For those of you that are currently enjoying a 60c or 20c Gross Feed In Tariff payment on your Grid Connect Solar System, it is about to come to an end on the 31st of December 2016. What a program it has been. Very few people realised just how good it was until it had closed to new participants. From the 1st of January next year, all Grid Connect Solar systems will only be eligible for a Net Feed in Tariff. The ramifications of this are explained below.
What are the options;
Do nothing. Although there are no firm indications from the power retailers yet we presume that if you elect to do nothing your solar power will still flow back into the grid and you will be paid either nothing for it or the standard current feed in tariff of 6 cents per kWhr.
Have a “Net Meter” installed. In this situation all of your solar power would be fed first into your house for your own consumption and then any excess power would flow back into the grid at the 6 cents per kWhr rate.
This all happens in real time – You only get to use your solar power as it is being generated. So you would need to use as many of your electrical appliances during the day as possible. On a cloudy day your power would be coming from the grid and not solar.
Some people have already received a letter from their energy retailer offering to install a “smart” meter for free. The definition of what constitutes a “smart” meter is still vague but it is presumed that it will offer online viewing of your power consumption and any excess solar generation that goes back into the grid. It should also offer “time of use” pricing for your power needs and will be accessed remotely by your power retailer for billing purposes – no more meter readers. We’ve yet to see one of these meters so don’t have any exact details of it’s operation. In general terms, this appears to be a good option.
Battery storage. It’s all the rage in the media. The Tesla battery will change the world! Well it might but it’s hard to buy one so far. To date I think there’s only a few in Australia that we’ve heard of. There are however many other brands of both Lithium Ion and Lead acid battery available right now that will easily do the same job.
They’re all expensive now but should come down in price once demand starts, which is just beginning. We are suggesting that this may still be in the 2-5 year range.
There are a few things to think about if considering battery storage.
Do you need backup power if the grid fails. The cheapest battery storage system simply shifts excess generated solar power from the day time to the night time. It usually uses your existing solar inverter and feeds power to your house till the battery runs flat and then switches back to normal grid power. If the grid fails your battery power system must also shut down as it currently does. The Tesla battery currently comes into this category.
The more expensive battery system is actually a stand alone power supply that is smart enough to interact with the grid when required. With this system you would have power even if the grid goes down. It would not be the same unlimited supply that the grid is capable of but it would run most appliances and lights till the power came back on. If the power was off for an extended time, say a few days, you would be able to charge the batteries from solar each day and use this power the next night.
If you’re thinking of getting quotes for a battery storage system you should ask a few questions.
How much power will the fully charged battery be able to deliver each night? Usually expressed in kWhrs (kilowatt Hours)
How many times will it be able to do this? (How many years will the battery system function before needing to be replaced?)
What will happen to any excess power once the battery is fully charged and the house power is being supplied from solar.
What will happen if the grid fails?
How long is the warranty on the battery?
There’s not a lot more that we can mention at this stage. There are still new products entering the market that will cater for the end of the feed in tariff. If more information comes our way we’ll pass it on. Call 0429743334 if you need any specific info or pricing.