Apparently, we all believe in global warming these days.  If not, we understand that fossil fuels have a limited supply life (they are non-renewables).  The world we know must change. In that context, there have been some gradual legislative approvals right here in Australia that make no sense to me.  

We all know about the feed-in tariff reduction.  What was 44 cents per kw is now 8 on average.  Well, to be honest, 44 was never going to work.  You don't need to profit from your unused electricity.  I'm pretty much happy to give any spare power back in order to decrease the use of fossil fuels by other folks.  That's okay.  

Even if I produce all of my own energy and request to be cut off the grid, the law says I must pay a "supply" charge if electricity is supplied to my street.  Now, I can almost accept that.  We all need to ensure the grid is maintained for those who cannot afford to go solar (like me - I'm struggling to work out if I can afford it).  

The free two way meter (measures what you use and what you contribute back) now costs $280.  Okay, I guess there is a supply and installation cost. 

A few years ago, I was looking at the cost of a 10 or 12 kw system with batteries.  We were talking $45-65,000.  That's way too much.... but, the law says I can't buy one now no matter how cheap they make them.  What?  Okay, let's look at an 8 kw.  Nope.  The biggest I can get is a 5 kw inverter by law now.  HUH?  Oh, We have announced it will be decreased to 3.5 kw in the future.  WHAT THE HELL?  So as systems get cheaper, the Government has decided to decrease the size of the system you can use?!  

I also found out that I have to pay $2.60 per day to use off peak electricity for my hot water!  WHAT THE HELL?

I wonder if some Federal Government Minister will ever read this post and ask the question, "Are we doing all we can to move away from fossil fuels and save the world for my grandkids?"  I guess not. 

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  • Problem is that successive Governments have failed to maintain the infrastructure to the required standard. A large part of the issue with Solar power was that it seemed like a good idea at the time however, when too many people took up the generous offers, what was not considered was the strain on the system of the Solar power returning energy back into the network because it is so poorly maintained.

  • In Australia you can go off grid whenever you want with no ongoing network charges. Unless there's some new implementation of law I've missed.  I know network operators are lobbying for it but so far there are no laws prohibiting you from going off grid. Sewage and water in city areas are a different matter and are generally a local council thing.

    There is a new housing development in the Hunter Valley that could possibly be the first closed grid community but it's still in the study phase. I'm not sure about the sustainability of the battery idea. Perhaps something more along the lines of storing excess energy in the form of molten salts to run a turbine at night for the whole town or a supplement like the CSIRO supercritical steam turbine to make up any shortfalls for higher usage that public utilities/businesses require. But it's not utopia. I see the potential for a big downside where you could be trapped in an estate where you're hostage to the developer/local micro-utility company. I've already seen it in some new estates where the developer has cut a deal with an internet provider to build only their infrastructure so all residents are essentially forced to go through that one company for internet at non competitive rates.

    For now, with the exception of S.A and VIC most of our states have Govt owned networks with only the retail aspect privatised. Govt has some basic roles to provide its society. Now days that includes essentials like power and water. It irks me that they try to offload those responsibilities to private companies rather than doing it themselves. Even when owned, most of the actual work is still outsourced which has it pro and cons. But for the most part it's absolute laziness. They'd rather sign some contracts at inflated prices and make it someone else's problem than hire the talent directly. If a water treatment plant costs $20billion to build then long term it has to be infinitely better for us to pay for that $20billion via usage charges  than $20billion + shareholder profit via usage charges.

    As for the value of batteries the way I see it is get solar first. Then after a year you'll have a better idea of your seasonal and day/night use. An easy calculation is taking your out of pocket costs (This amount includes day/night/ peak/offpeak use as well as feed in profits) and divide the battery installation price by that to get a realistic idea on your ROI because at the end of the day you're only saving the amount of money that you're currently having to pay. (Obviously battery replacement and maintenance will be additional costs so you'd factor this into the cost of the install)

  • The Elephant in the room ... Privatisation of our Electricity Utility.

    Governments push for departments/utilities not to be a financial burden for a Government (many cases around the world where this is still in play and still works).

    When the utility is privately owned, the utility has to keep those record profits going to please the shareholders/owners and with these factors, it's always maximum profits and there's heaps more middle-men to grab the cash on the way through.

    The privately owned utilities then lobby the government, who in turn enable the regulators to allow the private utilities to have their way with costing methods, under the banner of 'fairness for the private utility' due to new/previous government policies causing problems for the utilities' ... ah hum ... bottom line? (solar rebate, solar feed-in grid issues, hot water system rules ... they all erode the private utilities maximum profit), and we can't have those profits getting smaller ... it's MAXimum CAPitalism ... they have to make higher profits, they must.  .... If you wish to have control over something ... Own It, don't Sell It. ...

    But now that we have sold nearly everything, the Government should keep strong and stable on regulations for the sake of the many and tell the Privates to get creative and innovative or take a hit on your max profits util you improve.

    And before the words 'government monopoly' can be used by the lobbyist type in support of privatisation ... The Electricity Distribution (and Generation) is regarded as a natural monopoly due to the high cost to build and maintain such a thing ... Due to these factors, it should always be a Government owned natural monopoly as we don't need more cash grabbing hands in the equation with such things.

    If we want to go fully off-grid (I want to), start trying to get your daily usage under 7kWh. At that stage you will have a demand that you may be able to cater for an off-grid system at a cost of around $20000 (with you preforming many of the install tasks, otherwise $35000). I'm no where near 7kWh per day yet. Unfortunately at that stage, your bill will be small enough to convince you to stay on-grid.

    • Once 'they' have sold all or nearly all of our assets, what's next? No one has come up with a plan to live within our means as far as I know. Tough on the generations to come.

      Amazed at the cost of an off-grid system. Heard it was around 50k about 5 years ago and guessed it had come down quite a bit since then but 35k does not sound like money we oldies will be investing (assuming we had it!). However delightful, the cost has to make sense. We'd be flat out using 35ks worth of power between now and the grave.

  • This is probably the most important discussion in Australia and the world at the moment. The kill off of the bees not far behind.

    Very interesting reading the comments made by all of you who are far more informed than I am.

    Makes me depressed just thinking about it and the solutions that could be, but just aren't, due to shortsighted attitude of governments and companies hell bent on profit.

    • Plenty of money to be made with poor qulity solar and wind equipment  or just setup a green company like ECOTEC WOODWASTE go out to sites and collect wood waste and stockpile  and when government shuts it  down go bankrupt and the giant pile of waste is left by government until it burns where it was abandoned.

  • If you get solar power under the government scheme then i think your entering into a contract Renewable Energy Target,

  • Of course, the upcoming meeting of world leaders in Paris for the United Nations climate summit  is of particular relevance to the local grid and its energy inputs.
    To mark the world's collective concern, on November 28th -- next Saturday -- there is a world wide mobilisation to demand a transition to a new energy economy.
    The Peoples Climate March will mobilise tens of thousands of people nation wide and many times that internationally 
    People are marching to show that we want an end to fossil fuels and a planned transition to 100% renewable energy. 

    9.30am, Saturday, November 28th, Queen's Park Brisbane
    • Go people power!  I suspect votes (and lack of) are all they care about. 

      • Then the sane ones amongst them should be watching and learning. If they want to get back in they will have to radically re-organise their policies to reflect the will of the majority.

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