Can I Have a Solar Battery and Get a Feed-in Tariff in Sydney?

Many Australians with an interest in solar find the dynamics between batteries and feed-in tariffs confusing. This is completely normal. After all, it’s true that starting a solar installation project can be a little intimidating. Yes, installing a solar system can be great – but it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why now is a great time to look at the relationship between batteries and feed-in tariffs in Australia and ultimately how homeowners like yourself can achieve energy independence with a healthy home economy.

View our range of solar battery storage products here.

The Basics of Batteries, Feed-in Tariffs and The Home Economy in Sydney

Batteries: Solar panels generate energy during the day. As they do, the excess can be stored in a battery for later use, for when electricity is in need but the panels are not producing power/energy.

Feed-in tariffs: Feed-in tariffs are a credit that solar panel owners receive for any excess energy they generate with their panels that is then fed back to the grid.

Energy independence: We think of energy independence for homeowners as being in a position to rely on your own electricity generated from a solar system, and incorporating a battery to house excess energy production for use later (instead of sending excess energy back to the grid for a feed-in tariff).

The home economy: At Soltek we talk to our customers about the home economy. This is even more important to us than energy independence. The home economy is the idea that your home and its electricity usage is centred on power coming in versus costs going out. We think of power as a currency homeowners can use to reduce or remove grid costs. We encourage homeowners to not only think about installing solar, but also keep the bigger picture in mind. Focus on the production (PV Solar) of your power currency, how and when you use this power, whether storing your power (battery storage) works for you, and how you can reduce your current usage through solutions like heat pump hot water and heat pump pool heating as well as selecting energy-efficient devices for your home. All of this together allows your home economy to flourish.

Whether you want to plan out an efficient home economy or you prefer to install solar and receive credit from feed-in tariffs, this will be dependent on your specific circumstances.

The Choice Between Feed-in Tariffs or Battery Storage

It’s not critical to have a battery in order to gain access to a feed-in tariff. In fact, it’s not necessary to have a battery at all. In such cases, any excess energy will automatically be fed out to the grid. This said, many Aussies installing a solar system do find there’s value in having a battery. Furthermore, many Aussies that right now do not have a solar battery are looking to get one in future, once battery technology advances further.

So although it’s not a hard and fast choice, it’s instead one best thought of as being a question of strategy. It’s held as of December 2020 more than 2.66 million rooftop solar systems had been installed across Australia. Just as many millions more are set to be installed, existing solar installations will get added to, and otherwise modified in years ahead. For example, as well as adding a battery, it’s expected many homes will eventually install a charging station for an electric vehicle (EV) that is charged – at least in-part – by the solar installation.

The Case for Going Double

Installing a solar system is not about the benefits you get on day 1 of its use, but day 100, day 1,000, and so on. A solar system can drive down energy costs, and drive up the value of a property. In this regard, getting a battery will make the installation a bigger job, but it means the extra energy the panels generate can be stored, and then later utilised.

The Home Economy

The home economy (or business economy) is a renewable journey rather than just one step towards reduced power bills.

The benefits you get from solar, storage and efficient energy management in your home outweigh any benefits you can get from solar alone. It’s why we talk about an overall solution for the home economy, rather than just focusing on one aspect like solar or batteries.

Remember, the home economy brings together:

  • Production (PV Solar) of your power currency
  • Identifying how and when you use this power
  • Determining whether storing your power (battery storage) works for you
  • Investigating how you can reduce your current usage through more energy-efficient solutions like heat pump hot water and heat pump pool heating as well as energy-efficient devices and practices for your home.

A rich home economy means greater electricity savings and peace of mind knowing that your home is efficiently renewable.

Contact Soltek today to learn more about the home economy and how we can help you get to this position in your home or business.

Why Investing in a Battery is Starting to Make More Sense for Homeowners

It’s necessary to keep in mind that the solar industry is – notwithstanding its ongoing growth – subject to change when it comes to both batteries and feed-in tariffs. Put simply, batteries are getting better as time goes on. In turn, while many governments have sought to implement generous feed-in tariffs to incentivise installations in years prior, the sheer popularity of solar across Australia today means in future the rate of such feed-in tariffs will reduce, and eventually likely come to an end altogether.

