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ISSN: 0729-6436

Amazing race Extra special, extraordinary World Solar Challenge

Nanotechnology Nano-scale light trapping for solar cells

Big solar takes a big step forward Australia’s solar landscape is on the rise

State of play in SA Clean green progress in the making


issue 4

The Official Journal of the Australian Solar COUNCIL


Contents Australian Solar Council ASC CEO and Solar Progress Editor


ASC delegation visits major solar entities in China


The power of SolarPlus


Solar 2014 conference – diary date


ASC in force at Powershift


Professional Development training


ASC Chapter activities


ASC hosts Taiwanese delegation


Membership categories and benefits


ASC Membership listing



Solar by numbers What’s simmering; what’s hot


The state of progress: Giles Parkinson reviews SA’s solar advances


Thoughts on the future scale of PV



energy developments

ARENA, AGL and First Solar join forces Australia’s largest solar plant in the making 22 PNG schools gain solar energy




Special features News and views


World Solar Challenge: Solar power wins the day 8 Nanotechnology’s light trapping role


Illawarra Flame – declared hottest at World Decathlon



Powering Asia from Australia: “Yes, we can” 32

Other advances The UK’s renewable heat incentive


Docklands’ newest green building


Picture this … solar innovation around the globe


Front cover: UNSW Cruiser Class entry “eVe” crosses the finish line in record time at the World Solar Challenge (see story on page 8).

Advertorials: Solar products and services Clenergy, Fronius, Linked, Si Clean Energy, Solco, Sungrow and Yingli 

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



Editor Dr Bill Parker Phone: 0403 583 676 Contributors: Andrew Blakers and co, Kylie Catchpole, Susan Fallon, Mary Hendriks, Klaus Kramler, Giles Parkinson and Wayne Smith. 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

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

Australian Solar COUNCIL CEO John Grimes PO Box 148, Frenchs Forest NSW 1640 ABN 32 006 824 148

opinions and material published in this

CommStrat ABN 31 008 434 802

SolarProgress | 1 Solar Progress is published quarterly.

magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or the 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.

Bill Parker Editor

John Grimes Chief Executive, Australian Solar Council

During 2012, 1 GW of solar PV was installed in Australia. However this year we are on track to install 700 MW of solar PV. That figure represents a 30 per cent contraction in the solar market over 2012 numbers. In other times, and in other industries this would represent a devastating slump for the industry. But in the solar industry, at this time, a 30 per cent contraction is exceptionally good news. Good news? The solar industry has been supported through a series of artificial feed-in tariffs introduced at state level. These tariffs fuelled the rapid take-up of the technology, and turned distributed solar generation into a mainstream concept. But, just as quickly as they appeared, those feed-in tariffs are now gone. Not only are consumers no longer paid a premium for solar energy fed into the grid, almost everywhere they are paid a fraction of the prevailing retail rate. But here is the thing – the Australian public continues to buy and install solar. Consumers continue to flock to solar, pushed by ever increasing electricity prices and solar PV costs that continue to fall. Solar PV has become an important ‘insurance policy’ against the ever increasing price of electricity. In late 2013 for the industry to be installing at a rate of 700 MW per annum without even fair feed-in tariff support is a very significant achievement. It demonstrates an underlying market demand that is only set to grow in the future. And while we do not expect the meteoritic growth of the past three years, we can also say goodbye to the solar coaster market plunges as governments change their solar PV policies on a whim. Indeed, I see a solar industry that has managed to hang on and has emerged leaner, more productive, and more professional than ever before. A very good outcome for Australia indeed.

John Grimes 2 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

In this edition we feature two stories of global solar competitions with many similarities and one great difference; one a road race, the other a building. The similarities are driven by the wish of younger people particularly to see their world running on the sun’s energy. Large teams of students from diverse backgrounds and study disciplines have pooled their efforts to attempt to win these two major solar competitions. The value in these ventures goes beyond prize winning – it puts students at Universities and TAFE colleges together in ways that are outside the curriculum. Engineering students have teamed up with graphic designers, carpenters, PV students and construction workers in the building competition. In the road race, aerodynamics students, electrical engineers and physicists come together with meteorology and logistics students. All are temporary companions and they all gain from sharing the common goal – to enter and win (if they can) the World Solar Challenge or the Solar Decathlon. Everything else comes second to the effort – to show that we can do better things with solar energy. This year for the first time, Australian students from the University of Wollongong with Illawarra TAFE won the Solar Decathlon in China, and with the blessing of the Vice Chancellor at that university, plans are underway for the next event. Students from UNSW entered their solar car “eVe” in a new World Solar Challenge Cruiser class of four-wheel passenger carrying cars. They made the 3000km journey in 38 hours, not so far off the times of single driver only cars of the 1990s; the big difference being the shape and perhaps the comfort of driver and passenger(s). There are those (experienced solar car drivers) that say that sitting with legs stretched out and head in a plastic bubble is comfortable. Innovation is alive and well, and quite apart from the benefits the teams derive from their hard work, the spin-off of both events are extensive, or potentially so. However, for both events they will be memorable moments, never to be forgotten and possibly even life changing. .

Bill Parker

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News and views

Days of wine

and sunshine

Ferngrove winery Something is spreading among wineries but it’s all good: solar power on a grand scale. In mid October De Bortoli winery near Griffith installed a 230 kW PV generator and 200 kW solar thermal preheater, which is said to be the largest of any such system at an Australian winery. The two solar power installations at Bilbul Estate are expected to save the third-generation family wine company tens of thousands of dollars a year through offset electricity and gas consumption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the site by more than 314 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The solar PV system was designed and constructed by Adelaide-based power system integrator The Solar Project with 960 German designed and manufactured Q CELLS solar PV modules. The 2700 evacuated tube solar thermal array – by Australian-owned solar hot water manufacturer Apricus Australia – will provide process heat for the winery’s bottling operations. The Solar Project recently completed a similar sized project at d’Arenberg winery in the McClaren Vale, and is constructing a 200 kW facility at another South Australian winery. Across the continent in the south of Western Australia is Frankland River, home to Ferngrove Winery which has installed a mighty 227 kW system. Delivered by Great Southern Solar, the system is expected to generate an average of 341,000 kWh of power a year. Ferngrove’s solar-power system consists of 696 high-efficiency SunPower 327-watt panels, and six 39 kW German-made Kaco inverters. With installation costing around $900,000, the winery received dollar-for-dollar funding from AusIndustry’s Clean Technology Food and Foundries program. 4 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

SMA Australia’s Suntrix gains new MD: Mark Twidell

Having clocked up more than 25 years experience in the private and public sectors in the renewable energy industry, and with significant leadership experience and understanding of solar in the Asia Pacific region, Mark Twidell is well known in solar circles. Twidell was recently appointed Managing Director of SMA Australia where he will help to build on current success in the residential and utility markets, and lead SMA into emerging markets in storage, self-consumption and PVdiesel integration. “SMA has a great reputation in the marketplace and I have been impressed with SMA both locally and globally,” said Twidell on his appointment. “I am delighted to join the company and contribute to building the market in the region while creating value for our customers.” Prior to his role as Director on the board of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and technical adviser to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), Twidell was CEO of the Australian Solar Institute. He previously worked with BP Solar, managing activity across Australia, Asia and the Middle East.

Tasmanian certainty

In late August Tasmania’s government guaranteed the state’s Solar feed-in tariff for existing solar power users for five years, up until January 1, 2019. Deputy Premier Bryan Green said the decision would protect people’s investment in solar energy which would ensure existing customers were treated fairly in light of the capital investments they had made under the current system. He also wants new customers to be guaranteed a fair and reasonable rate in the future.

top honor

Back in 2009 when Adelaide-based Jenny Paradiso and her partner Dave Hille (pictured) were considering installing rooftop PV, they found the focus on sales rather than solutions prompted confusion, so the simplest thing to do was install their own solar panels. That done, they then started installing panels for family and friends. Numerous referrals followed, and their business Suntrix took off, with Paradiso and Hille quitting their respective jobs as librarian and network engineer. During 2012 Suntrix turned over more than $10 million and the company now boasts more than 20 staff. In the 2013 Telstra Business Awards Suntrix was named South Australia’s top business. Suntrix also picked up the NECA-SA Award of Excellence for an 86.25 kW PV installation at a local football club whose roof sported numerous levels and orientations and was part shaded by surrounding trees.

White house,

solar roof The Obama administration is reported to be overseeing the installation of solar panels and a solar water heater at the White House. The American-made solar panels form part of an energy retrofit aimed at improving the overall energy efficiency of the building, and in so doing help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energyefficiency upgrades. According to the annals, during the 1979 energy crisis US President Jimmy Carter ordered installation of solar panels at the White House, but in 1986 Ronald Reagan ordered their removal.

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News and views

The world’s largest

solar thermal plant? The Indian government is planning to set up a mighty 4 GW of solar thermal power in the state of Rajasthan in north western India. If the project goes ahead it will be the world’s largest solar thermal plant. The location of the proposed project is the Sambhar salt lake, which has a large salt production facility at its eastern end and is 75kms from Jaipur, a city with a population of three million. The lake itself is the largest in India. The expected cost of the 4 GW project is 30,000 crore Rupees (approximately AUD$5000 million). Exactly what the output of the project will be used for is not clear; apart from electricity, other options include process heat, cooking, heating and cooling. No doubt the solar thermal world will be watching this massive proposal with great interest.

Remote community

installs smart energy system Gununamanda Ltd, a community run, not-for-profit business on Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, has overhauled its energy system and installed a large 33 kW solar power system, more than 300 LED lights and two new solar hot water systems. Built in conjunction with Cairns based Infinity Power the new power system will save local businesses more than $25,000 a year. Together, 132 Hanwha Q CELLS solar panels and three PowerOne Aurora inverters will reduce Gununamanda’s electricity consumption by more than 70,000 kWh a year and trim businesses power bills by 20 per cent. Replacing all fluorescent bulbs with LED lights will save around 18,000 kWh every year, which will shave 10 per cent off electricity bills.

Greenough River Solar Farm’s stellar


More positive news: the First Solar/Verve Greenough River Solar Farm in Western Australia is performing well above expectation. The solar switch was flicked in October 2012 and at 10 MW the plant is currently the largest of its kind in operation in Australia. Jack Curtis of First Solar told Solar Progress that the plant has generated about ten per cent more energy than anticipated, which was welcome news all round. (See separate Big Solar feature involving First Solar on page 22.) 6 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Star achiever

– solar tuk-tuk Good old Aussie ingenuity – this time Melbourne based Star 8’s SolarTuk, a 100 per cent solar powered vehicle that turned heads at All-Energy and from next year will be seen ferrying taxi passengers the along streets of SE Asia and beyond. SolarTuk is the brainchild of Star 8 managing director Jacob Maimon who returned from a trip to Vietnam with the seed of an idea after hearing from tuk-tuk drivers about the “prohibitive” cost of petrol. His design features highly efficient, lightweight energy-generating mono-crystalline flexible panel roofs; one generating a half kilowatt capacity, an 800 watt double roof (where a second roof slides out from above the fixed roof), a one kilowatt double roof and a one kilowatt double roof with additional solar generating side and rear flaps. Solar power is sent to one battery for running the engine, and another in storage that can also be used to power household generators. SolarTuk includes a backup electric motor which is very cheap to operate. The solar tuk-tuk travels at a maximum speed of 50km/h and covers 120 kilometres between recharges from the sun’s rays or a conventional power point. In conjunction with a partner Star 8 is currently building a factory in Phnom Penh in Cambodia and will be hiring 200 to 300 local staff to produce SolarTuk, which could be rolling off the assembly line as early as Easter 2014. Star 8 SolarTuk will be available in four different designs with three engine capacities: 650cc, 800cc and 1000cc, and cost between $2000 and $3000. Already SolarTuk has sparked significant interest across the region and Star 8 in discussion with parties in China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Africa and Nigeria as well as tourism operators in Australia. Jacob Maimon of Star 8

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Solar challenge

The World Solar Challenge – a watershed year (3 + 40 = A Double Dutch Win)

This year saw the running of the twelfth race from Darwin to Adelaide. It was a race with a difference and a game changer. A new “Cruiser” class was added and cars with four wheels and passengers could enter. The competition is now also about practicality as well as speed. Bill Parker provides an overview of where it started and where it could take us.

Above: The Eindoven Team's "Stella". Above right: Wubbo Ockels, Former Dutch astronaut and Nuon Team Mentor. 8 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

In 1982, a man who liked challenges set out to show that Australia could be crossed by a car powered by solar energy only. “Car” here is a flexible term, but if you can imagine an old–fashioned bath-tub made of fibreglass with bicycle style wheels protruding through the bottom and a roof top made of PV panels as a car, then you have it. That man was Hans Tholstrup, adventurer. The crossing was made by Tholstrup and his co–driver Larry Perkins and the event was managed by motor rally enthusiast Tom Snooks and his team, under Confederation of Australian Motorsport scrutiny. The “Solar Trek” left Scarborough WA, in December and, travelling east at an average speed of 24km/h, crossed Australia and arrived in Sydney 28 days later. Tholstrup and Perkins proved that a trans-Australian journey could be made by car using nothing but solar energy.

Five years later, General Motors took up Tholstrup’s challenge to race a solar car from Darwin to Adelaide in the first World Solar Challenge (WSC). The GM “Sun Raycer” won that race at an average speed of 66.9km/h, and a significant spin-off was the later launch of GM’s “Impact” electric car, influenced by the Sun Raycer team. The essence of the WSC has always been to nurture innovation by taking an unrestrictive approach to rules. Simple rules that specified dimension of PV arrays, batteries, brakes and safety were the only major ones. The designers had free reign and the global collegiate communities, as well as car-makers like Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Ford Australia with PV manufacturer Kyocera, have all made entries. Naturally the regulations have changed over the twenty six years of the race with improvements in PV efficiency, tyres, wheel motors and aerodynamic design expression. The older style of three wheels has now given way to four wheels, and for some entrants the driver now sits now on one side of the car, with battery weight balancing on the other side. Now, all four wheels are enclosed in one spat each side, shaving off more aerodynamic drag. What about a differential? Not needed with wheel motors. And low rolling resistance of tyres? The front runners have used tyres made by Michelin and others R&D efforts and this has already spun off into low energy passenger cars. These are the ways the WSC has influenced energy efficiency in cars. In Hans Tholstrup’s words, the WSC is “brain sport” and the latest technology and the best-built car is not necessarily the winner. The race (even on the “home straight” into Adelaide) can see weather affect the outcome. This year “Nuna 7” and the Tokai Challenger – a matter of just minutes behind, after 3000kms – left their Wednesday night stops about the same time, yet “Nuna 7” crossed the “end of timing” line at 10 am, but the “Tokai Challenger” team were still on the road six hours later. It becomes a matter of calling judgements on battery power versus solar power in cloudy conditions. The “Tokai Challenger” was forced to waste precious hours to get enough charge to finish, which of course they did with a fantastic welcome.

