Posts by Solaray

IEA: Renewables Will Exceed Natural Gas And Nuclear By 2016

Natural gas is widely considered the bridge to take us from fossil fuel dependence to a clean energy future – but that bridge may be a lot shorter than anyone could have predicted. Global renewable electricity production by region image via IEA The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts power generation from renewable sources will exceed natural gas and be twice the contribution from nuclear energy globally by 2016 – just three short years from now. IEA’s second-annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR) forecasts renewable generation will grow 40% in the next five years despite difficult economic conditions. Wind And
Read More

Rooftop solar reduces the risk of price hikes … for everyone

How much would you pay to avoid another $250 a year hike in your electricity bill? Does $15 a year sound like too much to reduce that risk? We’ve heard a lot lately about rising electricity prices. That’s understandable. The average household bill is $700 a year more than it was five years ago (see Figure 1). For most people, that $700 isn’t going to break the bank. Yet it is enough to focus short political attention spans. The biggest culprit for the price hike is spending on electricity poles and wires. By 2015, network charges will have added almost
Read More

Energy revolution or bloody war – it’s our choice

Running a business in Australia’s energy sector is difficult. Proprietors have to contend with intense competition, rapid technological change, climate change, natural disasters…even complaints about rising energy prices and poor service. But arguably the greatest challenge is the uncertainty. There is no widely agreed vision of the future form of our energy sector. Some advocate carbon capture and storage with large power stations or a nuclear future. Others see an emerging energy efficient, smart, renewable energy future. An overarching factor is that we cannot afford to burn more than around a third of proven fossil fuel reserves without driving atmospheric
Read More

What’s going on with Chinese Solar

The bankruptcy of Chinese solar energy company Suntech Wuxi is being depicted in the media as a sign of chaos in the solar industry. The industry is said to be suffering from disastrous price falls created by over-capacity, and harmed by the US imposition of tariffs. These were justified by the US as punishing “green mercantilism” on the part of Chinese central and provincial governments. Meanwhile the Chinese central planners have sent out confusing signals, winding back subsidies at the same time as they are ramping up feed-in tariffs. What on earth is going on? The birth pangs of a
Read More

Solar Electricity Now Under Half The Cost Of Grid Power For Australian Households

The cost of rooftop solar continues to fall and in Australia it has dropped by about a third since September 2011. According to Solar Choice, the average installed cost of rooftop solar for households last month was $2.19 US per watt. As most Australians who own a roof can currently borrow money at around 7% or less, this means the cost of electricity from rooftop solar for the typical Australian is now about 12 cents a kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the average cost of grid electricity in Australia. Thanks to Renewable Energy Certificates, Australian households don’t pay the
Read More

Who’s afraid of solar PV?

The recent take-up of domestic solar photo-voltaic (PV) panels in Australia has been quite phenomenal. Across 2010 and 2011, the installed capacity increased seven fold to about 1.4 gigawatts, doubling every 9 months. By the end of this year we will probably have in excess of 2 gigawatts of solar PV capacity installed. All fired up at the same time it is enough to produce about 8% of the average daytime electricity demand. Take up of solar PV in Australia in gigawatts, circles show total installed capacity while rectangles show the new capacity installed in a given year. Data from
Read More

The carbon tax needn’t cost you: easy ways to cut energy costs

If Treasury modelling is right, about half of household carbon cost will be included in energy bills, which are now about 3% of household expenditure. That means the carbon cost on energy adds about 0.3% to living costs. And the other half of the carbon cost is spread very thinly over the remaining 97% of living costs. Focusing on cutting energy use delivers the biggest outcome for effort. For electricity, Australian households pay around 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, the standard unit. The carbon cost will add 2 to 3 cents to that. If you can save 10% of your electricity
Read More

Newsflash: solar power costs are falling below fossil fuels

Recent postings to The Conversation have enlivened the debate over the “Great Transition” that is underway all around the world from the fossil-fuelled energy systems of the 20th century to the renewably powered systems of the 21st century. The future for solar is particularly bright, according to authors including Mark Diesendorf, Andrew Blakers, James McGregor, and most recently Lynette Molyneaux. Many of the postings point to a brilliant solar or wind or geothermal future – but then fall back on an argument for subsidies to make up for the higher costs of the renewables. It can now be stated definitively
Read More