal practical measure, Don Henry said. Echoing his delivery was Former NSW Leader of the Liberal Party Peter Debnam who stated: “My belief is that solar and Australia were made for each other, and it makes sense for Australians to know the sun’s power, but the Australian government is slow to embrace.

Peter Debnam added that the solar industry had much to be proud of, with assets and goodwill “to be jealously guarded”. “It has tremendous opportunities before it and a huge reservoir of support across Australia. With about 4000 enterprises in solar industry about 30,000 are indirectly involved. This, combined with a turnover of about $1.5 billion, is a beautiful set of numbers … politicians would love to have those two million supporters!” “People need to see solar energy is here to stay as an important player in the Australian Economy. We need people to ask “what can solar do for … [the nation]”. Debnam’s address triggered rousing applause. Among those nodding their head in approval was Mark Diesendorf of UNSW Institute for Environmental Studies who later on outlined the feasibility of transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy.

“When it comes to fighting for your interests, your industry is timid … the solar industry under-invests in marketing and PR, efforts are low-key. But the story needs to be told time and time again. With one million rooftops sporting PV there are potentially two million voters [yet] neither political party feels vulnerable to the solar industry. “Identify those people – contact them and harness their commitment to the cause … the government needs to see and recognise solar as a well organised group that is well regulated and united with a strategic plan. Being determined and relentless will [help] get you there.”

The Green scene Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne won a round of applause when she stated the Greens not only want 100 per cent renewable energy but as soon as possible. Senator Milne is a regular presenter at ASC solar conferences, which she describes as “consistently upbeat”. “The sector defies expectation” she remarked, citing that 2.5 million Australians are now living under solar. She highlighted two recent technological breakthroughs: development of a 3D printer for PV cells; and low grade silicon to produce a top quality

Don Henry

wafer, a development steered by conference guest speaker Stuart Wenham. The Senator announced that the Greens would create a new federal government Energy Savings Agency to deliver a more balanced and efficient market. Its three priorities: driving down power bills by achieving $1 billion in energy savings; paying Australians fairly for the clean energy they produce; and designing a National Energy Efficiency Scheme. In short, an agency that will lower electricity bills, save energy and cut the pollution driving global warming while making Australia’s energy system fairer, cheaper and cleaner. “We need an independent agency to provide information, analysis, advocacy and financial support to help remove the barriers to cheaper and cleaner energy options. The permanent independent statutory agency will address and progress complex areas of reform and help change the merit order."

“Solar energy is central to a clean energy future [and] the Greens will continue to work hard to remove impediments to a clean energy future,” said the Senator whose parting advice was: Senator Christine Milne

26 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

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PV's progress

Domestic PV then and now The contrasts and comparisons of roof top PV systems from the earliest adopters to the present day. Bill Parker relates his story.

In the mid1990s, PV systems on roofs in cities in Australia were rare, however a few pioneers were testing the water. Peter Fries in Solar Progress edition 3/13 relates the story of his ‘Solar One’ project to build a rammed earth passive solar house and to install a PV system; a step towards the zero energy house.

Pioneering times Two homeowners in Perth followed in the footsteps of Solar One. The first a lawyer, who chose to incorporate battery storage and was not grid connected. The other person was this writer, who chose grid connection. For the public, this was unheard of, but for the then utility and retailer, Western Power, connection to the grid was something that had only been done successfully in 1995. This was with a 20kW tracking plant at Kalbarri, a town at the end of the northern fringe of the south west grid system in WA. (Opened by the then Energy Minister Colin Barnett, it was the first of its kind in Australia and the largest such project to be connected to a grid system in Australia, at a cost of $475,000.) Western Power were the pioneers. They had successfully applied experience by way of technology suppliers, installers and engineers, but at the same time they had complete operational control. Homeowners who wanted to connect PV systems were an unknown. However, early correspondence with Western Power was encouraging, although as I later learned, the ground rules were yet to be developed.

28 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

The documentation wrangle was no mean feat, as indeed it was in other States, and relationships with utilities were sometimes so difficult that an on-line newsgroup (Argon) was launched to share ideas and help each other. It was a very lively and busy group at first, but has been quiet for years, largely I think because the teething troubles have passed. However, no consumer could be expected to sign a 28-page agreement that would hold them liable for the entire grid if their own system went haywire. I made my disquiet felt. The inverter was the source of the problems. The model installed was designed for off-grid standalone use. For grid–connect, the same model required the coupling of some large “bolt on” capacitors in casing attached to one side. After a few weeks of loud humming it “blew up” and required replacing, the installer staff came back (presumably after some weight training!) and took the box away. Weeks passed. This consumer was getting angry and some sparks started flying, considering the substantial investment. I still suspect inverter supplier Trace then did not know where Australia was. After all, “WA” usually means Washington state in the USA. Normal service resumed, but things were still not right and this was possibly (we thought) because the house was located near to a very old transformer station with voltage spiking at 260V. Western Power to their credit did some testing and their professional thoroughness revealed nothing that could cause problems. Nothing abnormal was found, apart from the predictable performance of the old transformer station. Re-installation eventually occurred, and the only thing left now was the failure of the inverter to switch off at nightfall. It was consuming I believe about 2kWh/day just to remain in standby mode ay night. A photoelectric remedy was found and hard wired in.

Then and now The contrast between then and now is stark. Back then, little followed installation. The Trace operator’s manual was not an easy read, nor were the installer’s instructions. Now, the SMA instructions. Today, the inverter (in this case SMA) instructions and website are comprehensive enough

The PV installation circa 1998

to allow anyone to find more info easily and in plain language. But the comprehensive analysis and descriptions that I got from Sunday Energy (the present installers) also did not leave any stones unturned and better still I can download the performance data via Bluetooth. (All I need now is a Windows computer…) An estimate of system performance of the first system was given at about 5kWh/ day averaged over the year. How that was worked out I never found out, and the only way of determining actual performance was to install a separate spinning disk meter and read it every day or week. This time round I know, and I have year round performance data that shows the production for any given time specific to my roof and the equipment used, even including the CO2 emissions saved per annum.


Below: Front and back view of a 1970s 11kW PV panel, still running. Picture courtesy Rod Eyre


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PV's progress

The system at a glance 5.5 kW solar modules 5kW inverter Annual Average production per day: 25kWh Max in December of 32.6kWh Min in June of 16.3kWh Yearly production of 9,117kWh

“There must be a re–evaluation of the role utility should play and begin to adopt the role of energy manager.” One of the strong take home messages is that any installer must pay a site visit to assess roof positioning and determine what can be achieved if for example there is shading, or no north facing roof and of course to work out the wiring logistics and actual costs. Some of the installation is not obvious, and since we are talking about a product that must withstand all weathers for decades, the attention to manufacturing detail both in design and materials must be there, and it is. And that attention to detail must carry through to the installer and it did. The ASC’s Solar Plus can help all along the way before you sign-up.

Managing electricity usage and beyond For most people, the management of electricity comes into play with a solar system. With a buyback rate of 8.4¢/kWh the most sensible thing to do is to set all the electricity consuming appliances where optional use is possible to run between 10 am to 2pm (for this north facing system). Why send electricity to the utility for an 8.4 cent credit per kWh when it can be used for free? Compare that with purchasing power from Synergy at 25.88¢, the July 2013 price (and rising no doubt). Of course a reverse usage regime would apply if the user had a feed in tariff better than equal to the standard purchase tariff. And the politics. I am providing the state government with electricity producing infrastructure and at no cost to the public purse. Looking at what makes up the electricity bill in Western Australia last year the large slice is generation at 46%, followed by transmission at 33%, retailing at 11% (including carbon pricing), billing at 7% and profit 3%. Any punitive financial measures (rumoured additional charges for solar users) would be counterproductive. There must be a re–evaluation of the role utility should play and begin to adopt the role of energy manager. It is also clear that we are a way off the level of solar penetration that causes major problems at the street level and that would require substantial expenditure to accommodate PV systems.

Cost benefit considerations Being a pioneer carries a price. The major one is dollar cost. In 1998 there were no rebate schemes and no assistance from any sources except a freedom from Sales Tax; and that would certainly have killed off the deal.

The present system output on a heavily overcast day. ( Not sure about the instruction at the bottom to speak German.) Picture taken after nightfall. 30 | ISSUE 3 • 2013




Trace 4.5kVa Efficiency unknown. This was built as an off grid model but had an additional side attachment containing several large capacitors for grid connect use. Not weather proof.

SMA SunnyBoy SB5000 TL-21 (with Blue Tooth). Weather proof (IP65 rating), installed on external wall. Efficiency 97%.

System Size



RECs Credit



Feed in Tariff

None, although the buyback rate was 1:1 after an argument with Western Power.



12 x BP Solar 83W. No obvious racking system and overheating in summer was easily demonstrated by applying cooling with high pressure hose.

20x Winaico WSP-275M6 (275w) quantum. Proper racking and reassuring in a very high wind sheer area.

The utility side of things

Required an extra large zinc plated meter box with 2x “Smart” meters”, days to install. Specialist Electrical engineer to approve circuits and wiring.

One very small bi-directional meter, installed in 30 minutes. Two page agreement.

Number of customers

Residential, one. The other customer not grid connected.

Thousands (est. 280MW+ installed capacity in the WA South West Integrated System)


There were never any quality issues with the panels and they are still functioning. The inverter was replaced after six weeks and the replacement unit still has a fault after 15 years. It does not turn off after nightfall – a photoelectric cell was hard wired to provide a shut down. Estimated to be using 2kWh/day on “standby” at night until the photoelectric device was installed. No means of data collection without installing a separate meter and reading manually. Impossible to listen AM radio, and the inverter hums very loudly. Not weather proof.