This is why we believe relying on feed-in tariffs is not the optimum strategy for homeowners looking for energy independence or an efficient home economy. Depending on your circumstances, you may be better off with a battery to store excess electricity (for periods when no power is being produced) and find ways to minimise current usage.

Battery technology is advancing and has a great part to play in the home economy. Some are choosing to watch and wait for battery prices to come down and technology advancements to improve. But in the meantime they may be suffering from lower feed-in tariffs when they send their excess energy back to the grid. For many homeowners, a battery storage system would be a better option and lead to quicker system payback.

Alternatively, If you are interested in minimising your current energy usage, view our range of heat pump hot water systems, and our heat pump pool heating products here.

Where Can I Find Out More About Feed-in Tariffs and Excess Power Storage?

The Australian government has a good starting point for anyone looking to come up to speed on specific rates for feed-in tariffs across Australia. The precise rates for a feed-in tariff can vary across Australian states and territories, and from one energy provider to the next. Many people make use of energy price comparison websites to find a feed-in tariff they like.

It’s also useful to keep in mind that these feed-in tariffs can be subject to change. If you’re in Sydney and you find a tariff you like today, or want a solar battery storage system to store your excess energy instead of sending it back to the grid, simply talk to us today, we’d be more than happy to discuss battery options, feed-in-tariffs, or energy-saving solutions like heat pump systems that meet your specific needs and get you closer to an efficient home economy with less reliance on the grid.

A Burning Issue: Solar Fire Safety Concerns – Installing Solar in Sydney

Australia has a love affair with solar. It’s akin to Australia’s love affair with the sun generally. After all, we’re the land of sun, sea, and sand. But the potential dangers or poorly-made and/or incorrectly installed solar panels are real. Just the same as too much time out in the sun without adequate protection can pose a risk to your health, the same applies to low-quality solar (LQS).

Unfortunately, the risks of LQS are not confined to losing cash on a bad installation. Or having a solar system that’s more inefficient than a quality one. The reality is LQS can have serious safety concerns, and their existence in the industry do immense harm to consumer confidence, quality solar businesses, and Australia at large. It’s essential everyone is aware of these issues. So let’s go through them now in-depth.

Rare but Really Dangerous

When a solar installation is done with quality parts by an experienced professional, the panels should be safe and enjoy a very long lifespan. But the reality is a LQS installation can pose a major danger. Recent stats illustrate how confronting this issue is. Reportedly, data from NSW Fire and Rescue illustrates the state’s firefighters attended almost 140 solar panel fires in 2020. In 2019 they did so for 56, and in 2018 for 22.

Yet since then demand for solar installations has only grown, and this means statistically NSW firefighters and their counterparts around Australia will be spending far more time and resources in future, attending to solar panel fires if the issue isn’t addressed.

A Missed Opportunity for High Quality Solar Installations in Sydney

This is an issue that’s both local and international in scope. LQS systems do a disservice to Australia’s ambition to pursue a clean energy future. Instead of a quality solar installation that’ll be more beneficial for their owner and the national energy grid as a whole, LQS systems frustrate this process. Sure they generate some solar energy, but alongside being a case of ‘throwing good money after bad’, they also take up space on a roof where a quality system could otherwise go.

While some Aussies once they discover they’ve had a LQS installed will immediately remove it – and this should of course be done if it’s not simply a question of efficiency but an actual safety risk being posed by its ongoing use – many may feel they’ve not got the cash to do another installation, and so will put it down as a missed opportunity. The implications of LQS also stretch beyond our borders, for if the Australian market was permitted to become an international “dumping ground” for LQS components, in years ahead the entire nation’s solar output could be fundamentally underpowered, and make Australia’s contribution to fighting climate change by growing green energy altogether underwhelming.

Greater Education of Consumers Necessary

Part of the challenge with the solar industry at present is a common misconception among consumers. Many people mistakenly think solar panels will last forever once installed – after all the sun isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, right? – or at the very least will go for a good 25 years as per the warranty many installers offer.

