The Official Journal of the Australian Solar Energy Society
The greening of Sydney Tapping into renewable energy and slashing carbon emissions Solar 2011 conference Insights from solar leaders 100% renewable energy Feasible, doable says Mark Diesendorf ISSN: 0729-6436
Speak To A Local SMA manufacture in Germany, but we provide local Australian support in your timezone. The SMA Service line is open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (AEST). Our qualified Service Engineers are based in Sydney and will help you with troubleshooting on the spot. SMA are happy to speak with installers to find the best problem-solving solution. On the rare occasion that a problem exists with the device, a replacement device will normally be dispatched within 24 hours. We can also provide extended warranty options for peace of mind.
SMA-Australia.com.au 1800 SMA AUS
THE FUTURE OF SOLAR TECHNOLOGY
Companies, governments and investors are laying their bets on the future of electricity. What are they backing? China recently predicted that the cost of solar energy will fall below wholesale coal-fired energy within the next 10 years. India predicts that by 2017 solar will be cheaper than coal-fired energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that solar will be meeting 50 per cent of electricity demand by 2050. Bloomberg New Energy Finance says new global investment in clean energy reached a record $260 billion last year, with more than half of that going into solar – 28GW of PV alone was installed in 2011. These are big numbers given that governments were reducing solar incentives, and the global financial crisis is still underway. Warren Buffett has invested heavily in large-scale solar generation and other renewables. Buffet’s company believes this increased emphasis on renewables in its portfolio is a solid business decision that will pay off over time.“This is a vote for renewable energy,” a company spokesperson said, “It is not a bet.” GE, Siemens, Alstom, Areva, Hyundai and others, which by their very nature are technology neutral, are investing heavily in solar and renewable energy technologies. In Australia governments simply refuse to accept the evidence on technology costs, both for “new” electricity (solar and renewables) and “traditional” electricity (coal and gas). The Federal Government’s Energy White Paper over-estimates the cost of solar energy by a factor of three. Its prediction for the cost of solar PV by 2030 is that it will be higher than the IEA says were the actual costs of solar PV in 2011. No wonder the government, and the opposition, have such a limited view of the role of solar by 2050 when the advice they are receiving is so wrong. It is time for a step change. Australians must not be constrained by last century’s concept of centralised energy sources linked by a transmission network that is rewarded for building more poles and wires rather than efficient production of sustainable power.
2011 was a game changing year for solar. A solar industry has been established and the rhetoric is changing. This was certainly a watershed conference for AuSES. One of the take home messages was that the technology of the nineteenth century no longer serves us. Our ageing electricity grids are not able to accommodate distributed generation and the theory of the smart grid is still just that for most of Australia. The mantra of base load power may have served us in the past, but now it is time to implement technology changes. We now have, for the first time, a solar “presence” in our electricity distribution systems and it is growing. Several speakers at Solar 2011 made mention of this change. There is no doubt that the public want solar, and we must accommodate that in our electricity networks. As Senator Christine Milne said, the incorporation of solar is inevitable, and if our poles and wires companies do not incorporate that in their planning, they may find communities disconnecting and doing it themselves. Perhaps unlikely, but the point was well made. As solar costs are falling, conventional costs are rising. But therein lies the problem we face. Our grids, according to Dr Muriel Watt are ageing and cannot accommodate distributed generation. On a grander scale, we heard from Dr David Mills and others about how the entire daily demand for electricity in the USA can be met by wind and solar. And perhaps as importantly, we heard from Allan Jones MBE about his quest to reduce Sydney’s energy consumption (“show by doing” as Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore stated). District heating which has been common across Europe and Scandinavia for a very long time is unheard of in Australia but with Allan Jones driving the change (by example) we will see the demand for electricity drop. Some “what ifs” included the growth in net zero energy buildings and the continued drop in electricity usage, energy efficiency being cost effective, but also importantly rising prices. All of this may bode well for solar but the need for the National Electricity Market to develop regulations for PV and other renewables was also stressed by Muriel Watt. Interesting that word “national” when WA remains independent. In corporate speak, we must think outside the box. We first need to define what the box is. The Solar 2011 Conference was held in a place that epitomises re-birth with “facades” of steam locomotives greeting visitors and an interior with original locomotive works still extant, the story on the ground was the future and of substantial solar progress.
2 | SUMMER 2012
News and views
Review of solar landscape by AuSES CEO and Solar Progress Editor 2 Solar 2011: all the conference highlights in words and pictures 18 AuSES state branch reports 46 Solar snapshot: notable quotes 44 â€“ 45 Award winning solar identities 43 AuSES corporate members 48
Political and technical solar developments 4 Climate Change Minister Greg Combet addresses AuSES Conference 18 Wayne Smith assesses life under carbon tax 24
100% renewable energy feasible says Mark Diesendorf Andreas Luzzi examines all aspects of BIPV Janis Birkeland defines Real eco buildings Bold and substantial: the greening of Sydney
Technical talk CSP Simulation tools by Simon Mason Noel Barton on evaporation turbines Fire-fighters face PV hazards, says Glen Morris
Solar developments University of Queensland switches to solar on all four campuses Warwick Johnston on Intelligent solar marketing Bosch makes solar inroads
8 12 16 19
26 34 38
From the cover: Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Allan Jones MBE driving the process of reducing energy consumption and introducing renewable energy to power the city.
Printed using FSCÂŽ mixed source certified fibre by Printgraphics Pty Ltd under ISO 14001 Environmental Certification.
Solar cliffhanger SOLAR PROGRESS Published by CommStrat for Australian Solar Energy Society Ltd. Editor Dr Bill Parker, AuSES Phone: 0403 583 676 email@example.com Contributors: Noel Barton, Janis Birkeland, Mark Diesendorf , Warwick Johnston, Andreas Luzzi, Simon Mason, Glen Morris, Wayne Smith Contributing editor Nicola Card National Sales Manager Brian Rault Phone: 03 8534 5014 firstname.lastname@example.org Production Manager Russell Montgomery CREATIVE Director Tim Hartridge Graphic Designer Monica Lawrie CommStrat Melbourne Level 8, 574 St Kilda Rd MELBOURNE Vic 3004 Phone: 03 8534 5000 CommStrat Sydney Level 12, 99 Walker St NORTH SYDNEY NSW 2060 Phone: 02 8923 8000 Australian Solar Energy Society Ltd CEO John Grimes PO Box 148, Frenchs Forest NSW 1640 www.auses.org.au ABN 32 006 824 148
Early February produced a nail-biting day or two for the solar industry as it awaited an announcement by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson on the future of Australia’s Big Solar programs at Moree and Chinchilla. Earlier it was revealed that the December deadline for securing a financial backer came and went. The missed deadline jeopardised the federal grant of $750 million, however the Minister was at liberty to extend the deadline – and did so, which produced a collective sigh of relief. The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) was first to publicly welcome the decision by the Minister to extend time for the Solar Dawn solar thermal project in Queensland and re-open the Solar Flagships Program for PV projects. “It is extraordinarily difficult to get financing for large-scale infrastructure projects globally, and Big Solar is no different,” AuSES CEO John Grimes said. “The solar game has changed – the cost of solar panels has fallen dramatically and, separately, BP has made a global decision to exit the solar industry. “[But] now is the time to re-test the market
AuSES welcomes new president Steve Blume
The Australian Solar Energy Society is a not–for–profit association that was founded in 1954. It is the Australian branch of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) based in Freiburg, Germany www.ises.org CommStrat ABN 31 008 434 802 www.commstrat.com.au Solar Progress was first published in 1980. The magazine aims to provide readers with an in–depth review of technologies, policies and progress towards a society which sources energy from the sun rather than fossil fuels. Except where specifically stated, the opinions and material published in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or AuSES. While every effort is made to check the authenticity and accuracy of articles, neither AuSES nor the editors are responsible for any inaccuracy. Solar Progress is published four times annually.
4 | SUMMER 2012
John Grimes, Sen. Christine Milne and Steve Blume At the AuSES AGM in late 2011 Steve Blume assumed the role of President when Mike Dymond stepped down. Steve has established a strong reputation as a political adviser and with a lifelong commitment to the mitigation of the environmental impact of humans, Steve is currently Senior Adviser to Simon Corbell MLA, ACT Minister for Climate Change, Environment & Water and Minister for Energy. He was formerly private sector senior executive, policy creator, change management consultant, business manager and public servant.
with shortlisted companies.” Grimes added that without Solar Flagships, Australia risks falling behind in the transition to solar energy as countries around the globe install massive Big Solar projects many times the size of these. “Solar Flagships is essential for our energy future,” he said. Indeed. A recurring theme at the Solar 2011 Conference was Australia’s need to develop Big Solar, to capitalise on the abundant resource and start developing large scale solar plants as seen in Spain, the US and Germany. Much hope is pinned on the Moree Solar farm in northern central NSW (and ironically subject to flooding in early February) and the Solar Dawn Project in Chinchilla. But Grimes warned “The decision to re-open the Solar Flagships Program is not a get-outof-jail-free-card for the Federal Government or for solar companies. It is important that we get timely, value for money, iconic solar projects from this program. Now is the time to quickly regroup and deliver.” See page 18 for a summary of the key messages on the Australian solar landscape delivered by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet at the Solar 2011 Conference.
CAT snares industry award In late November last year Lyndon Frearson of CAT Projects was honored to accept the highest award that Engineers Australia confer: the Sir William Hudson Award. The award recognised CAT Projects for its work with the Bushlight India Project. Through this initiative energy is supplied via RE minigrids around the clock to two remote Indian villages and has significantly improved the standard of living in the communities. “In winning this award we were being judged against over 50 other finalists including some of the largest infrastructure projects in Australia and some amazing innovations,” a delighted and proud Frearson told Solar Progress. For more information: www.excellenceawards.org.au
Solar Partnership On November 17 2011, not long after Air Force One touched down at Canberra’s Fairbairn airstrip, the wheels of media activity went spinning into action and a key message delivered by President Obama benefits the solar industry: $32 million in funding for the United States-Australia Solar Energy Collaboration (USASEC). Of this the Australian Government, through the Australian Solar Institute, has committed close to $12 million for seven Foundation Projects to accelerate the widespread rollout of solar energy technologies in both countries. ASI CEO Mark Twidell says the projects will improve the efficiency, reliability and application of solar technologies and have real commercial potential and “hasten our efforts to drive down the cost of solar energy technologies to make solar a competitive energy source for Australia’s electricity needs.” Foundation Projects are as follows: The University of New South Wales: Costeffective GaAsP (gallium arsenide phosphide) top solar cell grown on a high performance, low cost silicon solar cell; also at UNSW MultiJunction c-Si Solar Cells Based on Virtual Ge Substrates to develop the first silicon based cell above 30 per cent efficiency in partnership with NREL. Still at UNSW: Towards a Practical Hot Carrier Solar Cell. Projects at the CSIRO are: Solardriven supercritical CO² Brayton Cycle; also Improving
SunPower’s Guinness World Record Long-standing company SunPower has won a Guinness World Record for Most Efficient Solar Panels with their E20 Series SunPower solar electricity panels. The panels have recorded a breaking cell efficiency rating of 22.4% and a module peak efficiency of 20.07%, and are reputedly the first solar panels in the industry to achieve a total area efficiency of 20% and higher.
Not a member? Join AuSES today.
Visit http://auses.org.au/join-auses for more details.
6 | SUMMER 2012
Sealing a deal: two world leaders join forces to progress solar energy translation models for predicting the energy yield of photovoltaic power systems; and the third project is titled Integrated Solar Radiation Data Sources over Australia. The Australian National University project involves Improved High Temperature Receivers for Dish Concentrators. The ASI is also supporting three high calibre early-career researchers to advance shared goals for accelerating solar innovation: Dr John Pye from The ANU will spend six months at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque to develop improved open-access models for the performance of concentrated solar thermal systems, to aid in financial and
technical decision-making. Dr Jacek Jasieniak from CSIRO will work with 2000 Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Alan Heeger, at the University of California Santa Barbara for 12 months on a project to overcome barriers to increasing solar cell efficiency and therefore increase the competitiveness of solar energy. Benjamin Duck from CSIRO will spend 12 months at NREL on a mission to better predict the yield of photovoltaic systems, which is critical to attracting private sector investment in large scale solar. For more information: www. australiansolarinstitute.com.au
World leading futurist espouses solar potential Late last year delegates listened in awe to Raymond Kurzweil’s address at the Creative Innovation conference. If you are not familiar with the name, he’s the guy whose body once deceased is headed for the cryogenic freezer in the expectation of biotechnology advances reviving him at some future stage. What will the world look like then for the man captivated by accelerated return through exponential growth; technological leaps without boundaries and who says “If you measure the underlying properties of technology it forms an exquisite curve of progression. Momentum is predictable … with tools expanding at an unpredictable pace we can predict future technology.” The unlimited and indeed untapped potential of solar energy has hit the radar of the man voted one of the top ten world thinkers, who says: “We are running out of energy if we restrict ourselves to nineteenth century technology. Solar technology is taking off; there is a doubling of solar energy every two years courtesy of nanotechnology. Yet people not long ago dismissed it as a fringe player.” Kurzweil admitted he once queried the adequacy of sun’s supplies only to be told we have 10,000 times the sunlight we need to power earth. For more insights by the man famous for Economist cover story ‘print me a Stradivarius’, read his best-seller The Age of Spiritual Machines, When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence.
A powerful partnership Trina Solar is proud to partner with the Advanced Solar Research Team at ANUâ€™s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, on the development of our next generation silicon cell technology. In a project supported by the Australian Solar Institute, the team in Canberra is using advanced nanotechnology for precise structuring of the solar cell surfaces to deliver significant increases in cell efficiency whilst cutting manufacturing cost. A powerful partnership. www.trinasolar.com.au
Noted academic and prolific author Mark Diesendorf believes it is completely feasible for Australia’s power demands to be met though renewable energy sources. In this article he outlines the research that demonstrates the possibility.