What makes a winning team? Chris Selwood, the event director sums it up. “It’s about team spirit. I always get asked who the winning team might be in the lead up to the race. And I only form an opinion as the race develops and I get chance to look at the way the teams work together.”

In practice, the foundation of a team (beyond any technological advantage) is good logistics. To be able to respond to adverse weather conditions, to breakdowns and execute a good driving strategy (charge the batteries vs. directing energy to the wheels) is integral to success. Some teams have had fully equipped semi-trailers bristling with aerials and satellite dishes running with their solar cars to this end.

Nuna 7 vs Tokai Challenger On day five of the race, the two front runner vehicles made their overnight stop at Port Augusta. The weather was not shaping up too well for any entrants. Race Day 5 was warm with South Australian temperatures in the low thirties, slightly overcast but no detriment to solar racing cars. Day 6 was cold, rainy and very overcast – although driving only on battery with a minimal solar input was possible. The Nuon team had taken the precaution of charging extra capacity when they could “just in case” using what they called their secret weapon, a device for concentrating solar energy. The “Tokai Challenger” team did not, and to echo the words of Chris Selwood, it’s not over until the cars cross two lines, one at the end of official timing and the other at the official finishing line in central Adelaide. “Nuna 7” got there first, leaving “Tokai Challenger” temporarily stranded on the Augusta Highway. It is not the first win for the Nuon team of course, and after their first win in 2001 they “celebrated” by jumping into the Victoria Square fountain. Since that site was not available this year, team members devised their own fountain in Hindmarsh Square from some inflatable wading pools labelled “Victoria Square”. All members were either thrown or jumped in, complete with fizzy drink spraying, and to complete the celebrations the team’s mentor Wubbo Ockels and another team member gave the crowd a push up demonstration. Ockels, a former Dutch astronaut, is now a Professor of aerospace engineering for sustainability at Delft University of Technology.

“The Nuon team had taken the precaution of charging extra capacity when they could “just in case” using what they called their secret weapon, a device for concentrating solar energy.”

SolarProgress | 9

Solar challenge

Clockwise from top: Nuna7 and team; The Tokai Challenger team; Tokai Challenger team interpreter Asana talking to Event Dirtector Chris Selwood and the crowd; University of Eindhoven’s “Stella”

The Game changer Having proven that solar cars can achieve high speeds (outpacing their support vehicles and exceeding speed limits), this year’s WSC saw the first running of the “Cruiser Class”. Nine cars entered the race from Darwin to Adelaide, although some were trailered to Adelaide because of mechanical breakdowns. The new class specified four wheels and two persons minimum. The class is not based solely on time but on practicality. And for example, another Dutch entry, the “Stella” was capable of carrying four persons including the driver. These cars were the first ever solar cars to come closer to the shape of regular cars we are used to seeing, with the University of New South Wales “eVe” and the University of Eindhoven’s “Stella” both looking more like prototypes of vehicles to come. And is that far away? Possibly not, recalling the relatively short time between the “Sunraycer” and the Impact. And the concept of leaving your solar car parked in the sun, charging its batteries for nothing, ready for the silent, non-polluting return journey has some appeal. Air-conditioning is something to consider though!

Further information The_Vehicle.htm “The Speed of Light” (1996) D M Roche et al University of New South Wales. (Probably the best compendium of the science and engineering of the World Solar Challenge there is, and still available from the UNSW bookshop.) 10 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Eyes on China


power and energy An ASC delegation to China recently returned equipped with insights and knowledge of the burgeoning solar scene in that vast nation. Here Wayne Smith presents some of his observations.

A recent study of Chinese and Australian school textbooks showed extraordinary gaps in the understanding of both countries. According to Dr Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Centre at East China Normal University in Shanghai, Chinese textbooks present Australia as a “country on horse back or sheep back”. Australian textbooks speak of Marco Polo and Chinese emperors. I was reminded of these misperceptions as a member of the Australian Solar Council’s recent delegation to China. There is perhaps no more important country for Australia’s economic and strategic future than China, but few Australians have visited China and even fewer have a detailed understanding of the country’s economic and political culture. The 14-strong delegation included both those who had never set foot in the country and Sinophiles, those with a great love for China and its people. All left with a much deeper understanding of this extraordinary country. The delegation began with a series of one on one meetings between Australian and Chinese companies. The Australian delegates included developers, distributors, installers and consultants, the Chinese companies included PV and solar hot water manufacturers, battery manufacturers and LED lighting specialists. In the days following, the delegation visited the PV manufacturing facilities of Hareon, BYD and Yingli, the leading battery manufacturer Lishen, and the LED lighting company Relte. These are serious global The Australian Solar Council’s October 2013 delegation was sponsored by Yingli Solar (naming sponsor) and Hareon Solar (profile sponsor).

manufacturers, collectively employing more than 200,000 people, and these are companies that will change the lives of Australians. The combination of solar PV, battery storage, smart meters and electric vehicles and the roll out of LED and energy efficient lighting will transform how Australians use energy in ways we are only beginning to imagine. Forget everything you thought you knew about China. It is all about scale. Its road and rail infrastructure is world class, while cities like Shanghai are muscling out their competitors to be global financial and tourist centres. Companies like Yingli Solar – the world’s largest PV manufacturer – have world class, fully automated manufacturing centres that are clean, efficient and large-scale. The opportunities in China are endless, the challenges almost insurmountable. The two are inextricably entwined. China’s 12th Five Year Plan emphasises “higher quality growth” and makes it clear protecting the environment and improving energy efficiency are key goals. New energy (including solar), energy conservation and environmental protection and clean energy vehicles are priority industries. The Chinese Government must address the nation’s pollution crisis and the solar industry is an important part of the solution. The best opportunities for Australian companies lie in services – training, tradesmanship, consulting – and applying the lessons from Australian practices to China. The development of off-grid and remote solar systems and best practice in solar installations at the residential and commercial level are but two examples of significant opportunities for Australian businesses. Some 350,000 Australians visit China each year, compared to a million visiting the United Kingdom each year. If you work in the solar industry, you do need to visit China. It is, after all, the world’s largest PV manufacturer and one of the world’s leading solar markets. More than 90 per cent of the solar panels on Australian roofs are made in China. If you’re not visiting China, you’re missing out on some serious business and work opportunities. If you’re not talking to Chinese companies, you’re passing up investment and product prospects. If you are engaged in China, you’re well placed to take full advantage of the Asian Century.

Wayne Smith is the Director of Clean Economy Services, a clean energy consulting firm. The views expressed in this article are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of his clients, including the Australian Solar Council. 12 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Solar advances

Nanotechnology for trapping light in solar cells In recent years there has been rapid development in the field of nano-scale light trapping for solar cells. This has been driven by the decrease in thickness of solar cells in order to reduce materials costs, as well as advances in fabrication technology. Nano-scale light trapping offers the possibility of enhancing absorption beyond the limits achievable with conventional structures. In this article we explain what nano-scale light trapping is and what it can do. By Kylie Catchpole

Over the past thirty years the cost of solar modules has reduced by over a factor of twenty. About half of this has been due to economies of scale; the other half by progress in increasing cell efficiencies and improved fabrication methods. The major cost component for silicon modules is now the materials cost of the silicon wafers, which is 40 per cent of the cost of the entire module. This has led to a trend toward cheaper wafers, such as multi-crystalline silicon, as well as thin film cells such as those based on cadmium telluride. As solar cells become thinner, absorption losses become more important. The main conventional approach to reducing these losses is to texture the surface using features a few microns in size. The behaviour of such structures can be described using geometrical optics (ie. ray-tracing). Some geometrical textures are known to be highly effective, for example, inverted and random pyramids. However, these textures are only suitable for certain types of solar cells. Pyramids are only suitable for mono-crystalline silicon, and the etching process used to make them does not work for multi-crystalline silicon, which makes up a large fraction of the solar cell market. In addition, geometrical scale surface textures are not suitable for thin film solar cells, which have thicknesses from a few hundred nanometres to a few microns. An alternative to these approaches is to use nano-scale light trapping. This means using structures that are similar in size to the wavelength of light. Examples of such structures are the diffraction 14 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

gratings on compact discs and butterly wings, as well as the beautiful colours of opals. One of the main types of nanophotonic light trapping we have investigated is plasmonics. On metal particles, there is a resonant frequency, at which incident light will make the electrons oscillate back and forth strongly together. This collective oscillation is called a plasmon. The resonance effect leads to either strong absorption or strong scattering of light. For moderately sized nanoparticles (larger than 100nm in diameter) made of a low loss metal like silver, scattering is by far the dominant effect. We can see an example of this in Figure 1, which shows the Lycurgus cup, made in the 4th century AD, and now kept in the British Museum. The cup is made of glass that contains tiny particles of metal. Because of their size and shape, they scatter green light but allow red light to pass through. This means that the cup looks green if you look at it in normal light, but red if you hold it up to the window. The colours in many stained glass windows are due to the same effect. If a metal particle is within a few tens of nanometres of a solar cell material like silicon, the scattered light will be directed almost entirely into the silicon, because of its high refractive index. The particle needs to be within a few tens of nanometres because the scattered electromagnetic field around the particle decays evanescently (ie. exponentially) away from the particle. This is sometimes described as a coupling of the ‘near-field’ of the particle to the semiconductor.

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Solar advances

reflected light

transmitted light

Figure 1. The Lycurgus cup, made in the 4th century AD. The glass in the cup is embedded with metal nanoparticles that scatter green light, but allow red light to be transmitted.

Near-field coupling can be pictured using the analogy of earphones for sound. When you are far away from the earphones there is no significant transfer of sound to your ear. However, when the earphones are in your ear (ie. you are in the near-field of the sound source), there is strong transfer of sound wave energy. Since our early work demonstrating the promise of plasmonic light trapping, we have learned a great deal about how to optimise plasmonic light trapping structures. We have recently demonstrated a doubling of 16 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

photocurrent in thin film polycrystalline silicon solar cells with a highly scattering back reflector made of metal nanoparticles and titanium dioxide [2]. As shown in figure 2, by combining the titanium dioxide back reflector with the metal particles, much more light is scattered and trapped inside the solar cells than with either titanium dioxide or metal particles alone. As a result, the achievable cell performance with metal particles and titanium dioxide is much better than with standard diffuse reflectors. We have also applied a similar structure to silicon wafers. By combining metal nanoparticles as a scattering structure and diffuse white paint as a back surface reflector on silicon wafers, we can achieve light trapping at long wavelengths similar to that provided by inverted pyramids [3]. Through measurements of the effective carrier lifetime, we have established that plasmonic particles do not degrade the electrical properties of the passivation layer, and are compatible with high efficiency solar cells. Plasmonic light trapping using particles on the surface is suitable for many types of solar cells because it involves no structuring of the active layer. It also avoids the increase in surface recombination that occurs with a textured surface. A passivating layer can be placed between the metal particles and the active layer to avoid the high level of recombination that would occur with a metal/semiconductor interface. The plasmonic resonance is easily tuned to the desired wavelength by changing the size, shape or position of the particle. Particularly promising areas of application for plasmonics are multicrystalline solar cells and novel thin film solar cells.


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Figure 2. Light trapping structures in solar cells using scattering by (a) titanium dioxide coating, (b) metallic nanoparticles and (c) a combination of metal nanoparticles and a titanium dioxide coating (d) Scanning electron micrographs of the silver particles (the scale bar is 100 nm) and (e) titanium dioxide coating. The scale bar here is 1 Âľm.

Nano-scale light trapping provides the potential to improve the current generation of solar cells as well as create high efficiency cells using novel materials and cell designs. In the next few years we can expect to see further rapid development in this area, along with integration with other developments in the field of photovoltaics.



References Mokkapati and Catchpole, J. Appl. Phys. 112, 101101 (2012). Basch et al. Appl. Phys. Lett. 100, 243903 (2012). Barugkin et al. IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, PP 99, 1 (2013). Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Australian Research Council for funding this work.

Kylie Catchpole is Associate Professor at the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, Australian National University. Email:

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Expected cumulative connected PV capacity by the end of 2013

Number of homes with PV installed




Number of prominent university and business economists who say Carbon Pricing is more effective than Direct Action

Increase in factory gate PV prices due to foreign exchange since January 2013




Number of Australians with PV at voting age

Expected installations in 2013

Average price of PV in Australia


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Expected in Australian Residential PV installations in 2013

Expected in Australian Commercial PV installations in 2013


Estimated Commercial PV sales in 2013 funded by the Clean Technology Investment fund


Figures kindly supplied by Nigel Morris, Director, SolarBusinessServices

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Japan’s power November 1 2013 marked the day that Kyocera Corporation launched its mighty 70 MW solar power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan. Known as the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, it is being operated by a special purpose company established by Kyocera and six other companies. They will sell the electricity to a local utility under Japan's feed-in-tariff (FIT) program, which was restructured in July 2012 in response to a greater focus by Japan’s government on renewable energies following the earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 2011. The program stipulates that local utilities must purchase 100 per cent of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) for a period of 20 years. Kyocera Group has supplied solar PV modules to the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, which is set to become a tourist attraction. A circular viewing room is being built where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point with ocean and volcano views in the background. A special display explains environmental issues and the science of PV energy.