But even these warranties involve a reading of the fine print to understand that they don’t guarantee optimum performance of an installation for a quarter of a century, but instead are more akin to a limited power warranty. The good news is with regular upkeep and maintenance a quality solar installation can be expected to accrue some terrific mileage. The bad news is a LQS installation could begin creating headaches on day 1 of operation.

Any Aussies thinking a solar installation is something they can get done this year and leave to languish until the late 2040s are very wrong. Especially because of the widespread safety issues that exist today due to LQS.

A Need For Greater Involvement by Industry Authorities

Concerns surrounding LQS is no new issue. It’s held an audit by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) of the Clean Energy Regulator in 2018 inspected just 1.2% of Australian rooftops, but found poorly installed – and even outright unsafe – installations among thousands upon thousands of Aussie homes. The decade ahead is expected to see solar uptake continue to surge. This means this already substantial problem is only going to grow larger.

Australians need only look at the debacle that’s been the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout to know the absence of proper investment and sufficient oversight by authorities in the mass uptake of a new technology can ultimately become a huge hindrance on the country in the long run. This should not be the case for solar in a nation that is by many measures a world leader in its renewable energy potential. But the absence of stronger regulation and safeguards in this space to ensure LQS installations are driven out is right now lacking in the Australian landscape.

Ending Blank Cheque Rebates

For governments the realities of LQS requires careful consideration surrounding the structure of any current (and future) rebates. The rationale for these rebates is sound. Encouraging Aussies to take up solar is great and – especially for those among us who’re keen to do it but may not quite have the cash on hand right now for a good solar setup – by bridging the divide governments get people doing so sooner.

But the issue is when it’s not a good solar setup. The reality is these rebates have helped create a ‘Wild West’ in the Aussie solar industry. LQS retailers will spruik to prospective customers the potential to get a solar system for a very small amount once rebates are factored in. To consumers that are otherwise unaware it sounds like a good deal – but the deal is often too good to be true.

The exact settings a rebate reform would take on are best discussed another time, elsewhere. But strong protections exist in other Australian industries that guard against goods being sold which are defective or otherwise not fit for purpose. Common sense tells us LQS installations that do not work, do not last, and represent a safety risk could fit under these definitions.

For All Solar Panel Owners in Sydney: The Importance of Being Proactive

Right now many Aussies don’t understand that solar panel installations are not something an owner should just ‘set and forget’ once the installation is complete. It’s easy to recognise why this perception could occur. After all, solar panels are seen as pretty straightforward technology. Unlike a car where the need for regular maintenance and inspection is recognised, essentially solar installations have no moving parts – and unless it occurs via something sudden like a hail storm – it’ll usually take a while for anyone to notice any visible damage that’s occurred.

In turn, given the placement of panels on a roof, non-obvious damage is unlikely to be noticed at all. A poorly functioning solar panel system can indeed be unsafe (more on that in a moment), but it also diminishes the effectiveness, and thus the value of the installation. It’s true there’s some very fastidious solar panel owners among us who will daily monitor their installation’s performance, but most Aussies will only have the chance to check from time to time. Such owners may not notice there’s a problem until they recognise after a substantial period of time (such as a year or more) that their electricity bills have spiked or their feed-in tariff isn’t what it used to be, and by then it could equate to a decent chunk of cash lost due to an underperforming system.

But unquestionably, the safety aspect is the critical concern here. Although LQS is where the greatest likelihood of a solar safety issue will occur – and those who’ve taken the time to get a quality system installed by a reputable installer can by and large enjoy peace of mind – it’s also good to be proactive when it comes to maintaining the quality of safety of a solar installation.

The reality is while quality solar panels are built tough, like essentially anything left out in the elements extreme winds, debris, and even mischief-making by possums and other wildlife can damage the panels. That’s why once an installation has occurred, planning for a regular inspection by a licensed electrician is prudent. The exact definition of ‘regular’ can depend on a number of variables, but as a guide once every six months is a good general estimate. 