Nowadays renewable energy deniers are almost as active in spreading misinformation as the deniers of anthropogenic climate change. One of their principal yet false claims is that renewable energy sources are too unreliable to form the basis of an energy system for an industrial society. In particular, they assert that renewable energy cannot replace conventional base-load (24-hour) power and is only suitable for niche markets. Let’s stop and take a look at the bigger picture provided by Europe, where wind and solar installations are performing well and growing rapidly. Also growing is political commitment to sustainable energy systems, based on 80-100% renewable energy. By way of example the government of Germany has committed to an 80% renewable energy target by 2050 and, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, has passed legislation to phase out nuclear energy by 2022. The Danish government has invited proposals for sourcing just over half its electricity from wind turbines by 2020 and all its electricity from renewable sources by 2050. Scenarios for 80-100% renewable energy have been developed by government agencies, academics and NGOs for Australia, Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, northern Europe, the European Union and the whole world. Last year’s ground-breaking study Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan found that 100% renewable energy is technically possible for Australia and estimated that it would cost about $370 billion. The core 8 | SUMMER 2012
of this – the ZCA study – was an hour-by-hour computer simulation, by Jack Actuarial Consulting, of Australian electricity demand in 2008 and 2009. The principal renewable energy sources chosen were concentrated solar thermal power (CST) with thermal storage and wind power. Some constraining assumptions were made: • Western Australia was connected at great expense to the eastern states with new transmission lines with the aim of improving system reliability through geographic diversity. • Second-generation CST power stations, ‘power towers’, for which there is little operating experience, were chosen as the principal energy source. These solar stations were given a solar multiple of 2.5 and thermal energy storage equivalent to 17 hours of full power output. • A daily average was taken for solar energy inputs, although hourly data enable more detailed dynamic modelling. • To compensate for the reduction in sunshine in winter, a vast excess of CST generating capacity was introduced. • Also for winter, biomass residues were transported to the solar power stations to be combusted in order to heat the thermal storages when necessary. At the University of New South Wales, PhD candidate Ben Elliston, Associate Professor Iain MacGill and I commenced an independent simulation project, which removed all of the above assumptions of the ZCA study. However, we still have some assumptions of our
Concentrated solar thermal power stations with thermal storage supply about 40% of the annual electrical energy in the UNSW simulations. Picture courtesy of Millenium Solar.
own that will be progressively removed. Ben presented the first of our projected series of peer-reviewed papers on this topic at the Australian Solar Energy Society’s Solar 2011 conference 1. We performed a series of hour-by-hour computer simulations of the 2010 electricity demand in the five Australian states covered by the National Electricity Market. To meet demand we chose a broader energy mix than ZCA: mature parabolic trough CST technology with thermal storage; wind in existing wind farm locations; solar PV in the major population centres; biofuelled gas turbines; and existing hydro. All of these are commercially available technologies. Together the two types of direct solar technology provide about half the electricity generated. Gas turbines are highly flexible generating plant ideally suited to supporting fluctuating renewable generation. Some are already deployed in Australia as peaking plant fuelled on natural gas. However, they can also burn liquid biofuels produced sustainably from the residues
of existing crops. Indeed, jet aircraft on some overseas commercial flights are already flying with one or more of their engines burning biofuels. Our research confirms that it is technically feasible to supply current electricity demand by 100% renewable energy with the same reliability as the existing fossil fuelled system. The key challenge is meeting demand on winter evenings, a large part of which stems from residential space heating. At sunset on overcast days, the thermal energy storages are not full and sometimes wind speeds are low as well. In our initial baseline simulations, we used biofuelled gas turbines to fill the gap. This is likely to be lower cost than ZCA’s solution of choosing a vast excess of CST power stations, many of which would not be operated in summer. The UNSW study also proposes an even cheaper solution than lots of gas turbines or CST: namely a revitalised residential energy efficiency program to reduce peak electricity demand on winter evenings. In a second paper (to be published) we show that reducing the winter
“Our research confirms that it is technically feasible to supply current electricity demand by 100% renewable energy with the same reliability as the existing fossil fuelled system.” SolarProgress | 9
Special Technical Feature
Above: Solar Millenium’s Andasol (24/7) plant in Spain
10 | SUMMER 2012
peak demand by only 16% allows us to reduce the gas turbine capacity by 27% and the biofuel combusted by 8%, while still maintaining the required reliability. Furthermore, in a future ‘smart’ electricity system it will be easier to reduce demand quickly during periods of low supply. Both the ZCA and UNSW studies refute the claims by renewable energy deniers that renewable energy cannot replace base-load (24-hour) coal-fired power. ZCA interprets its results by saying that CST with thermal storage is base-load. We interpret the simulation results differently, concluding that although CST can perform in a similar manner to base-load in summer, it cannot in winter. However, that doesn’t matter. In a predominantly renewable energy supply mix, the concept of ‘base-load power station’ is redundant. The important result is that renewable energy mixes can give the same reliability of the whole generating system in meeting demand as the existing polluting fossil-fuelled system. Similar results and conclusions are obtained for the USA by David Mills in a paper presented at Solar 20112. The first UNSW paper does not consider the internal transmission requirements within the NEM region for 100% renewable electricity and so has not yet performed an economic analysis. More complex simulation models are being developed to tackle this task. It should be emphasised that neither the modelling of ZCA nor UNSW establishes a timescale for the transition to 100% renewable electricity. However, the main body of the ZCA report claims that the transition could be made in a decade. That claim is actually an assumption based
on the observations that Australia could supply the raw materials for manufacturing the systems and that solar and wind technologies are suitable for rapid manufacture. While these observations are valid, they don’t justify the notion of a very short timescale for the transition. ZCA doesn’t consider the time needed to undertake a huge training program for engineers (especially electric power engineers) and other essential professionals, or the challenges of reversing the industry policies of many previous Australian governments that have decimated most of our manufacturing capacity, or the complex institutional reforms needed, such as changing the rules of the National Electricity Market. ZCA cites no literature on technology diffusion or even on wartime mobilisation of industry. An entirely different kind of research project is needed to investigate possible transition timescales.
1. Elliston, Ben, Diesendorf, Mark & MacGill, Iain, I. (2011) 'Simulations of scenarios with 100% renewable electricity in Australian National Electricity Market', Solar 2011 Conference, Australian Solar Energy Society, Sydney, 30 Nov – 2 Dec. <http://www.ies.unsw.edu.au/staff/ mark.html>. 2. Mills, David R. & Cheng, Weili (2011, to be published) ‘Powering the USA from wind and solar power’, Solar 2011 Conference, Australian Solar Energy Society, Sydney, 30 Nov – 2 Dec.
Dr Mark Diesendorf is Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at UNSW. His most recent book is Climate Action.
Building businesses for an emerging new solar economy Visit www.solar-e.com for regular updates, stories and commentaries for: • Solar Energy Facts • Support to peak associations • Blogs and forums for the general community • Building a network of ethical businesses and professions • The platform for launching the GET SOLAR Campaign
2012 is the year for the commercial campaign • Available to selected industries to collectively market solar. • Building a directory service to deliver enquiries.
Log onto www.solar-e.com and start to expand your business opportunities All enquiries to:
1800 GET SOLAR
Special Technical Feature
of low-E buildings
Star gazer Dr Andreas Luzzi observes that Australia’s building industry is riddled with star rating systems – NatHERS, NABERS and Greenstar among them – which deliver an incomprehensible “galaxy-like” feeling and comparably expensive yet sub-comfortable buildings. He concludes there is significant room to build and enjoy true solar-powered low-E buildings without the stars. The “one-litre” building
“Australia’s economic “sweetspot” of … low-E buildings shows a clear trend towards the use of much more BIPV and a little less low-E technology solutions than in Europe. A real star has been born.”
12 | SUMMER 2012
Sadly for Australia, if the efficacy of our building energy ranking system was put up for comparison with the optimum “Passivhaus” standards widely adopted in recent years in Central Europe, we would come off second best. Somewhat conveniently ‘passivhaus’ translates perfectly into English as ‘passive house’; used here of course in the context of environmental impact. It is a standard that delivers smart, cost-effective residential and commercial buildings that provide year-round comfort with virtually no heating or cooling requirements. Given the relatively cooler climates of central Europe – which comprises Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – such a feat is quite remarkable. Design values for specific annual primary-energy consumption for heating and cooling of base-buildings are set at around 36 MJ/m2/a, or 10 Wh/m2/a or one litre of oilequivalent (loe), hence the term “one-litre” building. This language seems better understood than any of the previously tried energy rating naming systems. The lower the litre-value, the better the building performance. This is irrespective of the size and use of the building as the litrenumber relates to one square metre (m2) of conditioned space per year (loe/m2/a). The one-litre value excludes the energy needs for hot water production and ventilation (both typically 1-1.5 loe/m2/a in Central Europe), and does not include lighting and appliances, all of which have to meet somewhat stringent criteria for minimum energy efficiency. Here in Australia a 6-star NatHERS residential building might translate into an 8- to 10-litre building (heating and cooling only). Similarly, the base-building heating
and cooling component of an Australian commercial 6-star NABERS building would translate into a 4- to 6-litre building. The comparably broad range of both data is due to uncertainties resulting from incomplete one-to-one analyses for different climate zones. Greenstar, however, is even more difficult to compare as only 20% of its total score relates to the energy performance of the base-building. Overall, there seems to be room for significant optimisation of Australian low-E buildings – beyond any star rating.
Towards low-E buildings Considering Australia’s comparably benign climate zones, and in a bid to achieve the Passivhaus standard, buildings in Australia can be designed more simply and cheaper than in Northern Europe, North America or Japan. There is for instance no need to employ 30-40cm thick wall and roof insulation to drastically limit heat transmission losses through heat transfer values (u-values) of below 0.15 W/ m2/K (equivalent to R6.6). Similarly, windows with triple- or even quadruple-glazing for u-values of below 0.6 W/m2/K (R1.6) might be economically sub-optimal in Australia. Nevertheless, there are three significant misconceptions or myths among Australia’s building experts, very much prohibiting base-buildings with Passivhaus standard type performance in Australia. These include: • Natural ventilation: The past two decades in Central Europe have painfully demonstrated that natural ventilation actually limits achievement of Passivhaus-type low-E building performance. The exterior climate is rarely “just right” in terms of temperature and humidity for outdoor air to be taken in as energy-neutral replenishment
Our thanks to Soltecture GmbH for this image.
without compromising comfort. Significant conditioning of fresh air is therefore needed in all commercial buildings as well as residential buildings although our tolerance level for indoor climate fluctuations is higher. The solution was found in the application of controlled fresh-air exchange with mandated energy recuperation of 85% and better, concerning both sensible and latent heat. This necessitated the construction of fully air-tight (sealed) buildings with literally no air infiltration – or exfiltration, reducing associated energy losses through the building envelope by more than 80%. Door-blower tests in new buildings need to demonstrate hourly infiltration airexchange values of less than 0.6 (m3 air / m3 space). • Thermo-breaking: Once European buildings have been well insulated and sealed up, significant localised heat transmission “sins” at structural building elements (eg balconies, roofs, etc) and construction joints (wall/ ceiling, fenestrations, power points, etc) proved to be detrimental to the health of the buildings due to humidity management challenges. Smart thermo-breaking construction solutions (concrete/concrete; concrete/ steel; steel/steel) with effective u-values of 0.5 W/m2/K
(R2) and thermally-broken window frames (including aluminium) with u-values of 0.8W/m2/K (R1.25) have become standard practice. As a strikingly positive “sideeffect” of thermo-breaking and sealing-up buildings, the controlled air-exchange systems became smart “comfort ventilation” systems incorporating air-quality filtration, humidity control units and micro HVAC systems. With wall-inbuilt distributed “fresh-air lungs” for buildings, miniaturised comfort ventilation systems negate the need for conventional centralised mechanical HVAC systems or hydronic heating systems, hence savings on capital investment and energy consumption. • Solar control: As building envelopes have become comprehensively sealed and thermally disconnected from the environment, control of solar heat gain becomes paramount to prevent overheating. The only solutions that really work concern external shading options (if possible as part of passive designs). Any photon transmitted through any visual glazing is trapped inside the building, contributing to more heat load, which can be unwanted all year round. High-performance solar-control glazing is found to be inferior in terms of energy performance
Above: Integrating PV into buildings on a bigger scale.
SolarProgress | 13
Special Technical Feature Our thanks to Olaf Theden for this image
Above: Compass House and its impressive PV system.
compared to combinations of clear low-E glazing with controlled external shading (ie blinds). Overall, as practical building examples prove, Australia can easily achieve a low-E building standard of its own for residential and commercial dwellings with comparable performance to the Passivhaus standard. However, this requires abandoning the notion of natural ventilation in favour of controlled fresh-air exchange (with night purging in favourable climate zones), comprehensively thermobreaking the entire building envelope (including slabs), and employing external shading solutions.
All-electric buildings The exponentially growing trend in Central Europe towards constructing truly low-E buildings such as Passivhaus type dwellings resulted in these buildings becoming “all-electric”. The smart electron has won the building energy-efficiency marathon.
Integrated solarisation As building envelopes have become so efficient, low-E buildings now tend to behave like climate chambers, fully disconnected from the outdoor climate. To illustrate this and without running space-heating (!), a typical Passivhaus loses just on one degree Celsius (ºC) over a 24-hour period at the typical design temperature of –8ºC in Central Europe. Most low-E buildings are therefore equipped with some thermal mass (versions of the ubiquitous “reverse brick-veneer” approach) and with roof- and façade-integrated solar technologies. This includes building-integrated photovoltaic systems (BIPV), building-applied PV systems (BAPV) and building-integrated solar thermal systems (BIST). The slow diurnal thermal response of low-E buildings to extreme outdoor climate conditions allows solar energy to “charge the building up” during daytime only. Space-conditioning can easily wait for the next sunrise. 14 | SUMMER 2012
Economic “Sweet-Spot” Australia seems to struggle to define and implement its own economic “sweet-spot” for low-E buildings, both residential and commercial. The “sweet-spot” refers to the most costeffective combination of technical low-E building design (construction method, insulation, air-sealing, thermo-breaking, day-lighting, solar control, ventilation, etc) and buildingintegrated solarisation (BIPV & BIST). However, as increasing experience in particular with commercial buildings in Australia demonstrates, this economic optimum is shifting dynamically into applying significantly more solar and less low-E building content than in Central Europe. This is due to Australia’s comparably benign climates and ample solar resources and the fact that modern, high-performance BIPV glass-laminate modules retail in Australia for less than $150/m2.
