What a surprise … not

A home with solar panels on it.

One of the problems with the debate about energy policy is the failure to differentiate between small-scale renewables – very popular, people think they are saving money as well as being virtuous – and large-scale renewables.

Actually, the small-scale renewables are just a pest for the electricity system, offering small quantities of energy which are not necessarily connected with demand as well as providing no inertia to the grid.

But just to illustrate that people will smell a business opportunity when they see it, read below.  It is reminiscent of what happened in Northern Ireland.

 

Solar bonus scheme crackdown on excess battery storage in Queensland parliament

The rules around how households with solar panels use and sell excess energy stored on batteries could be tightened, in a State Government crackdown to ensure taxpayers do not foot a $1 billion bill.

Proposed laws have been introduced to Parliament which will mean consumers on the Solar Bonus Scheme would no longer be able to feed energy into the grid while taking power from their battery.

Households would also be banned from “oversizing”, installing additional batteries that would enable them to supply energy to the premises as well as the grid, which they are paid for.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey wanted to encourage people to take up battery storage — but not at the expense of people who did not have solar.

“You can either use your solar PV [solar photovoltaic systems] to generate power for your property, or you can use the power coming from your battery.

“You can’t do both at the one time.”

“When the Solar Bonus Scheme was first established, new technologies like batteries were not a consideration.”

The scheme, which is not open to new applicants and ends in 2028, pays households for excess electricity generated and exported to the grid.

Currently one in three people in Queensland have solar and those who signed up early get a generous 44 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) for what is fed out.

If nothing is done, the cost of the scheme could rise by 25 per cent in 10 years, potentially increasing the total scheme cost from $4.1 billion to around $5.1 billion, Mr Bailey said.

There are only about 650 batteries in use across the state, but their popularity is expected to increase as they become more affordable.

The changes, if passed in Parliament, will apply from Wednesday, to ensure people on the solar bonus scheme do not increase their generation capacity before the laws are passed.

The state’s electricity distribution businesses will be in charge of policing the amendments.

The bill is due to be debated later this year.

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50 Responses to What a surprise … not

  1. stackja

    ‘One of the problems with the debate about energy policy’ and another is the fakery by the scammers.
    Save the planet from AGW!

  2. .

    Small scale makes a lot more sense than large scale. Large scale renewables besides biomass recovery and hydroelectricity inevitably fail.

    Small scale should have always been left off grid. We’ve subsidised a problem into existence and now want to outlaw it.

  3. closeapproximation

    Its amazing how many rooftop solar systems were installed which *were not even wired up to power their own house*! (Only wired up to feed back into the grid).

  4. herodotus

    Actually, the small-scale renewables are just a pest for the electricity system, offering small quantities of energy which are not necessarily connected with demand as well as providing no inertia to the grid.

    Quite so. Even when used off-grid it is only a partial solution, but at least there’s some utility in a remote location context.

  5. closeapproximation

    Farmers are getting charged for water collected in their private dams.

    Next up: households getting charged for sunlight collected on their private roofs.

    You know it.

  6. Sparkx

    It will be interesting to see how they police these laws. Is every building with a solar installation to be inspected annually?

  7. Qley

    We’ve subsidised a problem into existence and now want to outlaw it.

    Feels like you could post this on a fair few of our problems

  8. Anthony Park

    44c/KwH is a staggeringly high subsidy.

    The thing about this policy is that they have encouraged Queenslanders to install solar panels and then earn an income from that investment. Households installing batteries is a logical step for them to maximise their profits when they are getting a 44c/KwH subsidy. This has happened in other places where governments encourage uptake, only to shift the policy goalposts when too many entrants take up the subsidy.

    That said, I don’t really see small scale solar as a nuisance. 1) With rising power prices, if you live in a sunny locale and it saves you a dollar, why not? 2) I’m sure taxi drivers see Uber drivers as a nuisance, disruption and destruction are part of capitalism.

  9. Roger

    The QLD state government recently faced a backlash from rural power consumers over large tariff rises deemed necessary to pay for the solar bonus scheme so popular in Brisbane. They intervened to delay the price hike, presumably with an eye on votes in crucial marginal regional seats. Sugar cane farmers, among others (including small scale engineering enterprises in regional centres), are already going back to the future and powering their enterprises with diesel generators as grid supplied electricity is too expensive.

  10. Tezza

    Hilarious/tragic. This Balkanisation of the power grid, with generation everywhere and storage everywhere in a glittery new ‘smart grid’ and few if any of those nasty old power stations, is meant to be the future, if you read any of the fantasy articles on how Australia will become 100% renewable powered. We’re all meant to become our own power stations, dispatching or storing our excess or off peak generation for sale to others during peak demand.