This same timeframe also exists when it comes to cleaning the panels. Matter like dust, dirt particles, and – an unfortunately common culprit – bird droppings can diminish the effectiveness and safety of your solar system. Solar panel cleaners are available to attend to this task, and many can easily be found with a quick Google search. Yet just as it’s the case with LQS installers, it’s prudent to do your research beforehand and ensure a team you hire for the job has the skill and expertise to do the task properly.

Putting Out the Fire

The growing threat of solar fires represents an immediate threat to solar owners, and the industry at large. For providers and installers of quality solar, the good work of them and their colleagues in growing the industry and Australia’s renewables in recent years is undermined by LQS. Of course global supply chains factor into this, but that’s precisely why local authorities require a rethink in their approach to regulation and quality controls throughout the industry.

For governments there’s a vested interest in seeing an end to LQS installations. The national aims in combating climate change have been interwoven with rebates and other incentives for Australians to install solar panels. If the end-result of a green energy policy that discounts the cost of solar panel installations is an array of LQS setups, then that’s a bad ROI on taxpayer dollars.

To remedy this, it’s clear greater education of consumers is necessary. In turn, greater oversight by regulatory authorities. Otherwise the risk grows that additional fire outbreaks and media coverage of them results in a decline of solar uptake. That’s a loss for government and business.

And yes, consumers have a role to play here too. It’s important for anyone thinking about a solar system to do their research carefully. In turn, anyone with a solar system should now look deeper into the specifics of their system if they have any concerns. So too should all solar owners ensure they’re in the habit of regular maintenance of their system.

But ultimately addressing the current ills in the industry requires going to the roots of the tree. This is not something individuals can do. It requires a new approach from larger stakeholders. Shining a light on the issues with LQS in the industry may not delight all, but it’s necessary to see the right thing done by solar owners, quality solar providers, and the national interest overall. 

How Soltek Energy Installations Keep You Safe

 

SolarEdge

The Issue Alerts Dashboard  – Soltek Energy initiates a daily check to monitor the performance of SolarEdge systems and proactively manage any issues that are raised. We contact clients in the event of an issue to let them know that we are aware and are managing either remotely or engaging with the inverter company to overcome the issue.

While investing in quality products is paramount in ensuring that you have installed a safe long term investment, Soltek Energy will also work with you to ensure the system behaves and works as it should by remotely monitoring the system for any issues or concerns. You have the best of both worlds – safe, secure and the satisfaction of ongoing service.

Enphase

The solar safety reports highlighted in this article are an opportunity to reinforce the superior safety of an all-AC Enphase microinverter system versus its high-voltage DC single inverter counterparts. Zero high-voltage DC means no DC isolators or DC arc-fault fires. Higher DC voltages also accelerate potential induced degradation, reducing the overall system lifespan.

Maximum reliability – reports from the field

Here are a few success stories that showcase just how reliable Enphase microinverters can be in even the harshest environmental conditions.

Extreme heat

In January 2020, Greater Western City experienced a heatwave that broke temperature records. As per the data below, despite one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, this Penrith system worked seamlessly. Fully resilient up to 65C ambient temperature and 85C internal operating temperature, Enphase microinverters can take just about anything Mother Nature can throw at them. For more information download our High Ambient Temperatures Tech Brief.

olar Fire Safety Concerns Enphase

Source: Enphase

Hail damage

On Saturday, 31 October last year, South-East Queensland got smashed by a severe hailstorm. An Enphase Solar homeowner in Ipswich reached out to note how impressed he was with the way his system held up in the extreme weather event. Prior to the damage, his system produced approximately 6kW on a good solar day. Post significant damage, the system output was still around 4kW. Considering most of the DC systems in the area had to be isolated, this was one happy solar customer.

Solar Fire Safety Concerns Solar Panel

Source: Enphase

We only use the highest quality and the safest products from reliable solar manufacturers in all of our installations. Contact Soltek Energy today to get quality solar in Sydney.

How To Drive Solar Further With SolarEdge

Thinking of converting your home to solar energy? As trusted solar installers in Sydney, we provide expert advice on solar power systems, inverters and power optimisers in both residential and commercial properties.