Conclusions While zero-energy buildings have already been advocated and demonstrated back in the late seventies, Passivhaus-type low-E buildings constitute now mandated building codes/ standards in Central Europe. When central mechanical systems are replaced by distributed comfort ventilation systems with inbuilt micro space-conditioning units, low-E buildings with integrated PV technologies are found to be no dearer than conventional BCA buildings. However, as the cost of BIPV is approaching the cost of glazing units only, Australia’s economic “sweet-spot” of such low-E buildings shows a clear trend towards the use of much more BIPV and a little less low-E technology solutions than in Europe. A real star has been born. Dr Luzzi of Laros Technologies has more than two decades’ global experience in renewable energy technologies. He is currently a board member of the Swiss National Institute for Solar Technologies. www.laros.com.au
Solco solar products wholesale kits & components
mono, poly & thin film
single & 3 phase, central, string & micro
mounting, power optimisers, regulators, batteries & more
submersible, surface, bore, pool pumps & more
Solco has been supplying solar energy systems to metro and regional customers across Australia for over 25 years. Through Solco Solar Products you have access to leading brands, together with comprehensive technical and field support. Call us on 1800 074 007 for your local sales representative, or register online at solco.com.au to access 2012 pricing and monthly specials. Australian wholesale distributor for:
A HILTI GROUP COMPANY
1800 074 007 Solco National Distribution | WA | SA | NT | VIC | ACT | NSW | QLD email@example.com
From Vicious Circles to Virtuous Cycles through Built Environment Design In this first of a series of articles on building design and assessment tools for optimum solar build, Janis Birkeland examines flaws inherent in green buildings and suggests ways of integrating building design and solar industries. Prof. Janis Birkeland is well known for exploring the processes of “green” building design and its impact on our built environment, and how assessment tools can be improved to the benefit of the solar industry and public. Green buildings do not address ongoing impacts of existing cities, she says in this article. In part two of her series she looks at some anti-ecological biases of building rating and assessment tools that impede good solar design. And finally, part three offers a design tool to help design and assess solar retrofit technologies which overcomes many biases of existing tools.
Integrating building design and solar industries The solar industry would do well to keep on top of new directions in the building sector. The future is in eco-retrofitting urban areas so that they provide eco-services as well as clean energy. There will be a huge market for multi-functional, synergistic ‘eco-positive’ solar retrofits across all scales and levels of urban structures. So far, buildings do not need to internalize their own impacts, let alone to create positive offsite impacts. Soon, however, developers will be required to over-compensate for any unavoidable impacts by retrofitting other buildings, addressing regional issues such as air pollution, and providing net positive (on and off site) ecological gains. Trans-disciplinary, collaborative design processes are considered pre-requisite to sustainable design, and the solar industry should be a central player. But there is a way to go yet. Green buildings are not yet sustainable and little attention is given to eco-retrofitting. 16 | SUMMER 2012
Being resource and energy efficient does not mean a building is efficient from a ‘whole system’ perspective that necessarily includes the ecology. What we call “ecological” issues are, in fact, actually social and economic ones (eg thermal comfort, energy efficiency, waste reduction). Thus we fail to realise ecological issues are not being addressed. There are no ecological ‘gains’ unless nature and eco-services are increased in total.
Problems with ‘green’ buildings A system, product or development is not net positive unless it (a) addresses the ecological and social deficits of existing cities, (b) generates multiple social and environmental benefits, (c) increases nature and biodiversity habitats, and (d) expands social equity and future options. In other words, a net Positive Development, or ‘PD’, would: (a) address existing deficits, not: • increase disparities of wealth and privatize or remove resources, space and materials from use by others • ignore existing urban ecological issues like biodiversity, habitat and species losses • fail to address the current social and public health issues (eg malnutrition, homelessness, air quality) (b) increase the ecological base, not: • simply aim to reduce resource consumption relative to conventional buildings (they still do more ecological harm than good) • replace natural systems with mechanical replicas designed to emulate nature and ecosystems but not support them • create rigid, single-use spaces and
structures that make change, corrections or environmental improvements costly (c) provide multiple public benefits, not: • exacerbate negative social and ecological impacts caused by previous development, like the greenhouse effect and social segregation • reduce access to energy, food, space and water, and can thus increase problems after natural disasters such as earthquakes • create sterile environments that separate humans from nature, reinforcing the idea that humans are autonomous. (d) expand future social options, not: • lock out future generations from the property market and lock in unsustainable (fossil-fueled) living patterns • close off future land uses and design options generally, because they are largely ecologically irreversible • have huge ‘opportunity costs’ as they do not stretch the use of resources and energy to generate eco-positive impacts
Positive Development Positive Development is a built environment or system that increases the ‘ecological base’ (eg biodiversity, ecological carrying capacity) relative to pre-industrial conditions, and the ‘public estate’ (eg access to the means
of survival) even in crises. PD is shorthand for a paradigm shift from the dominant negative, reductionist paradigm of sustainable development to an eco-positive framework with new design goals, processes, methods and metrics (see Birkeland 2008). We cannot say if sustainable developments exist, because we do not have meaningful metrics at the present. Some landscaping projects like Freshkills Park and Highline Park in New York do show eco-logical thinking on a regional scale. However, they only ‘restore’ nature. How can we increase nature when we cannot improve upon ‘natural’ ecosystems, or fence off ‘wilderness’ areas from pollutants, ferals and genetically-modified organisms? The answer is that cities can be retrofitted to integrate natural systems to support humans, nature and the bioregion. The layers of existing buildings and infrastructure create opportunities for increasing eco-services in cities. For example, algal systems that absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and clean fuel can be combined with wind or PV systems, biodiversity habitat, and so on. PD would make everyone better off, transforming cities from
mausoleums to gardens for the living, and gene banks for their regions (instead of zoos for people). [See illustration].
Eco-positive Design The solar industries can retrofit cities with multi-functional systems that provide ecoservices along with clean energy, so that urban areas give back to their communities and bioregions more than they take. Among the many elements of eco-positive design are: Design for Eco-services: Eco-services are the myriad things that nature provides for free, such as clean air and water. Existing and even new development could become sustainable if, among other things, it generated surplus ‘ecoservices’ in relation to floor area. (The term ‘ecoservices’ is used here to include direct benefits to nature, such as the increase in ecosystem functioning, integrity, space and resilience. Eco-positive Retrofitting: The on-going negative impacts of cities must be corrected. The time, materials, energy or money to replace cities does not exist. However, the errors of past building design can be corrected with minor modifications. This is a no brainer.
Buildings need upgrading regularly, and energy retrofitting has proven to pay for itself while improving human health and productivity. Multi-functional design: Single-function products, spaces and buildings quickly out-live their purposes and become waste. The author is designing modular solar retrofitting products to generate many ecological, social and economic functions for different situations and micro-climates. As long as there are billboards, for example, they could double as solar collectors, wind generators, living walls for air and water cleansing, habitats for indigenous creatures and their food sources, a trap for feral animals, and/or play structures. Critique and debate is welcome (Janis.firstname.lastname@example.org). Reference “Positive Development” From vicious circles to virtuous cycles through built environment design. (2008) Earthscan Books ISBN 9781844075799 272pp
Dr Janis Birkeland is Professor of Sustainable Design at the School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland, New Zealand. SolarProgress | 17
Solar 2011 Highlights
Solar 2011 highlights In late November the who’s who of the solar scene assembled at Australian Technology Park in Sydney for the three day AuSES conference that featured more than 100 guest presenters from all quarters of the globe. With countless presentations delivered in the main auditorium complemented by a series of specialist streams in the sprawling premises, we cannot do justice to the breadth and depth of material presented – nor indeed the top line-up of presenters themselves. Instead we bring you a few insights and snapshots that we hope capture the flavour and variety of the solar energy landscape. What is clear is that the solar industry in its entirety is making big strides and there is no shortage of interest, talent and drive to deliver a powerful renewable future.
Story by Nicola Card
18 | SUMMER 2012
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says At a timely period in the evolution of Australia’s green economy the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet (who at the time of Solar 2011 was attending the Labor Party annual conference) provided a video address to the AuSES conference. His full speech can be seen on www.auses.org.au but here we relay the main messages delivered by Mr Combet who acknowledged the vital role of AuSES in the development of solar energy in Australia. Mr Combet said the year 2011 presented a milestone in the history of renewable energy in Australia with parliament passing the government’s clean energy future legislation and the introduction of a carbon price from July 1 2012. “One of the most important economic reforms in Australia’s history … that will give the renewable energy sector a major boost” by delivering the right combination of economic incentives, support and investment that will cut greenhouse gas emissions, support skills development, and create jobs to position Australia for a low carbon future. “These are powerful incentives for further growth in the renewable energy sector … and will boost demand for alternative energy sources such as a small scale solar installations for homes and businesses. “The carbon price will be complemented by our existing renewable energy target which has already supported over ê
Allan Jones MBE and Clover Moore of City of Sydney
ê 1000MW of small scale solar photovoltaics capacity in over half a million households and half a million solar hot water heaters. We continue to provide assistance to households installing panels when they need it most – when they are paying for up-front costs.” Mr Combet also announced the creation of statutory body ARENA to administer $3.2 billion in support for research, development and commercialisation of renewable energy technologies; and the new commercially oriented Clean Energy Finance Corporation that will invest $10 billion in businesses seeking to get innovative clean energy projects off the ground. He said confidence in large scale solar energy is also reflected in the government’s $3 billion commitment to the solar Flagships program with money funnelled into the 250MW solar thermal gas hybrid power station at Chinchilla, Queensland, and 150MW solar PV plant at Moree in NSW. In addition the Clean Technologies Innovation program will support business investment in renewable energy to the tune of $200 million. Meantime, the four year $40 million remote indigenous energy program will help communities access clean energy that is affordable and reliable aroundthe-clock that will in turn deliver improvements in health, education and long-term economic viability. Up to $32 million is provided through Clean Energy and skills packages to help educational institutions and industry develop materials and expertise needed to promote clean energy skills, he said. “I am sure you will agree that all of this is very far sighted and a comprehensive suite of policies that is very important for your industry,” Mr Combet said. “… and this provides the renewable energy sector with a strong platform for growth and future investment … and as we move forward into next era we’ll be able to say Australians are doing their fair share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” (Just a thought: Surely climate ‘change’ minister is a misnomer, why not instead use the more positive climate ‘stabilisation’ minister?)
The Greening of Sydney The picture on the left features the interior of the heritage listed Sydney Town Hall, which captures the ornate splendour of a bygone era, while the roof of the building (which is not pictured) sports a large PV array to capture solar rays. “Proving that heritage and sustainability can go hand in hand,” says Lord Mayor Clover Moore. That PV system is but the tip of the iceberg for the city of Sydney which is laying the foundation for a super smart clean, green future through Sustainable Sydney 2030. One of Australia’s most significant and all embracing clean energy programs, Sustainable Sydney 2030 combines several strategies that will reduce emissions by 70% (on 2006 levels) and move the city towards 100 per cent local energy by 2030.
“The program tackles global warming and positions Sydney as a vibrant, inclusive, 21st century city for the Asia-Pacific,” Moore said. “Because the majority of emissions come from the same three sources: buildings, street lighting and waste, the key is to implement the infrastructure for ourselves,” she said, adding Sydney already boasts 18 notable renewable energy projects – solar electricity and solar water-heating systems – and 40 more buildings have been earmarked for ‘greening’. As much as $5 million has been outlaid on GreenPower for carbon neutrality, with reductions in electricity consumption to the value of 173,000kWh and 180 tonnes fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The city benefits further by saving $30,000 on annual energy bills. “This package demonstrates leadership to the community and government,” Moore said. “Sydney, through the University of NSW, also proudly became the first city in the world to offer training in photovoltaics and solar energy. “Australia has long enjoyed high-level expertise in this area. What has been lacking has been the political will, and investment, to put that expertise into building the infrastructure for a sustainable future. We’re hoping to change that,” said Moore, who appointed UK energy expert Allan Jones MBE as chief development officer for Energy and Climate Change.
“Renewable energy is now mainstream.” Leading the charge Allan Jones arrived in Sydney two years ago with a wealth of experience, having successfully reduced greenhouse gas emissions at the City of Woking and also the City of London by 80 per cent. His credentials have already been put to the test in developing Sydney’s Green Infrastructure Plan. At Solar 2011, Jones elaborated on the series of Master Plans for sustainable energy that embrace waste and water systems, “plans and decentralisation of energy that will cut Sydney’s energy bills by $60 million annually and reduce emissions by between 2.2 million to 8.4 million tonnes by 2030.” What excited delegates at the AuSES conference was the broader picture: an initiative on a grand scale that embraces the greater spirit of clean and green. A central plank involves producing 70 per cent of the city’s energy needs locally from trigeneration, with natural gas replacing coal fired energy in city buildings. The balance will be sourced from renewable energy: PV, wind from off-shore and on-shore, hydro, geothermal, solar and marine (waves). SolarProgress | 19
Solar 2011 Highlights
Right: John Grimes AuSES CEO with Mr Wu Dacheng and their interpreter
Waste not want not: a valuable resource Trigeneration: the simultaneous generation of electricity, useful heating and useful cooling from the same original heat source such as fuel or solar energy. (Courtesy Wiki.)