    Someone should tell the Qld Gov. Among the green left, the left hand doesn’t know what the green hand is doing.

    But I’m sure it will all work out well. Just look at the analytical quality of Finkel.

  11. H B Bear

    A major problem with small scale solar is that, in WA at least, the cost of poles and wires is bundled with the volume cost of grid electricity. Thus people with roof top solar pay proportionately less for the network despite still relying on it during summer and winter peaks, when both the network and generation costs are at their highest.

    Network costs need to be charged on a premises basis like drainage rates. If you don’t want to pay them fine – disconnect from the network completely and rely on solar/battery systems but don’t expect to free ride on the network to sell back into the grid.

  12. .

    The subsidy used to be 60c/kwH in NSW.

    Strewth! Cane farmers whinging about subsidies. What a time to be alive.

  13. Andrew

    To be fair, in 2 years the grid power will be so expensive that it will no longer be viable to use your battery to run your home (while feeding the grid with all your solar) and then use your grid power at night to recharge the battery. The problem of everything will go away.

  14. I understand some of the suppliers can already decided if they take feed-in power in a similar way to turn on of off-peak metering. If they limit solar feed-in to peak useage around 2hrs at midday that could fix some problems with excess solar and battery usage.

  15. Beliaik

    Both solar panels and batteries complicate things for firefighters when the place catches fire, too.
    When it was only grid power it was easy to pull the pole fuse to isolate power to the house.
    Now the firefighters have to find the solar and/or battery’s control box to isolate power and allow water streams to be deployed without risk of electrocution.

  16. Dr Fred Lenin

    Sparky ,the police will conduct daqn raids on houses looking for batteries ,like they do with right wing extremists like Tommy Robinson and Pauline Hanson ,and fit them up for a jail term on manufactured “evidence “.

  17. Habib

    I have no problem with small-scale as long as the punter pays full whack, and doesn’t get feed-in tariff subsidies for their non-existent input to the grid. I would’ve gone off-grid myself years ago if I could be arsed, I hate paying exorbitant sums to state government blinds for shitty delivery. If I move down the coast I’ll be bringing in a dirty great diesel genset from China, and polluting the fuck out of the Clarence valley while running aircon, multiple fridges, flat panel teevs and a Hiwatt amp that will make the wildlife’s ears bleed. All the benefits of civilisation.

    Allowing politicians to control such basic necessities is beyond idiotic.

  18. John Bayley

    With rising power prices, if you live in a sunny locale and it saves you a dollar, why not?

    Because if not subsidised, rooftop PV solar panels struggle to even pay for themselves. See this article:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/03/28/florida-the-sun-state-with-hardly-any-household-solar/

    To summarise what it says, there’s much more solar in New York than Florida, despite the former receiving much less sunshine on average.

    Florida has no subsidies – hence bugger all solar.

    Says it all, really.

  19. duncanm

    Its an immutable law.

    Any government subsidy will be subject to rorts.

    Its amazing that given the number of spivs and con artists in politics, they can’t spot the potential scams beforehand. I’m guessing they’re too busy looking for their own angle.

  20. duncanm

    crikey – at 44c/kWh – they could charge their batteries off the grid at off-peak (~10c/kWh where I am) then sell it back at quite a handy profit. ~200% profit after 20% charge/discharge losses.

    For a 13kWh Tesla wall – that’s $3.50/day ($1300/year) money for jam.

  21. Sisipus

    Your article states that the feedback rate on solar is 44c when in fact it is now 52c and as of the 1st July will be 54c. The increase is obviously to make up for the additional fees on housholds for (leasing) smart metres . They give with one hand and take away with the other.

  22. Diogenes

    Farmers are getting charged for water collected in their private dams.

    Next up: households getting charged for sunlight collected on their private roofs.

    You know it.

    Yep, just like Spain

  23. Snoopy

    Next up: households getting charged for sunlight collected on their private roofs.

    I’m already getting charged for sunlight collected on my neighbour’s roof.

  24. Tel

    When the Solar Bonus Scheme was first established, new technologies like batteries were not a consideration.

    Because batteries were only invented recently… yoik! yoik! (makes Queensland thinking noises as a show of sincerity).

  25. Bruce of Newcastle

    For a 13kWh Tesla wall – that’s $3.50/day ($1300/year) money for jam.

    Which would almost, but not quite, pay back the ten grand installed cost (excluding GST) of the Powerwall in the 8 years before it expires.