The panels are visually different - thinner, more efficient. (To be expected after 15 years of development, with 2.3 times the output for a solar panel that is only 1.6 times bigger in physical size – compared to original system.) The racking system allows for heat dissipation and the panels stand clearly off the roof, and are obviously secure. The most obvious visual change is with the inverter. A status window offers several criteria and gives a continuous display of each sector of panels, the grid voltage and the kWh output of the system in real time. Data is downloadable via Bluetooth to a Windows computer (Macintosh compatible software is in development)

Fire risk management

Impossible to turn off from exterior without meter box key.

One action pull motion deactivates system, especially useful in bush fire prone areas as this one is in. For fire fighters an easy and obvious action.

TABLE: The 1998 and 2013 systems at a glance SolarProgress | 31

Industry investment

ARENA switches on a new phase of investment At the Solar 2013 Conference, ARENA Strategist Lara Olsen presented some welcome news about funding and investment in clean energy. Here we learn more about the agency’s sphere of activity and the recently announced second round of investments that will bolster solar energy developments. Solar research organisations and companies can pursue support from up to $900 million in new programs that have been announced as part of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s second Investment Plan, building on over half a billion dollars in programs already launched. In the lead up to the release, ARENA’s Lara Olsen shared information on the plan, including ARENA’s approach and rationale to investment, at the Australian Solar Council’s Solar 2013 conference. Ms Olsen said a major focus for ARENA is exploring opportunities for renewable energy hybrid power plants. “Adding renewable energy, such as solar thermal, to fossil fuel based energy production has the benefit of demonstrating renewable energy technologies at a lower cost as the infrastructure associated with the fossil fuel plant can be utilised,” Ms Olsen said. “This approach recognises that changing the energy landscape is a process of transition and aims to pave the way for stand-alone renewable energy plants by first building confidence, knowledge and expertise around new technologies in a hybrid setting.

“Our immediate priority is to support and help attract investors to those renewable energy projects with the best chances of success in the near future by giving them funding certainty.”

Investment directions In addition to the hybrid program, the 2013/14 – 2015/16 Investment Plan launched in July by Minister for Resources and Energy Gary Gray includes a program that recognises the success of policy measures and accompanying cost reductions for solar photovoltaics. ARENA is developing a program to review grid integration barriers to higher levels of renewable energy penetration to increase deployment at a residential and commercial scale. The focus will be on demonstration projects, developed in consultation with network and distribution operators. ARENA is also developing a world leading commercial readiness index for each renewable energy technology that will help identify how ARENA and other government agencies can best provide support to help each technology progress (see Figure 1). Minister Gray in releasing the Investment Plan said it allows ARENA to remain flexible and responsive in its approach while providing strategic support right across the innovation chain- from research in the laboratory to large scale technology projects. The new programs build on those announced in June this year, including a $400 million initiative expected to generate 150 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources in regional and remote locations within five years, including at least two large-scale renewable energy plants. Ms Olsen said Regional Australia’s Renewables includes an industry program, which aims to increase the use of renewable energy in industries in these areas, especially where it is close to being cost competitive.

“The Investment Plan … includes a program that recognises the success of policy measures and accompanying cost reductions for solar photovoltaics. ARENA is developing a program to review grid integration barriers to higher levels of renewable energy penetration to increase deployment at a residential and commercial scale.” ARENA’s Lara Olsen 32 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Industry investment

Figure 1. Commercial readiness – NASA’s TRL and ARENA’s CRI (Status Summary)

Key facts as of 1 July 2013: • Approximately $1 billion committed to projects, scholarships and fellowships

ARENA’s Commercial Readiness Index – with indicators

Plan. The indicative funding includes $400-$500 million for research and development, $1400-$1700 million for demonstration and $1000-$1300 million for deployment. See Figure 2 that outlines these allocations and their uncommitted portion.

• Over $450 million in financial assistance to solar projects • 96 projects managed by ARENA


• 86 solar phd scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships

Knowledge Management $40 – $60m $35 – $55m

It also includes the Community and Regional Renewable Energy program, which aims to work directly with electricity distributors to demonstrate high penetration renewable energy through, for example, innovative energy storage systems. “The focus is on regional and remote locations that are either off the electricity grid or on the fringe of the grid, where energy demand is growing.” Ms Olsen said. “These programs are about demonstrating it works and that it works affordably, paving the way for widespread roll-out.” ARENA has also expanded the successful Emerging Renewables Program to a $215 million program. As well as continuing to provide support for projects to develop, demonstrate and deploy renewable energy technologies, it now also provides support for knowledge sharing activities and activities to remove or reduce roadblocks to the delivery of ARENA’s strategic initiatives - currently activities to reduce roadblocks to deploying renewable energy systems in regional and remote locations.

Figure 2. ARENA's Indicative Funding along the Innovation Chain

Uncommitted funding by innovation chain stage

Indicative funding allocation (all funds)

34 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Research and Development Emerging Technology

Existing Technology

$200 – $300m

¬ Demonstration Pilot Scale

Commercial Scale


$400 – $500m

Deployment Supported Commercial

Solar projects This program has committed funding to a range of solar projects, including $2.3 million to BlueScope Steel to develop a prototype building-integrated photovoltaic system, and $2.5 million to RATCH-Australia to assess the viability of converting Queensland’s 180 MW coal-fired Collinsville Power Station to a 30 MW hybrid solar thermal/gas power station. The Australian Government through ARENA and its predecessor the Australian Solar Institute, have also provided 86 solar PhD scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships to build the next generation of Australian solar researchers and ARENA plans to accept new applications this financial year. Ms Olsen outlined how these programs fit into ARENA’s indicative funding along the innovation chain, which is published in the Investment


Competitive Commercial

$600 – $900m $900 – $1200m

$1000 – $1300m

$1400 – $1700m

Figure 2

ARENA was established by the Australian Government to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA started operating on 1 July 2012.

News and views

A round up of developments in the world of solar energy

Food for thought oil versus the sun According to research findings if Libya covered just 0.1 per cent of its land mass with solar panels, it could generate around five times the amount of energy from solar power that it currently produces in crude oil. Libya boasts high solar radiation: about 7.1 to 8.1 kilowatt hours per square metre per day and could generate the equivalent of seven million – yes you heard right – barrels of oil a day; five times the current 1.4 million produced. Oil currently contributes about 95 per cent of export earnings, about one quarter of gross domestic product, and 60 per cent of public sector wages.


Mildura in north west Victoria now boasts Australia’s largest Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV) Solar Power Station, with the fully commissioned 40 CPV ‘Dense Array’ dish systems now feeding clean renewable energy into the national electricity grid. The 1.5MW plant is capable of generating enough electricity for about 500 average-sized homes. Silex CEO Dr Michael Goldsworthy describes this as a major step forward in the commercialisation of Solar Systems’ unique ‘Dense Array’ CPV technology. “If successfully commercialised, the deployment of utility-scale solar power stations around the world has the ability to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues within a few years. This could be a game-changing renewable energy technology,” he said. The 1.5MW Mildura plant received $10 million from the Victorian State Government plus additional funding from the Federal Government. Planning for the utility-scale, 100MW Mildura Facility is now underway, with construction expected to begin in late 2014, subject to securing a power purchase agreement and the finalisation of funding arrangements, including the following commitments which are conditional upon a $75 million grant from the Australian Federal Government (ARENA); and $35 million from the Victorian State Government. In related developments, construction of the 1MW Demonstration Facility at the Nofa Equestrian Resort near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is on track to be completed later this year. The Nofa plant will be the first offshore facility using Solar Systems’ ‘Dense Array’ CPV Dish technology. Silex says operation of the Mildura and Nofa Demonstration Facilities is a key step towards establishing bankability for commercial deployment of Solar Systems’ technology.

Left:The completed Mildura ‘Dense Array’ CPV Demonstration Facility Right: Nofa May 2013 - construction progress

Thin film development RSI, a Silicon Valley developer of thin film solar PV modules, with Australian and other venture capital sources, has claimed an engineering breakthrough that could cut the manufacturing costs of PV modules by one third. The company has created a 1.5 square metre cadmium telluride PV (CdTe) module, twice the size of conventional modules. It says this will enable solar PV modules to be manufactured at a cost of less than 40c/Watt, around one third cheaper than current mass-produced thin film and silicon based modules.

Sunny South Africa Sunny, dry South Africa boasts consistent and reliable solar radiation which is climate friendly for concentrated solar power generation. Ample Solar, a key South African CSP development company is weighing up prospects, foreseeing “big changes ahead in the way the country generates power, especially renewable.” AREVA Solar in Johannesburg, South Africa, is also enthusiastic about prospects given the

sunny forecast for Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology (CLFR) technology. CLFR is firming up as a favourite in Africa as it offers the highest local content and job creation, the lowest cost and is the most environmentally benign solution. Some confidently predict this technology “could sooner rather than later lead to a solar breakthrough for the whole of the South African region”. SolarProgress | 35

News and views

Flying closer to the sun The one-man craft Solar Impulse has completed an historic flight across the US in short hops as part of a 13-year privately funded $150 million European project. The sun powered the entire flight from San Francisco to New York with five stops in between. Solar Impulse carries 11,000+ solar cells, 10,746 of them on the wing that stretches 63 metres. Despite having the wingspan of a jumbo jet, the plane weighs just 1591 kilograms, the size of a small car. "It's also a poetic project," said pilot Bertrand Piccard, "It's about flying with the sun. It's about flying with no fuel.”

Everybody loves a winner

Solar vehicles: the race is on!

