Rooftop solar boom in Australia

Here we discuss various alternative energy solutions. From converting your car to electricity to converting your home to be off the grid.
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 3:41 pm

From one of my favorite sites: TheTreeHugger.com

They say "Australia has lots of sun and high network costs, so it's at the forefront of this movement" SA also has plenty of sun and high electricity cost, cannot see why SA can't do the same.

What is the latest red tape news nowadays in SA to sell your electricity back into the grid?
Solar power briefly turned electricity prices negative in Queensland
Australia is known for its coal, which provides over 80% of its electricity and is a big export, but someday soon it might be known for its solar power. Thanks to rapidly falling solar PV prices, there's been a rooftop solar boom in Australia. It's now reaching a point where few coal generators made money last year, and even fewer will make profits this year... Wholesale energy pricing even briefly went negative in the middle of the day (see graph below) recently in the middle of the day in Queensland where there is 1.1 gigawatt of solar spread over more than 350,000 buildings.

Australia as a whole has about 3.4GW on 1.2 million buildings!

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Eventually, coal won't be able to compete with solar at any price:

let’s imagine that the wholesale price of electricity fell to zero and stayed there, and that the benefits were passed on to consumers. In effect, that coal-fired energy suddenly became free. Could it then compete with rooftop solar?

The answer is no. Just the network charges and the retailer charges alone add up to more than 19c/kWh, according to estimates by the Australian energy market commissioner. According to industry estimates, solar ranges from 12c/kWh to 18c/kWh, depending on solar resources of the area, Those costs are forecast to come down even further, to around 10c/kWh and lower. (source)

The next step will be for people to get some storage and go off the grid to avoid having to pay these network charges. Australian solar installers are already reporting that "between 15 and 20 per cent of solar customers are asking about storage, and that rate is increasing each month."

With companies like Tesla having ambitious goals to cut battery prices down over the next few years with gigafactories, the combo of cheap solar PV + cheap battery storage will be hard to beat. Dirty power sources will simply stop being competitive.

Australia has lots of sun and high network costs, so it's at the forefront of this movement. But most other countries will follow at their own pace. The best things we can do to accelerate the switch over to clean energy is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, create regulation that is more friendly to rooftop solar (net-metering, for example), and put a price on carbon emissions.
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:42 pm

Pieter a few years back (2 or 3) it was illegal to sell electricity back to Eskom.

With the great number of windfarms, and other alternative power plants, being installed in SA the process is that the developer has to approach NERSA with a business proposal. Eskom is then "told" that a new generator will be connected to the grid .... A great number of these plants have come on line over the last 12 months. In fact we are involved with another which went on line 2 weeks back.



but the answer to your question relates to the "small user" that puts a couple of solar panels on his roof and want to sell power back to "eskom" ..



TECHNICALLY - there are standard metering equipment available in Europe for this purpose. It takes more than just a few panels ...:
- panels;
- inverter;
- device to synchronize your own power wave to that of the grid;
- a metering system that can do the forward and reverse, and isolate your system form the grid when eskom has a fault yada yada .....


FINANCIALLY - THIS is where it gets interesting !!!!!!!
very few of us actually buy our power from "eskom". MOST of us buy it from the local municipality ....
few THUMBSUCK figures:
- is "costs" eskom about 40c per kW.h to generate power (depending if we talk coal, nuke, or gas turbines ...)
- eskom sells it to the municipality at 60c (pure guess)
- now the municipality re-sells it to the end users at R1-50 (rounded average figure)

the practical reality is that "eskom" wont be buying your solar power, but in fact it would be your local municipality. Thus each and every municipality now needs to figure out how this model will work, bith practically and financially .... Practically there are very few individuals in SA with the experence of the European meters and systems for selling power back - okay so some training can be done (how long will tkae to roll out over all of SA).

Financially there are those that think they will get R1-50 per kW.h from their municipality ... after all that is what the user pays .... hellloooooooo - the municiplaity only pays 60 cents for it from eskom. The municipality MUST make a profit as this covers the maintenance of the distribution infrastructure. will be interesting to see how this part plays out .....



At this stage I KNOW of one municipality which will allow you to install a solar system with all the hardware and metering to put power back into the grid. They will even in writing allow you to do it. At ZERO payment for any power you put back into the grid !!!

okay, financially that makes no sense - BUT, compare that to 2 years back when this was flat out illegal .....


the game is changing ....


right now it is up to our law makers, specifically local councils to "get with the program" ...

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Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:02 pm

In countries where you are allowed to pump back into the system, do you know what do they get paid? The same as what they pay or less?

I heard the old wheel type meters can run in reverse, so if you pump back the meter just runs in reverse. In such way you actually "get paid" the same as what you pay.
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:27 pm

Pieter I dont know for a fact. Romour has it the meter just turns back and you pay for the net usage ....