20 | SUMMER 2012
Back to trigeneration: Jones explained that within 250 kilometres of the city there is enough waste being generated in the commercial, domestic, agriculture, farming and the forestry sectors being chanelled into land-fill or incinerated. It makes a lot more sense to capture and convert this into renewable gas. Jones displayed a slide depicting a future with underground waste chutes replacing city refuse collection and feeding used products to the regeneration centre. “Trigeneration produces low carbon electricity, heating and air-conditioning for clusters of surrounding buildings,” Jones explained. “Initially it will supply council buildings and privately owned buildings in the first low-carbon-zone precincts of the City, then there is a plan to deliver the system’s 360-megawatts-or-more target by 2030 across the whole of the local government area. “By generating electricity locally using more efficient systems, that is gas engines, we can recover that waste heat and use that for heating and hot water and in a further step convert that hot water into chilled water for air conditioning … essentially thermal chillers will replace electric chillers and supply air conditioning to offices therefore dispensing the need for electric air conditioning systems.” Buildings connecting to the thermal network systems will reduce their emissions by between 40 and 60 per cent, which in turn halves the due carbon tax. Another bonus: the waste heat generates zero carbon. Four low-carbon-zones across central Sydney feature in the City’s Trigeneration Master Plan: Martin Place/George Street; Town Hall Precinct; Pyrmont/Ultimo; and Green Square. Currently 80 per cent of the City of Sydney’s emissions are generated from electricity produced by coal-fired power stations in the Hunter Valley, and as much as 30% of the energy (heat) is lost in the process of transmission, Jones explained. “Our estimates suggest that by 2030 Sydney will have displaced the equivalent of one coal-fired power station, saving up to $1.5 billion in avoided capital investment in new coal-fired power stations and grid upgrades.”
A trigeneration energy network will cement Sydney’s place at the forefront of the race to address climate change, but the blueprint for the green development is not without hurdles: a major one being those government regulations that effectively prevent construction of local, low-carbon electricity systems. Listening intently to the address by Jones was Jeff Lyng, to whom rules and regulations are familiar territory.
Colorado powers ahead Jeff Lyng (formerly of Recharge Colorado www.rechargecolorado.org) reported on Colorado’s significant inroads into clean energy and itemised the lengthy list of bills necessary to usher in Colorado’s new Energy economy legislation. The region has since notched up some impressive statistics: 1MW PV installed in 2005, a leap to 100MW in 2010 and rising to 120MW in 2011. In 2007 the state of Colorado registered 350 active PV companies; today 90,000 companies are engaged in new energy, and all up $4.2 billion has been spent on installed renewable energy, totalling 2100MW capacity. Naturally “Job creation has been huge – green collar jobs,” Lyng said. Impressive though the figures are, Colorado’s performance pales against California which commands a massive 48% of installed renewable energy in the US, where incentives take the form of loan guarantees and third party interest. rather than FiTs. Lyng’s conclusion? “Solar markets can grow extremely quickly with the right solar policies in place.” Still in the US, David Mills who referred to NREL, NASA and FERC data to demonstrate how the USA could be powered 24/7 by wind and solar energy; and Brightsource’s Andrew Dyer presented colourful insights into the mighty Ivanpah, the turbine driven power plant is the largest of its kind being built in the world. Once operational the output will exceed all Californian parabolic systems combined. Given the plant comes with a $2.2 billion price tag and benefitted from favourable US public policy (most notably California’s renewable energy target) and loan guarantees, the
Are your customers question on conference delegates’ minds was the likelihood of such a development ever being duplicated in Australia. Brightsource founder Arnold Goldman was a mentor to CSP specialist Scott Frier of Abengoa Solar, a man committed to helping drive “fantastic transformation in the energy system”. “These days troughs are being developed but towers are the future,” Frier said. “Especially when visual impacts are mitigated with the military and other concerns in mind.” Larger concepts are planned, taking output from 20MW to 50MW and as much as 135MW ... but attenuation issues limit the radius of heliostats to one kilometre from the tower. Frier believes Alice Springs presents the ideal conditions for a large scale solar plant.
China’s surging solar scene ... Next we move to China, with Mr Wu Dacheng mapping the rise and rise of China’s PV market and the high goal in PV targets of 100GW to 2020, with the medium or ‘intended’ goal of 50MW.
… and Germany’s smart systems Stephen Tait of SMA discussed Germany’s ‘intelligent’ PV grid which works in conjunction with the power utilities and meteorological companies by using weather forecasts to determine the level of feed-in, ie foreseeable PV contribution to the grid system. And a real trailblazer in all things solar is Dr Christian Holter of Austrian based SOLID whose key message related to the future of cooling systems powered by solar energy.
“Solar markets can grow extremely quickly with the right solar policies in place.”
GIVING AWAY SOLAR POWER
????????????????? Sunsink Solar Storage uses the latest battery technology to collect and store solar PV energy for use when it is most benificial to the system owner. Sun Sink units can deliver power at times when grid power is at it’s highest price. The system comes complete with five years warranty and a full service scheme for the life of the unit. Future-proof design ensures the unit can adapt to future grid demand applications. The units are small, efficient and SAFE. Available sizes: Sunsink Mini 2.4 KWh (suits 1.0-1.5kw of PV) Sunsink Midi 4.8 KWh (suits 1.5- 2.2kw of PV) Sunsink Maxi 7.2 KWh (suits 2.2-3.0kw of PV) Sunsink Mega 9.6 KWh (suits 2.5-4.0kw of PV) Size selection will depend on daytime usage, refer our website for further sizing data.
www.SUNSINK.com. Global scales To complete the wrap we take a quick round-the-world trip courtesy of IEA’s Dr Milou Beerepoot who notes the world energy outlook of 2010-2035 identifies China and India accounting for 50% of growth. Thus “renewables have a very important role to play … and carbon prices are important but will not be soon enough or high enough, they are just bridging the gap.” Dr David Renné of NREL and current ISES President reported that today’s global PV capacity comes in at 40GW of which 1GW is installed capacity in Australia, which translates to one of the highest per capita. There are 5000 utility scale systems worldwide that together meet 25% of capacity. Renné added that AuSES is one of the most active branches of ISES.
Cheap, Clean Power To The Grid
“at the right place and at the right time” Orders, Distributor and Agent Enquiries to: VULCAN ENERGY Pty Ltd 29-45 Ashmore Road Bundall Qld. 4217. Tel. 07 55 935553 Fax. 07 55 267447 email. email@example.com Web. griddemand.com.au SolarProgress | 21
Dr. Muriel Watt and colleague
“Australian PV is among the cheapest in the world courtesy of favorable foreign exchange rates.” —Nigel Morris
22 | SUMMER 2012
A sad indictment on Australia was the recurring theme of this nation lagging behind. Ann Bowering of SIM VSE declared: “We need to harness our collective ingenuity – not lag behind the US, Germany and Spain … we are too complacent, that needs to be discouraged and replaced with innovation”. Professor Deo Prasad advocates goals for a low carbon (LC) future. One of Australia’s higher profile initiatives is the Solar Cities program, and on hand was Canberra based Director Malcolm Thorp who described Alice Springs Solar City (see spring Solar Progress) a “shining light”. Speaking later to Solar Progress, Thorp said “For me the number one thing about solar cities is starting a conversation. What we are about today is to continue that dialogue and get people thinking about that dialogue. Not just solar power but renewable energy in its entirety.” Professor Paul Meredith of the University of Queensland took us on a virtual tour of another iconic project: the $4.85m 1.2MW PV system that will reduce UQ’s carbon footprint by 20% by 2020 (on 2008 figures) with a payback of less than 10 years. It is “coming on a treat … and we would be happy with 10-12 years of free energy production,” he stated. (See article on UQ on pages 26-27.) For his part, Professor Martin Green – newly conferred AO – noted how things have changed: “A few years ago only large organisations such as Telstra could afford rooftop PVs …fortunately the ASP (average selling price) has dramatically reduced and at the same time this has accelerated advances in technology.” Award winning Nigel Morris with a finger on the pulse of market intelligence documented the installation rate of 2MW daily over the past two years becoming a threat to the traditional energy suppliers. But it sure is one “solar-coaster” ride, says Morris. On a positive note, all surveys and market data shows “consumers love PV”. Better still, Australian PV is among
the cheapest in the world courtesy of favorable foreign exchange rates. And in more good news: more markets are emerging in Australia and of these Verve in WA is one strong example. “Large scale has enormous potential but there are barriers too,” said Morris, who is a regular contributor to Solar Progress. Other local presenters included Sol-ace Rob Campbell whose key message was “The industry needs to build trust levels on the basis of return on investment.” Mark Twidell of ASI posed the notion of Australia capturing value in world solar through its strengths … among them the significant number of UNSW alumni who are now leaders in the global solar industry. “On the federal scene – the carbon package got up and we will soon have the Australian Renewable Energy Agency which will help attract foreign investment and is a sign of maturing of the sector. Renewable energy is now mainstream.” Twidell’s views were echoed by eminent solar scientist Muriel Watt of IT Power who John Grimes introduced as a ‘solar industry icon’. Her presentation illustrated the PV market meeting targets and capturing significant global venture capital. With electricity prices increasing by 10-20% annually, Watt projects that 6GW will be installed globally by 2020 of which 400MW will be derived from flagship installations. Newly elected AuSES President Steve Blume has deconstructed domestic energy bills and notes the spikes caused by rising costs of distribution. “Rising retail prices also reflect soaring administrative and marketing expenditure in the face of competition,” he reported. Among Wayne Smith’s messages: “The politics around the CEFC which is cashed up to $10 billion in five years will only intensify.” He bravely predicted the emerging solar landscape under the renewable energy target and likelihood of reverse auctions in ACT on development of a large scale, 40MW solar plant. (See Wayne’s column on page 24 for more insights.)
See pages 44–45 for more words and pictures from Solar 2011
“All surveys and market data shows consumers love PV.”
Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt outlined his party’s Direct Action Plan on the Environment and Climate Change in a bid to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5% in 2020 from 1990 levels. The plan being to establish a $10.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, create an additional one million solar roofs; establish at least 25 solar towns and 100 solar schools; create at least 25 new geothermal and tidal towns; Support research into the potential of renewable fuels; build Smart grids to clean up our cities and support renewable energy; create ‘green’ corridors: a 20 million tree initiative; and boost emerging renewable technologies. Climate Commissioner Gerry Hueston (deputising for Chief Commissioner Tim Flannery) posed the question: “Does the solar industry have a solid enough basis for sustainable growth on a long-term footing?” and said his office was actively talking to business and community groups yet finding many are confused about climate change; their uncertainty extends to the solar industry. The earlier we address developments in renewable energy the cheaper it is in the long term, he said. “There is a real role for the solar industry to get out there, to tell a credible story so the public know the realities.” His parting advice to the solar delegates: “Talk to the outside world as well as yourselves.”
Political perspectives One of the most anticipated addresses was that of Senator Christine Milne who John Grimes introduced, saying: “AuSES has no better friend than the Greens.” Senator Milne was upbeat, stating: “There is a real buzz around solar, we are on the cusp of something amazing … a global energy revolution. But as Einstein said, we cannot solve the problems by applying the same thinking that caused the problem.” Negative coverage of clean energy is endemic in the press; more politicians now turn to the more factual, unbiased reports by Giles Parkinson of Climate Spectator,” Milne said. It’s been a momentous 12 months for the Greens who struck a fourpillar package with the government. Emissions trading is based on 550ppm; the Greens called for the lesser 400ppm but that would have meant a $50 carbon price. “ARENA and CEFC are complementary packages but we need to get to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible. The IEA states there is no room for the fossil fuel sector by 2017. Bankers and investors alike need to know that renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuel.”
Other salient messages delivered by the Senator: “Challenge the Treasury on the ridiculous PV assumptions. Ditto the notion of “clean coal”. Do not retreat into a place of frustration. Solar is exciting and has genuine league players who should demand the same respect and recognition the fossil fuel monopolies have received over the past 100 years. “John Grimes is doing an amazing job in the space. The fact is Australian people love solar. But the gap between what is and what could be (globally) could not be wider. Bridge the gap! In the shortest time frame possible. To help rein in global warming by 2%.”
SolarProgress | 23
2012: a year of action for Australia’s solar industry Wayne Smith takes a look at the solar landscape and the tectonic shifts that will reshape the future. Having endured 2011’s dramatic and violent solar policy rollercoaster – what Nigel Morris has termed the solar-coaster – the solar industry will be hoping for a much more comfortable ride this year. That might, however, be wishful thinking as there are a few more twists and turns to come. Good planning and strong advocacy should, however, make the ride more manageable and more profitable. Carbon politics and policy will continue to drive solar policy in 2012, kicked along by one outstanding megatrend. And that is: 2012 will be the year we finally put a price on pollution. At long last, we will be penalising pollution and rewarding clean energy. That will see the acceleration of the megatrend that sees the price of coal-fired power increasing and the cost of solar falling dramatically. Increasingly, solar power will make sense economically and environmentally, and correspondingly solar will come under ever increasing attack from its fossil fuel competitors.
Clean Energy programs and packages The year 2012 will also see the roll out of other key planks of the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future package, including the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program, $330 million Low Carbon Communities Program and the $40 million Remote Indigenous Energy Program. The CEFC and ARENA, in particular, have the potential to supercharge investment in solar, creating a bridge across the valley of death that divides research and development and demonstration and commercialisation. ARENA has now been established in law, with the support of all political parties, and the CEFC will start to take shape in 2012, before hopefully opening for business in 2013. The CEFC’s future is more uncertain, being opposed by the Coalition and caught in an increasingly shrill public debate around renewable energy. This year will also see a review of the Renewable Energy Target. The RET legislation requires a review of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target to be held in the second half of 2012. This will provide an opportunity to improve the operation of both schemes but it will also, unquestionably, increase pressure on the Government to rein in the perceived cost of both schemes.
Busting a few myths The politics of solar is wrapped in the politics of carbon pricing and trapped in the politics of electricity prices. Opponents of carbon pricing, the Renewable Energy Target and State and Territory feed-in tariff schemes argue these schemes are, or will be, responsible for soaring household and business energy prices, but the facts suggest otherwise and it is time for some mythbusting.