Wes Fleming and Phillip Johnson and solar panels take to the stage at the Chelsea Flower Show. Photo credit: Getty Images

Congratulations to Phillip Johnson and Wes Fleming for flying the flag for the environment and solar energy at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. Their Trailfinders Australian Garden was voted Best in Show Chelsea Flower Show – and in the world of landscape design, awards do not get much higher than that. It took 20 volunteers six weeks to create garden which was powered by solar panels, and Melbourne-based landscaper Phillip Johnson says they attracted enormous attention from Show judges and visitors alike. “Judges asked us about the position of the solar panels in the garden [and we explained] they were easier to clean and are more efficient when surrounded by cooling vegetation. Visitors asked what they were powering - which was assisting in powering the pumps for the waterfalls, night lights and the hot water system for the outdoor shower,” Johnson told Solar Progress. “Importantly, the solar panels were a crucial power source during the actual build of the garden, used to charge batteries and appliances.” 36 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Showcasing ingenious and idiosyncratic vehicles powered by the sun, the 2013 World Solar Challenge is the world’s largest solar electric vehicle event. This year’s new look World Solar Challenge which incorporates three distinct classes: challenger, cruiser and adventure – has attracted a record breaking 48 teams from 26 countries. Each is putting the final technical touches to their crafts which from October 6 take on the Aussie outback in the 3000 kilometre journey from Darwin to Adelaide. Based on the original notion that a 1000W car would complete the journey in 50 hours, solar cars are allowed a nominal 5kW hours of stored energy. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from the kinetic energy of the vehicle.

Sensational solar sight. Photo credit: Nuon Solae Delft University of Technology 2011


STARTS WITH QUALITY PEOPLE Solar Citizens to the fore! Solar users in Australia have joined forces to launch Solar Citizens to help protect the interests of those wanting to generate clean, renewable energy. They also want to ensure that solar homeowners are able to connect to the grid and are paid a fair price for the power they contribute to the grid rather than be subject to unreasonable charges or tariffs. Campaign director Geoff Evans says the Solar Revolution is here—and it is growing: earlier this year renewable energy in Australia notched up a significant milestone, with one million households in Australia sporting rooftop PV, representing $8 billion in investments in clean energy generation at home. He sums up the ‘Solar Revolution’ thus: 15,500 jobs created: 2,462 MW of installed PV capacity: 3,078,250 tonnes of CO2 saved; and $551,622 ,400 saved on power bills. This represents a big threat to the business model of the big energy companies, which are flexing their lobbying and financial muscle to ensure their profits remain high — even if it means blocking solar and costing ordinary Australians, says Geoff Evans.


Hence the development of The Solar Revolution Briefers 100% Renewable au/content/solar-revolution-briefers-state which highlights the growth of solar energy across the nation, lists the number of solar homes in each electorate and state, and details their financial investments in solar energy, savings on power bills, megawatts of clean energy produced, and subsequent reduction in carbon. The briefers also rank the 150 electorates based on solar installations, and the figures are impressive. The Briefers is a powerful tool in convincing local politicians to support solar and highlight that voters across the nation want solar and are investing heavily in it. Solar Citizens has also created the Solar Scorecard which ranks politicians by their commitment to energy issues: their stance on the carbon price, renewable energy target, community energy funding, building big solar and more. Local politicians can be contacted directly using the handy tools on the Solar Scorecard site. As Evans says, it’s essential that no matter who wins the election, renewable energy wins as well. Become a Solar Citizen at:

Japan embraces solar energy Massive solar parks are springing up in Japan as part of a rapid buildup, with technology companies and private investors across Japan “racing” to install devices. They are encouraged by the government policy which guarantees generous payments to those selling renewable energy, and the feed-in tariff whose rates are

guaranteed for two decades makes Japan one of the world's fastest-growing users of solar energy. Among the investors are farmers, lumber companies and local governments who install solar panels and double as small power-generation companies. This year alone Japan is forecast to install solar panels with the capacity of five to seven modern nuclear reactors.

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SolarProgress | 37

PV market insights

PV’s march forward Solar Progress invited Rod Seares of Canadian Solar to comment on the current state of the market. Following are his insights SP: How would you characterise the present state of the Australian PV market? RS: The Australian market is healthy but changing. It is currently in the final stages of transition to becoming a complete mainstream power resource as the cost PV local generation can be better than the true cost of distributed black power. We have moved from being just a green technology, to that of being a viable alternative. This is especially now the case for virtually all of Australia’s residential users, and for many commercial applications. With the introduction of smart/intelligent modules that can give real time feedback and control, and can be applied in more difficult sites that have some shading, the only missing link now for complete grid independence (24/7 operation) is cost effective storage. Viable household storage is fast approaching, I am certain that this will be available from mid this decade. SP: How does this compare or contrast with North America, Europe and other markets? RS: The market here is quite different from Canada and North America, where the commercial and utility scale deployments are the majority of the PV market rather than residential. In North America commercial buildings tend to lend themselves to PV with flat concrete roofs and extensive use strip shopping malls that go out with car parks surrounding, rather than Australia shopping centres and commercial buildings that mostly go up with multi-level car parks and thus small roof area. Also capital tax

38 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

incentives in the USA for commercial PV make this particularly viable. Because of the high cost of mainstream power generation / construction, some of the largest PV solar farms in the world are or have been built there. In Europe, PV application can vary. In Germany with extensive government incentives, household deployment has been extensive and also large scale is impressive, but this is becoming a little more difficult finding appropriate land availability. In other countries such as the UK the recent residential uptake has been particularly impressive, which given their lower solar resource, is surprising. The Chinese market will shortly become the largest solar market in the world, largely as a result of government policy and their thirst for cost competitive energy. The central government seems to lay down very significant plans and targets for each of the provinces to achieve, and then every year or so, double it because of the cost effectiveness of solar. SP: What are the influencing factors or market drivers, and deterrents? RS: Market drivers in Australia are now the need for the largely lower cost power of PV and future proofing against continued electricity price rises. Deterrents are obvious and largely put in place by the Gentailers (fixed charges for connection etc) as they are seeing their potential revenue base diminish with overall

lower network demands, as building and appliances become more efficient, and distributed power generation alternatives such as PV make significant inroads. SP: What lies ahead for PV in Australia? RS: My view for PV in Australia is that the market will continue to increase in the short term, over the next few years, and then will significantly get larger in the latter part of this decade as PV electricity costs become naturally lower than coal and gas fired generation, and we are able to supply 24/7 electricity.

About the author Prior to being appointed General Manager for Canadian Solar in Australia, Rod Seares worked for BP Solar and travelled extensively internationally in Europe, North America and Asia. He lived and worked in the USA for three years as Director of Operations for BP Solar North America. Founded in Ontario in 2001, Canadian Solar is the vertically integrated provider of ingots, wafers, solar cells, solar modules and other solar applications. The company designs, manufactures and delivers solar products and solar system solutions for on-grid and off-grid applications. Operations span six continents, with solar modules delivered to customers in over 70 countries. Shipments in 2012 topped 1.54 GW, positioning the company fourth in the world.

Australian Solar Council State Branch activity ACT Branch Trevor Lee, President, presents a report on the critical decade ahead for snow skiers The Critical Decade 2013: Climate change science, risks and response By Professor Will Steffen and Professor Lesley Hughes (Climate Commission).

General media coverage of the Climate Commission’s latest report has been widespread and sometimes sensationalist (eg “Scorching increase in bushfire danger”, p1, Canberra Times, 17 June 2013). The report rightly dwelt on the more serious risks that we face from climate change; but the media missed reporting on the projected depressing impact in store for the local ski industry and its participants – perhaps because the report itself omits this factor from its own summary called “Key Findings”. But our own projected future climate data recently prepared in conjunction with CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship, corroborate the Commission’s pessimism. Even allowing for improvements to man-made snow production, the reduced frequency and duration of usefully subzero temperatures will result in a gradual but erratic decline. While the most likely scenario to 2030 suggests only a gentle change for Thredbo (about 10% less days and 20% less hours), the warmest likely scenario for 2050 suggests that hours at or below -2°C will fall from 1175 to 697 per year (-41%) and those at or below -4°C will shrink from 662 to 345 (-48%). Along with reductions in natural snow falls, we can expect declines in snowmaking capabilities in similar The trend in snow amount and date of snow melt at Spencers Creek, NSW alpine region, from 1954 to 2008. proportion.

This is already as much history as it is a projection. In concert with the dismal start to this year’s Australian ski season, the report says on page 28 (see inset graphs), “The Australian Alps have also experienced a decrease in snow cover over the past half century. Although there is much variability from year to year, the overall downward trend in snow depth in the Snowy Mountains is clear.” Unless the international community, Australia included, co-operates to achieve the transition to a carbon constrained economy, in large part by a rapid shift to renewable energy, we should all enjoy our skiing while it lasts. Global Warming Projection for Japan More Frequent Extremely Hot Days, Intense Rainfall Events Of course, Australia is not alone in anticipating negative impacts from climate change. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) recently released the eighth volume of its Global Warming Projection Studies, which provide detailed forecasts of global warming effects in Japan. JMA has made public the results of forecasts on global warming effects since 1996, in an effort to contribute to considering mitigation and adaptation measures against global warming. The latest forecasts are based on a new, more precise climate model, which enables a projection of the incidence of intense rainfall events for the first time.

WA Branch Ishaan Khanna, President Notification of upcoming event: Information Session on AS4777 End of July On an individual level, I have been selected for Standard's Australia Young Leaders program, which is at the national level. They in turn, nominated me and I got through the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) Young Professionals programme, which is similar but at the international level.