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SolarProgress | 19

Heating up UK

Money for heat for UK householders – a world first

Renewable energy industry analyst Paul Gipe has been keeping close watch on clean technology innovation and progressive polices in the UK. Here we present an abridged version of his findings. Householders in the UK could be paid hundreds of pounds a year for generating heat with solar hot water systems, biomass boilers and heat pumps with payments made via a feed-in tariff. The tariff levels have been set at 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps; 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers; 18.8p/kWh for ground source heat pumps and at least 19.2 p/kWh for solar thermal. The solar thermal tariff is capped by reference to an assessment of the marginal cost of renewable energy. The tariff will be at least 19.2p but may be higher depending on the outcome of further work. (The AU$ – £ rate at November 1 2013 was 1.69.) The new Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for householders is designed to drive the uptake of renewable heat technologies in homes across Great Britain to cut carbon dioxide emissions, help meet renewables targets and save money on bills. The scheme is a world first, and has been running for the non-domestic sector since November 2011. The RHI for householders is funded by general taxation and is targeted at but not limited to homes off the gas grid The government announcement in July follows extensive consultation on how a financial incentive would work best for householders and takes into account lessons learned from the Renewable Heat Premium Payment grant scheme (RHPP) and the RHI non– domestic scheme.

Eligible applicants The scheme will be made available to homeowners, private and social landlords, third party owners of heating systems and people 20 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

who build their own homes. Anyone who has installed a renewable heat technology system since 15 July 2009 and meets eligibility criteria will be able to join the scheme.

Eligible technologies RHI domestic will support air to water heat pumps; biomass only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers; ground and water source heat pumps; flat plate and evacuated tube solar thermal systems.

Tariff payments Payments will be made on a quarterly basis for seven years. The tariffs have been set at a level that reflects the expected cost of renewable heat generation over 20 years. In most cases, payments will be made based on estimated heat demand of the property. DECC will offer an extra set payment of £230 per year where consumers take out metering and monitoring support packages for heat pumps and £200 for biomass boilers.

Scheme requirements Applicants will need to complete a Green Deal Assessment before submitting their application and must ensure they have met minimum loft (250mm) and cavity wall insulation requirements, where appropriate. All installations and installers must be MCS certified (or certified by an equivalent scheme). MCS certified installers are currently required to be members of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, which is backed by the Trading Standards Institute.

Covering the upfront costs Householders may be able to get help with the upfront costs under the Government’s Green Deal. The Green Deal allows people pay for energy efficiency improvements including renewable heating systems through savings on their energy bills and householders are able to take up Green Deal finance and claim the RHI payments. Money off vouchers are also available under the RHPP scheme. Householders who receive money under RHPP will have this amount deducted from any future RHI payments to avoid a double subsidy. The changes will apply to new CHP plants and will come into effect on 1 January 2014. The support under RHI domestic is set at a level designed to compensate for the difference between the cost of installing and operating renewable heating systems and fossil fuel eg gas fired systems, including non-financial costs such as disruption, on the basis of 20 years of heat produced. The fossil fuel costs used for this purpose are those faced by households off the gas grid.

What do others think? Paul Gipe has been commentating on wind and feed in tariffs for many years and has offered strong commendation for the British schemes and their “precedent-setting not only for what they are, but also for the transparent manner in which they were derived”. His full appraisal can be read and spreadsheets downloaded from his blog: php? (Search on “spreadsheet”)


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Big Solar

The rise of

Big Solar

AGL Solar power plants powering 50,000 homes, the size: 155 megawatts, 620,000 modules, the cost: $450 million. Big numbers, big league utility-scale projects in Nyngan and Broken Hill in NSW. Australia's largest solar scheme heralds a new era for the solar landscape. Solar Progress talked to Jack Curtis of First Solar and Ivor Frischknecht of ARENA about the ground breaking development.

Not many people have heard of Nyngan, and most can only guess at the pronunciation; however the small township in the middle of semi-arid NSW is set for prominence with the development of a mighty 102 MW AGL solar power plant. Hot on its heels is AGL’s 53 MW sister plant at Broken Hill which shares three key criteria: availability of land, abundant sunshine, and grid availability. The welcome announcement about the development was delivered in mid 2013, but the proposed project had long been in the making, its genesis in the solar flagships program. Established on July 1 2012, ARENA did not inherit the solar flagship program but the then minister referred a number of projects, and the Nyngan/Broken Hill plant is the only project that has survived more or less intact from that original proposal, according to Ivor Frischknecht. “These are large and complex projects and many large moving parts need to come together in order to reach financial close and it is a great achievement to reach that in a relatively short time,” Frischknecht said. ARENA has pledged about $167 million toward the $450 million project and the NSW Government is contributing $64.9 million. 22 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Based on its success in building large plants including the landmark 10 MW Greenough River Solar Farm (GRSF) in Western Australia, AGL selected First Solar as project contractor. Small by world standards yet still holding the title of Australia’s largest solar plant, GRSF was in some ways a warm-up exercise for First Solar, which has gained significant engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) insights and looks forward to transferring the knowledge to the Broken Hill and Nyngan sites that will, on completion, be five and ten times the size respectively – but not in terms of cost. According to Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Asia Pacific, cost savings could be in the region of 20 to 30 per cent based on “lessons learnt” combined with lower priced solar panels. “We advocate that most of the reduction that can be achieved for a solar energy plant is from a cost perspective, and especially in Australia where [big solar] is quite nascent that is through repeatability,” he said. “Greenough River Solar Farm has dramatically boosted our ability to reduce costs through better understanding of the local execution landscape, optimising the cost to install and to design engineer.”

“Australia may not have the ability to be competitive at manufacturing export levels but rather in innovation and we expect the UQ project to enable a lot of that innovation to be transplanted back to the global portfolio.” Above: Ivor Frischknecht of ARENA (second on left) with ministers. All image credits: First Solar/Greenough River Solar Farm

“We were able to restructure the transaction to provide AGL with some additional funding to help them cover that expected loss of market revenue; knowing that some forecasts are wrong we put in place a risk sharing arrangement in the event [wholesale electricity] energy prices were higher than the revised forecast, and the grant will be paid back to us. We can reuse it to invest in other renewable energy projects. “This is an example of how we try to be flexible and innovative in our funding arrangements. It demonstrates that we in Australia can do it, that solar plants can be financed, that it is reliable and investible and can rely on predictions, and that will bring down the cost of capital-financing (just as wind farms did) to equal that of fossil fuel generation investment.

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The most critical element relates to the labor force, which constitutes around 70 per cent of the cost of plant development. It is estimated up to 450 people will be engaged in plant construction, many of whom possible will be recruited locally. “Labor as well as the supply chain should where possible be localised … we assumed it would be more cost effective to import some of the components used in the Greenough River plant, however after considering transport logistics and nuances we identified it was more cost effective to manufacture the components in Australia,” Curtis explained. “It is only through experiencing local market conditions you can learn what you can do in terms of cost to build and future cost reductions.”

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Cost calculations In the build up to financial closure, ARENA itself was juggling various cost elements, as explained by Frischknecht. “During the one year time lag from the original bid to the financial close – signatures on funding arrangement – the market changed and in this case, anticipated energy prices reduced rather dramatically. SolarProgress | 23

Big Solar

Gatton intelligence “These are large scale plants on a world scale, not just 15 times bigger than the biggest solar plant in Australia today; it’s the sort of scale of others being built in North America and elsewhere. It’s not the largest by world standards but it’s in the same league.” More on investor confidence from Jack Curtis of First Solar: “We believe you will see that once the Australian banking and broader private investment sector sees projects of this size under construction the actual cost of power (which they finance) will come down.” He explained this follows the pattern in the US where larger plants have been built during the past five years and in that time about 60 per cent of the cost has been trimmed throughs learnings and while some of that can be transplanted to the new market, not much can be realised till you execute them in a new country. “The approach you take in Australia is different to the approach you take in America due to a range of macro factors; you often hear the argument” ‘well why if the cost of solar is reducing so much in America why don’t we just wait a while?’ and the answer is so much of the cost reduction is about having executed [built] time after time – it is not an apples to apples comparison, you have to go through that cycle in Australia. “I have always said that Australia is about four years behind the US in that cost reduction cycle. The good news is that much more cost reduction can be achieved.” Construction of the 102 MW Nyngan plant will commence in January 2014 and completion is anticipated in mid 2015. The turf will be turned in Broken Hill in July 2014 to make way for the 53MW plant which has an estimated completion date of November 2015.

Thin film technology It is well known in the industry that the two main competing technologies for large scale solar plants are thin film technology versus poly- or mono-crystalline silicon cells which in the past have produced dramatic differences in performance and conversion efficiency. [Thin film conversion performance clocking in at around 10 per cent versus the 20 per cent more typically generated by mono crystalline cells, the latter requiring twice the area to generate similar amounts of energy.] Manufactured by First Solar since inception and used in its in large scale plants is thin-film cadmium telluride, and in recent years the company has significantly boosted the efficiency of its thin-film silicon panels without increasing costs. “We aim to reduce manufacturing costs while improving the technology, the conversion efficiency, of those panels so you get the best of both worlds,” Curtis explained. “Today’s average is 13 per cent conversion efficiency but our aim is to boost that to 15 or 16 per cent by 2017, and our roadmap has always been achieved on or ahead of schedule." Manufacturing panels in the US and Malaysia, First Solar devotes significant cost and resources to its R&D efforts.

Operating in conjunction with the Nyngan and Broken Hill solar power plans will be a $40.7 million ‘giant junior’ 3.275 MW PV research pilot plant. Funded by the Education Investment Fund (EIF) the 34,000 ground mounted panels equipped with First Solar’s advanced, thin-film cadmium telluride PV modules, alongside a battery-storage research station research facility will be developed at UQ’s Gatton campus. Frischknecht explained that the mini solar farm will test and measure a series of different technologies including tracking and non tracking, performance and energy storage operational strategies including cleaning costs and impact, also dual or single access, “… all the sorts of operational factors that you cannot really look at closely unless you have a significant amount of operational plants available.” UQ will also build a data analysis centre at its St Lucia campus to collect and analyse data from the Gatton research plant and the main AGL power stations. Meanwhile UNSW will develop new energy modelling techniques that facilitate design and integration of solar power stations into the electricity grid. Importantly, the project provides the opportunity for technological advancement that help maintain momentum for future technology and projects across the country; many innovative processes can be trialled, test run, and fed into future commercial projects. Curtis is optimistic – indeed confident – about the potential export of IP from the UQ test facility, saying this raises the prospect of Australia positioning itself not just for adoption of new technologies but also exporting its know-how, its innovation. “Australia may not have the ability to be competitive at manufacturing export levels but rather in innovation and we expect the UQ project to enable a lot of that innovation to be transplanted back to the global portfolio,” he said. Frischknecht concurs, saying big projects are being supported from an educational perspective and as such building knowledge and infrastructure relevant to current and future solar industry technology. “The [research findings] go broader than those two plants … at a minimum the study will support those two plants and disseminate useful information to help form large scale development in future plants. The focus is on getting the most out of AGL plants and using that information in the future.” His views are echoed by UQ’s prominent solar identity Paul Meredith welcomes the research plant, hailing it significant for Australia’s solar industry and in developing core competency in the technology. All being well, electricity will start flowing from Gatton by the end of 2014.

Solar energy MW league board Adelaide Showgrounds: 1 MW Barnham Solar Farm: 1 MW UQ St Lucia: 1.2 MW Greenough River: 10 MW Proposed/under construction: Gatton: 3.275 MW Royalla: 20 MW Broken Hill: 53 MW Nyngan: 102 MW Mildura: 150 MW

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Market comment

State of progress Giles Parkinson crunches a few numbers to reveal the extent of clean energy progress in South Australia, which boasts the nation’s highest levels of rooftop PV per capita. Although Tasmania still tops the renewables tally board, the ACT is notching up some impressive figures due to forward-thinking government policies; however over in the West the picture is somewhat different.

South Australia is emerging as a major centre for renewable energy, setting the pace for what is possible not just in an Australian context but also in the international market. Within a decade, it could become one of the first major economies to produce more than half its electricity needs from variable renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. And this is not just a matter of being able to build and deploy, it is also a matter of busting a few myths. The deployment of renewables such as wind and solar in South Australia is already serving two other purposes: it has reduced the cost of wholesale electricity and it has dramatically reduced the emissions intensity of state’s generation. And it has been absorbed with little fuss into the network. Already, South Australia has highest rate of rooftop solar penetration in the country, with more than one in five houses hosting a total of 400MW of solar. In 2012/13, rooftop solar contributed 3.7 per cent of the state’s electricity consumption – ranking it among the highest in the world, apart from some island nations that now rely on solar almost exclusively (the sheer scale of Germany’s deployment means it probably beats South Australia in summer months but trails badly in winter). And it seems that solar will not stop there. Over the coming decade, the Australian Energy 26 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Market Operator says the amount of rooftop solar PV in South Australia could treble, rising to 1,205MW by 2022, under its fast growth scenario. That would likely mean one out of every two houses having rooftop solar in 10 years, depending on the population growth and the take-up by commercial and industrial users. The contribution of solar PV could then be between 10 and 15 per cent of annual demand.

Electricity from the grid declining In its report, the AEMO notes that rooftop solar provided negligible levels of electricity as recently as 2008/09, but continued increases in energy prices and decreasing costs of imported solar panels will allow payback periods to remain in the 5-to-7 year period – despite a reduction in the state’s feed-in tariff – and will encourage more deployment. The question remains as to how quickly that will emerge, and to what extent it will be tied in with battery storage. The is already emerging as a major issue for the monopoly network operators, which has flagged its intention to pull solar households off the feed in tariff if they install batteries as well. The AEMO forecasts for solar suggest that the state could source more than 50 per cent,

or perhaps even 60 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. It already has around 27 per cent wind, and the construction of the Snowtown project should lift that to 33 per cent. There is nearly 3000MW of announced projects waiting in the wings for contracts and finance. The AEMO report noted that the changing patterns of energy consumption – driven largely by the take-up of rooftop solar, but also by energy efficiency measures and as a response to rising prices – means that electricity consumption from the grid is unlikely to grow at all in the coming 10 years. In fact, AEMO now expects it to decline by 0.1 per cent each year out to 2022, meaning that for the first time, long term planning will revolve around a shrinking rather than a growing market. That should mean little new investment in grid infrastructure, apart from upgrades of old equipment. Indeed, in its latest regulatory filings, the SA grid operator has cancelled virtually all its planned extensions, for savings of around $167 million. It is also important to note that this does not necessarily mean that the residential sector is consuming less, it is just producing much of its own needs. This is where the benefit of rooftop solar is often understated. As this graph below

“South Australia has the highest rate of rooftop solar penetration in the country … in 2012/13, rooftop solar contributed 3.7 per cent of the state’s electricity consumption – ranking it among the highest in the world.” Figure 1: South Australian annual energy forecasts

illustrates, per capita consumption has already fallen by a third. The green line above is based around the medium forecast for rooftop solar, so the impact could be even greater in a high deployment scenario. This new demand dynamic is also changing the nature of the grid operations. Baseload generators are used less often and wind, solar and reduced demand have impacted on the generation mix. The Playford B coal fired power station was not switched on at all, the Northern coal fired power station is now used less than half the time, and most gas generators, apart from one or two “intermediate” leakers, have also recorded lower capacity factors. Another key development that occurred in September was approval for the upgrade the capacity of the Heywood interconnector, the major transmission link between Victoria and SA. When completed, this upgrade might be

expected to facilitate further increases in net imports to SA of Victorian electricity during periods of low wind generation but also, as the AER noted, allow larger exports of wind generated electricity from SA to the east during high wind periods.