Thinking of converting your home to solar energy? As trusted solar installers in Sydney, we provide expert advice on solar power systems, inverters and power optimisers in both residential and commercial properties.

Why invest in solar?

Go Green – Using solar energy allows the use of a sustainable renewable energy source that doesn’t deplete or diminish. “Go green” is not just a catch phrase but a genuine move to protect the environment by producing our own clean energy. It eradicates the need for local or foreign fossil fuels to generate electricity and in turn reduces pollutants contributing to global warming.

Recognised Value – Installation of solar PV systems has grown exponentially in Australia over the last few years at unprecedented rates. Since August 2020 more than 2.53 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed across the country. In fact, Australia has one of the highest levels of take-up rates of solar globally, with more than 21% of Australian rooftops featuring a solar PV panel.

Cost Savings – Most solar PV systems pay for themselves within 3-7 years and will cut the average electricity bill by 30-60%. In addition, government rebates and incentives to offset the cost of installation make it even more appealing.

Quality Solar Panels

SolarEdge Smart Panel

If you want to drive your solar further then investing in quality solar PV panels is key. We offer a range of brands, SolarEdge being a popular choice.

SolarEdge supply top of the range solar PV panels, advocating, “Saving energy is not only good for the planet, but also good for your bank balance. Powering your home through renewable energy can save money on your current and future electricity bills, enhance your property value, and lower your carbon footprint”.

What differentiates SolarEdge is their superior technology. On a standard or typical solar PV panel, the system consists of PV panels wired together in a series, like fairy lights. If a single panel stops working or underperforms for any reason (cloud cover, dust, dirt or damage), the entire string subsequently also underperforms. Thus, reducing energy production across the whole string.

solar edge power optimiser

SolarEdge superior technology connects an intelligent electronic chip to each solar PV panel which is called a power optimiser. Power optimisers, in corroboration with a system’s inverter, maximise solar energy production by granting each panel individual operation, which in turn reduces power loss. If an individual panel underperforms, it won’t affect the performance of any of the other panels in the string. Power optimisers mitigate against poor solar panel performance caused by a variety of disturbances such as dirt, shading, manufacturing tolerance, different panel orientations etc.

The power optimiser created by SolarEdge has literally revolutionised the way solar PV panels emit solar energy from the panel. The power optimiser maximises output from every individual optimised panel in the solar system. The power optimiser can be attached to any type of panel, if using the Solaredge inverter.

Another unique feature of the power optimiser is its ability to monitor the performance of each panel and communicate its performance data to the SolarEdge monitoring dashboard. This allows you to analyse its progress and adjust anything necessary.

And if you weren’t already impressed, each power optimiser is also equipped with an exclusive safety feature which automatically shuts down panels’ DC voltage whenever the inverter or grid power is shut down. This avoids any potentially life threatening or dangerous situations.

Quality Solar Inverters

SolarEdge three phase inverter

A solar inverter is one of the most important elements of the solar electric power system. It converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel into alternating 240V current (AC). This AC electricity then can be fed into your home to operate your appliances. If you’re producing more electricity than you need, it can feed it back into the grid.

This presents several outstanding benefits from SolarEdge. No carbon footprints, using a renewable energy source and no emission of greenhouse gases. In addition, once up-front costs have been realised, there are substantial return-on-investment (ROI) to be made. These are estimated to be approximately 3-4 years for Sydney. This represents dramatic savings on household bills, significant cost-savings in the long term.

Constant advancement in technology makes the solar panels, power optimisers and inverters more efficient, stronger, durable and therefore requiring less maintenance year-round.

The SolarEdge the power optimiser gives you the power to do more with your solar energy.

Every SolarEdge system comes complete with advanced monitoring to provide timely reports on the performance of your solar panels, powerful safety features, cutting-edge technology and superior quality for peace of mind. SolarEdge is a suite of integrated smart energy solutions to further maximise your energy production and energy savings.

Do you have any solar needs? Contact us and we will help.