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Melbourne chapter gets up and running Manager: Dhevaksha (“Dee") Naidoo, 0416 790 779 Wednesday May 8 marked the start of a new chapter for the ASC’s Victorian branch. With the backing of ASC Community Projects and Membership Development Manager Mary Hendriks, Dee Naidoo of Energie Australia convened a Melbourne chapter meeting which attracted 40 solar energy specialists. Guest speaker was well known identity Paul Scerri of Solar Inception, whose optimistic address ‘Life after Government rebates’ forecast the end of coal generated electricity, with PV and geothermal among the winners. Noting that ‘fast mover’ solar now commands a 14% share of the renewable energy sphere, Paul listed factors both driving and impacting PV demand. While 2012 was a buoyant year for PV installs, 2013 is buzzing along, clocking up 30 per cent greater rates. Paul’s address prompted many interesting questions: the prospect of PV panels atop electric cars for daytime charging; possibility of utilities charging for grid connection, amount of coal reserves, SHW rebates; and the importance of promoting ‘clean’ energy when marketing solar. Duplicating the popular success of the NSW branch ‘Future Directions’ program, Jophiel Bushnell of Energie Australia whose background is in architect design revealed his main interests lie in the way we use and develop spaces and surrounds in everyday life. He illustrated why distributed (self generated) energy is so important. TEch talk June’s meeting took a more technical turn with Russell French of Enphase Energy describing microinverters as a ‘hot topic’ and the next evolution in solar beyond string inverter technology. He demonstrated their scalability, positioned behind solar panels and explained that at just 45 V DC the ‘plug and play’ micro inverters are much safer than the traditional 240 V and eliminate the ‘Christmas light’ effect. Debris on one panel will not knock out performance of other panels. Future Directions speaker was Engineer Ed Cotter of One Planet Living who presented a dynamic snapshot of practical affordable sustainable living, showcasing several developments in the UK and elsewhere, including the futuristic layout of Madsar city in Abu Dhabi; BedZed – UK zero carbon and the one planet prototype. Local sites include Barangeroo in Sydney and WestWyck Eco Village in Brunswick and West Cranbourne. The

Ed Cotter and Paul Scerri 40 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Russell French of Enphase

Tristan Simons and Fowzi Dahhan company name reflects the imperative to curb consumption to one planet – Australia needs four given its current levels of consumption. the momentum continues Held at CommStrat offices which house Solar Progress, the July meeting of the Melbourne branch was attended by ASC CSE John Grimes, President Steve Blume, Vice President Glen Morris and Treasurer Paul Scerri, along with 20 others from the industry. Guest speaker was PhD student Tristan Simons who authored Solar Progress article ‘Sun to Socket: The Zinc-air rechargeable battery’ in the 10/2012 issue. He commented on the fact that electricity is generated a long way from where it is used, hence the importance of (battery) storage. What sort? Zinc batteries are cheaper than lithium and “If you want to make something dirt cheap, use dirt!” said Tristan in his animated delivery. Although zinc air batteries have been around for 100 or so years and supply good voltage, the life cycle is poor due in part to water based electrolytes that clog up pores. Tristan will be devoting the next six months to advances in battery recharging technology. As a chemical engineer Future Directions speaker Fowzi Dahhan of Bioregional Sustainability was set to pursue a career in the mining and natural gas sector before having an epiphany about wanting to give something to the world. The realisation promoted his enrolment in the Sustainably Energy course at RMIT which provides “great insights into clean technology”. Fowzi also juggles three part-time jobs in the clean energy sector. Superb insights from an equally superb line-up of guest speakers in the solar community, who also enjoy catching up under the one roof before and after branch meetings. The Victorian Branch would like to thank Rainbow Solar for generous catering provisions. Upcoming Victorian branch meetings: Wednesday August 13, Wednesday September 10, Wednesday October 16, and November 14.

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Solar energy revolution

Hans Tholstrup’s solar powered journey across Australia at 23km/h to the speeds reached today in the World Solar Challenge. We have truly made solar progress.


Half Century An overview of the history of solar technologies and applications presented at Solar 2013. By Bill Parker If you are starting a career in solar or renewable energy, this collection of presentations is about the most comprehensive and wide ranging as you might find in one place. Here are clear pictures, sometimes personal, always factual, of the way solar energy has been captured for the benefit of mankind by Australian researchers and practitioners. These are the stories of the technologies and people at the forefront of solar.

buildings that are net energy generators. And the job cannot be finished only with today’s tools they say. The “Energy Crisis” of the early 1970s was really an oil crisis, but it affected solar positively with increases in membership of the Society and the Australian R&D effort. If you can imagine a way of using solar energy, there was someone busy working on it.

Garry Baverstock and David Mills The day began with an historical review by Garry Baverstock and David Mills. Setting the stage was a question: how crazy would it be to dream of a technologically advanced society that would run itself on sunbeams? Some certainly thought so fifty years ago and pursued the task of moving that dream to reality. But are we there yet? Baverstock and Mills say no and why not. Now, the dream has changed from a percentage reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to zero emissions, no more hybrid cars but electric ones, and 42 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Bill Parker This writer also offered some thoughts through the eyes of an observer, and commenced with a graphic reminder of the solar progress that now sits on more than a million rooftops – a PV system. A map of details is contained in our previous edition of Solar Progress and also online. Compare the national tally of 2300MW+ of PV today with 13MW in the late 1990s. Going back another decade and comparing

Steve Szokolay Steve Szokolay broadened out the history to include the early work of solar “amateurs” showing their ideas at the World Expo in Paris 1880. This was also a backgrounder on where and how ‘Solar Progress’ started and reminders of epoc-making conferences in the 1960s and 70s. Steve has also been a prolific author with his first book ‘Solar Energy and Building’ from 1975. He also showed us his own solar progress by way of buildings and more books and images from Solar Progress in the early years.

Garry Baverstock and Deo Prasad Garry Baverstock and Deo Prasad continued by asking what ecologically sustainable architecture is and by answering: solar architecture. Buildings use the majority of materials on the planet, and reflecting on the earlier question of are we there yet, conclude that our energy inefficient buildings consume 60% more energy than they need to. With smarter materials and passive use of the sun we now have two major keys to success. Urbanisation in Asia is a key issue as Asians move towards a level of 54%. The need for zero emissions housing and mobility is paramount and that also applies to Australia according to Baverstock and Prasad. Retrofitting and “future” fitting are needed as never before. Their presentation also detailed building placements and the importance of solar access from an urban planning aspect; here the solutions are simple from the first steps in sub-divisional layout to the shape and size of buildings. Numerous case studies are presented.

Wasim Saman

Graham Morrison

Wasim Saman picked up on the same theme of zero emission buildings, noting that we live in much bigger homes than 50 years ago, have many more energy consuming appliances and spend much more of our income on energy. The pathway to a zero carbon society will be a composite of renewable energy and energy efficiency with the latter offering the biggest outcome for the investment. In terms of thermal comfort an old home in Adelaide would have a 2 star rating and require 325MJ/m2/annum compared to a new 8 star home requiring 46MJ/m2/annum. The extensive results of building in smarter ways were shown at Lochiel Park, an Adelaide suburb. And another “holy grail”– that of solar air-conditioning – was dealt with in some depth. And what might be Saman’s “dream” home? Designed for the local climate, roof integrated PV and thermal panels, smart appliances, thermal and electrical storage, and no environmental impact.

Graham Morrison spoke of the first documented solar water heater of 1941 – the work of G. Bates at the Merimba Research Station near Cairns. Bates thought:“It is… astonishing to find that the principle has never been adopted here.” The original paper can be found at Roger Morse of the CSIRO was the mover and shaker who from the late 1940s went on to develop more sophisticated flat plate water heaters that became the foundation of the local industry for many years. He was also the primary architect of the Solar Society in Australia. Later the selective surface Dewar absorber tube was developed at Sydney University by a sequence of scientists and licensed to Japan and China. Morrison showed IEA data from 2010 showing China with 92% evacuated tubes and Australia with 4%, even though it was locally developed. Over 100 million evacuated tubes worldwide were produced in

2010. A “water in glass” integrated system was also developed at Sydney University with Rheem. It was not thought commercial in Australia because of potential for fractures and spillage, but Prof. Zhiquiang Zin, who had worked at Sydney University, took back the low cost idea to China in 1984 together with a low cost version of the absorber surface. As Morrison notes, the rest is history. Later, David Mills and “QC” Zhang developed and patented an improved double cermet absorber coating, ultimately licensing the IP to Himin in China, who pushed the improved tube production to huge levels, advertised there as the “Sydney Tube” These are now being sold extensively in Australia. The number of suppliers grew in the late 2000s, many with little technical knowledge. In the same time, the demand for design and testing increased, but the lack of skills in testing labs and the auditing of certification claims has become haphazard. And the future? Morrison sees seven technologies coming into play and overlapping and integrating with other technologies such as PV, heat pumps and hydronic space heating.

Richard Corkish Richard Corkish provided a detailed and comprehensive overview of PV since the early days of Becquerel in 1839 and the later rediscovery of the same effects by Minchin who claimed that the invention would “dispense with the steam engine”. Some significant persons have emerged in Australia, including the internationally acclaimed Martin Green and Stuart Wenham. Green established PV research at UNSW with Lou Davies in 1974. Green, Wenham and young researchers like Andrew Blakers demonstrated an 18% efficiency of PV. Their Photovoltaic Centre led the world for many years (eventually achieving 25%). The UNSW licensed early technology to BP Solar. The large Chinese photovoltaic industry owes much to creativity of the UNSW group; many of their business leaders were educated there. Advanced PV research continues at the UNSW and Swinburne University, with Chinese industry support. Most of the 2GW of panels imported into the large Australian domestic PV installation industry can be traced back to the UNSW work. Andrew Blakers conducted a strong PV program at ANU with the support of Origin Energy. But PV research was not entirely exclusive to eastern Australia, and Corkish also summarises SolarProgress | 43

Solar energy revolution

the work led by Phillip Jennings at Murdoch University and the various spin-off activities from there. Australia can be proud of its solar graduates leading the global industry.