BUT, how do their "system" work ? In terms of who generates it, then re-sells it to a local municipality - or do they buy directly from the genreator ??? One would really need a lot more "infrastructure" knowledge to do a fair comparison ....



just think about this for one second - IF your municipality did the reverse wheel thing. in effect they would be buying your power at R1-50, and selling it at the same rate - with zero markup for the system maintenance .... in effect thus lowering their profit !! Not an issue if 0,1% of the power was from solar, but who knows what the percentages may be in the long run ....


imagine a farmer putting aside a field, and installing a square kilometer worth of solar panels, providing a LOT of power back to the grid. and there are MANY that have already made their intentions clear to do just this. WHAT do you pay the home owner who puts back 10kW.h per day ? What do you pay this person that puts back a LOT of power ??

Right now the farmer would then qualify as a "generator" and have to work via NERSA to get approval to do this. But his payment has to come from Eskom/municipality .... and to date these entities refuse to commit to any payment schedules ...



and THIS (the back payment) is the thing that is holding up the process - well the inability of our "leaders" to make a decision in this regard ....

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Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:29 pm

Pieter IF they work on a "role back meter" for domestic I may be VERY tempted to 10 or 20 panels on my roof !!

Let's face it, the cost of solar is mostly in the batteries to store the power - with a role back meter eskom is your battery ....

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Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:45 pm

OK,you say if they buy it back at R1.50 there is no markup for them for infrastructure. But the same applies for them. For you to provide them, you had infrastructure cost. You did not get it for free. So if you use more of their energy than your own, you pay them their price and sponsor their infrastructure cost. If you put in more than you use, they pay you for your infrastructure.

I think on a normal house setup one would not become rich from selling electricity back into the grid. But if you generate more than you can use it is good that there is a system which allows you to pump it back into the grid and help with the supply to others. So even if you do it on a 1 to 1 basis, it helps with the bigger picture and that is to get rid of the dirty coal powered stations.
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:54 pm

Someone once told me that the problem with this is that the high demand period is between 16:00 -20:00.I dont have facts to back it up.
So basically you will be pumping back into the grid when there is a lower demand(day time) and would use the power when the demand is high.So theoretically they dont really benefit that much if we generate electricity. Like I said I dont know how accurate the facts is.
What I like is this so called water batteries. When you have excess electricity available you start pumping water to a higher catchment area and when the supply is high you let the water run to a lower area and generate power :thumbup:
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:08 pm

Also don't know all the fact but apparently the peak demand is when people come home in the evening, starting to cook etc.

Business here having solars on the roofs for own use reduce demand on the grid during the day, but does not help the infrastructure costs as the peak demand is after hours. Maybe the reluctance to buy from home owners etc. But it must have a saving at the end, less coal burnt etc.
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Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:23 pm

Had a brief chat to our City Electrical Engineer about all this last year and the new digital meters can run in reverse, so that's not the issue. The points he raised were basically the same as the ones you guys have already mentioned .... most solar energy is generated off-peak / the variance in supply and distribution costs (profit margin). Nonetheless they are not against the idea, your installation would have to be inspected and pass their criteria before being hooked up. He did say that if you generated more than you used, you would forfeit the excess as they would not pay you back for it. Still a worthwhile consideration.

Once more and more private households / businesses go solar, the peak /off peak issue would probably result in Eskom taking some of their generators off-line when solar production spiked.

I think I mentioned it somewhere here last year sometime about an article I had read about private UK companies that 'rented' your roof space to put up solar panels to feed power back into the grid via the supply cables before your meter - their meter registered what was fed into the grid. The installation remained theirs but you got a monthly basic rental plus a small percentage for any power that was produced above a given threshold. You still paid the local council as usual for your utilities, but your 'roof rental' income subsidised this.
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Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:05 am

Me thinks if you setup a system for yourself and you generate more than what you use, there is no use dumping what you generate and not use. That is wasting, so I would even if they don't pay me pump it back in the system. That way all of us can help lowering the effect of power stations on nature.
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Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:23 am

pietpetoors wrote:Me thinks if you setup a system for yourself and you generate more than what you use, there is no use dumping what you generate and not use. That is wasting, so I would even if they don't pay me pump it back in the system. That way all of us can help lowering the effect of power stations on nature.
Fully agree!
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Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:44 am

pietpetoors wrote:Me thinks if you setup a system for yourself and you generate more than what you use, there is no use dumping what you generate and not use. That is wasting, so I would even if they don't pay me pump it back in the system. That way all of us can help lowering the effect of power stations on nature.
nice green centiment ....

sadly not many people will spend a few thousand rand to only get a few cents off per month ....


while we work office hours - when the sun is shining - a solar system is all but useless without very expensive batteries .... until we can feed back into the grid with an expectation of getting something back very few people will get onboard.