    Your house insurance would skyrocket. Having your Powerwall burn your house down would be embarrassing, and I am sure the insurers will be quite aware of this issue.

    Almost any way you look at it that investment sucks. Even a term deposit would be a better option.

  26. Habib

    Apart from driving up property prices and clogging the roads with their dreadful driving and rooted shitboxes, the worst thing about the exodus of bogans from the south to Qld was making incompetent, larcenous and retarded labor governments electable. The state’s been a shithole ever since.

  27. RobK

    In WA’s South West grid, commercial solar (on factories,less than 100kW) don’t get any feed in tariffs. Residencial I believe varies around the 6c/kW.
    If nondispatchable power was paid what it’s worth say 0-2c/kW and battery dispatchable say 3-4c /kW or so then Qld wouldn’t have a problem.

  28. Squirrel

    “Actually, the small-scale renewables are just a pest for the electricity system….”

    They have also encouraged far too many people to assume that they can have their cake and eat it too – subsidised virtue-signalling at the household level with the convenience and reliability of that “dreadful old stranded-asset grid”.

    This dishonesty has made it so much easier for the renewable energy spivs to pretend that we can switch off the fossil-fueled power generation whenever we like and everything will be just fine.

  29. RobK

    “If nondispatchable power was paid what it’s worth say 0-2c/kW and battery dispatchable say 3-4c /kW or so then Qld wouldn’t have a problem.

    That’s kWh not kW

  30. Peted

    With something close to 20% increases in usage charges in NSW, and small scale solar getting generous concessions in terms of installation costs, expect those who can afford to pay to keep going with their system installations.
    And the grid electricity to keep getting more expensive for those who can’t.

  31. Boambee John

    Renters, apartment dwellers, those with limited financial resources are paying higher electricity prices to subsidise wealthy home owners.

    The left would usually complain about the social INjustice of tbis, but their chardonnay socialists are the beneficiaries here, so all cool.

  32. RobK

    Further to my comment above, I agree with HB Bear, there should be a grid service charge and a consumption charge. Feed-in should be at what it’s worth not some crazy distorting amount.

  33. grumpy

    Run Houses of Parliament (yes, all of them) purely on solar or wind (off grid). If the pollies can’t turn on computer or even see what they are doing half the time then they won’t be able to keep passing stupid laws.

  34. stackja

    Boambee John
    #2414458, posted on June 16, 2017 at 5:01 pm
    Renters, apartment dwellers, those with limited financial resources are paying higher electricity prices to subsidise wealthy home owners.

    The left would usually complain about the social INjustice of tbis, but their chardonnay socialists are the beneficiaries here, so all cool.

    This Winter will cut down on the number of ‘Renters, apartment dwellers, those with limited financial resources’. ‘Chardonnay socialists are the beneficiaries here, so all cool.’

  35. duncanm

    Which would almost, but not quite, pay back the ten grand installed cost (excluding GST) of the Powerwall in the 8 years before it expires.

    ah yes — wait till those government installation subsidies kick in.

  36. amortiser

    I ran a sheet at 11:05 and 3:15 of the wind power output Australia wide today.

    For 4392 mwh registered capacity, at 11:05 they were generating 122 mwh or 3% and at 3:15 they were generating 78mwh or 2%.

    Now I understand the variability involved here but these are obviously the prime sites for wind generation. If wind is going to increase its proportion of the grid to reach this magical 42% renewable capacity how on earth are they going to handle situations like today when the entire renewable system was almost halted.

    The subsidies and preferential access to the grid has to stop or the country will grind to a halt.

  37. Old Brian

    If you look at the live generation graphic on the Renew Economy website, you will find that at the present time (2050EST), there is 4Mwh of power being delivered to the national grid by small scale solar, i.e. domestic installations, despite the fact that all of Australia is in darkness. Is this power coming from battery installations associated with the solar panels.

    Just checked the graphic, 2055, and the amount of power being delivered now is 1Mwh in NSW.

  38. mundi

    In some places it is currently 100% legal to charge your batteries off-peak, then feed them back in with solar during the day. In idiot places like SA and QLD on the grandfather feedin tarrifs of 40c+, and offpeak is only 12c to 18c, its a tidy earner. I know many pepople in QLD who have negetive money owing on their power bills, each time it reaches $2,000 they get a cheque cut.

  39. wal1957

    This was another Labor [email protected]
    Who ends up paying for the rebates, including rebates to encourage you to install solar? No surprises, it’s the poor old taxpayer. AND generally speaking it’s the bloke that can’t, or couldn’t afford to install the bloody panels in the first place! This includes renters.
    Will Labor governments ever run out of those wonderful money trees?