David Mills David Mills gave a history of the larger scale solar thermal technology. Early work began in Western Australia in 1976 when SECWA (the predecessor of Western Power) set up a program to supply solar power to isolated communities. In the early days however, the focus was on thermal power. Two plants designed by Ansaldo were established near Perth, using parabolic troughs, one with a PV receiver and the other with a little tried organic Rankine cycle turbine. No results were published and Mills suggests deliberate concealment. Later a bigger plant was built by MAN at Meekatharra that ran for eighteen months. It was considered a failure, and again, any data is not to be found. In the 1970s, the Australian National University was switching from nuclear fusion to solar with the intention of mass manufacturing parabolic dishes with high receiver temperatures. The program went forward with ERDC funding although Steve Kaneff commenced the White Cliffs project with alternative funding from the NSW state government. The 14-dish array rated at 25kW(e) ran until 1988. The White Cliffs project was successful, and led in 1988 to the Big Dish project in Canberra (ANU). The 400m2 first dish was built by 1994. A larger dish was constructed in 2004 with Wizard Power securing exclusive licensing rights. Five years later, the 500m2 dish goes “on sun”. The plant was to be the core technology for a 300 dish, 40MW(e) plant to be built north of Whyalla. Recently, however, the Federal funding promised has been withdrawn. In 1992, Mills was working on concentrating systems and ways of minimising the reflector area. This optical study led to the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector system. By 1995 44 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Mills (as inventor) set up his own company with Graham Morrison. A first 5 MW plant was planned at Stanwell in Queensland but the project manager, the utility Austa, was disaggregated by the government by 2000. In 2001, Mills, Morrison, and Peter Le Lievre formed Solar Heat and Power P/L. A trial plant was built and demonstrated steam production at Liddell in NSW in 2004 and was followed by a 20,000m2 5MW stage in 2006. Like all early start up companies, capital was critical. Mills and Le Lievre went to the USA and formed Ausra Inc., building a large demonstration plant, which was on-sold to Areva in 2010 and became Areva Solar. One outcome of the buyout is a 44MW(e) plant at Kogan Creek, now approaching completion, the largest solar thermal electricity plant ever built in Australia. Areva won an international tender for Solar Dawn, a 250MW(e) plant in Queensland, but could not gain energy purchase agreements from Queensland utilities. Mills also described other work that SHP/ Ausra devised; one project being the innovative heliostat field built at CSIRO in Newcastle. Graphite solar energy storage now being demonstrated at Lake Cargellico by Graphite Energy also originated from a concept put forward by Mills and Le Lievre. So where to for CST? On the development curve, CST lags behind PV and wind. But which technology will prevail? PV fields with battery storage or CST fields with molten salt? Maybe neither, because they have different niches, but both can technically replace fossil fuels entirely with storage.

Mark Diesendorf Mark Diesendorf set the (wind) scene by quoting the incoming Australian Wind Energy Association president “The first thing to grasp is that energy is political and renewable energy is especially political.” Diesendorf as a young scientist in the late 1970s saw the potential of wind. At CSIRO then, he submits an application for NERDDC funding to study the integration of wind into electricity grids. After a shaky

start the work on modelling commences and from the data, the significant possibility of the replacement of base load coal stations with peaking gas or hydro. The AWEA was formed and has widespread reach and activities, operating in much the same way as ANZSES, bring researchers, practical people and small businesses. Western Australia was taking the lead and by 1987 had the country’s first wind farm at Esperance with 6 x 60kW turbines. From Diesendorf’s presentation it is clear that AusWEA did not fight shy of political protest. But CSIRO closed down all renewable energy research. After being retrenched in 1985, Diesendorf’s presentation jumps to 2011 when at UNSW, his group showed that the NEM could run on 100% renewables, confirming the data generated in 1983 that wind could replace base-load coal.

Muriel Watt Muriel Watt concluded the presentations starting with a “story so far” and saying that things have now gotten serious. We got there by reductions in the price of PV and various financial stimuli. There are now tangible impacts on the status quo in all energy markets. The growth curves for PV are smooth growth, but for SHWS there are upswings and dips. But on the other side of the coin are increases in electricity prices, and more in interestingly, data is emerging on price breakdowns for purchased electricity costs which are very revealing. In terms of future market growth predictions, the large increases seen in recent years are not likely to return according Watt, rather a more conservative growth to a possible 8GW by 2020. What is next? Storage, net zero energy buildings and electric vehicles. But the empire will still fight back in a variety of ways. The dirty tricks will be played and there is no doubt that Nicolò Machiavelli’s analysis half a millennium ago will be played out. Watt spells it out: low buyback rates, gross metering, high fixed charges, new connections restricted and once installed operation restrictions applied, anti-renewable lobby groups mobilised, and political interference. On the to–do list are maintaining political, utility, and public support. And finally changing the system so that distributed energy can compete fairly.

Steve Blume Steve Blume rounded out the day by talking of a full return to the standard conference format with full peer review in 2014 and beyond. All presentations are available at


It gives you easy system design, a costing calculator, and accurate local solar production forecasts tailored to anywhere in Australia. SolarPlus is a fantastic sales tool that will help you convert more quotes into sales, by showing customers exactly what their options are through system comparisons and payback calculators. SolarPlus is designed to save you money and time, and give you a competitive edge when designing, selling and installing systems. automatically recommended design limits. SolarPlus also matches system size Installers and designers can compare multiple system to assist you to comply with Australian Standards and industry best practice. Be part of the next generation of solar design and installation, with the new sales- design tool that makes it easy to plan, build . Use SolarPlus to impress potential customers with a tailored report, and convert more quotes into sales. Subscribe now for the competitive edge your business needs.

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Solar 2013

“We need a paradigm shift for the solar industry … people need to see that solar energy is here to stay as an important player in the Australian economy.” Former NSW Leader of the Liberal Party Peter Debnam

John Grimes and the Spanish Consul

“A thriving solar industry plays a vital role in a clean energy future.” Kate Lundy and team on walkabout

“Much of Australia is semiKodak at present … but we [CEFC] are here to assist in clean energy programs; if you have got a decent proposal just approach us.”

Peter Debnam and John Grimes

Kate Lundy, stepping in for Climate Change Minister

Oliver Yates of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation

“Australia has the most stable government system and a rich sunshine resource which is a gift of our god – so use it!” Samuel Yang of Haeron Solar

“Robust systems underpin quality” Doug Fletcher, Solar Inception

“Solar energy is central to a clean energy future. The Greens … will work hard to remove impediments to a clean energy future ... Translate your love of solar into political action.”

“It is important for Australians who are pro-solar to connect [and help] generate political power” John Grimes, Senator Milne and Samuel Yang

Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation

Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne

Solar Inception 46 | ISSUE 3 • 2013 The Winaico stand

Advanced microinverters make going solar easy Solar technology should be simple and affordable. Russell French from Enphase Energy explains how microinverter technology has evolved to make installation less complicated and costly. Before the launch of Enphase in 2008, microinverter technology had long been a dream of the solar industry. The concept was introduced in the 1970s, and the first prototypes emerged in the 1980s, crafted as small versions of central inverters. Similar concepts in the 90s and 2000s faced problems in terms of cost, reliability and efficiency. As a result, the industry grew sceptical of microinverter technology. Enphase founder Martin Fornage understood the futility in trying to overcome doubts through another small version of a central inverter. Instead, he developed a new electronic topology based on a digital architecture. This allowed for a high degree of semiconductor integration, improving efficiency and reliability while reducing cost. The process begun by Fornage resulted in an intense interdisciplinary approach, combining technologies from the semiconductor, power electronics, telecommunications and software industries. It also resulted in new hardware designs, packaging systems and testing processes. To date, more than 100 patents have been filed to protect the Enphase Microinverter System. Microinverters are the first technology to take low-voltage DC and efficiently transform it upward to AC voltages. To achieve power conversion efficiencies of 95-96% requires precision and responsiveness that is not possible with analog design. Instead, microinverters’ digitally controlled architecture delivers rapid response time and predictive modelling capabilities. This architecture also enables system monitoring and control within the array, down to the individual module level, making each module its own system. Installers now have increased flexibility in system design, such as co-planer arrays, and can leverage system intelligence to identify

underperforming modules and perform maintenance remotely over the Internet. In fact, the Enphase Web-based monitoring service gives installers highly accurate data that can be used for remote analytics and system diagnostics, ensuring maximum system health and efficiency.

Russell French has 17 years’ experience in the Australian solar power and electrical industries. Prior to joining Enphase, French was managing director for Sun Empire Solar Systems.

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 | 47

Solar community

Resorting to solar energy Carbon neutral resort Hidden Valley Cabins has a broad sustainability agenda which includes an 11.7 kW PV system that comfortably supplies all necessary power. As told to Nicola Card Across the land millions of people are committed to solar energy but some are more visible than others. Tucked away well off the beaten track in the hilly hinterland 1.5 hours north west of Townsville is the eco-resort Hidden Valley Cabins which is owned and managed by Ian and Bonnie McLennan, with son Ross and his wife. The eco-resort which is 100 per cent solar powered and Australia's first stand alone system for a tourism resort with no support from grid power can proudly claim the distinction of being Australia’s first Carbon Neutral Resort, and has been certified at the highest level: Advanced Ecotourism operation. The journey began back in 1986 when ex-tin miners the McLennans bought and redeveloped the land, avoiding steel structures and using predominantly recycled or selectively-

48 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

logged local hardwood. External claddings were crafted from recycled railway sleepers. Back then the McLennans relied on dieselfired generators; enough to charge and power 12 volt battery lighting in guest cabins once the generator was turned off. Fast forward a decade or so and a small 24 volt system powered a few small appliances including lighting and television. The year 2007 saw the big step forward into solar PV, which now powers the site around the clock. “We had dabbled in solar energy prior to this and had a reasonable idea of what we wanted and had already researched solar energy,” Ross McLennan explained. “Where we are positioned our solar radiation is about the third best on the planet. The stretch from the Simpson desert to Townsville reaps about 300 days of sunshine annually, so it is

ideal. We had a good idea of our yields and had checked Bureau of Meteorology charts, mindful however that in the process you lose about 20 per cent [of the estimated levels] so you have to factor that in to be comfortable.” The family spent 12-18 months preparing the property to make way for solar, with a cleared area at the back ideal for installing the panels on concrete slabs for footings, and the old garage was converted into a shed to accommodate the battery. That area doubles as an Interpretive Centre for guests interested in the technical side of solar energy. “The biggest hurdle at the outset was finding a company to install the chosen system, but once we found Rainbow Power Company they designed the system around our load profiling and recommended the brands in line with our specific needs.”

