Victorian Climate Change Innovation Grant Recipients Announced

Victorian Climate Change Innovation Grant Recipients Announced

The Victorian Government yesterday announced projects sharing in $4.3 million in Climate Change Innovation grants, among which were a few relating to solar energy.

The grants are designed to support Victorian organisations in the development of innovative solutions to the challenges of climate change and foster collaboration between business, industry, academia and government.

More than 240 applications were received, with 24 selected to receive funding.

Among the recipients was Wodonga City Council, for a community solar project. Led by Renewable Albury Wodonga Energy (RAW), the City and supported by the Moreland Energy Foundation consulting team, the project seeks to establish 2MW of community solar using an innovative model that will benefit the entire community.

An important aspect of the project will be to divert some of the revenue generated to help low-income households in Wodonga with energy efficiency retrofits, driving down the area’s carbon emissions further while improving living conditions for these households.

Another recipient is Deakin University, for its “Fridge Off Grid” project. This seeks to reduce expenses, electricity consumption and emissions by removing refrigerators from the grid through development of portable solar panel and storage units. Deakin seems to be playing its cards close to its chest on this project, with little other information publicly available at this stage.

Deakin University also scored a grant for a project relating to optimising building design to achieve zero carbon housing, through energy conservation, recovery and generation.

A full list of recipients can be viewed here (PDF).

The grants are part of Andrews Labor Government $5.6 million investment in the Virtual Centre for Climate Change Innovation Program.

“We are delivering real action on climate change by helping companies across Victoria implement new ideas to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio. “This is about helping some of Victoria’s best and brightest minds achieve even greater things in combating climate change.”

Once home to one of the filthiest power stations in the world (Hazelwood) in terms of emissions, Victoria has set a goal of achieving 25 per cent renewables by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025; a goal that was enshrined into law in October last year.

Also last year, Victoria’s Climate Change Act 2017 came into effect on November 1. The Act established a long-term emissions reduction target of net zero by 2050.

Victorian households have been doing their bit to reduce emissions in the state, installing solar panels that provide the additional (and very important) bonus of slashing electricity bills. According to the most recent data from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator, Victoria boasts more than 341,000 small scale solar power systems (<100kW capacity)

Queensland Legacy 44c Solar Feed In Tariff Rule Change Update

Solar installers and households/businesses on Queensland’s legacy 44c solar feed in tariff (Solar Bonus Scheme) should be aware of pending changes to the scheme.

Queenslanders that applied to install rooftop solar power systems before the 10th of July 2012 were eligible for a 44 cent feed-in tariff1. This generous rate is locked in until the 1st of July 2028 – assuming nothing is done to make a system ineligible.

Queensland’s Energex originally sent an explainer to solar installers about the consequence of a Bill concerning the legacy FiT in September last year.

Last week, the Queensland Parliament re-introduced a Bill to change the Electricity Act 1994 (Qld) that Energex says provides clearer rules. If passed in its current form, 15 February 2018 will be the date that the changes came into effect rather than the previously advised date of 15 June 2017.

Summarising the pending 44c feed-in tariff changes:

Solar Array Upgrades And Oversizing

Array upgrades on 44c feed-in tariff-eligible systems must not result in a solar panel array capacity that exceeds the total inverter capacity – so no more oversizing. For those who entered a contract to purchase additional panels that take the total array capacity above inverter capacity before 15 February 2018, eligibility will remain assuming the upgrade occurs within a reasonable timeframe and there is a current financial commitment that can be proven if requested.

Replacing Solar Panels

When replacing failed panels, every effort must be made to match the wattage of the panels being replaced. Where this is not possible, an increase in wattage of up to 5% across the entire array is allowable without impacting 44c feed-in tariff eligibility and without requiring Energex consent.

Above 5% will require consent, a new connection application lodged2 and will jeopardise 44c feed in tariff eligibility. Energex advises that in cases where multiple solar panels need to be replaced, it may be necessary to reduce the number of panels to stay within the 5% limit.

Adding Batteries

While battery storage can be added, the system cannot be configured in a way that could result in the battery discharging while the solar power system is operating or more electricity being exported than would otherwise be possible. A schematic will need to be included with applications demonstrating compliance with the rule.

Adding Another System

Any type of generating system added to the same tariff circuit and operating at the same time as the qualifying PV system (except during blackouts), or one that is able to export to the grid will result in the 44c feed-in tariff being forfeited. This is a clarification rather than a change to current policy.

Assuming the Bill is passed, Energex warns it will be actively monitoring to ensure compliance with the above.

The Electricity and Other Legislation (Batteries and Premium Feed-in Tariff) Amendment Bill 2018 can be viewed here.