  40. JohnA

    “You can either use your solar PV [solar photovoltaic systems] to generate power for your property, or you can use the power coming from your battery.

    “You can’t do both at the one time.”

    Obviously a politician talking.

    Of COURSE you can. Read what you said, mate!

    If you generate power from the sun and pass it to your battery system (that’s Production), you can also be drawing from your battery system to send electricity into your house (that’s Consumption).

    Or maybe you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, mate?

  41. Crossie

    This was another Labor [email protected]
    Who ends up paying for the rebates, including rebates to encourage you to install solar? No surprises, it’s the poor old taxpayer. AND generally speaking it’s the bloke that can’t, or couldn’t afford to install the bloody panels in the first place! This includes renters.
    Will Labor governments ever run out of those wonderful money trees?

    ACOSS are so quick to jump on any government action that would disadvantage the poor yet they seem to be perfectly comfortable with this rort that really penalises the have-nots. Could it be that the activists also indulge in this rort and don’t want it discontinued?

  42. Mark M

    Best part about owning solar panels is the satisfaction of knowing those who could never afford them are helping to subsidize yours …

    Solar panels ‘next to useless’ at key times, expert says
    “An odd quirk of renewable energy in Australia is that the bulk of our rooftop solar panels are pointed in the wrong direction.”
    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/renewable-energy-most-solar-panels-next-to-useless-at-key-times-expert-says-20170207-gu7vxr.html
    ~ ~ ~
    “He estimated it would increase power bills for non-solar households by $15.75 a year, and cited Grattan Institute research that in 2015 found Australians without solar panels had effectively paid $14 billion to subsidise those with them.

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/solar-tariff-for-victorian-households-with-panels-to-more-than-double-20170228-gun8q9.html

  43. gbees

    Just got my latest power price rise from Energy Australia. Prices up on average ~28% since June last year. Of course this is outrageous but more is on its way. Since Energy Australia is wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based energy company CLP Group it means my cash ends up in China in some form or other. Our politicians really need a kick up the arse.

  44. Faye

    What about the monumental blunders of the desalinization plants. Stealth tax. We will be paying for these for the rest of our lives and the unions and contractors are laughing. It’s enough to make you scream.

  45. Bruce

    Question 1. What is the output impedance of a synchronous, pure sine wave inverter in an average household installation?

    Question 2. What is the nominal line impedance of the mains distribution network that runs past said household?

    Question 3. How many panels are ACTUALLY require to run even a small percentage of household goodies via a PROPER inverter?

    Question 4. In what proportion of installations are the panels REGULARLY inspected for corrosion and WASHED properly to remove DUST?

    Question 5. What is an “acceptable” rate for deaths resulting from falls, of people trying to clean / inspect their roof-mounted panels?

    Supplementary: How long before an entire “industry” of licensed inspectors / cleaners” and associated taxpayer-funded bureaucracy emerges to deal with this “issue”?

    Question 6. What happens when a battery-bank / inverter system goes underwater in a flood, and the rooftop panels are still merrily sending 900, or so, Volts DC down the line, whilst the sun shines?

  46. RobK

    Last question first. Max open circuit DC voltage for residential is 300v, commercial 900 Vdc. In the event of a flood the inverter would stop producing alternating current to the grid. The dc supply from the panels would be running electricity through the water between its positive and negative wiring when the sun is up.. The dc is not earthed, I.e. it’s isolated from earth, so to get zapped you’d have to put you self between the positive and negative. In the case of a flood, a circuit would likely run through the water thereby reducing the amount likely to be conducted by you. It is still dangerous, don’t get me wrong.
    Regarding cleaning: I’ve noticed the odd van getting about Perth offering that service.
    Regarding power purity: inverters are subject to standards, however they, and ac drives and the like, can cause issues with harmonics and distortion causing ripples and spikes of voltage which needs conditioning.(it can and does sometimes damage stuff).

  47. RobK

    If a solar inverter was flooded, I expect it to produce an explosive mixture of oxygen and hydrogen as it dissociates the water. If this were in a poorly ventilated area, an explosion hazard may exist. I’m not certain about this.

  48. RobK

    Bruce,
    Some of the answers to the other questions can be found here: link .

  49. RobK

    Try again, small scale solar roof top power systems see last few chapters about problems in feeding the grid from the user end.

  50. RobK

    small scale solar roof top power supplies
    Finally, I think it worked properly. See final chapters for grid voltage problems.

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