Serenity Tech specs: Panels: Kyocera 90 x 130 watt solar panels (11.7 kW) delivering 120 volts DC into 60 x 2 volt 1660 Ah batteries; 75 KWh/day. Inverter: Selectronic 12 KVA inverter Regulator: Plasmatronic

Actual installation took just 14 days. Few technical hitches were encountered post-installation other than the need for replacement board to enable the regulator screen to operate. The 120 volt system was characterised as “a bit rare”. The McLennan’s carry out a strict maintenance regime on solar systems, in particular the batteries which they say are the weakest component. “Of the batteries there were just four weak cells out of 60, these were replaced and sorted. In five years of running [solar PV] we have encountered only minor issues … especially when compared to what you would encounter running a diesel powered generator. “For every 150 hours of diesel generation you need to carry out maintenance and at 250 hours the belts and oils need to be changed, all of which adds up, and you need to factor in replacement generators. By contrast over a 20 year period of PV we’d anticipate replacing the batteries just once.” He went on to say that with “reasonably good” grid power in Australia there are few off-grid solar powered resorts. They drew information from solar powered resorts in Mexico and Africa. But as the price of diesel escalates so will solar powered off-grid resorts become more common.

Relaxed retreat in Queensland’s hinterland

The absence of [diesel generation] noise was welcomed and in keeping with the tranquil surrounds of the eco-resort. “We found that once the noisy diesel generators were turned off the wildlife piped up, we were soon seeing more wildlife and birds, it seemed very different. The other big difference is vastly reduced diesel deliveries in contrast with the previous transportation in large quantities,” McLennan explained. The eco-resort still operates a diesel back-up system which kicks in during tropical lows, but fuel consumption has been slashed to just 500 litres over the past five years.

Canny clean investment Located off grid, the McLennans were eligible for the then Howard Government’s remote renewable energy scheme which amounted to a 50 per cent rebate and were eligible to sell RECs. Thus a system that came with a price tag of $180,000 ended up costing just $75,000. Prices have dropped significantly over the past five years and today that same system would cost around $100,000, “But at the time we were burning 26,000 litres of diesel a year and based on cost of around $1.50cpL that came in at $45,000 minus the 30 cent diesel rebate,” Ross McLennan explained. The payback period on the PV system was just 2.5 years; also important is the system saves 26,000 litres of diesel or 78 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Carbon credits are purchased to offset the CO2 emissions produced by LPG used for heating water and cooking, thus rendering the entire resort carbon free.

Spreading the word

needed basis by a local experienced engineer, with an emphasis on technical matters for those considering building their own systems. The course covers system design analysis and installer negotiations; overview of available funding programmes and government assistance; load auditing, profiling and management opportunities, principle of operation in off-grid power supply systems; review of component technologies, including types of photovoltaic solar panels, battery banks, inverter and charger systems, data logging options, etc; examples of system configurations for typical applications; practical system operation and maintenance; and examples of solar yield and system cost calculations. When we asked Ross McLennan what drove them to solar energy, he said “We have done it because we care about the environment; we have a business to run and want to do it in a sustainable manner. We are a family run business, a mum and dad and son and wife, we are not rocket scientists or geniuses, anyone could do the same. But we always say to people save the energy before you put the solar system in.” Should you find yourself journeying to Hidden Valley Cabins you may on arrival spot a familiar magazine gracing the reception area – guests can read copies of Solar Progress. Like we said, spreading the good word.

More information email 07 4770 8088 or 1800 466 509

Solar energy tours and courses catering for groups up to 10 are conducted on an as-

Solar energy on show SolarProgress | 49

Solar products services

Solar Progress advertisers’ supplementary material

SMA Good Service Makes All the Difference David Horan, Service Director at SMA Australia, explains why service has become one of the most important factors in the purchase decision and offers an insight into how SMA Service supports their valued customers. Why is good service so important? DH: Good service sets SMA apart from the rest. Service is becoming a key factor in helping us to stand out from other suppliers, primarily because consumers are increasingly looking beyond hardware and further into the additional services the manufacturer offers. Who can I get in touch with if the product does not work properly? Who will help me with product life cycle support? All of these things play an important role in the buying decision. Good service guarantees that customers make the best use of the product in the long term. Anybody who invests in a PV system wants to ensure that the investment delivers the best possible results throughout the system’s entire service life and, most importantly, a return on investment. So, what you are saying is that service is about more than just providing support when something goes wrong? DH: Exactly. People’s understanding of service has changed. Customers expect a full-service package. They want comprehensive support and assistance throughout the product’s entire life cycle. It’s a perfect fit because at SMA we also approach service holistically to meet all system requirements for the whole service life of a PV system. What is special about SMA Service? DH: SMA Service draws fully on the expertise of SMA. Nobody understands our products better than we do. What clearly sets us apart from other manufacturers is our global presence and network. This is something that cannot easily be replicated by others. Our Sydney-based team of highly qualified service engineers supports the Asia Pacific region.

Technical inspection and diagnosis in Germany

We also offer our customers individual, tailor-made services, or, if needed, we can also deliver a complete package. What exactly do you mean by “complete package”? DH: This means that we offer genuine full service, from commissioning to maintenance and remote monitoring to decommissioning and disassembly for commercial and industrial scale plants. What does SMA Service in Australia pride itself on? DH: SMA’s service is best-in-class. Service counts. We aim to provide the highest quality service and form valuable partnerships with our customers. We work with our customers to find the best solution that suits their needs. Fast response times and dependability are also our core strengths. How does SMA Service support solar power professionals? DH: If there are any problems with one of our inverters, we are, of course, the first point of contact. Our SMA Service Line offers technical support and takes the initial steps to analyse the fault over the phone, and upon request, our service engineers can also assist with replacing the inverter. We offer services that solar professionals can add to their portfolio of services. This is a good opportunity to improve business, support your own customers and build customer loyalty. It is important to us to further strengthen our partnership with solar power professionals. What kind of services do you offer? DH: One example is our SMA warranty extension for residential systems. A solar professional can customise their warranty extension offer to suit their service portfolio, ensuring a long-term relationship with their customer, while also ensuring a profit for the plant operator. With the extended warranty, there are no hidden costs. If service is required, we send a replacement device with all necessary updates. Further information about the range of services on offer from SMA Australia can be found at

David Horan, Service Director at SMA Australia Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 50 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Solar products services

Solar Progress advertisers’ supplementary material

The Energy of Urban Group Given that energy bills have risen by 30 per cent in the past five years, businesses of all size have no choice but to be more aware of their energy consumption, says UGE Group CEO Adam Pearce. Here he explains what his company is doing to help. The Urban Group Energy business model is simple, “to rapidly reduce our customers energy consumption through technology, generate cheaper greener power onsite, and then supply the remainder of our customers energy needs from the GRID at extremely competitive prices”. To that end, UGE offers a ‘Free Energy Audit’ to all businesses and assesses their energy inefficiencies. We present a proposal to the customer based on where we can help with savings, for example; their lighting. By analysing the data from their energy supplier we are able to make assumptions on how much money the client will save, and it’s the same with solar, we can analyse their data and then size up their solar system requirements. UGE has been a distributor of Ultralite products and its own OEM b-efficient brand. Our focus is now on developing our own b-efficent range of products which is sold with an Australian Warranty and backed by UGE. With the purchase of SunGrid, we acquired a great product and brand and stringent QA/QC process. We have built on this by opening an office in Shanghai, employing full time staff including senior LED, Solar and Electrical Engineers. The Shanghai office is responsible for the testing, certification and QA/QC of all product which is made to our agreed specifications. Our staff oversee every order by working on the production lines when orders are being processed, checking bill of materials and following our detailed QC checklist. We have appointed TUV Rheinland to assist with QA/QC processes and to verify suppliers that we have carefully selected to manufacture our OEM products.

TUV also perform stringent product testing on our behalf. The supply partners that we work with are large well established manufactures that produce products for other well known brands. We have established strong supply partnerships to manufacture our products, however we never take anything for granted and our team continually verify quality with every batch of any product that carries our name. In other news, UGE became a utility; GoEnergy is a division of UGE and is fully licensed to sell Electricity and Gas in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and SA. GoEnergy has developed its GoHub energy management and real time billing system which it plans to roll out this year bundled with highly competitive energy contracts, energy efficient products and Solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements). GoHub adds a new dimension to energy management. It offers a real time view into a multitude of measurements like power factor and voltage to mention a few, customer live consumption data and allows customers to see any device real time, set alerts and take control of any device that is monitored. This is all done through our web portal. Customers can login anywhere in the world. GoHub also offers real time billing information and allows the customers to view and print their bill anytime. GoHub offers a lite, pro and enterprise version. Head office is based in Erina, on the Central Coast. We employ more than 80 staff and have six warehouses nationwide, to include, but not limited to, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Townsville. UGE has expanded into the US, with an office on the west coast, and has an office in Hong Kong and Shanghai. UGE has worked with many ‘big names’: Hungry Jacks, Toys R Us, Luna Park, Wilsons Parking, Secure Parking, Reject Shops, JB Hi Fi, Toyota and Lloyd’s Insurance. We now have a particular focus on hotels.