24 | SUMMER 2012
The primary driver of rising electricity prices is the need to fix our creaking, ageing electricity grid. AGL research suggests network costs (upgrading poles and wires) could cause price rises of up to 66% in NSW and Queensland by 2015. The Clean Energy Council estimates the combined cost of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target at $78 per year for the average Australian household ($1.50 a week). By 2020, the cost of renewable energy is estimated to be 4-7% of the average household power bill. Treasury modelling suggests a carbon price will increase average household costs by $9.90 a week (with average compensation of $10.10 a week). Of course, the facts alone will not stop the attacks on the renewable energy target, and it is critically important that the solar industry is organised and makes the case for investment in solar. Importantly, the Renewable Energy Target has bipartisan support, but this support will be tested within the Government and Opposition as the debate focuses on detailed design of the renewable energy schemes.
“At long last, we will be penalising pollution and rewarding clean energy” Community-driven pressure Community concern about rising electricity prices will also put further pressure on State Governments to adjust State feed-in tariffs. The Australian Government has already put this on the agenda through its draft Energy White Paper, although the truth is State and Territory Governments have already dramatically cut their feed-in tariffs. The solar industry supports a consistent national approach to feed-in tariffs, and it is time Governments actually implemented their 2008 agreement on National Principles for Feed-in Tariff Schemes. This could see a guaranteed fair price for solar, although as always the devil will be in the detail. More than one million Australians now own solar panels or solar hot water systems. Solar is Australia’s clean energy present and will increasingly shape Australia’s clean energy future. This will be a critical year in building that clean energy future – a year of action. Wayne Smith is Director, Clean Economy Services and also consultant to the Australian Solar Energy Society.
Quite possibly the world’s most innovative inverter.
INCLUDED WITH NO EXTRA COST. All EnaSolar inverters come with a built-in web server as standard to interface the performance and a statistics package. When an EnaSolar inverter is configured to a local network via Wi-Fi, this sends small packets of data back to the servers at EnaSolar and this database then forms “Online” our web based PV system monitoring & reporting tool. This enables us or your installer to pick up any problems your system may have and then advise you of the appropriate course of action, usually before you have even noticed there is a problem!
We include features other manufacturers don’t even offer as extras! - Built-in Wi-Fi as standard for web based PV system monitoring & reporting. Optional Ethernet version available. - Local New Zealand manufacturer with years of experience in power management. - Wide voltage range, 100-550V. - Fully outdoors mountable IP55 housing. - Tap sensor on front housing, no switches to fail here.
- Integrated lockable DC and AC isolating switches. Spend less time installing and save the cost of that switch and housing. - Front facing easy care heatsink, no creepy crawlies or birds will be living on this inverter. - A range of grid tied solar inverters to suit your requirements - 1.5, 2.0, 3.0 and 3.8kW available with a 4.0 and 5.0kW dual MPPT coming soon.
one cool inverter. Tel +64-3-364 9328 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.enasolar.net
Images: Our thanks to Fiona Cameron of the University of Queensland who supplied the images on these pages.
switches to solar
power Sometimes the smallest things
Sporting a massive 1.22MW rooftop PV system at St Lucia and smaller installations at three other campuses, the University of Queensland is a trailblazer in solar powered energy. And as Nicola Card found, the very process of generating energy has spawned a series of valuable research projects. 26 | SUMMER 2012
can mess with the best intentions. As in the case up on Heron Island’s UQ Research Station where the 54.6kWp PV system may have slashed demand for diesel-powered fuel but could be a fraction more effective were it not for the quantities of excrement deposited by the region’s Black Noddy Terns and Wedgetailed Shearwaters. Fortunately the same problem does not occur on North Stradbroke Island which is home to the UQ’s Moreton Bay Research Station with its 40kWp system. The rural Gatton campus boasts a 25kWp system, but the jewel in the crown is the mighty 1.22MW array that adorns UQ’s St Lucia campus: 5004 polycrystalline silicon solar panels over 8200sqm across four rooftops. Professor Paul Meredith of the UQ School of Mathematics and Physics who was a key presenter at the Solar 2011 conference outlined the university’s desire to reduce its carbon footprint by 20% by 2020 on 2008 figures; specifically, cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1600 tonnes annually (or by way of popular analogy remove the equivalent of 335 cars). The good news is UQ is on track to reach the forecast 1.75GWh per annum. Since the official launch date of July 15 2011 the system has met or indeed exceeded expectation, supplying 5% of peak power and providing 3% of the campus’s overall energy. All being well over the next decade or so $6.5 million in power costs will be avoided.
Widespread interest It was just three years ago, January 2009, when the project was first pitched. Thereafter it took the best part of 12 months to raise the necessary capital. “It was a long process,” said Meredith, adding that by July 2009 the project had undergone some refinement and capital raising, with numerous parties including the Queensland government involved in funding the $4.85 million EPC (engineering procurement and construction). “An additional $2.65 million was channelled into a visitor centre, viewing platform, additional ground works and the development of a public user interface. It also included the establishment of the research program,” Meredith said.
All-important research data The outputs of inverters are monitored and live data is fed onto www.uq.edu.au/solarenergy which is frequented by industry, government, the public, educational institutions and researchers with an interest in solar energy. (In early February a glance at the real-time fast ticking meter showed carbon savings of 1,085,035kg and power savings close to $40,000 on energy clocked at 1,142,149kWh.) Meantime the sizeable zinc-bromine battery storage prototype RedFlow 200 rated at 200kW that is connected to a 339kW section of solar panels provides significant information on interactive yield management as well as new methods of feeding power to the grid. A big advantage is the batteries contain water rather than acid, with Meredith remarking: “They are
making solar energy much more useable, useful and effective … [zinc-bromide batteries are] next-generation technology.” Dwarfed by the PV array but an important player in the line-up is the Ingenero supplied SolFocus CPV whose 20 reflectors mirror the sun’s trajectory and pump 8.4kW into the grid, its primary purpose being to compare different solar energy technology. Still on data: analysis and insights on the solar-generated power and the integration of the grid with numerous types of small and medium-sized renewable energy sources could not have been sourced without the assistance of distribution company Energex which injected $90,000 to the state-of-the-art metering and monitoring equipment. Solar Progress talked to John Susa of panel manufacturer Trina Solar. Given the company aims to ‘bring solar to the mainstream, anywhere it is needed’, the UQ development
has been a boon. Susa revealed that that in 2010 Trina Solar sold close to 20MW of which a significant 1.2 MW was secured by UQ. “The university was looking for a turnkey solution and Trina came in with a system integrator from Singapore. We have also forged an R and D partnership with UQ for tracking data and large scale projections, specifically reviewing anti-reflection coatings and shade analysis,” said Susa. “It is exciting for Trina to have UQ as a reference.”
Performance review Just seven months down the track how is the PV array performing? “It is coming on a treat,” says Meredith. “The system is working extremely well; it is a quality design and product. Early signs are that the anticipated yield of 1.75GW hours per annum will be easily met; 1.8GWh appears more likely.
SolarProgress | 27
Overview of concentrating solar thermal simulation tools CSP simulation tools are in constant development around the world. With greater experience, the accurate forecasting of energy outputs will become more certain and will aid the process of building CSP projects more widely.
By Simon Mason
There has been a rapid increase of interest in using concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies for utility-scale electricity generation. The engineering and financial challenges of these large projects have created a need for accurate technical and economic simulation tools to quantify the expected electricity output and costs of a particular plant, as well as the uncertainties in that analysis. The currently available CSP simulation tools that can be applied to different stages of a utility-scale CSP project (Table 1) are reviewed here, as well as how they can be applied by different users, such as project developers; consulting engineers; and engineer, procure, and construct (EPC) contractors. The System Advisor Model (SAM) was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Boulder, Colorado, and is capable of design and simulation of a wide range of renewable energy technologies. The tool is based on the TRNSYS simulation engine and uses a number of solar thermal electric component (STEC) models as the basis for the simulations. Economic calculations are also tightly integrated. Greenius, developed at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), is capable of design and simulation of a range of renewable energy technologies, and also includes economic calculations. Thermoflex is a heat balance simulation program developed by Thermoflow LLC that can be applied to a wide range of thermodynamic systems, including CSP technology. IPSEpro is a heat balance simulation program developed by SimTech that is capable of simulation of a wide range 28 | SUMMER 2012
of thermal and chemical processes across a correspondingly broad range of industries, including CSP technology. Ebsilon Professional is a mass and energy balance simulation program developed by Evonic Industries. In collaboration with DLR in Germany, a solar library (EbsSolar) has been developed that allows the incorporation of parabolic trough and linear Fresnel solar fields into complete thermal power plant models. TRNSYS is a generalised simulation environment for solving complex engineering problems that has been developed by the University of Wisconsin â€“ Madison. The program is distributed commercially by Thermal Energy System Specialists (TESS); however, it is open source, with the FORTRAN source code distributed with the software. Each of these tools is publicly available; some are freeware (SAM, Greenius) while others
are commercial (Thermoflex, IPSEpro, Ebsilon Pro). Each tool has its relative strengths and weaknesses, and will be more or less suited to a particular task throughout a projectâ€™s life cycle.
Macro Economic Study One of the first tasks undertaken in developing a new CSP project is a macro-economic study. This is typically undertaken by the project developer and based on a large number of assumptions and simplifications, with few project details available. The main objective at this stage is to determine whether or not a project could be viable given a certain economic/regulatory framework. For this task, SAM and Greenius are the most suitable of the tools available. Both come with standardised performance models and cost data for a range of different technologies, and incorporate advanced economic analysis.
Table 1: Simulation tool applications summary table
System Advisor Model
ü ü û û û
ü ü ü û û û
û û ü û
û û ü ü û
û û ü ü û
û û ü û
Macro-economic study Pre-feasibility study Feasibility study Bankable annual energy production assessment Project engineering Commissioning tests Forecasting
ü well suited
At the pre-feasibility stage, more detailed information about the project will be known and a more detailed analysis is conducted. The goal is still to determine whether or not a particular project is viable, but some assumptions and simplifications can be replaced by known facts. For this stage, SAM and Greenius are still the most suitable packages, allowing the user to gradually replace the default assumptions with projectspecific details. If a project progresses beyond pre-feasibility to full feasibility, a more advanced analysis is required. At this stage, more details are known about the project, and the project developer may no longer be able to adequately model the proposed plant in SAM or Greenius. These tools only allow the user to define the parameters of preconfigured plants, and do not enable customisation of the plant technology or layout.
“CSP tools are constantly being developed and updated, with new technologies and features added, to better meet the needs of the industry.”
Detailed analyses Eventually the project developer or consulting engineer, will use one of the more advanced packages—Thermoflex, Ebsilon Pro, IPSEpro or TRNSYS. These packages give the user greater control over the plant configuration and technology, which is required to undertake more detailed analysis. At the conclusion of a feasibility study, if the project is progressed, tenders will be opened. The developer will typically need to secure finance for the project, and one important aspect of this requirement is to have a reliable (bankable) estimate of the annual energy production of the plant. This estimate must be provided, with an uncertainty measure, to potential financing institutions to allow them to evaluate the project. Currently, none
Above: The tools at a glance Below: Typical parabolic trough plant
of the available packages assists the user to undertake an uncertainty estimate, so this must be done externally. The STAMP project currently underway within the solarPACES group will produce guidelines for undertaking uncertainty analyses on solar thermal power plants. The preferred contractor will be required, typically under an EPC contract, to develop the detailed design of the plant to the developer’s specification. To do the detailed engineering design, and to allow the contractual performance warranties to be written, a detailed simulation is required. For this purpose, the commercial packages Thermoflex, Ebsilon Pro and IPSEpro are the most suitable, allowing a high level of customisation and control over the simulation. These packages are also the most suitable for use during commissioning tests, where the plant must be run and simulated under different conditions. Forecasting is currently an area that these packages have not addressed, and one that will be needed to allow operating plants to accurately forecast their energy output, and bid into electricity markets accordingly. A number of forecasting tools are currently under development at different research institutions, however the author is not aware of any publicly available. The simulation tools discussed in this article are currently used by leading developers, engineers and researchers in the CSP field around the world. They are constantly being developed and updated, with new technologies and features added, to better meet the needs of the industry. For most users, more than one package will be required to meet their changing needs throughout a project’s life cycle. SolarProgress | 29
300 years on –
a new thermodynamic cycle for passive solar power If things pan out positively for inventor Noel Barton, there could be a new look and greater practical purpose for the roofs of car parks, shopping centres and public buildings. These, as well as unused plots of land, are suitable sites for new mid-sized solar power stations. Read more about Barton’s meticulously crafted evaporation engine, a product of his inventive passion over the past eight years, and now ready for construction on prototype scale.