Transmission shares The shares of transmission level electricity supply in SA in the year to September 2013 (the end of each line in Figure 4 above): were: Coal 16% Gas 45% Wind 27%, and Net interconnector imports 12%. These figures do not include the contribution of rooftop PV, which is connected at the distribution level of the electricity supply system, not the transmission level, at which the NEM operates.

If the rooftop PV estimates by AEMO are included, the technology shares are as follows: Coal 15%, Gas 43%, Wind 26%, Interconnector 12%, and PV 4%. This has had a benefit for South Australian consumers that is rarely highlighted in the mainstream media. A recent report by energy analyst firm Pitt & Sherry finds that not only has South Australia achieved the highest level of wind energy and rooftop solar in the country, it has cut its emissions by a third in the last few years, and its consumers have also had a windfall in generation costs: they are paying generators much less for their electricity than they did before the boom in wind farm and household solar began in 2009. The study finds that in 2012/13, the average South Australian paid generators $88 a year less for the electricity he or she consumed than they did in 2009-10. And that is even after the


SolarProgress | 27

Market comment

Figure 2: Share of total SA electricity supply by fuel type and source

introduction of a carbon price. If the impact of the carbon price is taken out, the average price paid per capita to generators in South Australia has fallen by $188 over the last four years – during which time the wind industry has grown from virtually nothing to more than 1,200MW, and rooftop solar has done the same from zero to around 400MW). That’s due to a bunch of reasons. The impact of wind energy – which supplied 27 per cent of the state’s generation in 2012/13, has forced down the price of wholesale electricity. Rooftop solar has had the same impact because it subtracts from demand from the grid, as have more efficient appliances and other energy efficiency measures. Unfortunately for South Australians, their electricity bills, like those everywhere else in the country, have risen because of the massive investment in grid upgrades and expansions, and because retail margins have also risen. Much of the investment in the grid is now being questioned, particularly as new forecasts show that electricity demand may fall over the coming decade rather than increase as had been assumed previously.

Tasmania and ACT’s support for renewables South Australia, though, is not the only state that is set to go well beyond 50 per cent within the near to medium term. Tasmania, thanks to its massive hydro resources, in nearly at 100 per cent renewable capacity, and could even exceed that with the addition of projects such as the 600MW King Island Taswind proposal. Being more than 100 per cent renewables means exporting excess capacity into other markets, or in this case the mainland. The ACT also has ambitious targets to go to 90 per cent renewables by 2020. It has already hosted Australia’s first “auction” for renewable capacity, and the result of that is contracts to build the first three large-scale solar 28 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

farms in the National Electricity Market. The 20MW Royalla solar firm has already begun construction, and two other plants – one of 13MW and the other of 7MW – should begin construction soon. The ACT next year intends to hold its first tender for wind energy. The plan is to auction up to 560MW of capacity, which with energy efficiency measures should mean that the ACT accounts for 90 per cent of its electricity requirements by the end of the decade. The common link between these three states leading in renewables? Well, they just happen to have all Labor governments. SA has had a 33 per cent renewables target for 2020 installed by its long serving Labor government, the current Labor government in Tasmania inherited the hydro wealth but is behind the push for new renewable sources, and Labor is in power in the ACT. The contrast with other states could not be more stark. This is particularly so in Western Australia, which has some of the best solar and wind resources in the world. But for the foreseeable future they are likely to go largely undeveloped because the state government has indicated that it will not support any new large-scale renewable energy developments on its main grid. It will prefer instead to subsidise the construction of wind farms and solar farms in the eastern states.

“Over the coming decade … the amount of rooftop solar PV in South Australia could treble, rising to 1,205MW by 2022 … that would likely mean one out of every two houses having rooftop solar in 10 years.”

WA’s dilemma – over capacity A series of catastrophic decisions over recent decades has left WA with what must surely be one of the most inefficient and costliest electricity grids in the world – it is dependent on a few polluting, ageing and expensive coal-fired generators and a gas supply which is heavily subsidised by the government. And it has much more capacity than is needed. It costs the state about $380 million a year to make up the difference between the cost of delivering fossil fuel electricity to households and the price it charges. That amounts to a subsidy of $400 per household per year by a government that has just had its credit rating downgraded because the resource-rich state has too much debt. WA Energy Minister Mike Nahan has described his task as putting “humpty dumpty together again.” But he might be better off starting anew. Nahan has admitted that he can see the day when every household in WA has solar on the roof, but for the moment he is doing more to discourage larger scale renewables and prolonging the life of the existing assets – depriving local developers of the opportunity to build new solar and wind farms in what must surely be one of the most prospective areas in the world – thanks to its high electricity prices and excellent resources. West Australian households are installing rooftop solar systems at a rate of 2800 a month – far beyond the rate anticipated by the government when state and federal tariffs were reduced. The rooftop solar capacity in the state is now more than 300MW. Based on the average system size of 3kW, that represents an investment of $15 million a month by households alone. The solution seems obvious to the consumers, even if it isn’t to the incumbents and the policy makers. Giles Parkinson is founding editor of Renew Economy

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Global competition

The ‘Gong’ gets the gong on solar! This year was the first time an Australian entrant exhibited an entry at a World Solar Decathlon. Better still; the Australian team secured a win in a field of nineteen. The University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra came together as a team to tackle an aspect of home construction that has received little attention from the energy perspective. Bill Parker looks back on the win. The concept of the Solar Decathlon competition is to design and build a low energy home made of lightweight materials, dismantle it and ship it off to the site of competition. In this year’s case, the destination was Datong, west of Beijing in China. Among the nineteen entrants was Australian team UOW who caught the judges attention with their entry with a difference – their “Illawarra Flame” design of a retrofit concept. The home design was unconventional in that it was not intended to be a compete de novo build but rather a concept aimed at refurbishing ageing housing stock that was constructed in the decades following World War II. The judges assessed its value in terms of energy consumption and operations and determined it was ‘top of the tree’, so to speak, standing head and shoulders above the 18 other team entries from the UK, Belgium, Israel, China, Switzerland, US, Sweden, Malaysia and Singapore. The Australian entry was conceived, designed and built by a partnership of students 30 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

between the University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra, and named the “Illawarra Flame” after the tree, native to subtropical regions on the east coast. It is famous for its bright red bell-shaped flowers that often cover the whole tree when it is leafless; a symbol of regeneration that the team took as their inspiration.

Tech specs A key element of the design is a novel photovoltaic thermal roof developed by BlueScope in collaboration with the University of Wollongong's Sustainable Buildings Research Centre. The technology uses hot air from beneath the thin film PV array and ducts it into the house to pre-heat the interior and reduce the amount of gas or electricity required for heating. At the same time, the PVT design also keeps the PV system cooler, improving generation efficiency. The use of the BlueScope PV–thermal roof on the Team UOW “retrofit” home was part of the development of new technology using a

phase–change process prior to its anticipated introduction to the Australian market. The development of the BlueScope PVT roofing technology is being supported by a grant from the ARENA and a student scholarship that assisted the team to implement the technology. Two years of design and planning resulted in an energy rating increase of the retrofitted home from 2.2 to 7.4 stars, reducing predicted energy use by 80 per cent.

Target market The aim was to appeal to Australia’s ageing population who will represent a quarter of all Australians by 2050, and those who will be worst affected by rising conventional energy costs. The roof top innovation and the design aimed at a net zero energy home. The concept could also be marketed as a staged refurbishment approach. Naturally, the home that was constructed was only modelled on a typical fibro or weatherboard design from the earlier era as it would need to be dismantled (twice), shipped and rebuilt in China.

Outcomes Thinking about how a group of up to fifty students from two educational institutions and numerous unconnected study disciplines comes together to achieve a prestigious award overseas might sound daunting, but there was a combination of willing trainees and tradies working together. The TAFE staff working on the project provided invaluable support, and the synergies between the participants paid off, not only in delivering the project but opening doors for students in career opportunities; learning by doing. In China there are no homes resembling the Illawarra Flame house, but Decathlon visitors to the house “were clearly inspired” says Jack Breen, the manager of marketing and communications for the

project. He also said that elements of the house such as the PVT could be used in larger buildings. The interchange of students between Australia and China during the Decathlon process was also very beneficial. And will UoW do it again? Very likely.

Further Information

Illawarra Flame first place in the Solar Decathlon China 957.6 out of a possible 1000 points Juried contests First place in ‘Engineering’ First place in ‘Architecture’ First place in ‘Solar Application’ Second place in ‘Communications’ Second place in ‘Market Appeal’


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Measured contests First place in ‘Energy Balance’ First place in ‘Hot Water’ Second place in ‘Appliances’

Powering the future

The north’s future is

electrifying:powering Asia with renewables

Northern futures, northern voices: It seems everyone has ideas about how Australia’s north could be better, but most of those ideas come from the south. Developed by the Northern Research Futures Collaborative Research Network, northern researchers lay out their own plans for a feasible, sustainable future. Big dreams for the development of northern Australia are back in fashion. So here’s our piece of “next-frontier”, big-picture 21st-century thinking. It may even have room for a dam or two. By Andrew Campbell, Andrew Blakers and Stuart Blanch

Intro: A Snowy scheme for the 21st century Imagine a project that could help Indonesia achieve energy security, dramatically cut energy poverty for hundreds of millions, catalyse renewable energy production in ASEAN countries, cut regional carbon pollution, and transition Australia’s energy exports from risky fuels to renewable energy. Sounds far-fetched? In fact, such a proposal has already been published in the international peer-reviewed literature. It takes several existing technologies already in widespread deployment, and joins them together in a new configuration on an unprecedented scale, in a region with enormous natural competitive advantage — north-western Australia. Here’s the plan. Take part (say 2,500 km2) of an existing cattle station somewhere near Lake Argyle and cover one third of it with solar panels on tracking arrays. Build a large reservoir upslope at least 300 metres above Lake Argyle, holding at least 1,000 gigalitres of water. Build a 100 gigawatt power station that uses solar energy to pump water from the lake up to the upper reservoir. The water flows back down the hill through turbines at night, generating power to the grid 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hundreds of “pumped hydro” schemes of this nature are already working well around the world, albeit not on this scale. The “grid” in this case, would be an integrated south-east Asian supergrid, the spine of which would be a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cable 32 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

running from northern Australia along the Indonesian archipelago and up into the Philippines, Malaysia and Indochina, and then eventually into China. The capital cost of building such a power station, storage and HVDC link and extending it as far as Jakarta is estimated at around US$500 billion. This compares with Indonesia’s current projections that it needs to invest US$1,000 billion in conventional (coal and nuclear) power stations to meet its energy needs over the next 40 years.

Schematic of the spine of a hypothetical HVDC grid linking north Australia and SE Asia. By Andrew Blakers.

The electricity price in Jakarta from this scheme would be around 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with the current 6 cents price (externalities excluded) from coal-fired power in Indonesia. Much cleaner energy, forever, at a comparable price. What’s not to like? If this sounds unlikely, or too grand by half, let’s back up and look at the individual elements in turn.

Looking back, and looking forward The year 2022 will mark 150 years since the first telegraph submarine cable was laid between Darwin and Java, subverting the tyranny of distance by connecting Australia to the rest of the world. It instantly changed our sense of identity, making inter-continental communication possible in hours instead of weeks and months. For northern Australia, the telegraph line accelerated settlement and growth of the pastoral and mining industries. Today, northern Australia remains a contested landscape, with some seeing a next frontier for development, and others sounding caution. Northern Australia should have a much bigger role to play in the rapid growth of its northern neighbours than as a mendicant northern outpost of a big empty continent. The Asian Century White Paper counsels that our future success will be determined by the choices we make today, not on chance. Almost 150 years after Australia and Asia connected via the telegraph link, it’s time to lay more cables. The basic idea is to meet the projected almost doubling of energy demand in South East Asia by 2030, by exporting renewable energy from north-western Australia.

Sunlight in Australia

We could meet all of Australia’s energy needs from a solar farm the size of one cattle station. By Andrew Blakers.

For the moment we are focusing on solar energy, because some of the world’s highest solar insolation (the amount of solar energy falling in an area) levels (5-7 kWh/m2/day) are in the region south of Darwin, between Katherine and the Tanami Desert, and the technology is proven and readily available. In the longer term, geothermal and tidal renewable energy could also feed into this grid.Several scoping projects have looked at the idea in detail. We recently brought a bunch of energy transmission engineers, consultants, academics and NGOs from Indonesia and Australia to Darwin to map out opportunities and challenges. The consensus was that this idea is ambitious, but technically feasible and doable. Our Indonesian colleagues had already mapped such a possibility. There are more than 20 HVDC sub-sea electricity cables around the world today, with many more planned. Renewable energy is exported very profitably and reliably undersea 580km from Norway to The Netherlands and 280km from Tasmania to Victoria. Iceland plans to wire geothermal power to Scotland, and the Desertec project aims to send solar power 3,000km from Algeria to industrial Germany. Transmission losses in HVDC cables are now down to a few percent per 1000km, more than offset by the 50-100% “solar insolation advantage” of northern Australia over Java, together with the ready availability of land. The economic equation is moving in the right direction as the price of renewables drops sharply, and as the world starts to put a price on the negative externalities of fossil fuels, including carbon emissions. Yes it is technically formidable, and assembling the necessary geopolitical and financial architecture to make it happen won’t be trivial.But the drivers are compelling. This project would secure sustainable energy and low carbon futures for the fastest growing region on Earth, reducing energy conflicts and energy poverty, tackling climate change and saving rainforests, and exploiting the region’s natural advantage in renewable resources. This project would catapult us to the forefront of the technology savvy and rapidly growing green energy sector, generating many thousands of high-tech jobs in Australia and beyond. Such a project would integrate northern Australia into south-east Asia as never before. Indeed it would be transformative for this region, giving real ambition to the idea of “the next frontier”.