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 52 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Solar Progress advertisers’ supplementary material

Fronius Don’t just produce energy – use it! Variable electricity tariffs, continually rising electricity costs and falling prices of PV systems make private consumption of solar energy increasingly attractive. A common reaction to the reduction of solar feedin tariffs has been to look to storage solutions as a way to get the highest economic return on investment. However upon finer analysis, it is often quickly realised that storage solutions are still quite expensive and that suitable and reliable storage technology while currently emerging, is not yet widely available. So does that mean at present solar in Australia is a poor investment? Not at all through self-consumption of PV, significant costs can be saved. Even in states where a government funded feed-in tariff exists, offsetting power from the grid where net metering is available can be worth more than feeding into the grid due to high electricity costs. A key to maximising profitability under a reduced FiT is to increase the self-consumption ratio of the PV system, which is the ratio of the PV energy directly consumed in the household compared with the total energy generated by the PV system. In response to the growing trend toward the self-consumption of PV power, Austrian inverter manufacturer Fronius has developed a new product designed specifically for this market: the Fronius Galvo. The Fronius Galvo is a single phase, high frequency transformer inverter with integrated WLAN and datalogging. The integrated energy management relay allows the self-consumption component to be maximised. With power categories ranging from 1.5 to 3.1 kW it is especially suitable for private self-consumption systems. Including an AS/ NZS5033 compliant internal DC disconnector this inverter is particularly safe to install and reduces balance of system cost. In early June, the Fronius Galvo received the Plus X Award, prize for innovative technologies. In the Energy product group, it scooped the award in no less than three categories: High Quality, Functionality and Ecology and was also named “Best product of the year 2013”. The Fronius Galvo will be available from August 2013. For more information: or email

PS Electrical Wholesale PS Electrical Wholesale John Inglis moved to Brisbane in 2004 and established Positronic Solar soon afterwards. In 2011, Positronic expanded into wholesale, becoming a partner with MML International distributing ET Solar, Antai, Trannergy and associated products throughout Australia. The company established its warehouse at Brendale, Brisbane from where it distributes about one MW of panels each month under the banner of PS Electrical Wholesale. Here, John Inglis outlines company products and services. The PS Electrical Wholesale Brendale warehouse in Brisbane holds a minimum of four containers of ET Solar panels, two containers of Antai racking and a container of Trannergy inverters. “The equipment we sell is high quality and reliable, at the right price,” company founder and director John Inglis said. “Our business is sourcing quality Chinese manufacturers, ensuring the quality of the equipment and delivering quality equipment at the right price. We aim for accurate, same day shipping of orders all over Australia.” He added that to date company marketing activity has been lowkey. “We have relied on personal contacts so our customers are quality installers interested in using quality components. We don’t want to be the biggest wholesaler in Australia, we want to sell the best equipment to the best installers”. Retail arm Positronic Solar has been using Trannergy inverters for the past 18 months. “They’ve proven themselves to be reliable and easy to install [and] we are now actively marketing them to our wholesale customers. Every Trannergy comes with built in Ethernet-over-powerline datalogging to If the installation develops a fault, the inverter sends us an email,” John Inglis said . “They’re a dual current limited mppt inverter, which means that the array size is only limited by practical cost benefit concerns. Before the CEC issued its their latest guidelines we were installing 7kWp of panels on the 4.6kW inverter for average outputs of ~27kWh per day. We have a 4.6kW Trannergy in Cairns with a 13.5kWp array averaging 37kWh per day. After eight hours running full load this inverter’s heatsink temperature is only 53ºC. “If installers are in the habit of only bringing one line down from the roof and using only one mppt, there are no switches, jumpers or mppt current limits to worry about. The Trannergy is quite happy with >6kWp on one mppt and will deliver the full 4.6kWAC to the grid,” said John who has been involved in the solar industry since 1990. “In the early days all the work was small stand alone systems of around 1 kW. I installed one of the first grid connect systems in Australia for the Rainbow Power Company in Nimbin, which had 5 kW of panels, two wind generators and a steam generator feeding to the grid via three Xantrex SW3048 inverters.”

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. SolarProgress | 53

Solar products services

Regen Power

Solar Progress advertisers’ supplementary material

You can own the system after the rental period of five years. So instead of opting for a third party to finance solar, opt for the highly beneficial Rent 'N Own scheme and we will take care of you directly every step of the way. Some of our recent commercial installations:

Rent 'N Own Commercial Solar Systems Today's businesses are faced with an ever increasing cost of power, which in turn is dipping into their bottom line profits. Grid-connected solar photovoltaic energy systems offer a clean and inexhaustible supply of energy to supplement the conventional sources of energy. Regen Power has over 15 years of experience in research, development, design and successful installation of over 7000 residential solar projects and several commercial and off-grid power systems all over Australia. With our experienced team of CEC accredited designers and engineers, we are able offer advanced, innovative and cost-effective technology solutions for commercial size solar power systems. With in-house experts and extensive global solar energy experience, our engineers offer advanced, innovative and cost-effective technology solutions for commercial-size solar power systems. Regen Power provides the following comprehensive services for commercial solar installations, ensuring quick start-up time and a smooth transition for your business: Energy Assessment - Our energy experts will perform a baseline analysis of your facility's energy use and create a usage profile for your business. Site Analysis - Our professional engineers will determine the optimal location and solar technologies to meet your production objectives Financial Analysis - Our analysts will review your financial options and present the most cost effective strategies according to your objectives and site constraints Manage Building Permits and Inspections - We will handle all interaction with local permit offices and will be present during the final site inspection Enrolling in Government Incentive Programs - We will identify and manage each and every rebate, tax incentive, and special program offered by the Australian government for which your business is eligible. Utility Liason & Administration - We will initiate any necessary agreements with the local utility company and schedule all required site inspections on your behalf System Engineering & Design - Our engineers are experts at solar technology system design and will tailor each solution to maximize your investment and your system's useful life Installation - Our field supervisors and staff are industry veterans with years of experience installing solar thermal and photovoltaic systems on rooftops and on the ground. You'll be assured of a quality product every time. Provide & Manage Warranties - We will take care of all the products warranties and replacements through the life of your system. Regen Power understands that the initial investment for a solar systems for your commecial establishment can be daunting. That's why Regen offers several Rent 'N Own options with absolutely no initial payment and only a convenient monthly rental to fit your financial goals.

Regen Power has developed an innovative solution – Hybridgen Solar Hybrid Power Pack – to replace conventional diesel generators by combining solar photovoltaic panels with our patented variable speed generator technology to provide a reliable power source that is both economically and environmentally sustainable. Running the engine at optimum speed reduces diesel fuel consumption, extends engine lifetime and allows high penetration of solar power with reduced battery storage. The system comes in a fully wired container and can replace conventional diesel generator to reduce diesel fuel consumption, while increasing the use of solar and wind energy.

Our Rent 'N Own scheme is now available for regional and off-grid customers. Phone: 1 300 876 354 /08 9456 3491 Fax: +61 8 9456 3492 email:

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 54 | ISSUE 3 • 2013

Solar Progress advertisers’ supplementary material

Advertisers’ Index

Clenergy Clenergy International is a leading Sino-Australian joint venture in the solar PV industry, with its headquarters in Xiamen, China, and branch offices in Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States. The company provides high quality, versatile solar PV mounting products and solutions for commercial, residential and utility-scale customers. Its inverters and power electronics equipment are supplied with full technical and service support. Clenergy is an ISO 9001 accredited company and all of its products comply with international standards. Clenergy maintains long-term strategic partnerships with many leading companies in the solar PV industry, and through its partners, provides Clenergy products and solutions in more than 19 countries around the world. In May, in the Federal Court of Australia, Clenergy was successful in obtaining judgement against the Chinese company, Grace Solar for infringing one of Clenergy’s certified innovation patents. Grace was prohibited from selling its infringing products in Australia. “As an innovative market leader in the solar industry, Clenergy values all of its intellectual property very highly and will continue to protect it,” said Vince Mobilio, Clenergy's regional manager. “We have an established track record of success and deliver genuine solutions with exceptional local support and availability,” he said.

Issues each year Circulated to Read by up to

4 5000 18,000

solar specialists

Altenergy Power System Inc (APS)  41 Clenergy  33 Franklin  6 Fronius Australia Pty Ltd  23 Global Sustainable Energy Solutions P/L  39 Infinity Solar 37 Positronic  15 Power Pioneer Group 51 REFUsol  19 Regen Power Pty Ltd  27 SI Clean Energy IBC SMA Australia Pty. LtdOBC, 13 Solar Inception  29 SolarMax  17 SOLCO  IFC Solpac Solutions 11 Talente Renewable Energy Pty Ltd (TDG)21 Trina Solar Ltd  7 Urban Group Energy  5 Vulcan Energy (Solace)  47 Yingli Green Energy Australia Pty Ltd 3

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.

As the official journal of the Australian Solar Council, Solar Progress continues to represent the broad interests of Australia’s solar industry, covering solar energy initiatives, groundbreaking advances and market dynamics presented by solar scientists, consultants and reporters.