Noel Barton, founder of Sunoba Pty Ltd, gained his PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Western Australia. Prior to becoming a full-time inventor, he worked at the University of New South Wales and CSIRO Australia. Dr Barton’s R&D within Sunoba Pty Ltd has concentrated on new heat engines and heat pumps, with a strong emphasis on renewable energy and energy conservation. Sunoba Pty Ltd seeks to develop these concepts in collaboration with others. For further details visit www.sunoba.com.au 32 | SUMMER 2012
There are two main ways by which engineers generate electricity from the sun today – photovoltaics, which has the lion’s share of the market, and solar thermal. ‘Solar thermal’ involves heat engines, devices that convert the sun’s heat into power. There are many ways to collect the heat (dishes, troughs, Compact Linear Fresnel Arrays, towers) and three thermodynamic cycles that have been successfully used (Rankine, Brayton, Stirling). Solar thermal has two great advantages over photovoltaics, namely thermal storage of energy and the capability for co-firing with fossil fuels or biomass. With all solar power plants, the most important attribute is the levelised electricity cost, not the technology that collects the heat and produces the electricity. Here we describe a new concept that offers excellent economic prospects. As a historical antecedent, in Newcomen’s (1712) steam engine steam was spray-cooled in a cylinder to produce sub-atmospheric pressure, thus driving a piston. Similarly, spray-cooling of a parcel of hot unsaturated air lowers the pressure or specific volume, and can therefore be used in a power cycle. It’s a remarkable fact that evaporative coolers can generate power. These concepts led to a completely new thermodynamic cycle for power generation from hot air sourced from passive solar heating or industrial waste heat. The cycle is based on evaporative cooling of hot air at reduced pressure. It would work this way for passive solar power generation. Air is drawn under the length of a transparent insulated canopy by a slight pressure deficit at the inlet manifold of an engine. The air is warmed by the sun under the canopy and then ingested into the engine where heat energy is converted into a power stroke of a piston. Air is both the heat transfer fluid and the working gas of the engine, so heat exchangers and condensers would not be needed. The engine would be very unusual – piston-incylinder, multi-cylinder, large, slow-revving and
lightly stressed. It would have a very long life and many components could be plastic or fibreglass. Aspects of this work have been published in international journals and presented at AuSES conferences and at the 2011 Solar World Congress. An experimental engine that confirmed the evaporation power cycle was built in 2008, and the figure shows the simulated output over 365 days from a canopyengine system at a suitable site. Heat collection takes place cheaply and passively at ambient pressure inside a glasshouse. The glass canopy needs a coating to reflect infrared radiation from the ground and a mechanism like slats or bubbles to suppress turbulent air convection at the underside of the glass cover. While the efficiencies will be relatively low, the levelised electricity cost is expected to be excellent. Water consumption cannot be ignored in this concept. Fortunately, rainfall run-off from the canopy can contribute substantially to the water requirement, and the balance can be supplied from desalinated sea water or sources unfit for drinking or agriculture. The passive solar evaporation engine needs a decent scale to be applicable: 1,000 m2 canopies with 65 kW engines would be a typical starting size, with bigger systems built up in modular fashion. Suitable locations would include the roofs of car parks, shopping centres and public buildings, as well as land unsuitable for farming. If the air temperature is sufficiently high, a continuous-flow engine is preferable to the piston-in-cylinder version. The expansion-cycle evaporation turbine can provide a cheap boost to the output from open-cycle gas turbines, for which the exhaust is always hot. For the 2011 AuSES conference, the continuous-flow version was considered in conjunction with solar-hybrid gas turbines powered by natural gas and solar radiation reflected from heliostats to a central tower. Typically, the output of the solar-hybrid gas turbine will be boosted by around 20%.
“It’s a remarkable fact that evaporative coolers can generate power.”
References Barton, N.G., 2008a. An evaporation heat engine and condensation heat pump, ANZIAM J. 49, 503-524.
kWhr/ (1000 m^2.day)
Barton, N.G., 2008b. Experimental results for a heat engine powered by evaporative cooling of hot air at reduced pressure, in Proc Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society Conference, Sydney. Barton, N.G., 2010a. Annual output of a new solar heat engine, in Proc Australian Solar Energy Society Conference, Canberra. Barton, N.G., 2011a. Output of the evaporation engine (sloping canopy), in Proc 2011 Solar World Congress, Kassel. Barton, N.G. 2011b. ECET boost to solarhybrid gas turbines, in Proc Australian Solar Energy Society Conference, Sydney.
series 1 series 2
Day (starting 1 March 2009)
Barton, N.G. 2012. The expansion-cycle evaporation turbine, J Eng Gas Turbines and Power, to appear.
Above: Simulated output in kWhr/(1000 m2.day) over a full year from a canopy-engine system at Wellington, NSW. Canopy losses are included but not engine losses, which would reduce the output by 25-30%.
Prompt supply from Victoria Warehouse
SolarProgress | 33
Intelligent Solar Marketing
Award winning consultant Warwick Johnston explains a nifty tool of the trade: the Solar Hot Spots interactive map, which enables solar businesses to target potential customers in the more favourable market sectors.
power system was as simple as answering a phone. But now that the phones have stopped ringing, solar businesses have to again put some effort into selling. The problem is that cold calling and blanket advertising on radio no longer yield profitable results. Fortunately, data released by the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER) can assist companies to target their sales and marketing efforts to high-yield areas, thereby enabling intelligent solar businesses to thrive. Imagine how much easier it would be to sell solar power if your marketing efforts exactly targeted people most likely to buy. Targeting people with the right age, family composition, education level and even in the right employment sector could make marketing expenditure more effective and help solar businesses survive the current industry downturn. Advertising in trade magazines, primary school newsletters, facebook, and even door knocking in suburbs with greater probability of purchase could double or triple the effectiveness of customer acquisition. Solar Hot Spots is a tool that has been recently developed that allows intelligent solar businesses to target customers most likely to buy solar power. SunWiz Consulting has performed in-depth analysis of trends in installation volumes at the postcode-level that were recently released by ORER, and correlated this information with demographic information published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. SunWiz has also produced an interactive map that can assist solar companies to identify suburbs with stronger demand in recent months, and to avoid suburbs that have already reached saturation levels with solar. The findings are interesting and relevant to anyone connected to solar energy. Certain media outlets would have you believe that
34 | SUMMER 2012
Penetration (correlation factor)
For the past few years, selling a solar
0.10 0.05 0.00 -0.05 -0.10
$4000 or more
$3500 – $3,999
$3000 – $3,499
$2,500 – $2,999
$2,000 – $2,499
$1,700 – $1,999
$1400 – $1,699
$1200 – $1,399
$1000 – $1,199
$800 – $999
$650 – $799
$500 – $649
$350 – $499
$250 – $349
$150 – $249
$1 – $149
solar power is just for the wealthy, though this proves to not be the case. The figure above shows that solar power is more popular in postcodes with a higher proportion of families with incomes in the range of $18,200-$88,000, whereas postcodes with a high proportion of families earning more than $130,000 per year are less likely to buy solar power. Put simply, families with annual incomes exceeding $130,000 are far less likely to buy solar power than families with incomes between $18,200 and $88,000. In this light, claims that solar power is exclusively for the wealthy are absurd. The statistical correlation analysis also finds that people aged between 40 and 70 were the most likely to install solar, though there is some variance by state. The full report – The Face of Australian Solar Owners – also reveals interesting findings about education level occupation and field of employment. For example there was a decreased tendency
for community and personal service workers to install solar in the third quarter of 2011, and when this group did install they were likely to install a smaller system. This graph opposite shows a snapshot of Australian installed capacity and regions in which a high proportion of households have already purchased a solar power system. An interactive version is available at www. sunwiz.com.au/index.php/interactive-hotspots.html, along with national summary data and a demonstration video. Red dots on the graph (associated with high solar penetration) illustrate that there are many regions in Australia in which one in three households has solar, and large blue dots (associated with high installed capacity but still low penetration) highlight that plenty of solar opportunities remain in certain highly popular areas. The concentration of red dots and blue dots make it clear that a larger share of South
Australian households have solar than of Victorian households. Of course, the Australian solar industry has been highly dynamic, and acutely responsive to shifts in government incentives. In the second half of 2011, installation activity shifted away from New South Wales to South Australia and Western Australia. The task of identifying emerging regions of greater solar popularity has been made easier by the Solar Hot Spots interactive map, which allows purchasers to navigate around the country and visually track the evolution of each Australian postcode. A dashboard (illustrated above) that presents at-a-glance information on each suburb’s total installed capacity, avera ge system size, and how strong installations have remained in the most recent quarter, as compared to other postcodes in each state, are all linked to an interactive map. The example shows that postcode 3214, which covers parts of Geelong,
has some favourable attributes including low penetration, sizable number of installations and a resilient level of installations in the third quarter of 2011, albeit with a low average system size. It’s clear from these maps that the Australian public have embraced solar with a passion. ORER is to be applauded for releasing the underlying data, which is of fundamental value for the solar industry and also helps AuSES communicate the truth about solar to government and the media. A solar future is inevitable; the question is how soon can Australia’s solar passion re-ignite into sales? In the meanwhile, though selling solar may no longer be as easy as answering the phone, Solar Hot Spots can help solar businesses survive by adapting to changes in the market and by targeting marketing to more favourable demographic sectors of the population.
Above diagrams: 1000m2/day
SunWiz is a boutique solar consultancy providing business-to-business services. Solar Hot Spots is available for purchase from $412.50 at www.sunwiz.com.au/ index.php/interactive-hot-spots.html. SunWiz’s range of market intelligence services also includes a market forecast to 2016, commercial market opportunities outlook, monthly PV market insights, and weekly STC analysis. Warwick Johnston was awarded the Industry Award 2011 by the Australian Solar Energy Society. SolarProgress | 35
Fires and PV array safety Generating solar power on homes and businesses is a relatively new form of distributed energy production. But emergency services training has not necessarily kept pace with developments in rooftop PV systems, says Glen Morris.
PV array fire in Australia. This burnt for several days powered only by the sun. It could only be shutdown at night time by the installer.
Fire brigades face many hazards when protecting communities and property, but factor in live PV systems, water and electricity – plus enormous stress – and the risk only intensifies. A home could be electrically isolated from the main grid supply simply by removing the service fuse or switching off the main switch in the main switchboard. Traditionally that has always been the first response by personnel confronting a building fire, or other damage to a building, that may have rendered it electrically unsafe. But a rooftop that features a solar photovoltaic (PV) system effectively delivers a separate source of electrical energy to the installation that is not isolated at the main switchboard, and is not truly isolated by turning off the solar inverter or any isolating switches adjacent to the solar PV array itself. 36 | SUMMER 2012
The PV array produces energy and potentially dangerous voltages whenever it is illuminated – irrespective of whether it is “on” or “off”. Even strong spot lights turned onto an array at night can produce dangerous voltages, thus there is no “safe” illuminated condition in which to work on a damaged PV array. Emergency services and in particular the firefighting services have been very concerned about the best means of handling fires associated with PV arrays caused either by a faulty PV system or one located in an installation that also has PV panels on the building. Underwriters Laboratories Inc of the US has undertaken extensive live field testing and laboratory experiments to ascertain risk factors confronting firefighters dealing with fires associated with PV arrays. Following are some of the points summarised from the full report
which can be downloaded from www.ul.com (search for “Firefighter Safety and Photovoltaic Systems”). 1. Turning off an array is not as simple as opening an isolating switch. Depending on the individual system, multiple circuits may be wired together to a common point such as a rooftop isolator. All circuits supplying power to this point must be interrupted to partially deenergise the system. Provided the array is illuminated, parts of the system will remain energised. Unlike a typical electrical or gas supply, a PV array has no single point of isolation. 2. The electric shock hazard due to application of water is dependent on voltage, water conductivity, distance and spray pattern, and adjusting the water stream to a fog pattern could reduce measured current below perception level. Even though a measured safe distance of about eight metres was suggested, in practice pooled water or foam associated with the firefighting process may become energised due to damage in the PV system, thus “safe distances” are hard to determine in practice. 3. Electrical enclosures exposed to outdoor weather are not resistant to water penetration by fire hose streams (note: Australians generally use plastic weather sealed enclosures, although these are prone to failure due to water ingress via poor conduit connections and failure of sealing over entrance covers – thus a typical isolator enclosure may collect water and present an electrical hazard). 4. Probably one of the most effective solutions was the use of heavy, dark and finely woven tarps placed over the PV panels, whose effectiveness varies independent of cost. Heavy, densely woven fabric and dark plastic films reduce the power from PV to near zero. Generally, if light is visible through the tarp, it shouldn’t be used. Firefighting foam was found unreliable for light blocking as it often slid off and wasn’t sufficiently impervious to light. 5. When illuminated by artificial light sources such as firefighters’ emergency site lighting or even the fire itself, PV systems were capable of producing electrical power sufficient to cause a lock-on hazard (when the muscles contract and hand grip can’t be released). The findings of these trials may make solar PV systems seem dangerous but it is all about identifying how to safely manage a new form of energy generation. By comparison, carrying around a tank full of petrol in you car is probably far more dangerous but we have set standards and procedures to make petrol powered cars safe – the same is being done to ensure that solar PV systems are too. So how can owners of solar PV systems ensure their systems remain safe? Maintenance tops the list. Despite the absence of many moving parts in a PV system, maintenance helps prevents wear and tear from environmental degradation, damage from fauna (possums chewing on cables) and flora (falling branches) and component failure. A trained and qualified solar installer can service or check your PV system for optimum performance or signs of failure in protective insulation of all components. Owners can perform some simple visual checks for discoloration of PV cells; signs of physical damage to cables or enclosures; and overall operation. The solar industry needs safe, cost effective and long lived solar PV systems to continue producing clean, zero carbon energy for 25+ years. Glen Morris of SolarQuip is a specialist in solar technology and renewable energy solutions. www.solarquip.com.au
Bosch solar: building on solid foundation Trading on its solid and longstanding worldwide reputation, Bosch is fast developing a solar presence in Australia. Steering solar developments are Frederick Troester and Paul Scerri who share a firm belief in a strong future, as told to Nicola Card.
The local solar market may be experiencing a momentary downturn but the blokes at Bosch are conspicuously upbeat about the outlook. Their optimism is founded on confidence, both in the company’s reputation, its technical capabilities and the trend towards demand for quality products. And, as Frederick Troester and Paul Scerri explained, a series of major developments – among them technical training for installers and local warehouses to accommodate containers shipped from Germany – are shoring up Bosch’s new yet burgeoning solar presence in Australia. “We are securing an increasing number of distributors across Australia and capitalising on the high awareness of the Bosch name,” said Troester whose role as Wholesale Sales and Marketing Manager commenced in October 2010. “We are very optimistic. We know some others who are competitors are suffering reduced volume and there is a solar decline in total terms but for us as a new player in a premium market segment there is a lot of growth potential. We can gain market share.” He added that installers appear to be seeking
a recognisable brand name and leaning toward well established European brands “because there is a real fear that other companies will not be around in the long term to honour any necessary warranties”. Bosch’s solar panels are built with an anticipated 25 year lifespan but exposure across Australia is vital to the fledgling solar player. In early November last year Bosch reached a good portion of the installer market when its Melbourne based premises played host to an AuSES Best Practice solar workshop that attracted an audience of more than 100.
Perfect match Although Troester is also a relative newcomer to Australia and the solar industry, he arrived from Munich 15 months ago with extensive market knowledge courtesy of his 2010 MBA thesis The Australian solar energy market – an evaluation of the market potentials and an analysis of possible market entry strategies for photovoltaic (PV) installation companies. Evaluating market potential and attractiveness of the Australian PV market for a German company, the comprehensive 143 page report leaves no stone unturned.