This article which is part of a six-part weekly series was co-authored by Rob Law, Policy Officer at Environment Centre NT. It first appeared in The Conversation and is reproduced with kind permission of the authors Andrew Campbell – Director, Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University; Andrew Blakers – Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES) at Australian National University; Stuart Blanch – Adjunct Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University



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SolarPlus The Australian Solar Council has introduced a solar PV design app designed to save installers time and attract customers.

SolarPlus is a PV design and sales tool with a workflow to help installers qualify and manage customers from first contact through to system commissioning and production of the system documentation. For the first time, users have access to calculations and performance data localised for Australian sites and our regulations. Solar radiation processing has taken a leap from the days of the Australian Solar Radiation Data Handbook (also produced by the Australian Solar Council) where the data set was for 29 locations around the country. Using the latest irradiance data from the Bureau of Meteorology, the solar radiation engine in SolarPlus, ‘RadiAU’, calculates system performance using a 5km2 grid, or over 300,000 sites across the country. SolarPlus also takes the effort out of system configuration. When a customer’s roof or mounting surfaces have been identified, selection of inverter and module results in an immediate view of all possible string and module connection configurations.

This allows the user to adjust the number of connected modules while monitoring the changes to voltage, current and cable losses. Sizing of balance of system components is made easy with isolator and overcurrent protection specifications all calculated and displayed.

Multi-Tasking While a system’s components and configuration are being completed, a quote is being created in the background. The user can then finalise the quote and view an estimate of the payback time for that system. Any system can be saved as a template for use as a ‘preferred system’ and comparisons between different systems and different orientation is easily achieved. SolarPlus is online and compatible with tablets so that a customer can sign off on a quote with signature on the tablet. When a system is installed, a system commissioning checklist allows the installer to add the ‘as built’ specifications of the system and confirm all quality control for final sign-off. Then, with the click of a button, a system end-user manual is generated including all requirements for compliance with Australian Standards.

Onwards and Upwards New features soon to be released include a solar radiation table generation tool for those who like access to raw data for optimisation of array orientation. A roof array configurator is also in the testing stage allowing placement of modules and a visual representation of the installed array. SolarPlus was developed in partnership with Solaris Pty Ltd and is available with generous discounts for Australian Solar Council corporate members, which includes the first month’s use free of charge. See for more details and subscription options. 34 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Thursday 8 and Friday 9 May 2014 Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre The Australian Solar Council together with international partner AUPVSEE will present the 52nd annual Australian Solar Council Industry Conference & Exhibition on May 8 and 9, 2014 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

policy, scientific developments and research, and solar installer professional development training. The Solar Installer training sessions will focus on technical and specific product issues and is being organised in conjunction with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Solar 2014 will focus on delivering expert analysis and opinion, and will showcase the latest technologies from solar and renewables, energy efficiency and the sustainable built environment industries.

Solar 2014 is FREE TO ATTEND and provides the opportunity for delegates to network directly with policy makers, industry players, experts and consumers.

Our successful solar conference and expo held in May 2013 in Melbourne attracted more than 2200 registered delegates from over 15 countries, and hosted 70+ exhibiting organisations and 60+ conference presenters. Solar 2014 will also host a world-class industry conference program with three streams focused on industry and

The solar industry is the only industry worldwide which has continued growing and creating new jobs in the period since the Global Financial Crisis. Don’t miss this important industry program – join in and share your thoughts at the open forums, discuss current industry concerns and issues, and address the future outlook for the solar industry.

There will be a wide range of Australian and international exhibitors and supporting organisations including already confirmed: AC Solar Warehouse, Australian Micro Inverters, Bosch, Green Energy Trading, Hareon Solar, Positronic Solar, RF Industries, SEIA, Solari Energy and Yingli Solar. Registration for Solar 2014 will open early in 2014 via the event website: The official launch of the first ever Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition will be held alongside the Solar 2014 show, for further details view: www.australianenergystorage. For more information on Solar 2014 please refer to our website:

Solar Council alliance with AYCC To further strengthen the relationship with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), the Solar Council was represented at the AYCC run Youth Climate Summit, Power Shift 2013 at Monash University, Clayton Campus on the weekend of July 13 and 14. Alongside other groups, Mary Hendriks, ASC Community Projects and Membership Manager, provided information on the solar industry and how communities can become involved. Many of the 1500 young people had come from all over Australia to listen to keynote speakers including Tim Flannery, Mark Diesendorf, Paul Gilding and Sam Maclean. Topics that gripped the attention of participants ranged from Social Change, Communicating Climate and Energy issues, and Leadership in the Community.

“To build a movement to create a future powered entirely by safe, renewable energy.” A five stream conference and workshops followed and the enthusiasm and energy of those attending filled every room. Mary Hendriks presented and participated on a panel on “Community Led Renewable Energy” with three others, including Taryn Lane of Hepburn Wind. The entire event was well organised and run by young AYCC members, and a key long-term focus of AYCC is to build a movement to “create a future powered entirely by safe, renewable energy” – certainly a goal that deserves the support of the Solar Council.

Mary Hendriks (left) with Alice Simpson-Young and Gemma Borgo-Caratti SolarProgress | 35

Powering remote communities

Illuminating education When a Lighted Classroom Seems Like a Dream: A Case Study of How Solar Energy Can Transform Lives Every so often a feel-good story comes our way in which we learn about one small step involving many good deeds resulting in a big difference. This is one of those stories, here we have a school in remote PNG that is enjoying the benefits of a solar energy plant whose components were delivered upstream by banana boat. As told by Susan Fallon for Solari.

Some wise person said that literacy is one of the most empowering skills a person can have, it is the road to most other knowledge and freedom from poverty. Or as put by Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In concert with the Ok Tedi Development Foundation, the good folk at Solari and SMA are taking this seriously, and are providing standalone solar power systems to two schools in remote areas of Papua New Guinea.

Australian Solar Company Joins PNG Partnership

Dark before the light

Challenges met and conquered

Two schools in PNG’s Western Province – Nakaku Primary School and Kuem Primary School – had had very limited access to power. Both had small 1 to 2 kW petrol generators, but since petrol is scarce and expensive, power generation was limited to two or three hours each week. This extreme lack of power affected the ability of teachers to teach and students to learn; a portable laptop and a printer/scanner had lain unused for months. Recognising the plight of the two schools, the Ok Tedi Development Foundation was called upon to work with school and community officials to implement solar standalone system to each school. 36 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Ian Strachan, Senior Electrical Inspector for the Ok Tedi Mining was called in to select a solar vendor who could supply high-quality products and provide the engineering expertise and technical support to make the project a success. He had experience with SMA products and was pleased with the intuitive nature of the operating platform. Ian contacted SMA Australia who in turn recommended a local supplier, Solari Energy, a subsidiary of Solar Inception Pty Ltd.

Design Considerations and System Construction A roof-mounted system was considered, but since both buildings were old the roof sheets could have been easily damaged. A groundmount system was clearly the right choice – even though this meant significant logisitical challenges due to the requirement for large steel members and concrete. Equipment Delivery by Banana Boat Transporting the solar equipment to the school sites presented the biggest challenge. Because of the remote location of the schools, all

components - including 20 x 40 kg bags of cement per solar system and 72 x 40 kg bags of sand/aggregate - had to be delivered by banana boat along the Fly River. Both systems had been packed originally into one shipping container and transported to Aiambak (Ironbark), a laydown area central to both sites. However, extremely low water levels in the Fly River restricted shipping movements, only essential cargo such as food, fuel and spare parts were making it up stream. To enable delivery, all equipment was removed from the original shipping container before being carefully repacked, loaded onto banana boats and shipped three and a half hours downstream to the Nakaku site and an equal amount of time upstream to the Kuem site. Cement and sand/aggregate also had to be carted in as these items are not available locally. The task was daunting based on sheer weight involved: Carrying the solar system batteries in the banana boat also posed a problem. Senior

Electrical Inspector Ian Strachan explained, “We made a purpose-built cradle for the batteries to sit in for the trip up river. The same care was taken with the solar panels as they were unpacked. The empty box was then loaded onto the banana boat and the panels carefully repacked for the three and one-half hour trips up and downstream.”

Installation at Nakaku Primary School System installation proceeded efficiently, as Solari Energy had provided electrical schematics of the system along with all manufacturer documentation. Jeremy Tranter, Solari Energy’s Electrical Project Engineer and Engineering Manager said, “We provided Ian with technical and logistical support throughout the process, from packing the shipping containers at our warehouse to comply with Marine Dangerous Goods Codes, to assisting with the final commissioning and programming of the inverters and system startup.”

Students at Nakaku Primary School enjoying the benefits of electricity delivered by PV

SolarProgress | 37

Powering remote communities

Most of the communication was conducted via email as phone service was limited, but a phone call was arranged when it was time to configure the inverters. Tech specs: • 4.95 kW Ground Mounted PV Array (22 Hyundai 225 W modules) • 4 kW SMA Sunny Boy PV Inverter, AC coupled with • 2.2 kW SMA Sunny Island Off-Grid Inverter/Charger, with • 12 no 900 Ah BAE VRLA Gel batteries, to provide : 3.5 kWh per day to lights, a computer, printer, projector and a small fridge; Three days of battery autonomy in case of poor weather.* *The system is designed to be primarily powered by the solar system under a variety of environmental conditions. In the event of poor weather or reduced solar energy input, the system is capable of storing enough energy for up to three days of operation. The design also includes a charging input for a portable generator to be connected if required.

Reaping the rewards of solar power Once solar energy had been installed (at a total cost K83,500 approximately AU$38,000), the school had consistent power for the first time. The 300 students at Nakaku Primary School in Papua New Guinea can for the first time, study in lighted classrooms and use computer equipment Classrooms and the administrative area were lit, the laptop charged, and printer software loaded to the printer/scanner. Teachers regained the confidence to use these devices once again, and the students are now benefiting. More than 750 people attended the late July 2013 grand opening for the solar-powered system at the Nakaku School, most travelling some hours by dugout canoe. The school’s head teacher, Mrs. Babola, summed up the impact: “We have longed for such a project, which will not only help our students learn, but help our teachers prepare better materials. I believe that from now onwards, we will do great things in teaching to improve learning for our students.” Over 400 school children and their families stayed on to watch outdoor movies that night – a memorable first-time experience for many and one that can now be repeated. OTML Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Nigel Parker commented that “Power in this day and age is a necessity for education development. My vision as Chairman of Ok 38 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

“We consider these projects both an essential and immensely rewarding part of our business. The ability of solar energy to bring light and power to communities in the most remote areas of our world is perhaps its most exciting application.” Doug Fletcher, Solari Energy CEO. Tedi Development Foundation is to work along with the people of the CMCA regions and other donor partners to bring development to the people of Western Province.” A second solar power plant is being commissioned at Kuem Primary School in South Fly and will be installed by late 2013.

The future - Bringing Solar to More Model Schools The Ok Tedi Development Foundation, working with the Western Province Education Steering Committee, will replicate the solar energy installations in other schools provided officials look after school infrastructure and support their teachers and students. The Foundation is also investigating the cost of a 100 kW system to support a small community hospital, medical centre and clinic and staff housing. Solari Energy stands ready to assist. “We consider these projects both an essential and immensely rewarding part of our business,” said Doug Fletcher, owner/CEO of Solari Energy, a renewable energy company equipped to serve small through large-scale project needs. “The ability of solar energy to bring light and power to communities in the most remote areas of our world is perhaps its most exciting application.”

There is little doubt these ‘human interest’ stories show the true potential of green energy … certainly these children had no hope for electricity except for the advent of solar power. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of being in the business of solar is the opportunity to power remote communities – areas that could never be served by standard electrical networks.”

Professional development

Professional Development solar energy systems From July to October this year, the Australian Solar Council conducted an Australia wide 2013 Professional Development series in which Glen Morris of Solar Quip presented in locations across the nation: from Rockhampton to Perth, to Hobart to Coffs Harbour and places in between.

From July to October 2013, the Australian Solar Council conducted an Australia Wide Professional Development Day at nine cities and towns. This was led by Glen Morris, Vice-President of the ASC and Proprietor of SolarQuip, who provided updates and information on topics listed as follows: • Load profiling – matching generation to time of use • Compliance to AS/NZS5033 – are you across the line? • The ins and outs of AC Coupling • Latest on-grid energy storage solutions • After-sale issues – minimising performance and warranty call backs 40 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

• STCs, Financing and the Bottom Line Overall, the response was extremely positive and allowed many members to access updated technical information without having to travel too far, with presenters coming to their region. One of the best attended courses was in Melbourne, with Solar Inception kindly providing the venue. “That course attracted 38 solar professionals from near and also far,” Glen Morris said. “The room was spacious enough however we did have to place seats around the edges of the room to accommodate everyone!” These professional development workshops have been awarded 30 PD points value

towards Clean Energy Council (CEC) accreditation. During 2014 the Australian Solar Council will continue to run professional development courses for members across Australia. For more details about the 2014 training schedule, keep an eye on the ASC Events Page at Top: Melbourne PD Day featuring Glen Morris (on left) and Rod Seares (right, Canadian Solar) in full flight explaining why ‘brown spots’ can appear on PV cells due to the application of the anti-reflective coating and the way the wafers are held.