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

SolarProgress | 55

Diamond Member

ASC Corporate Members Issue 3- 2013

Hareon Solar

Sponsoring Members Benq

Canadian Solar Australia Green Energy Trading

Jinko Solar Australia Holdings Co P/L

Linuo Ritter

Shanghai BYD Co Ltd

Shanghai JA Solar PV Technology Co Ltd

SMA Australia P/L

Trina Solar (Australia) P/L

True Value Solar

Yingli Green Energy Australia P/L

Large Corporate Members Chromagen

MaxiSolar P/L

DKSH Australia P/L

Nu Energy

Energy Matters

R F Industries P/L

Enphase Energy ®

Rheem Australia

EnviroGroup Solar Depot P/L Greenbank Environmental Solar Inception P/L Infinity Solar SOLIMPEKS L&H Solar + Solutions

University of Queensland

SME Corporate Members 24 Hour Efficient Energy ALCO Battery Sales Australian All Energy Solutions Pty Ltd Autonomous Energy Bramalco Pty Ltd City of Sydney Sustainability COzero CSR Delta Energy Systems Pty Ltd DNM Electrical Pty Ltd Earthconnect Pty Ltd Ecoult Edson Pty Ltd Elcoda Pty Ltd Energy Assist Victoria Pty Ltd Free Energy Australia Fronius Australia Pty Ltd Garrad Hassan Pacific P/L Going Solar         Grundfos Holding A/S Home Green Pty Ltd Horizon Solar Technologies IT Power Australia Pty Ltd Keemin Pty Ltd Keystone Environment Solutions Positronic Solar Data and Electrical PowerWill New Energy Technology Co Ltd Q-Cells Australia Pty Ltd Rainbow Power Company Ltd REFUsol Regen Power Pty Ltd Renewable Concepts PL T/A Baker Renewable Energy Schletter Australia Pty Ltd SI Clean Energy Pty Ltd Solar Charge Pty Ltd Solar360 Pty Ltd Solarmatrix SolarMax (Sputnik Engineering Australia and NZ Pty Ltd) SolarReserve Solarsave NSW Pty Ltd Solco Ltd Springers Solar SunBurst Solar P/L SunTrix Todae Solar Thomas + Naaz  Pty Ltd Urban Solar SA Venergy Westgen WINAICO Australia Pty Ltd

Micro Corporate Members 1800 TAS SOLAR A & A Solar Pty Ltd A1 Ductwork Solutions Absolute Solar AC Solar Warehouse Adam Solar Pty Ltd Adelaide Electrical Solar & Security AdR Sustainable Engineering Solutions AEA Solar Energy's Pty Ltd AELEC AES Technology Affordable Eco Systems P/L AICA Engineering Pty Ltd All Type Solar Almaden Aust Pty.Ltd Amara Electrical Services Anything Solar Apollo Solar Pty Ltd Arise Energy Pty Ltd ASAP Maintenance Services P/L Ausdaws Electrical Pty/Ltd Australian Home Services Australian Solar Systems Pty Ltd /

Vulcan Energy Australian Sustainable Energy Services BakerAir Baylec Electrical Pty Ltd Bernie's Greener Homes Bisi p/l Blu Sky Solar Pty Ltd Blue Mountains Solar Pty Ltd Bosch Solar Energy BTS Energy Camberwell Electrics Central Solar Systems Charlie Walder Electrical Services City Solar Clean Economy Services Clean Energy Solar Clean Energy Works Clean N Free Pty Ltd Clean Technology Partners Clements Airconditioning Refrigeration & Electrical Clewers Solar Solutions Coastwide Solar Pty Ltd Collridge Pty Ltd Complete Automation Services & Electrical Control-Tech Electrical Coolgaia Pty Ltd Couts Electrical Pty Ltd Cromack Electrics CSA Solar Current Generation Technology D & T Electrical Service Pty Ltd Dan Cass & Company Davey Electrical David Bajjali David Ross Electrical & Solar Pty Ltd DC Solar Des Mullins Electrical Devlin Anthony Dimark Constructions Down South Solar Power DS&R Electrical Dutchy's Electrical Contracting Pty Ltd E.L. & R.J. Polack Earth Potential ECO Heating Cooling & Electrical Eco Power and Lighting Eco-Footprints Solutions Pty Ltd Ecoast Energy EcoSmart Solar EcoSouth Solar Electricity Ecospark Electrical Edwards Solar Plus Electec Technologies Pty Ltd Electrical Effect Electroforce Electrical pty ltd Elliott Peter Ellsworth Adhesives Australia . Energie Australia Energy & Climate Change Unit Energy On Sustainable Solutions Energy Scene EnergyPak EnergySpec Electrical ENVIREN EnviroSure International Exlites Pty Ltd FES Contractors Focused Solutions Pty Ltd Forty Foot Gapsolar GBH industries GE HUNT Geelong Solar Energy Geographe Green Glen Clark & Co Glynncorp Electrical Godwins Green Energy Green Energy Options Greener Housing Solutions Harelec Services HINES ELECTRIX PTY LTD Independent Power Systems Pty Ltd

Industrial Air (S.A.) Pty Ltd Inverter Solar iSolar J McMicking Electrics Jet Electrical Solutions JNS Electrical Jones Redmond pty ltd K & K Electrical Kangaroo Valley Solar Know How Technology P/L Kurta Electrics Leadsun Australia Lekcom Liberty Saver Light Touch Electrical Lightning Bult Electrical and Plumbing Pty Ltd Linked Electrical Log-On Electrical (MyPowerMP) Lone Star electrical Services Pty Ltd LP Electrical Australia Pty Ltd M Ballantine Industrial Electrical Madison Australia Pty Ltd MANNIX AIRCONDITIONING & SOLAR Martin Taylor Matt Hatty Electrical Mel Hughes Electrical Services Meyerburger Mighty Mouse Solar Millers Electrical Group Mission Beach Electrical Mode Electrical Moon Power Solar and Electrical More Clean Pty Ltd. MPV Group Pty Ltd MV Solar NATEC Navitus Solar Negawatts ELectrical Nelson South Electrical Contractor NEOLEC NeuTek Energy Pty Ltd Newkirk Solar Newman Mundy Electrical Pty Ltd Nicholls Group Nigel Griffin Electrical Noble Electrical Services NoCarbon Pty Ltd Northern Electrical Olaire Onshore Designs Orca Solar Lighting Outback Energy Supply Pesce Pty Ltd Peter Lyons Pink Building Services Pty Ltd PJ Electrical Pty Ltd Power Import Export P/L Profx Prologic Group PSE Communication & Electrical Queensland State Solar Rainbow Solar REA Global Pty Ltd Red Phase Electrical Services Reform Electrical and Solar Regen Power Renewable Energy Traders Australia Rescue the Future Pty Ltd Residential Solar Systems Pty Ltd Rising Sun Electrics RJ. CORD Enterprises Pty Ltd RK Solar & Consulting Services P/L RMIG Electrical Rob Lucarelli Electrical Services Roos Electrical Saint-Gobain Solar Avancis Schueco Selectronic Australia Self-Sufficiency Supplies Seymour Solar sgl solutions pty ltd

Institutional Members University of New South Wales, School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering

Shamash Australia Pty Ltd Siemax Electrical & Security SMART WATER & ENERGY SOLUTIONS Snapfrozen Sola Connections Australia Solaire Lifestyle Pty Ltd Solar Access Group Solar Backup Solar Central Solar Connections Solar Creations Solar Daily Pty Ltd Solar Direct Solar Distributors Pty Ltd Solar Energy Options Solar Pty Ltd Solar Pumping Solutions Solar Quotes Solar Reaction Pty Ltd Solar Wise Wagga Pty Ltd solar2 Solar2020 Solarcorp SolarGods SolarHub Solaris Sustainable Homes Solaron Solazone Pty Ltd Solis Australasia Pty Ltd Soma Power Pty Ltd Sondase Pty Ltd Southwest Solar SPACE SOLAR SERVICE PTY LTD Spectracraft Pty Ltd SR Energy Pty Ltd Starr Electrics / Solar Choices FNQ Steven Zilm - Solar & Electrical Contractors Structured Electrical Sunday Energy / Ecofficient Pty Ltd Sungevity Australia Sunspark Solar Suntech R&D Australia Pty Ltd Sunvalley Solar Sunwise Solar Systems Sunwiz Sustainable Energy Consulting Sustainable Impact SW Renewable Energy Group Pty Ltd TAFE SA Taylor Developments The MGA Electrical Trust The Solar Power Pro The Solar Professionals Thirroul Solar Pty Ltd Tony Attard Electrical Top Notch Electrics pl Total Energy Systems Total Solar Solutions Townsville Solar Solutions Pty Ltd Urban renewables p/l VIP Solar Voltmaster Electrical Contracting Wallace Chris Warren Smith & Partners Watt Else Pty Ltd West Coast Solar nrg West Coast Sustainability Westsun Solar Wildy Airconditioning and Electrical York Electrical Service


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


Our market-leading range of Sunny Boy inverters offer the highest efficiency ratings, are easy to install, and incorporate the smartest technology available. They’re safer and more reliable, thus cost effective. That’s why they’ve become the brand of choice among installers across the country and around the world. With every PV project, you want the confidence that you are installing top quality products. You also want the assurance that you are investing in a reliable, flexible and competent service partner. Our service team is constantly growing and evolving to suit your changing needs. 1800 SMA AUS

As an SMA customer, you benefit from global uniform standards and processes. As part of this initiative, we regularly train our service team members at our headquarters in Germany to keep them up to date on product innovations and modifications. This guarantees that you receive consistent assistance and service quality. We are here for you, today and in the future. SMA has a dedicated Australia-based team of Service Engineers offering the highest level of technical support and backup that installers have come to know and rely on over the years.

Solar iss3 jul2013 full  

Solar Progress Issue 3, 2013

Solar iss3 jul2013 full  

Solar Progress Issue 3, 2013