Other Premium FiT Conditions

The following actions also make a system ineligible for the 44c feed-in tariff:

  • moving house
  • selling or renting your house where this results in a new electricity account holder for the premises
  • increasing the capacity of your inverter
  • closing your electricity account
  • getting disconnected

More do’s and don’ts regarding maintaining 44c feed-in tariff eligibility can be found here.


  1. Current feed in tariff rates in Queensland range from 10c – 12c 
  2. Energex says a new connection application also needs to be lodged in these cases where a system is not on the 44c FiT

SA Labor Commits To 75% Renewables By 2025

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill says if Labor is re-elected, it will boost the state’s Renewable Energy Target to 75 per cent by 2025.

South Australia’s current target is 50% by 2025, but the state is way ahead on achieving that goal – already starting to bump up against that level (48.9 per cent).

“Renewable energy means cheaper power for all South Australians,” said the Premier. “The world is now looking to South Australia, and we’re sending yet another signal to renewable energy leaders that their investment is welcome in our state.”

UPDATE: SA Labor has also announced an energy storage target of “25%” by 2025, with the aim of having 750MW of storage rolled out by that year.

The announcements follow a series in recent weeks on government supported/backed energy projects, including:

Premier Weatherill has previously stated this election would be a referendum on renewable energy in the state. Tapping into the popularity of renewables may be a wise move – a recent poll indicated the majority of South Australians are proud of the state’s wind and solar power achievements.

SA Labor’s energy policy document can be downloaded here (PDF). At the time of writing, it was yet to include the new 75% renewables commitment.

SA Liberals Will Abolish State Renewable Energy Target

On the issue of energy, the SA Liberals’ commitments include:

  • A $200 million interconnection fund.
  • A $100 million home storage subsidy scheme (avg. $2,500 per household for installing battery systems).
  • A $50 million grid scale storage fund.
  • A requirement for new renewable generators to bring forward energy storage.
  • $20 million for demand response and demand aggregation trials.

The party has also committed to abolishing the state-based renewable energy target in favour of a national policy mechanism (i.e., the NEG).

The “Liberal Energy Solution” can be downloaded here (PDF).

SA Greens – 100% Renewables By 2025

It won’t come as any surprise the SA Greens have big plans for renewables and fossil fuels. Their commitments include:

  • 100% renewable energy by 2025.
  • Opposing new coal or unconventional gas approvals or expansions in the state.
  • Installing solar panels and battery storage on all suitable tenanted public and community housing properties.
  • Boosting uptake of domestic and commercial roof-top solar and battery storage.
  • Investigating additional interconnection between SA and other states.
  • Ending direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuel generator.

The SA Greens’ energy policy is here.

SA Best MIA On Energy

As for SA Best, it is yet to publish its energy policy, probably because Nick Xenophon has been busy making ads.

WARNING: Viewing this video may result in the earworm phenomenon, regardless of how you feel about its contents. The Wikipedia article linked to offers some potential cures should you be afflicted.


.. not a solar panel, wind turbine or battery system in sight – and maybe that was a good thing.

2017 – Australia’s record-breaking year for solar power. 1GW already commissioned

2017 has been a year of records for Australian solar power, and the year’s not even finished yet. Here are some of the highlights of the 10 records that have been broken in 2017 (some of them multiple times):

Before we do, if you don’t already subscribe to our Insights service, then a) you’re missing out on regular updates like these, and b) now is the perfect time to get our 2016 Year in Review – which includes a 3 month subscription to Insights that means you’ll also automatically receive the 2017 Year in Review