Right: 38 students attended from all reaches of Victoria

The course was supported by three prominent solar energy companies: Canadian Solar, SMA and Solimpeks. Here is what each of the sponsors had to say about the 2013 Australia Wide Professional Development Days: Canadian Solar (Naming Sponsor):

“Canadian Solar was pleased to sponsor and participate in the Solar Council’s Professional Development program. “The interactive sessions were enjoyable and lively and it was our pleasure to share our PV manufacturing technology and global industry perceptions. “I am sure these sessions will become a benchmark for practical information and knowledge sharing.” Rod Seares

Issues each year Circulated to Read by up to

4 5000 18,000

SMA Australia (Profile Sponsor): "SMA Australia is strongly committed to training and education so we were pleased to be involved with the ASC Professional Development series. It gave us the opportunity to interact with installers and share knowledge.” Anna Brazil

solar specialists

Solimpeks (Profile Sponsor) "Solimpeks was honoured to sponsor the Solar Council's Professional Development course, and it was great to see such incredible interest in our Hybrid PV-Thermal solar collectors. Solimpeks is looking forward to what will be a long-standing relationship with the Solar Council." Toby Greenane

The Australian Solar Council’s flagship publication Solar Progress

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ASC’s industrious Chapters There is little doubt about the high level of interest, energy and enthusiasm among the solar community right across Australia. Following is a glimpse of some of the many and varied events staged by each of the ASC Chapters, all of which are garnering support and gaining momentum.

Adelaide chapter

Canberra Chapter

Stewart Martin, Convenor of Adelaide Chapter

Trevor Lee, Convener of Canberra Chapter

The major activities of the Adelaide Chapter during the past six months have been three meetings, the coordination of the opening of three houses for Sustainable House Day and a submission to ESCOSSA on the Feedin Tariff Premium. All the meetings have been run jointly with the ATA, as this is a mutually convenient arrangement that ensures a larger audience than that which the Branch alone could raise. The first of these meetings held in May was a presentation by Dr John Pockett from the Barbara Hardy Institute at UniSA entitled Keeping it Cool - A Roof for All Seasons. In this talk John presented some interesting data on the relationship between paint colour and heat gain/loss and the effectiveness of white painted roofs in reducing the internal temperature of a building and the demand for air conditioning in summer. This meeting was preceded by the Chapter AGM at which the following members were elected to the Committee: Stewart Martin (Convenor), Albert Thompson, John Rolls, Monica Oliphant and Margaret Dingle. The meeting in July was addressed by Finn Peacock of Solar Quotes who discussed the issue of PV Systems – What do the Customers Think. He revealed the results of his survey of residential PV systems including feedback from 1000 owners on installers and Australia's best and worst performing inverters and panels. He also recounted the ‘Solar Quotes’ story: how it started, how it grew and why it works. In September the group was addressed by Stephen Berry and Anne Sharp from UniSA on the topic Sustainable House Day – Reaching the New or Preaching to the Converted. This was appropriately timed as it followed the running of SHD on September 8. Stephen and Anne presented data obtained from three previous SHD events and from similar events in the UK. The results are encouraging as they show that a large percentage of visitors to these events take positive action to make their own homes more energy efficient within a year of the event. Sustainable House Day was much more low key than in previous years, due to a lack of volunteers and the fact that it was held the day after the federal election. Visitor numbers were down probably because of the difficulty of getting good media coverage, however visitors, homeowners and volunteers were still satisfied that it was a worthwhile event. The committee is considering, with the ATA, a change of the format of SHD to a web based system which would include a short walk-through video of the home and a blog with the home owner. Visitors to the website can express an interest in a tour of the house and once there are sufficient numbers this would then be arranged. The committee is also considering running a Public meeting on the Renewable Energy Policies of the major parties before the SA State election of March 2014.

In late August, Peter Lyons of Fenestralia, a consulting firm specialising in building energy efficiency attended a building simulation conference in France and on return to ACT brought the ASC Canberra Chapter up to date with a presentation: Highlights of International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA). Saying it was the best-ever attended IBPSA conference, with over 600 delegates and 480 papers, the conference was complemented by local tours and “here it was too easy to overdose on great cheese and wine!” Thirteen papers were presented by Australian authors from CSIRO, UNSW, UTS, University of Adelaide, RMIT, Umow Lai, AECOM and Exergy Australia. These tackled long-standing topics with gusto, including: building-ground coupling, weather data, high-mass buildings, cool roofs, thermal comfort, solar cooling and the perennial subject of simulation versus reality. BS2013 Proceedings are available at The following speakers will make presentations early in 2014: Artur Zawadski of Wizard Power will speak on the current status of the ‘Big Dish’ project. Hugh Saddler (Principal Consultant - Energy Strategies, Pitt & Sherry) will address: Electricity demand, distributed generation and the future of the National Electricity Market: What is happening and where will it lead? For further information about dates and venues contact Trevor Lee at

42 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Darwin Chapter Jai Singh, Convenor of Darwin Chapter The NT Chapter has been sponsoring the Australian Solar Council’s Sustainability Award organised by the Engineers Australia (NT chapter) for several years. In late July 2013 at the Engineers Australia Excellence Award dinner the winner of the ASC award was the TKLN Renewable Energy Project, Power and Water, NT. Mr Dow Airen from the TKLN project accepted the award presented by Jai Singh, President, ASC (NT Chapter). The ASC public seminar held in late September featured the following three presentations: The future energy marketplace: Behind the meter? by Matt Sloane, Power and Water, NT. How much solar-PV can we integrate into the Darwin grid? by Francis Clark, RIEL, Charles Darwin University, and Passive Design and Solar Energy use in a Housing Development by Edward Halawa, Centre for Renewable Energy, RIEL, Charles Darwin University. These public seminars are staged to heighten community awareness of solar energy related activities.

Perth Central Chapter Travis Hargreaves, Convenor of Perth Chapter Paul Scerri and David Robinson

Melbourne Central Chapter Dhevaksha (“Dhe”) Naidoo, Convenor of Melbourne Central Chapter The Melbourne Central Chapter has enjoyed monthly meetings since reconvening in May this year, and the committee held a strategy meeting during the recent All Energy Expo. Recent speakers have included: David Robinson of LIVE (Locals into Victoria’s Environment) who is leading a project that will see a 300 kW, community owned solar array on the roof of the South Melbourne Market. The new roof was completed in December 2012 and 136 solar panels were installed, however David is coordinating a project that will enable community members to invest in an additional 1000 panels on this roof. David Woodgrove (below left), Acting CEO of Sustainable Regional Australia (SRA) detailed the work involved in delivery of the Central Victoria Solar City (CVSC) project across 14 shires including the two 300 kW Solar Parks (Bendigo and Ballarat), 500 residential 1.5kW systems, Ballarat Hospital’s 78kW of PV and large SHWS. He notes residents’ scepticism toward smart meters until it is explained to them … and perhaps the underlying message for the solar energy industry is to present information in layman’s terms such as explaining a kW hour and daily energy use to boost “energy literacy”, acceptance and understanding. Future Directions speakers: Dhevaksha Naidoo presented a summary of her role as one of 23 young entrepreneurs representing Australia as a delegate at the G20 Summit in Moscow. In an animated address, Kirk Buckland (below right), intern at Optimal Power Solutions in Melbourne presented insights into OPS development and implementation of renewable mini-grid and utility storage projects, some of which are destined for remote, desert, island, or rural off-grid applications. OPS Australia Director Stephen Phillips added colourful insights into the solar energy project at Bunaken Island (off North Sulawesi). The Victorian Chapter would like to thank Abhi Sharma and the crew at Rainbow Solar for kindly providing refreshments at Chapter meetings. The final meeting of the year is on Wednesday November 14 at ‘Hub Melbourne’, Level 3, 673 Bourke Street in Melbourne CBD.

The new Perth Chapter of ASC looks forward to supporting members and building relationships with WA tertiary institutions, businesses and likeminded groups actively promoting solar in the wider community. At a recent meeting of the former committee, Travis Hargreaves (Proprietor of SundayEnergy) was elected as Convenor and other members are Kieron D'Arcy (Next Power CEO), Ishaan Khanna (Western Power) and Bill Parker (ASC Director and Solar Progress Editor). The intent of this committee is to hold joint meetings with like-minded groups such as Sustainable Energy Now and the ATA. As WA is such a big state with several population centres, we hope to able to encourage others to set up chapters in places like Kalgoorlie and the North West.

Sydney Central Chapter Noel Barton, Convenor of Sydney Central Chapter Our regular program of activities has continued in 2013. The main feature is a monthly Information Evening, usually with two or more speakers. We have senior professionals who discuss topics of interest in the CleanTech space, mainly solar of course, and a Future Directions segment featuring someone at the start of their career. Typically we have 25-30 people in the audience each month. This year’s speakers have been as follows: February, Mary Hendriks: Community Solar, What's Happening Globally and Where are the Projects in Australia? March, Steve Murray: Solar Cogeneration and Shantha Wanigathunga: How to Design Cogeneration Plants for Success in Australia. April, Noel Barton: Embodied Energy in Batteries and other Storage Devices for Solar Power. May, Stephen White: Prospects for Solar Cooling. June: John Grimes and Steve Blume: Australian Solar Council Update. July: Jack Haley: Sustainable Transport. August: Vasilios Giotis, Graham Hunt and Stephen McCulloch: Case Study – Low Energy Solution for Improving Thermal Comfort in an Industrial Building. September, Gareth Jones: Emissions from the NSW Vehicle Fleet. The group also coordinated a stall at the Willoughby Street Fair held on 7 September – the day of the federal election. The stall offered an opportunity for us to interact directly with many people from the community, and was arranged in collaboration with colleagues at the Sydney Central Branch of the Alternative Technology Association. Many thanks to committee member Graham Hunt for arranging this activity.

SolarProgress | 43

The future of PV


Advance Australia where?

With its origins in battery chargers and welding technology, Austrian based Fronius was one of the first to move into the fast-paced global solar energy market and has been supplying the Australian market since the early 2000s. Here Klaus Kramler, Managing Director of Fronius Australia, observes the pace and change of PV technology and presents his view of the current and future outlook for PV in Australia.

Solar Progress: Would you like to identify some of the more noticeable changes in PV systems in recent times? Looking first at the residential segment, the size of systems has increased significantly, in particular since the multiplier became less of the total incentive for buying PV. This is illustrated by the fact that just two short years ago more than half of all systems installed were 1.5 kW; today we see sizes averaging 4+ kWs. A bigger system may mean greater complexity as more roof space is needed. When a residential roof is used to its full capacity shading is more likely to become an issue. For the same reason east-west orientations are much more common whereas previously uptake of PV has primarily been focused on the north facing parts of roofs. This trend for bigger systems will continue in order to optimise selfconsumption – with all the challenges that come along with it. There are some relatively new technologies to address these issues for example DC optimisers (now on the market) provide more flexibility.

Solar Progress: Can consumers be confident about their rooftop PV? Yes, given they keep an eye out for quality. Reliability is a problem in the market, with too many poor quality installs over the past few years damaging the industry’s reputation. To overcome issues of poor quality the industry must ensure owners of poor installs are provided with solid service solutions when required. There is a lot of ground to be made up in this area, and as awareness grows consumers will demand better service.

Solar Progress: What prompts consumers to invest in PV systems?

“The good news is the solar market has not collapsed in the post-subsidy environment but instead the solar industry now largely stands on its own feet.” 44 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

The basic motivation for buying a PV system has shifted towards reducing the electricity bill by generating and self-consuming PV power. For this reason return on investment has become a key decision factor and consumer awareness regarding product quality, after-sales service, monitoring and other factors now come into play. The same is true for the commercial space, however commercial PV is a relative newcomer to Australia. Prior to 2012 there were few commercial installs, now we are seeing a pick-up in the space up to 30 kW and to a smaller degree between 30 kW and 1 MW.

Here it is all about ROI, and in this regard reducing downtime becomes the key factor. Quality, after sales service, and the ability to provide consulting services are also important and highly valued in this space. What makes the commercial segment challenging are the frustratingly long sales cycles. The proposition of solar is largely demonstrated and recognised at the commercial level as energy consumption of most businesses is concentrated during daytime, so solar energy make sense. That said, factors such as finance, ownership of commercial properties versus rental tenants, power purchasing agreements and particularly grid integration above 30 kW come into play, and suddenly something that looked straightforward becomes a little more complex. The new inverter standard AS/NZS4777 should become an important step in facilitating commercial installs up to 100 kW.

Solar Progress: What is the future for smart grids? Much new technology is in the pipeline and this will produce some significant changes over the next couple of years … smart grids will in particular impact the solar energy industry. Smart Grids will be able to increase the share of renewable technologies in a responsible way; communication and control between residential solar, wind farms, large scale solar plants and the grid is essential in realising a decentralised energy generation infrastructure. And with smart meters in use energy retailers will start changing the way they price electricity. I anticipate we will soon see much more demand based pricing and a decline in fixed rate tariffs, and there will be greater impetus for the ability of inverters to interact with the grid. For our part, the new generation of Fronius inverters powerfully responds to the needs of a self-consumption and smart grid market. There are extensive communication, monitoring and energy management options including a whole selection of apps and online tools, also advanced grid support functions, and extensive upgrade options by retrofitting cards into an inverter. These capabilities of our new generation of products are setting new standards and allow us to position them as smart grid ready.

Solar Progress: What about hybrid technology? Hybrid solutions are one of the hottest topics in solar these days and have been subject of much research. Here, Fronius is in quite a unique and advantageous position as besides being a solar and a welding company, with its battery charging division Fronius also has 68 years of experience in charging batteries. This means we are very familiar with and experienced in much of the technology that is required for state of the art hybrid solutions. Fronius will launch its first hybrid inverter in 2014. This new product will basically look like our new Galvo and Symo inverter series, but be able to feed both into the grid and a battery. It will also be possible to use the inverter for grid feed-in initially and to add battery storage later on, eg when batteries have become cheaper as is widely expected. This ability will make it very attractive as it will reduce the cost of upgrading a grid-connected system to a hybrid system.

is available that would be financially viable for the mainstream, but I am confident this will change rather quickly. It’s not unlike PV a couple of years ago when the technology existed but was very costly due to low volumes. Germany’s introduction of subsidies triggered momentum for demand and enabled solar to reach the mainstream. The storage picture is very similar, the technology is there but we still need economies of scale. Interestingly, it was once again Germany which recently introduced a new policy for incentivising storage of solar energy. Who knows, maybe it will again be Germany which gets the ball rolling. I am convinced we are very close to getting there and I don’t think it’s outlandish to expect viable mainstream storage solutions for solar within the next two to four years.

