It’s all happening in Australia

As the title suggests, it’s all happening in Australia at the moment.

As if the excitement of our own dear Queen visiting wasn’t enough, nor the Rugby World Cup final in neighbouring New Zealand, Adelaide is host to a green ‘eco-car’ test drive event this weekend.

Electric and hybrid cars from Audi, BMW, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault and Toyota will be available for test drives around a set 3.5km course around the city.

The event links up with the World Solar Challenge, which arrives in Adelaide this weekend. Organisers are keen to demonstrate how technology from the Solar Challenge vehicles is finding its way into production cars.

It estimates that within the next ten years, 10% of Australian vehicles will be either electric or hybrid.


photo credit: magnus d

Australia – Solar electricity as cheap as grid electricity

ABC News in Australia reports that the Photovoltaic Association reckons solar electricity is now as cheap as ‘grid’ electricity, produced by fossil fuel means.

And it gets even better as Association spokesperson Muriel Watt reveals that the figures don’t include the cost of transmitting/transporting the grid energy to where it’s needed. Solar energy is usually used at source.

The achievement of equal price comparison is referred to as grid parity.

And it can only get better value as the costs of fossil fuel derived energy is expected to continue growing, much like the recent energy price rises in the UK.

It’s another excellent argument for installing solar panels now, whilst the UK Government’s tariff’s are at their highest.

Lower production costs coupled with greater generating capacity, could see a larger reduction in the tariff’s than was originally planned, so the time to act is definitely now.

photo credit: maxwell hamilton

More renewable grants scrapped

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian government has scrapped a multi million grant program for geothermal drilling projects.Unable to attract private investors, the Government is closing the drilling grants and putting the $126 million into another emerging renewable energy program.The set back means 4 companies have scrapped drilling operations, leaving just one company moving onto the second round of promised grants.The new fund will target solar, ocean and other geothermal credit: keith williamson

What’s that Skip’? Solar tariff’s suspended Skip’?

The people of Western Australia are facing a very uncertain solar energy future after the State Government suspended the feed-in tariffs.

Households were originally paid 60 cents for every kilowatt hour their installations produced. This figure was cut to 40 cents before being cut again to just 20 cents.

The Opposition’s Energy Spokeswoman reckons the government has just found the scheme is costing too much money.

It may be that the scheme is a victim of its own success as many people took up the option of getting paid for the energy they produced, covering their installation investments as well as safe-guarding against future energy price rises.

However the Energy Minister has respond by saying that the tariffs were merely a short term incentive to encourage the take up of solar energy, and is quoted as saying that “you’re not going to get rich with a feed in tariff”.

It will be interesting to watch and see if the suspension really does stunt the publics take up of solar energy as is feared.

Read the full report on the ABC news Australia web page – click here.

photo credit: flying cloud

Australian residents warned over solar scam

Dubious home improvement companies and door-step scams aren’t reserved just for homeowners in the UK, as this story from Queensland Australia warns.

Residents living on the Gold Coast have been warned after a string of complaints were received by their Office of Fair Trading.

The complaints relate to failure to deliver solar panels ordered by customers, mostly through telemarketing and door-to-door sales.

In some cases, residents had been offered a price reduction from $6600 to nil if they agreed to Australia’s version of the UK’s feed-in tariffs and agree to being a ‘show home’. Residents had then been asked to hand over a $900 deposit.

Here in the UK, if you’re thinking of installing solar panels on your property, then a safe place to start is getting an online quote. This will give you a rough expectation of cost before you get around to meeting any companies.

Try Solar Panel Quoter today.

photo credit: ewen roberts

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world… solar scheme in trouble

A state government solar scheme in New South Wales, Australia, which started in January has already had to shut down due to over-subscription reports The Age news service.

The uptake was so great that it’s put real “upward pressure” on electricity prices.

Their scheme allowed homeowners to pay off their solar investment costs by selling energy back to the power grid, then buying back what they needed at a discounted rate. The distributors offset these costs through levy’s on other customers.

However, it seems that despite the ‘shutdown’, further applications have still been allowed. Under the scheme’s conditions, any applications approved must be honoured.

At a time when many analysts are warning that green energy won’t make it any cheaper for consumers (not in the short term anyway), as much due to the work required to upgrade and install new distribution networks as the costs involved in setting up larger scale renewable energy plants, it will be interesting to see if over-subscription becomes a problem in the UK.

photo credit: alan cleaver

Unique Hydro plant opens ‘down under’.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a new $230 million hydro power station has just been officially opened by the Victorian Premier – John Brumby.

What makes this Hydro plant unique is that it did not require any new dams or new water, which would have disrupted the local environment.

Instead, a new 7km tunnel was built to take water from another nearby power station.

The new station – the first to be built in Australia in the past 25 years took several years to complete and created abut 200 jobs during the construction phase. It will be used to supplement energy demand during peak periods and can generate enough electricity to supply more than 120,000 homes.

You can read the full story hot of the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald by clicking here.

photo credit: iheartsharts