  1. Fastest time to reach 1GW of commissioned solar in a calendar year. There’s only been one year where Australia has commissioned more than 1GW of PV – this was in 2012, where there was 1.01GW of sub-100kW PV and 1.06GW of PV commissioned in total. 
    Analysis of the 2017 STC market shows that 972MW of sub-100kW PV has been registered in 2017 – however, 79MW of this 2016 installations that registered STCs in 2017. Therefore our current total is 893MW of sub-100kW PV commissioned in 2017 – a figure that looks set to reach 1.05GW once the final tally is in. 
    SunWiz’s Large-scale Lookout tracks every system above 100kW that is mentioned publicly. It shows that over 114MW of systems over 100kW have already been commissioned in 2017 (of which Kidston Solar Farm contributed 50MW). Our current tally is therefore 1.00 GW by the end of November.  
  1. Record volume of solar commissioned in a calendar year. The figures above show that we are certain to exceed our previous best of 1.058GW in 2012. December’s STC registration alone will undoubtedly exceed 60MW, on top of which there will be 2017 installations that register STCs in 2018, plus further 2017 LRET systems that we discover in coming months.
  2. Record volume of PV rooftop commercial commissioned. Already by November there has been 285MW of commercial installations commissioned in the 10kW – 1000kW range. This beats the previous best in 2016 of 228MW.
  3. Record volume of sub-100kW solar registered in a month. In November 2017, 122MW worth of STCs were registered, beating the previous record held in 2011. Unfortunately, the CER is yet to audit all of these certificates, so its likely this record will be unbroken next month. Still, its a stellar result, and its worth noting that both October and November will be in the top 5 months of registration, regardless of the CER audits outcome, and that 2017 has seen record monthly volumes set for any March, September, October, or November (previous years have been much quieter in the tail-end of the year).
  1. Record volume of sub-100kW solar registered in a month. In November 2017, 122MW worth of STCs were registered, beating the previous record held in 2011. Unfortunately, the CER is yet to audit all of these certificates, so its likely this record will be unbroken next month. Still, its a stellar result, and its worth noting that both October and November will be in the top 5 months of registration, regardless of the CER audits outcome, and that 2017 has seen record monthly volumes set for any March, September, October, or November (previous years have been much quieter in the tail-end of the year).
  2. Record volume of PV registered in NSW in any month. After the intense rush to install solar before the cut-off date of its gross FiT in mid-2011, NSW’s solar installations languished. This all changed in 2017 with exceptional growth, to the point where over 30MW was of sub-100kW PV was registered in NSW. Again the CER auditing process may roll back the figures to below-record levels.

6.Record average system size in the sub-100kW market- which in October hit 6.7kW/system. This is an indication of both the growing size of residential systems (which are now as commonly sold in the 6-8kW range as they are in the 5kW range), and the increasing volume and proportion of the market that is commercial.

Battery boom hears off-grid demand: BYD

Battery boom hears off-grid demand: BYD

As more battery makers enter Australia to get a bit of the action, Chinese giant BYD has found traction especially with consumers who just want to get off the grid.

It’s been a busy year in battery storage but good business attracts more participants and that’s what’s happening in Australia, says global sales director of BYD batteries Julia Chen.

The Chinese industrial giant launched its B-Box high- and low-voltage lithium battery range here in February, pitching storage solutions suitable for the residential market and commercial and industrial applications. Seven months down the track BYD has installed more than 1,500 storage solutions in Australia, Chen told EcoGeneration during the All-Energy conference in Melbourne in October.

What’s been interesting for the new entrant is the number of sales made to buyers installing off-grid systems. Families in remote areas that rely on air-conditioning and are suffering soaring electricity charges are moving towards energy independence, and batteries are a must-have. A customer in Victoria has installed 25-30kWh of storage to support critical load (read, air-con), and a joint project with wholesaler RFI has seen storage installed in 200kWh commercial system – just two examples.


“In the market everybody has a unique solution to support,” she says. “We are happy talking to installers who are looking for solutions that support back-up and off-grid functions, and can help design systems.”

Off-grid residential systems in remote areas are about 30kWh, in BYD’s experience so far, where residences often also support farming activity. One job included three air-conditioning systems. SMA Sunny Island inverters are often used and BYD works with the inverter maker to engineer optimal solutions using minimum battery units.

Residential buyers have a lot to learn about storage, and so do installers. BYD has run more than 50 training sessions for wholesalers and installers so far this year, says Chen, pointing out the modular BYD system – which is a bit like a stack of Lego blocks – can take as little as 30 minutes to install because there are no cable connections. The B-Box system is scalable from 2.5kWh to 442kWh. “Installers are quite smart, it’s just that they are not used to battery systems,” she says. “And some need support.”

The residential market is in transition from early adopters to the next level, and inquiries will only accelerate.

BYD has massive industrial capacity in China, including electric vehicles and monorails, solar farms and sustainable transport solutions. In 2010 it signed a joint-venture with Daimler to launch electric car brand Denza. It also makes batteries for many mainstream phone and IT brands.

One cheap energy scenario seldom mentioned is that you don’t actually have to own a solar PV system to get use out of a battery. Renters, for instance, or apartment dwellers without roofspace can buy a small battery and smart meter and straightaway push costs down by buying off-peak from the grid and using that energy during peak times. Not many people do it in Australia, yet, but it’s quite popular among small business owners in China, where Chen is based.

“Some [owners] will use a battery to avoid peak power, where the electricity price is extremely high for industrial charges; so they use a battery to reduce the peak and can easily cut their bills,” she says. A well-designed storage-only solution, she says, can pay for itself within about three or four years. (BYD runs a 40kWh batteries-without-solar system in Shenzhen.)

“In China it’s mostly storage without solar. We don’t have a lot of space to build solar on the rooftops.”