Solar Progress: You mentioned the roller-coaster market … The Australian PV market has experienced constant disruptions caused by government intervention, namely the sudden introduction of highly attractive incentives followed some time later by their sometimes equally sudden removal. Essentially, similar developments occurred in Europe, however in many European markets feed-in-tariffs remain in place. The Australian government has removed most of the PV incentives but the good news is the solar market has not collapsed in the postsubsidy environment but instead the solar industry now largely stands on its own feet. Even though market size is somewhat reduced, it is still quite a big market. We are currently in a consolidation period and some businesses find it harder to adapt than others, but in general, I believe Australia can be viewed as a role model for a successful transition from a subsidy based to a natural market – with potential learning opportunity for Europe. It’s hard to forecast market demographics ten years hence however I would think residential solar is likely to stabilise at a level similar to what we see today, with self-consumption remaining the driver. The big potential lies in the commercial and utility scale segments, and depending on how they develop, the impact on the Australian solar landscape could be huge. However some obstacles need to be cleared before that potential can be realised.

Solar Progress: How vital – and far off – is superior storage? Superior storage will become a mainstream offering for 24/7 solar energy before too long. Storage must be an ultimate goal for solar energy as it will help solve many of the current challenges with regard to the grid integration of PV. The underlying challenge is cost … at this point no storage solution

Klaus Kramler has worked with Fronius since 2008. Prior to his appointment as Managing Director of Fronius Australia, he was responsible for the development of the global Fronius Service Partner Program, a service program for solar installers. SolarProgress | 45

Forces of energy


Energy Showcasing current and emerging technologies in the clean and renewable energy sector, All-Energy provided the opportunity for like-minded, committed parties to gather and absorb the latest in RE and solar advances.

Above from left: John Grimes, Alex Yu-Chiang Kuo, Rede Ogden, Blair Pester and (with pen) Sascha Rossmann, VP of Global Sales Right: Glen Morris presenting to conference delegates

46 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

The renewables industry turned out in force at this year’s All-Energy conference in Melbourne, with thousands of delegates viewing the hundreds of exhibits and attending a series of technical seminars. Presented by professionals in their domain, the seminars covered all aspects of emerging technology: solar energy, bio energy, wind energy, transport marine and more; future grid, off grid, power storage, and energy efficiency. Among the line-up of stellar solar presenters were Glen Morris of SolarQuip, Stephen Phillips of Optimal Power Solutions, Mike Swanston of Energex, Rod Seares of Canadian Solar and Barbara Elliston of New Zealand based EasyWarm. With hundreds of its members in town, the Australian Solar Council took the opportunity to stage a series of convivial gatherings marking achievements and agreements, and hosted a deletion of solar specialists from Taiwan. It was an exhausting yet exhilarating schedule for the representatives from 13 Taiwanese solar cell and module companies. The delegates arrived in Melbourne a few days prior to the exhibition to embark on a high-speed, ambitious program of visits and activities coordinated by ASC Community Projects & Membership Development Manager Mary Hendriks. On the agenda in Melbourne was an Australian Solar Market and Policy Overview presented by Doug Fletcher of Solari; introductions to Entura and Downer EDI Engineering; a Business Matching ‘Speed Dating’ session; and tour of a sustainable building (see story on page 53).

Clockwise from above: 1. Alex Yu-Chiang Kuo and John Grimes forge closer ties between Taiwan and Australia 2. Stephen Phillips (left) addresses a question 3. SMA's workshops 4. Peter Bulanyi of Si Energy chats to John Grimes Image credits: Rob Selbie, Nicola Card

The next day took in a flying visit to Canberra where the Taiwanese delegates viewed the ACT Electricity Control Room, attended an ANU briefing and Laboratory tour, partook in an ACT Government Solar Briefing and presentation on Large Scale Solar Projects by IT Power, followed by Dyesol presentation on Australian Solar Cell Innovation before receiving an introduction to ARENA.

Sealing the link Back at All-Energy, the delegates were was warmly welcomed to a formal signing ceremony at a function hosted by the ASC in partnership with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI www.itri. and WINAICO. There, watched by guests and delegates, ASC CEO John Grimes and Melbourne based Alex Yu-Chiang Kuo, Assistant Director of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, signed an agreement to build on the government links and research capabilities already established between Taiwan and Australia.

John Grimes stated the agreement was forged - and the document was signed – amid a spirit of trust, camaraderie and cooperation between the two nations, and which boded well for the future. “The visit by the Taiwanese helps us to continue our close ties and build on the relationship developed during previous visits. The meetings have been a great success and this natural partnership between Taiwan and Australia’s collar communities will continue to evolve.” “Australia is a world leader in the sphere of solar energy and in innovation. However it is true to say that many Australian designed solar goods and products are made in Taiwan which can only be described as a manufacturing powerhouse,” John said. His views were echoed by Alex YuChiang Kuo who stated that cooperation between the two nations would be even closer and greater in the future, and that there was much to be pleased and proud of. Alex then highlighted several key Taiwanese initiatives, some of which had been covered by Lawrence Wu of Gintech Energy Corporation during his address Taiwan PV Industry Overview.

Winaico joins forces with Ogden Power A second symbolic signing then took place with Winaico’s Blair Pester partnering with Rede Ogden of Northern Territory based Ogden Power, to develop solar plants in remote areas. Both parties acknowledge the powerful potential for solar energy in rural and indigenous communities both here and overseas. SolarProgress | 47

Solar products services

Solar Progress advertisers’ supplementary material

Clenergy solar system withstands Queensland tornados When a series of tornados ripped through Bundaberg early this year, damaging wind gusts up to 110km/hour brought down powerlines and trees and damaged homes, shops and offices in the area. But one thing withstanding the natural disaster was a SolarTerrace III solar power system from Clenergy. The 9kW system, installed for private generation purposes, survived a series of tornados that ran across and beyond the Bundaberg area. Bundaberg Resident and owner of the SolarTerrace III, Brad Nixon, was amazed at the damage the tornados had caused to houses, buildings and cars – yet had failed to destroy the solar system. Describing the scene as looking like “a bomb had gone off”, Mr. Nixon’s farm shed neighbouring the solar system was completely destroyed, throwing its contents as far as 30 metres away, with some debris later found on his neighbour’s property. While 22 of the 36 panels needed replacing, the solar mounting system remained standing as installed, with the frame only needing one rail replaced. Further damage was caused by the roof bearer of the shed going through a solar panel and into the ground below. “The ground mounts and main part of the frame didn’t move a millimetre,” said Mr Nixon. “It was only one rail bent by part of the shed landing on top of the solar array”. Mr. Nixon’s 9kW system was installed with compatible Krinner ground screws. Krinner Australia provides accredited service solutions when installing PV-ezRack SolarTerrace III. The solar ground mount system, SolarTerrace III, consists of anodised aluminium and stainless steel, ideal for the harsh Australian conditions. The product comes with preassembled supports and smart features (such as pre-assembled positioning clamps), designed to achieve quick installation to save on labour costs while complying with the latest Australian building standards. Like all Clenergy products, SolarTerrace III has been through a thorough testing process and comprehensive structural analysis. As a result, the product comes with a code compliant engineering certificate when installed according to Clenergy’s specifications. Mr. Nixon’s system was offline for a month while panels were tested and re-installed. Should the complete system have needed replacing and required a full reinstallation, this down time and the associated financial loss would have been significantly larger. “I’ve seen a lot of flimsy systems – this event has proven that Clenergy’s SolarTerrace III can withstand a serious tornado. In a long term scenario, you know it doesn’t matter what happens, it’s still going to be standing. It’s peace of mind.”

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 48 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Linked Solar Systems Linked Solar Systems manufacture and supply a 304 grade Stainless Steel Isolator Cover A.D.R 345541. This Isolator Cover provides a protective shield for conventional isolators from harmful UV radiation and water ingress. When incorporated The Linked Isolator simply bolts onto the array framing utilising any type of rail hold down bolt and are fully adjustable. The Linked Isolator comes with the standard mounting bracket that screws to the top of any rail system, or you can order a bracket suitable for retro fitting the isolators to any existing solar system as the need arises. The Iso Cover was developed by Linked Solar Systems back in 2011 for one simple reason, to extend the life of solar roof top isolators. We have found that in as little as two years, corrugated conduit and even isolators themselves were experiencing severe UV degradation from the harsh Australian sun. If we combine that with rain we have a disastrous combination of factors that reduce the life of roof top isolators. At Linked Group Services we have tried to alleviate the problem by producing the Iso Cover and we have experienced great results using the Iso Cover since 2011. The current range of Linked Isolators are rated to 25 amp at 600 volt (soon to be 32 amp 1000 volt), come pre wired and ready to plug your solar module string directly into the isolator. Then simply crimp on some MC4 connectors to the inverter wiring and plug them in, it’s that simple. Coming Soon: AC Rooftop Isolator & Cover Need a micro-inverter roof top isolator solution? Linked Solar Systems has your answer. Based on the same principle as the DC isolators with all the wiring coming through the back of the isolator underneath the panel. This keeps all wiring and conduit protected from destructive UV and keeps all electrical fittings out of the rain, thus reducing exposure to the elements and creating a longer life expectancy.

Coming Soon: Twin Input String Isolators Two string input with single output to the inverter 32 amp 1000 volt are the obvious next step for the market place and will be available soon. All of our isolators will soon have a number of options these will include pre wired isolators with MC4 connectors or non wired with 25mm and 32mm screwed inserts. These inserts can the have conventional conduit fittings screwed directly into them or can be used with skintop style solar glands. The benefits of this solution are: • Installation is quick and easy reducing isolator installation time • Can be easily retrofitted to existing systems • Suits several different types of isolators • The cover will last the lifetime of your solar power system Linked Solar can supply the covers complete with prewired isolators, which makes installation a simple matter of crimping two MC4 connectors to your inverter cable and plugging in the isolator. This eliminates any risks of working on live array cables that need to be terminated. Jason Sharam, Managing Director – Linked Group Services Innovators of Sustainable Solutions M: 0428544076

Solco’s success Solco Ltd has a long history as a solar business. It was founded in Perth in 1998 and listed on the ASX in 2000. The principal business at that time was based on a low energy solar water pumping technology that it developed, manufactured and sold under its SunMill™ brand. It later acquired a business that manufactured a polymer based solar hot water systems. Moving into the PV market, Solco expanded it capabilities acquiring Choice Electric, a major Australian distributor of solar power panels and associated renewable energy products. Its distribution arm was expanded to service the energy services market. This year the company further diversified with the establishment of a finance business to drive the growth of solar and distributed generation through its reseller network by providing access to more ”PV-friendly” capital with a streamlined Finance approval process for customers in the residential and commercial markets. Solco has built extensively on its early water pumping innovations and has diversified to cater for every aspect of solar energy products and services. The corporate entity, Solco Ltd supports the wholesale business, ( ), a commercial/ EPC business ( ) and the new finance business ( ).

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. SolarProgress | 49

Solar products services

Solar Progress advertisers’ supplementary material

The growth of Sungrow Sungrow Country Manager Jim Jin presented the following information about the company products and success.

Si Clean Energy Si Clean Energy is pleased to announce its new partnership with SMA Solar Technology. SMA is a global leader in the development and production of PV inverters offering innovative technologies for both present and future power supply infrastructures. SMA is represented in all major photovoltaic markets across 19 countries and four continents. Inverters are the most important component of a PV system requiring particular care when choosing brand and model to suit the customer’s requirements. Si Clean Energy is passionate about their products and maintains an in-house performance testing program to ensure functionality, durability and reliability. PV inverters convert the direct current generated by the photovoltaic cells into alternating current compliant with the grid requirements, for either self-consumption or export to the power distribution grid. As an intelligent energy controller an inverter constantly monitors both the PV array maximum power point and the power distribution grid conditions to identify the optimum match. SMA inverters accurately perform many important grid management functions, which are becoming increasingly important as electricity production from renewable sources grows. SMA have been developing leading technological solutions and pioneering trends in this area for years and are driving future-oriented topics such as intelligent energy management at a household level, grid integration of solar power and connecting storage facilities for more effective use of renewable energy. Through many years of inverter sales and service Si Clean Energy know exactly what is inside the boxes they sell and are always willing to share their extensive knowledge. This way, they can help you make product choices based on a complete technical understanding, which in turn can assist your business in achieving increased sales and lower operating costs. With in-depth product knowledge and expertise, the goal at Si Clean Energy is to provide only the best quality and highest reliability products. SMA maintains an extensive range of products to suit all module types and plant sizes, from small residential to large scale commercial systems, both grid-connected and stand-alone. SMA inverters are now available at Si Clean Energy and offer the complete solution for all installation requirements. For further information please contact Si Clean Energy's wholesale division on 1300 336 737 or visit their website

As a publicly listed inverter manufacturer company, Sungrow Power was established during the infancy of the solar industry in China. Today the company is a hightech enterprise engaged in the development of power supply equipment for renewable energy, in particular solar PV and wind power, providing grid-connected PV inverters, wind power converter, technical consultancy, system design and other relevant services. The company enjoys strong stability in terms of financial capacity and during its 16 years has set and broken industry records to become the largest inverter manufacturer in Asia Pacific, gaining more than 40 per cent market share in China in 2012 where it is proud of being the Legislator of China National Standards for PV and wind grid-connected inverters. The company is dedicated to research and development with more than 130 doctors, masters and engineers of related professions constantly improving products. Years of comprehensive research has enabled Sungrow inverters to constantly deliver above expected output. Sungrow has become a global brand, with a presence in many different markets throughout the world and has been ranked 3rd in the world based on IHS research. 5GW had been installed globally and 700MW had been installed in Europe, Australia and North America by Sungrow. Germany boasts the world’s strictest standards; these standards were met by Sungrow which enabled the company to sell products in that market. Product quality and reliability are important; and Sungrow inverters received an A grade in the prestigious Photon lab tests. More recently, Sungrow’s SG30KTL (30kW) inverter received a double A grade from the PHOTON test. They are also all certified to international and Australian Standards. The new Dual MPPT products offer the options to track separate strings of inverters with different configurations or partially shaded strings to reduce risk of power limitations. Sungrow has also developed the Solar Info Bank that enables customers to monitor system performance using their Smart Phone, iPad or PC. Sungrow launched into the Australia market in September 2012. Since then, despite the nation experiencing a drop in whole market capacity, Sungrow Australia has developed its business from scratch to about 30 MW and recognises the important role of Australian long-term strategic business partners ZhenFa Australia and Energy Matters. Sungrow is now looking for a third business partner* in Australia. Today the company has service partners in five major cities offering comprehensive after-sale service. Should an inverter fail while under warranty, the company dispatches a local technician to repair it within three working days. *Those interested in Sungrow partnerships or products can call the Sungrow hotline on 1300 201 106.