Spotlight on Bosch Employing 300,000 globally and with operations spanning 150
The company also develops turnkey solar energy sites (rooftop,
countries, Bosch has earned a household name the world over for its
building integrated, but predominantly ground mounted); aka power
automotive products, power tools, dishwashers and washing machines,
plants. Completed projects can be seen in Germany, India and Italy and
packaging technology and security systems.
several more are on the drawing board.
With a strong rebound following the global financial crisis, sales
A lesser known fact about Bosch is its significant annual contributions
revenues hit 47,259 million Euros in 2010 which was a healthy rise of
to education and health in underprivileged communities across the
24% on the previous year.
globe. And nine percent of Bosch remains in ownership of the founder
Filing a new patent every 30 minutes, Bosch is high on innovation and in 2010 lodged no fewer than 3800 patents globally.
Seeing the light
family, no small feat, given the year 2011 marked 125 years of trading. The anniversary magazine One sec – Global impressions of Bosch featured 125 Bosch related pictures. Not just any. At precisely 11am Central Europe time on May 20, 2010, 125 photographers around the world had
Capitalising on emerging technologies is the hallmark of Bosch’s
their fingers on a shutter and the time-coordinated 125 clicks – from
enduring success, hence the move in 1997 into PV: ingots, wafers, solar
Bangkok to Budapest to Bangalore to Bathurst in Canada and all in
cells, thin film modules and crystalline solar modules. The company’s
between – successfully captured the diversity of global operations.
R+D laboratory has boosted solar cell efficiency to 19.5 percent. Bosch recently invested $500 million Euros on a new solar facility
The timing itself was significant: it marked the very moment when, 125 years earlier, the then 25-year-old Robert Bosch opened a workshop
at German home base and all being well a manufacturing plant
for precision mechanics and electrical engineering in Stuttgart. The first
will be completed in Malaysia next year for product delivery to
step – the genesis – of one mighty enterprise.
Australia and Asia.
38 | SUMMER 2012
www.bosch.com.au and www.bosch-solarenergy.de
Left: Frederick Troester and Paul Scerri of Bosch’s new Australian solar arm
“In the past Australian consumers placed great emphasis on the financial benefits of investing in a solar system and they wanted a relatively short payback time. By contrast people in Germany are driven by a strong concern and desire to protect the environment; they want to have their own energy source on the roof of their home.”
Troester describes Australia’s solar industry as a fast growing market with widespread awareness yet there is high reliance by customers on public subsidies, they are less driven by concern for sustainability. But with increasing energy costs facing consumers, it is very likely that this will change. Paul Scerri who has clocked up 16 years with Bosch and now co-spearheads retail solar developments believes the solar industry would benefit by government setting medium-term targets for market penetration but then just as importantly establishing short term targets and tracking progress. “We need a roadmap. That is what industry’s key manufacturers and others are asking for. Government need to establish goals for installed capacity,” he said. “The mindset starts at the top yet the two government parties tend to disagree on fundamental matters.” The commercial sector will likely benefit following the introduction of the carbon tax, an aspect that contributed to Australia being labelled ‘important’ to Bosch and labelled one of Bosch’s top five PV markets outside Europe. But can Australia ever reach the acceptance levels of Germany whose solar market continues to perform strongly and enjoys a measure of certainty over feed-in tariffs. Troester presented insight.
A snapshot of Germany’s solar market “Germany’s strong lead in rooftop solar installations is undoubtedly driven by the feed-in tariff. Each year installer capacity is assessed and once it reaches a certain threshold then the tariff is reduced. Because Germany’s installer capacity recently exceeded a certain level the feed-in tariff was reduced by 15% from January 2012. But because the industry knows about the FiT it can plan [for any reduction].” Consumer sentiment is another fundamental difference. “Australian consumers place great emphasis on the financial benefits of investing in solar systems and they want a relatively short payback time. By contrast people in Germany are driven by genuine concern for and true desire to protect the environment; they want to have their own energy source on the roof of the home. “There is a commitment by people to have green energy credentials and to tap into the renewable energy sector. There is an aversion to nuclear power in the long term,” Troester explained. Unlike the US loan guarantees are not on offer however Germany’s government bank provides cheap loans to solar companies involved in projects which fosters development.
PV Installers Test Equipment
Solar Installation Tester
I-V Curve Analysers
The Seaward Solar PV100 combines three test instruments in one for faster and safer PV array electrical testing. Single “TEST” push button operation conducts a sequence of tests. Direct connection to PV module eliminates probing and exposure to live DC conductors. Measures: earth continuity, insulation resistance, open circuit voltage, short circuit current and operating current.
Tel 02 9519 3933 Tel 03 9889 0427 Fax 02 9550 1378 Fax 03 9889 0715 email email@example.com
Tel 07 3275 2183 Fax 07 3275 2196
Find defects in panels before installation or carry out routine PV array performance testing. An open circuit voltage test may not indicate bad cells or cell deterioration over time. I-V curve analysis shows the entire curve with voltage and current measurements at numerous points, proving array performance. A complete range of I-V curve analysers from 120V/8A up to 1000V/100A with data download and professional reporting software.
Tel 08 8363 5733 Fax 08 8363 5799
Tel 08 9361 4200 Fax 08 9361 4300 web www.emona.com.au
EMONA SolarProgress | 39
In this section we take a bite-sized look at who is doing what in the fast moving world of solar energy.
GET SOLAR! What is GET SOLAR? The GET SOLAR campaign is a collaborative initiative to provide a consistent commercial focus for all the solar energy industry groups; manufacturers and companies involved in solar energy products and exists to provide a more intense focus required to get tangible results in the marketplace. The owner of the solar-e.com website Wise Earth Pty Ltd is offering free directory listings for solar-related industries and services around Australia, with the plan to promote the directory globally in the next twelve months. Since 2001, www.solar-e.com has promoted the use of solar energy in all its forms. It has always been there to support any solar energy related endeavour that can remove the barriers to the implementation of solar energy technologies. The website exists to promote new ideas and technological advances that may make solar energy in it various manifestations more economically viable. The challenge to the solar energy industry Irrespective of government policy, positive or negative, the challenge to the domestic solar industry remains in attracting more buyers for solar hot water systems and PV systems. The reality is that advertising solar energy in an ad-hoc and independent manner is really doing ‘hard yards’ when it comes to creating public acceptance. Advertising campaigns for new technologies are expensive and have dismal results against the status quo. We need a well thought out program of ‘attraction marketing.’ We need to create new markets for solar energy technology. The Way Forward Like the ‘Collaboration of Australian Solar Hot water’ (CASH) of 1998, the GET SOLAR CAMPAIGN will take up the challenge involve companies already active in solar and get them together once again. This was the CASH initiative in 1998: http://www.solartec.iinet.net.au/solare/curious/ impactsolarwaterheaters01.htm There is scope for direct corporate business building within close collaborative networks. It has worked before and can be repeated. Our aim is to promote to the public a visible ‘quality seal of approval’ before purchase decisions are made. The GET SOLAR campaign is on its way! Industry and community comments are welcomed online. 40 | SUMMER 2012
Neopower’s solar hot water system The Neopower Solar Hot Water System is brought to you by Imaca Pty Ltd, which delivers “reliable and efficient” solar hot water appliances to fit the lifestyles of today’s Australian households. Water heating accounts for about 30 percent of an average household’s total greenhouse gas emissions and about the same proportion of total household energy use. Installing a solar water heater can greatly reduce the energy bills, as it will use energy from the sun to heat water at zero cost. To assist in reducing electric water heating emissions our governments are working together to phase out greenhouse intensive electric hot water systems throughout the country. Along with more public environmental awareness and increasing gas and electricity bills, solar hot water systems will definitely become more and more popular. Imaca has spent the last couple of years researching and developing the highly efficient solar hot water system. Imaca uses a modern evacuated tube collector. The evacuated tube consists of two glass tubes, with the space between the two tubes having most of the gas removed from it, providing a high level of insulation. As solar radiation passes through the outer glass tube and heats the inner tube, it is trapped by the lack of gas, which would otherwise allow convective and conductive heat losses. As a result, the efficiency of Neopower collectors is high and the collector will even perform well on cloudy days. Thanks to excellent quality, the longest warranty in the industry is offered to Neopower customers: Neopower solar collector – 15 years; Neopower water tank – 7 years; Neopower Solar Hot Water System is eligible for State and Federal Government rebates: The Australian Government’s Solar Hot Water rebate; Small-scale Technology Certificates—STCs (formerly RECs); Metropolitan Melbourne Solar Hot Water Rebate; Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs); QLD Government Solar Hot Water Rebate; Western Australia Solar Water Heater Subsidy Scheme; Hobart City Council Solar and Heap Pump Hot Water Rebate; Energywise Solar Water Heating Grant Scheme (New Zealand), etc. Further information: www.neopower.com.au or call 1300 062 788.
Seaward Solar PV100 Kit
ZEN Energy Systems Energy Challenges in 2012 Energy Storage: Green Power’s next revolution Affordable energy storage has long been the ‘holy grail’ for home owners, businesses and utilities alike, all seeking to capture the elusive electron and use it on demand. Home owners suffer from paying peak electricity tariffs when they arrive home, turn on the airconditioner or heater and start organising the family for the evening. Businesses are saddled with peak energy demand charges over summer and the possibility of power loss and strangled profits from blackouts caused by an unstable grid. Utilities are busy trying to improve an aged network with families demanding more power and increasing marginal cost for their investment; transformers, poles and wires. Renewable power with solar systems on home and business roofs together with growth in large scale wind farms are now feeding electrons into the grid from a range of connection points and at a range of voltages. As Energex identified in a recent presentation to the Energy Management Association of New Zealand National Conference, the greenest kWh is the one we don’t use. In 2010 approximately 13% of Energex’s $8 billion network was used by 1.3 million customers for just 1% of the year. In South East Queensland alone 120 new, additional homes and businesses connect to the grid each working day – a new connection every four or five minutes. The challenge therefore to justify investment in resources with minimal utilisation albeit for critical support during peak demand periods. And these peaks are getting peakier. Nationally, the Australian Network Operations are planning to spend over $40 billion over the next five years on grid stabilisation, improved capacity and redundancy. The answer is clearly more efficient energy conservation and demand management. South Australian company ZEN Commercial Energy Systems has brought to market a new DESS (Distributed Energy Storage System) to combat the problem at both the home, wind farm and utility level. ZEN is part of a small band of innovative energy companies that are solving grid congestion and stabilisation issues for the utilities using the “smarts” of open computer platforms. Utilities need dynamic access to energy storage at a street, suburb and often whole of grid level with multiple energy blocks able to work independently or as a single vat of storage. Superseding diesel and gas back-up generators, these energy blocks will be the saviour of the grid when the next hot day arrives, able to absorb solar power from residents whilst supporting the grid at a fraction of the cost needed to upgrade it in full. In effect it is “optimising” our current infrastructure rather than continually building new infrastructure to meet the ever increasing “peak demand”. Further Information: www.zenhomeenergy.com.au
Emona Instruments Faster and safer PV installation testing The new Seaward Solar PV100 installation test kit is an all-inclusive electrical test solution for solar panel installers. The new tester is capable of carrying out all electrical tests required for grid connected PV systems and eliminates the need for multiple test instruments during PV panel installation. With the push of a single button, the new combination tester carries out the required sequence of tests in a safe and controlled manner, avoiding the risk of contact exposed live conductors. The rugged and robust Seaward Solar Installation PV100 is hand held and battery operated for maximum portability. Earth continuity‚ insulation resistance‚ open circuit voltage and short circuit currents are all tested‚ measured and verified efficiently and reliably. Using the range of supplied MC4 and Sunclix test adaptors, the PV100 can be quickly and safely connected directly to standard PV modules and PV arrays. All the required measurements are performed automatically and results for up to 9 strings can be stored using the onboard memory. Results can then be easily recalled on screen for review using the automatic measurement comparison to indicate whether the open circuit voltage or short circuit current measurements deviate by more than 5%. The PV100 can be used to test PV strings with open circuit voltages up to 1000V and short circuit currents up to 10A. Using the supplied AC/DC current clamp, operating currents can be measured up to 40A. All test measurement data is displayed clearly and concisely on a backlit custom LCD in numerical format and enunciators are incorporated to confirm whether measurements are acceptable. The new PV100 comes as part of a complete test kit in a convenient carrying case that includes all test probes‚ adaptor leads and a current clamp. In addition‚ for those renewable energy installers that prefer PC-based record keeping systems‚ a special SolarCert Elements software program is also available for use with the test kit. This easy to use program accepts the manual entry of test data and measurement values which can be recalled on the PV100 display for reproduction of professional test and inspection reports and certificates. Further information: Mark Breznik National Marketing Manager Tel: (02) 9519 3933 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org SolarProgress | 41
SolarTrade cements market position SolarTrade’s most recent offering is a mobile installer application for iPhone 3 & 4, iPad 2 and Android phones, enabling fast paperless turnaround of STC submissions. Installers simply scan panel and inverter serial numbers directly into the phone, and take photos of the installation and record time, date and location of the installation on the spot. Signatures of the installer, designer and home owner are also recorded, and once the install is completed the submission is uploaded for instant processing and quick payment. These and other developments have helped registered aggregator SolarTrade cement its position as a leading industry player, following a year of change in the domestic solar market. SolarTrade is the trading arm of Urban Group Energy which is involved in the
wholesale distribution of solar panels and inverters through its SolarFund and SolarFund Direct operations. “In December 2011 we ended the year as the third largest creator by volume of STCs, by offering innovative solutions and services coupled with our best price policy” explained CEO Adam Pearse. “Throughout the year, SolarTrade paid the highest daily rate for STCs more often than any other aggregator – and we are continuing that policy this year.” One of SolarTrade’s most popular products is reputedly Price Protect, which offers installers the opportunity of locking in the STC price for each individual job for 30, 60, or 90 days. Pearce says customers also enjoy the ease and simplicity of the online system; there are no
administration fees or trading minimums and the price displayed on the day is the price received. “We assist installation companies to better manage cash flow needs with SolarTrade’s flexible payment options, offering the choice of 3, 7, 14 21 or 28 day payment periods,” he said. He explained they also purchase registered STCs, LGCs, VEECs or ESCs, and can also organise forward contracts to lock in a price for larger fixed amounts of these certificates. Urban Group Energy is now also an Approved Certificate Provider under the NSW Energy Savings Scheme, and is expanding its operations within the energy efficient lighting space. For more information call 1300 180 88 or visit www.urbangroupenergy.com.au
SMA Globally, SMA Solar Technology AG achieved its sales and earnings targets for the 2011 fiscal year in an intensely competitive market environment. The company estimates that photovoltaic plants with an estimated capacity of approximately 23GW were installed worldwide in 2011, about the same as 2010. In Germany, the world’s largest photovoltaic market, SMA successfully maintained its position as market leader and even expanded it slightly. PV plants with a combined capacity of three gigawatts were constructed in December 2011 alone. There are many different reasons for this strong growth. One significant factor was the expected 15 percent reduction in the feed-in tariff as of January 1, 2012. Added to this was an increased sell-off at year’s end among wholesalers in order to minimise the risk of depreciation of their inventories. Many photovoltaic plants were commissioned commercially and therefore registered with the Federal Network Agency without inverters. SMA’s sales in the fiscal year 2011 amounted to around AUD$2billion equivalent and the company anticipates slight growth in global demand for photovoltaic plants during the current fiscal year, but a reliable forecast for the global market is not possible, due to numerous changes in important markets and uncertainty caused by the current euro and financial crisis,” SMA is confident that thanks to the company’s high flexibility, continuous investment in research and development, innovative product portfolio and strong international position, SMA is well positioned to react quickly to all market developments and to profit from the outstanding long-term potential for growth in the promising field of photovoltaic technology. The 2011 annual report will be available at www.SMA.de under the Investor Relations section. Tel. +61 (02) 9491 4200 | 1800 SMA AUS info@SMA-Australia.com.au | www.SMA-Australia.com.au 42 | SUMMER 2012
RM Solar & Electrical Pty Ltd RM Solar and Electrical is a small but high quality South Australian company that has stayed afloat in the market through the downward trend, due to our attention to quality workmanship, ensuring our employees have good training and good equipment. And our attentive service to our customers is based on 40years of combined experience. We have a lockable trailer to safely daily transport higher volumes of panels, and a Mighty Lift ladder to safely hoist panels onto roofs. This saves time and prevents injury. We have an OH&S system in line with AS 4801 and AS 4804. Further Information: RMsolarandelectrical@bigpond.com
Solar 2011 Highlights
The dinner and awards The Solar 2011 dinner was generously sponsored by Lightway, the Australian company established as recently as 2010. Managing Director Derek Marsden welcomed the evening’s guest speaker, Jon Dee of www.dosomething.net. au . Dee’s reputation as one of Australia's most influential environmental campaigners dates back to 1991 when he and Pat Cash founded Planet Ark. Dee enthralled dinner guests by screening segments from a ‘50s short movie The
Unchained goddess. Directed by Frank Capra the movie was well ahead of its time in foreshadowing environmental concerns. And a reminder from Dee that October 31 marked the global population hitting seven billion. More people = more demand on the world’s predominantly coal-fired power supplies. “We need to get moving; to take action and become a positive example, we have a moral duty to effect change,” he said.