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. 50 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Yingli With one in 10 Australians now using the sun to power their homes*, it has never been more important for consumers to choose a solar power system that ticks all the right boxes. A quality solar system will produce efficient energy for at least 25 years whereas a substandard system is likely to be cheaper upfront, but more costly in the long-run. To help Australians choose a quality solar system, Yingli Solar has produced a fun ‘how-to’ video. Also included is the link for those wanting to put it up on their social channels. As seen in the video, consumers need to consider five key factors before choosing a system: • Performance: Do the solar panels produce high electricity outputs in the long-term? • Quality: Is there high level quality control to ensure panels are made to withstand the harsh Australian climate? • Support: Is there a local team to manage any enquiries you might have? • Third-party endorsement: Are the solar panels independently tested? • Track record: Does the company have a good reputation? Yingli Solar is the world’s largest solar manufacturer and is committed to providing affordable green energy for all. Daman Cole is Commercial Director of Yingli Australia. *Climate Commission, The Critical Decade: Australia’s Future – Solar Energy, 2013

Fronius: long term vision Austrian inverter manufacturer Fronius has been developing and innovating power electronics since 1945. The family company that was founded by Günter Fronius as a battery charging start up, in a little village nestled among the Alps has become a modern day success story. Today Fronius is a leading provider of welding, battery charging and solar electronics technologies with more than 850 active patents, over 3000 employees worldwide and 19 international subsidiaries. With operations spanning the globe Fronius serves the Australian market with a subsidiary in Melbourne which includes a local warehouse, technical support, training facilities, a repair centre as well as a sales organization. Global experience combined with strong local support thus ensure premium quality and reliability. Fronius produces a wide range of high quality grid-connected inverters starting at 1.5 kW for small residential PV systems up to 100 kW central inverters for medium and large scale commercial installations. A unique feature of all Fronius inverters is that they can be serviced on site. With an Australia wide network of about 100 trained and certified Fronius Service Partners (PV installers who sell and install Fronius inverters and provide after-sales service), Fronius’ goal is to ensure the fastest and highest standard of customer service available. The company’s central vision is to become the most referred inverter brand in Australia by providing a premium quality product, superior aftersales service and customer support. Fronius has significantly invested in Australia to do just that, by establishing a local subsidiary and building strong relationships with its partners who share and support this vision.

Opinions expressed on these pages are not necessarily those of the Australian Solar Council or the publisher. SolarProgress | 51

ASC member profile

Lishen listens and

responds to energy needs

Lishen works with various inverter companies, and is primarily an energy storage company, sometimes offering a joint package but primarily selling batteries and other storage systems. Here we learn more about company operations.

China based Lishen Batteries which is tuned in to the “alarm bells of the energy crisis” welcomes the rise - and eventual dominance of clean, green energy. However with increasing numbers of households installing on-grid PV systems, grids will be unable to import all the electricity generated by these PV systems. In some cases the economic and financial advantages of PV systems decreased in line with reduced feed-in tariffs. The question is: How can this problem be solved? The answer: Using the PV generated electricity on your own site. In the past almost all electricity was sourced from the grid. However there has been a significant rise in the number of grid-connected PV systems. In the absence of energy storage, these systems on average provide as little as 10 per cent to 20 per cent self-consumption. Users can achieve 100 per cent selfconsumption with an off-grid system, however batteries that provide three to five days storage are very expensive. And there is still the possibility of black-outs. A solution is necessary.

Lishen Household system The good news is that Lishen's PV energy storage system combines the technologies of PV energy generation and lead-acid/lithiumion storage products to produce the Lishen household smart solar storage system. This has the potential to provide 80-90 per cent selfconsumption, using minimal storage capacity. The system can control the flow of energy to reach the limit of self-consumption of the PV energy, then battery storage becomes the priority. After all self-consumption is supplied, the rest of the energy generated is fed into the grid. In addition, the grid can be used to charge the battery. 52 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

Following one year spent testing household systems, Lishen established a European sales network in July 2011 and hundreds of Lishen household systems have since been installed; market demand remains strong. For larger scale MW systems, Lishen has developed MW ESS products for both peak shifting application (energy type demand) and grid frequency regulation application (power type demand). Lishen has also completed several projects with China’s state grid and other utilities.

The life of Lishen Established in Tianjin, China, in December 1997, Lishen specialises in the research and development, design, manufacture, and sale of Li-ion batteries and systems. To date Lishen has grown its annual production capacity of its rechargeable lithiumion (Li-ion) batteries to 700 million amp-hours. The products are predominantly destined for personal electronic consumer products, power tools, transportation, energy storage system, and more. To reach target markets, Lishen has developed a marketing network in Europe, North America, and Asia, and exporting 80 per cent of its products. Among its higher profile customers are Apple, Samsung, Dell, Motorola, Nokia, Vodafone, Lenovo and LG.

During the day, energy from PV can supply the loads and charge the battery.

Purpose and mission In September 2012 China’s President Hu Jintao visited Tianjin Lishen Battery Co and encouraged parent company CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China’s third-largest national oil company) to boost efforts in technological innovation in the field of new energy. This dovetails with Lishen’s mission to “provide the world with total energy solutions more efficiently and contribute to the sustainable development of society”. The proof is in the pudding. In 2011, five billion (rechargeable) Li-ion batteries were produced globally; Lishen production capacity ranked in the top five globally and the company has picked up a string of awards. Samsung honored Lishen by bestowing the title “Excellent global Innovative Supplier“.

Demo installation in Austria

In the night, the battery can provide energy to the loads.

When the grid fails, the system can switch to the offgrid mode automatically and supply the loads.

Building green

City Solar Farm a first for Australia Sitting on the fringe of Melbourne CBD but exchanging street views for expansive water views is Victoria Harbour at Docklands. Dubbed a “natural extension of Collins Street and Melbourne’s CBD” the precinct boasts the highest concentration of green buildings in Australia. Among those buildings is the recently completed ‘Lifestyle Working Collins Street’ which was designed and built with environmental impact in mind, and reduces reliance on grid energy through an innovative PV share scheme. How so? All useable areas of building’s roof are home to a ‘City Solar Farm’, which boasts a PV array and in a first for Australia, these solar panels (pictured) can be purchased to power individual office spaces. Up to 15 per cent of the base building’s energy will also be supported by solar panels. Lifestyle Working Collins Street is hailed as Australia’s first 5 Star Green Star – Office Design v3 rated strata title office and is one of only a few commercial strata office buildings to target NABERS 5-star Energy and Water rating. Along with “one of the most substantial solar generation facilities for a building of its kind in Australia” designed in conjunction with measure for low reliance on mechanical ventilation, it features several more environmentally sustainable design features. The five-level, $75 million project is the result of collaboration between the Stable Group and Lend Lease, designed by nettletontribe architects. It is home to 137 strata office suites and ground-level retail outlets. Designed to establish a new kind of flexible working model for small to medium sized businesses, it features shared private and semi-private meeting spaces, collaboration areas, alternative working environments and state of the art technology.

ASC's Taiwanese delegation visit the 'green' building

The jewel in the crown of one of Australia’s most environmentally sustainable strata office developments is an innovative PV scheme. This enables SME tenants to tap into solar energy and benefit from the environmental, social and economic benefits of sustainable design. At the behest of the Australian Solar Council, a group of solar businesses recently enjoyed a visit to the pioneering site.

The result is a unique strata office environment that offers occupiers an opportunity to minimise their impact on the environment while also significantly reducing their operating costs. Lend Lease Victoria Harbour Project Director Claire Johnston, who describes the City Solar Farm as one of the most innovative measures, says the development forges a new benchmark in affordable sustainable strata office space. “Solar energy is the most flexible form of renewable energy in Australia and is a key platform of Lend Lease’s sustainability strategy,” Johnston says. Before the solar energy comes into play, mechanical ventilation has been reduced thanks to passive engineering techniques: cross flow ventilation to all suites, variable refrigerant volume gas air-conditioning and heating. Lifestyle Working Collins Street has been designed around a semi-enclosed courtyard, which further promotes cross ventilation as well as maximising natural light penetration for occupiers. Other features focused on minimising the building’s footprint include the use of predominantly recycled timbers on ground floor and bridges, the use of water harvesting facilities and waterless urinals. Consideration has also been given the environmental impact of transport. In another first for Melbourne, tenants have free use of shared electric motor scooters. For those a little less adventurous, there is a tram stop at the front and a train station within easy walking distance. “Lifestyle Working Collins Street will contribute to the diversity of Victoria Harbour’s vibrant commercial offering and is a fitting and welcome addition to our precinct,” Johnston enthused. SolarProgress | 53

Solar 2013

Solar Progress is on the hunt for super solar shots … can you help? The Solar Progress team has seen some incredible photos of PV systems and SHWS and their applications – large and small, mobile or stationary, in Australia and overseas – and here we feature images of some of them. But there must be hundreds of canny PV systems and SHWS out there whose pictures could grace these pages. Images of systems that illustrate a slice of history, the emergence, the genesis of RE technology. Can you send in some eye catching solar shots? We are calling on readers to send in their super solar snaps to display on our ‘Photo fantastic’ page for wider appreciation. Innovative, bizarre, downright fantastic, please send in your pictures with a brief explanation to Here we kick off with a few that have caught our attention …

Solar singers (Chelsea Flower Show, Aussie landscape entry Trailfinders takes out Best in Show)

Tilt and orientation WSC 2012

Solar Impulse soars on its 12,000 solar cells

The aptly coloured orange rickshaw spotted outside the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam, donning rooftop solar panels.

Is it a bird? A plane? A cruiser? The future?

Blessings from above

54 | ISSUE 4 • 2013

In the relative wilderness of SEQ … where an old, rustic log hut much popular among campers comes face-to-face with renewable energy.

Solar cells sail into Sydney Harbour

Be part of Australia’s largest dedicated solar organisation

The Australian Solar Council is the largest solar member based organisation in Australia with over 900 members, including more than 300 corporate and institutional members. As a notfor-profit organisation, all of our activities are directed to supporting our members and the Australian solar industry. If you are interested in solar, consider joining. Become involved in the broad range of activities to promote scientific, social and economic development through the environmentally sound use of solar energy. You can join at a variety of levels, as an individual (from $88) or if you are in business or an organisation, join at corporate/ institutional level (from $330). Each year the Australian Solar Council stages its showcase event: the Solar Conference and Expo. Attracting hundreds of exhibitors and local as well as international delegates, this popular event features three speaker streams (science and research, industry and policy, professional development) along with specialist member sessions.

The ASC presents industry awards that recognise outstanding achievements of individuals engaged in the solar industry. Each member of the Solar Council is provided: • Four issues of our magazine, Solar Progress, in hard copy and online • Access on-line to past conference papers and selected presentations • Regular news updates and free information evenings and industry networking at local Chapter meetings. Plus ALL members can provide input to help shape our lobbying and advocacy work. If you are a company, business or organisation, consider Corporate/Institutional Membership at one the following levels (from $330 inc GST annually) • Micro Corporate • Small – Medium (SME) Corporate • Large Enterprise / Institutional Corporate • Gold Corporate • Diamond Corporate With full details and benefits at

Corporate Members are provided promotion through the website plus a listing on the corporate members’ page of Solar Progress. Corporate members also receive discounts for training courses for all members of their team, as well as discounts for SolarPlus and Solar Gold /PV Best Practice Certification subscriptions. Membership of the Australian Solar Council is open to all people and organisations with an interest in solar energy and its role in securing our clean energy future – JOIN at

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Diamond Member

ASC Corporate Members Issue 4 – 2013

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Devoted to all aspects relevant to solar energy, Solar Progress is the magazine that is received and read by the wider solar community. Editorial and advertising features April 2014 (ASC Conference Issue)

June 2014

Special Features

Special Features

• Where to for storage, domestic scale, utility scale • View from the inside – renewable energy education • Energy rating and its effect on the built environment

• • • •

Plus: Solar Best Practice, Solar Plus, accreditation developments

Annual Solar Directory 2014 The Solar Hot water system – the policy, the technologies Solar Progress: the solar map Building solar thermal at the 50MW scale

Plus: Solar Best Practice, Solar Plus, accreditation developments and policy

and policy matters

matters Advertising Features

• Solar panels, the future • Inverter technology

Advertising Features

September 2014

December 2014

Special Features

Special Features

• Solar flagships • New generation solar cells

• Going off -grid in the city. Is it feasible? • How best to create sustainable incentives for PV and SHWS • Star ratings - the reality of low energy homes.

• Big CSP around the world • Where is the future with PV technology? • Outback PV, progress with small towns and off grid installations

Plus: Solar Best Practice, Solar Plus, accreditation developments and policy matters

Plus: Solar Best Practice, Solar Plus, accreditation developments and policy matters

Advertising Features

Advertising Features

• Solar Research • Solar Performance in Australian conditions

• Solar energy & efficiency • PV Best Practice Program

Publication schedule Issue

Content deadline

At printers by


ISSUE 1 – April 2014

March 11

March 19

March 28

ISSUE 2 – June 2014

June 2

June 11

June 20

ISSUE 3 – September 2014 August 25

September 3

September 12

ISSUE 4 – December 2014

November 26 December 5

November 17



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Advertising Manager: Brian Rault Tel: +61 3 8534 5014 Email:



Solar Progress Issue 4 2013  

The Official Journal of the Australian Solar Council

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