And the Award winners are …
Vulcan’s Rob Campbell presented the Award for Outstanding Industry Contribution over the past 12 months to Warwick Johnston of Sunwiz and Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services. Pictured: Paul Scerri (centre) of Bosch congratulates his colleagues, Warwick and Nigel. Oliver Hartley presenting the Q-Cells Award for Contribution to Global Research to Professor Martin Green (pictured above, who boosted solar cell efficiency from 20 to 25%) and also to Dr David Mills (pictured below).
Photos by Nicola Card
The Wal Read Award for academic excellence in cell nanotechnology research was announced by Dr Renate Egan of Suntech R&D and VSASF (Victoria-Suntech Advanced Solar Facility at Swinburne). The award winning research students were named as follows: James Hazelton, Jeffrey Cumpston, Chuanxi Yang, Ben Elliston, Gough Yumu Lui, Douglas Jones and Ziyun Lin. Pictured is Dr Renate Egan of Suntech R&D presenting Ben Elliston with his certificate. SolarProgress | 43
Solar 2011 Highlights “The sun has no borders” – Monica Oliphant of ISES. “We should contribute to and encourage solar development in Photos by Nicola Card
developing countries, not unlike medicines sans frontiers.”
“It’s one solar-coaster ride,” Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services.
Khobad Bhavnagri of Bloomberg New Energy Finance noted that during the GFC of 2009 investments in solar power did not fall. Installed residential PVs are forecast to reach 5GW by 2020.
Climate Commissioner Gerry Hueston after referring to a Health Report that listed harmful consequences of a ‘do nothing’ approach: “Europe and China are major solar developers and Australia is only just joining the pack. Policy settings need to provide some long-term certainty. We need a bipartisan (political) approach.”
Ned Harvey of the Rocky Mountain Institute (brought to the podium via video): “Our enemy is choice, not fate. By 2050 we could be running 100% renewable energy and completely free of fossil fuels.”
44 | SUMMER 2012
“I see a lot of passion [for the industry] and AuSES is one of the most passionate solar organisations in the world”, said Scott Frier of Abengoa Solar. “But Australia is a bit of a solar marsupial – the industry has evolved in different ways to the rest of the world … technology is not an impediment but finance is.”
Senator Christine Milne: “There is a real buzz around solar; we are on the cusp of something amazing … a global energy revolution …”
Jon Dee: “Now the carbon tax is passed there are lots of solar initiatives … and ‘the solar policy pendulum’ is swinging in our favour.”
Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt: “According to Treasury our actual emissions in 2010 totalled 578 million tonnes. Without either direct action or the carbon tax, they are projected to rise by 101 million tonnes to 679 million tonnes in 2020 …The effect of the carbon tax is that Australia’s actual emissions will instead climb by 43 million to 621 million tonnes in 2020.
“The carbon package is up and we have the Australian Renewable Energy Agency … two among many signs that the sector is now maturing. Renewable energy is now mainstream.” Mark Twidell of ASI.
SolarProgress | 45
State sa AuSES South Australia, Stewart Martin,Chair A major event organised by the branch in the last quarter of 2011 was Sustainable House Day. Run in conjunction with the ATA it was very successful, with 12 open houses attracting close to 4000 visitors. Most houses received over 200 visitors and one had almost 700. Local sponsorship helped in event promotion. During the past nine months the branch committee has met with Labor, Green
46 | SUMMER 2012
and Liberal politicians to discuss policy on renewable energy, the reduction of GHG emissions and the FiT. The committee has also questioned the Premier, Treasurer and Ministers of Environment and Minerals, Resources and Energy over the funding cuts to RenewablesSA. In other activities, the committee is revising its Strategic Plan and also planning to obtain
feedback from residential PV customers on the quality of their installation, with Finn Peacock of Solar Quotes assisting by circulating a questionnaire to his customer data base. Two upcoming meetings are: ‘Adelaide Solar City – an update’ with guest speaker Dario De Bortoli taking place in late February, and one month later: ‘An Air- Conditioning Revolution, The Shaw Method’ presented by Wayne Ryan.
qld AuSES Queensland, Marty Gellender, Chair An upcoming activity planned for the Queensland branch is a screening – quite possibly for the first time ever in Australia – of the documentary movie Revenge of the electric car. The director of this short movie also produced the earlier documentary Who killed the electric car? By the time this magazine is in circulation the free community screening will have taken place at a building on the campus of Queensland University of Technology Adding a bit of colour to the event were a couple of electric vehicles on display before the screening. For more information: http://localpower.net.au/revenge/
wa Ishaan Khanna WA Branch President AuSES’s WA Branch is has undergone a leadership change, with Garry Baverstock handing over the reins to Ishaan Khanna in January this year. Ishaan – who was part of the branch committee in 2011 and the committee’s nominated choice for President for 2012 – currently works as a Senior Engineer for a WA transmission and distribution utility. The focus of his role is to undertake Smart Grid trials and initiatives to further the utility’s expertise in developing non-network solutions. Ishaan has clocked up around nine years’ experience in the energy industry and has a balanced experience profile in both public and private sectors. He has lived and worked in New Zealand, India and Australia. In other news, several new members are joining the branch committee which helps boost committee membership. Mentor program The mentors program and networking of students and young professionals interested in solar and renewable energy, with industry leaders will continue as key strategy for the branch. Younger members of the society are encouraged to invite guests along to the networking events and branch meetings to learn and consider being involved in the mentor program. Branch meeting update The WA branch meets every quarter where members get together for a presentation by a guest speaker which is followed up by the popular networking event ‘Solar Beers’. Outgoing Branch President, Garry Baverstock, with the support of the rest of the branch committee and the members laid a strong foundation for the branch which will help foster growth during 2012 and beyond. With everyone’s efforts, the branch membership more than doubled over 12 months and is set to continue to grow in 2012.
Affordable energy generation and storage is now a reality. Australia’s first flexible at-home, business or industrial energy generation and storage systems are now available. Introducing the next phase of the renewable energy revolution - storage. ZEN can now offer the first Lithium based battery storage solution that works seamlessly with the grid, existing solar, wind or electric vehicle charging stations. These units can be installed at home, at your business or at the transformer for large scale utility systems. It’s not only intelligent and affordable, it’s the future. Contact ZEN Commercial Energy Systems today for more information.
Phone 1300 936 466 zencommercialenergy.com.au
Resources & Links
AuSES Corporate Members 24 Hour Efficient Energy A Affordable Eco Systems P/L Alice Solar City Allan Toovey Electrical Aspect Solar Pty Ltd Austrenergy Pty Ltd B Blu Sky Solar Pty Ltd Blue Mountains Solar Pty Ltd Bosch Solar Energy BP Solar Pty Ltd C CAT Projects Chromagen City of Sydney Sustainability Clean Economy Services Clean Energy Matters Pty Ltd Clean N Free Pty Ltd Clean Technology Partners Clements Airconditioning, Refrigeration & Electrical Collridge Pty Ltd Coolgaia Pty Ltd CSA Solar
D Dave Watson Electrical & Solar Delta Energy Systems Pty Ltd Dimark Constructions DKSH Australia Pty Ltd E Earthconnect Pty Ltd Eco Power and Lighting Ecoast Energy Ecofficient Pty Ltd Econstruct Ecostar Environmental P/L Ecowatt edenPOWER Enasolar Energy Matters Energy Scene ENVIREN Enviromate Australia Pty Ltd Exemplary Energy Exlites Pty Ltd F Focused Solar Solutions For Electrical Services Fronius Australia Pty Ltd G Garrad Hassan Pacific P/L Going Solar
Gold Coast Energy Pty Ltd Goshlab Pty Ltd Green Earth Electrical Green Engineering Pty Ltd Grundfos – Direct Sensors Grundfos Sensor A/S H–L Hastie Services Home Green Pty Ltd Horizon Solar Technologies Infinity Solar IT Power Australia Pty Ltd Keystone Environment Solutions Leeson Solar M Matt Hatty Electrical Mitsubishi Electric Australia Pty Ltd Mojarra Pty Ltd My Global Solutions My Solar Price N–Q NeuTek Energy Pty Ltd NextGen Solutions Nu Energy Oceania Solar Holdings Pty Ltd Orca Solar Lighting Origin Energy Phoenix Solar Pty Ltd
PJ Electrical Pure Sun Solar Q-Cells Australia Pty Ltd R RR F Industries Pty Ltd Rainbow Power Company Ltd Regen Power Pty Ltd Renewable Energy Traders Australia Renewables Industrial Plant & Service Australia Pty Ltd Rescue the Future Pty Ltd Riverina Solar Power Robert Bosch (Australia) Pty Ltd S Sanyo Oceania Pty Ltd Schüco International KG Silex Solar Pty Ltd SMA Australia Pty Ltd Sola Connections Australia Solar – Man Pty Ltd Solar Charge Pty Ltd Solar Choice Solar Depot Pty Ltd Solar Energy Australia Group P/L Solar Energy Options Solar Neighbours Pty Ltd Solar Save
Solar Wise Wagga Pty Ltd Solar360 Pty Ltd SolarHub Solaris Sustainable Homes Solarmatrix Sondase Pty Ltd South Western Technologies Starr Electrics / Solar Choices FNQ Strategy and Knowledge Sunburst Solar Pty Ltd Suntech Power Australia Pty Ltd Suntech R&D Australia Pty Ltd SunTrix Sunwise Electrics Sustainability Victoria Sustainable Works Pty Ltd T–Z TCK Solar Pty Ltd The Modern Group Thomas + Naaz Pty Ltd Todae Solar Toward Sustainable Futures University of Queensland Ureco Solar Hot Water (WA) Pty Ltd Valoptics York Electrical Service
Industry related groups Local
Alternative Technology Association www.ata.org.au Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) www.acre.ret.gov.au Australian Electric Vehicle Association www.aeva.asn.auAustralian Australian Photovoltaic Association www.apva.com.au Australian Solar Energy Society www.auses.org.au Australian Solar Institute www.australiansolarinstitute.com.au Beyond Zero Emissions www.beyondzeroemissions.org Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (ANU) www.cses.edu.au Clean Energy Council (CEC) www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au CSIRO www.csiro.au Energy Matters www.energymatters.com.au Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER) www.orer.gov.au Solar-e www.solar-e.com Solar Energy Industry Association www.seia.org.au
European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) www.epia.org German Solar Industry Association (BSW) http://en.solarwirtschaft.de Global Link Solar Group (H.K.) Ltd. www.solarpromotion.org International Solar Energy Society www.ises.org Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA) www.jpea.gr.jp Photon Europe GmbH www.photon.com Renewable UK www.renewable-uk.com Solar Energy Industries Association (US) www.seia.org Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) www.solarpowerinternational.com Solar Promotion International GmbH www.intersolar.us
Affordable Home Energy Management
1300 336 737 31-8-11 Allsolus -1.indd 1
www.sicleanenergy.com.au 31/08/11 1:41 PM