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Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:47 am

last week an R80M solar plant opened in Paarden Island .....


happen to know of another research facility and yet another manufacturing plant on the cards. The playing field IS changing, and it is changing FAST. Now to get the regulators on board ....

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Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:52 pm

Chris, as I understand it the municipal guys are happy to accommodate the initiative and to act as your 'battery' while the panels push power back into the grid by day and meter running in reverse. The problem as mentioned is that domestic consumption rises and peaks after daylight hours but Eskom will have to adapt their supply schedules once more people come on board.

Personally I would love to get away from the expensive storage battery system, but until capacitor technology advance even more than it already has, I think were stuck with them, so I'm holding back a little.

My intention is to have a couple of panels with inverter and sine-wave "rectifier" to feed back into the grid while also charging enough batteries (maybe just 2 or 3) to power LED lights and TV's on a separate circuit from mains so as to fractionally reduce my evening demand as well as serve as a back-up during outages.

That should dramatically reduce my domestic carbon footprint as well as save enough costs to pay for itself and make it viable.
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Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:18 pm

ChrisF wrote:Pieter IF they work on a "role back meter" for domestic I may be VERY tempted to 10 or 20 panels on my roof !!

Let's face it, the cost of solar is mostly in the batteries to store the power - with a role back meter eskom is your battery ....
Grid-tied system is ( for now ) the way to go. You "store" your power in the grid ( roll back meter ). It will take years for the pay back system to be implemented, so it's only for yourself to to save on the monthly bill.

Batteries are very expensive, but if you use them as a sort of UPS ( batteries plus small inverter ), you will be able to run the bare essetials in an emergency (or at night ) Then again, like everything in life, if you have the funds you can run a grid-tied system plus a huge battery set-up , you'll never be out of power, plus basicly no Escom/ municipality electricity account. ( sans availabilty fee )

GREEN is expensive, I guess, untill its too late.
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Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:40 pm

the PROBLEM currently is the "rules" .... SOME (very few) municipalities have started coming on board, allowing people to grid-tie and pump power back into the grid.

BUT, to date I know of NO municipality which rewards any individual for providing power.



Andy and YES, our problem at the moment is the AFTER sunset peak demand - thus no amount of solar panels will solve the problem ! In fact, what we are asking amounts to - Eskom ust build more power stations, so that we can pump power into the sytem during the day, then use power at night from these new power stations - AT ZERO CHARGE, as everybody seems to think it will be a "roll back meter" principle where you get one free unit for each unit you supplied ....

OKAY, the REAL story should be that these new power stations should power new factories during the day and then provide "roll-back" at night to those that go grid tied ...

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:53 am

Saw in this morning's paper:
Johannesburg - South Africa’s energy regulator is looking at a framework that would enable homes and businesses to receive credits for feeding surplus power they generate from rooftop solar panels back into the constrained electricity grid.
See:
http://www.fin24.com/Economy/South-Afri ... r-20150105" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:03 am

I read somewhere a while back that the Aussies have put a moratorium on grid tied PV systems that use the grid as a 'battery' because the revenue that is allocated towards grid maintenance from electricity sales has been dramatically undermined. Hence the swing towards self storage with batteries for which you don't need official approval. Although this to my mind still erodes sales that will impact on grid maintenance, it's not as bad as having to make paybacks as well. I'm sure they will make some adjustments in their accounting structure whereby you will pay a monthly connection fee that's separate from usage, that will go towards grid maintenance.

I wanted to use the grid tied option, but for now I have gone the battery storage route on a small scale to cover load shedding outages. Running just LED back-up lighting and a couple of dedicated plug points, I'm making use of it irrespective of shedding schedules, and can already see that I'm saving about 3KW per day, roughly that works out to a saving of between R200 and R250 monthly off just two 80W panels. The whole system should already pay itself off in a year or so.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:10 am

Just a thought... surely Eskom would be anti grid-tied residential solar systems in the current economic climate?? They are already cash strapped, any initiative that reduces their income won't be considered feasible. The residential users are where Eskom make the bulk of their income, and even though they won't be "paying" you for the elec you put back into the grid, they will be losing out on income due to the reduced bill. Eskom owes billions on infrastructure such as the new Medupi and Kusile power stations... the money to pay for that must come from somewhere?

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:11 am

pietpetoors wrote:Saw in this morning's paper:
Johannesburg - South Africa’s energy regulator is looking at a framework that would enable homes and businesses to receive credits for feeding surplus power they generate from rooftop solar panels back into the constrained electricity grid.
See:
http://www.fin24.com/Economy/South-Afri ... r-20150105" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Pieter it is going to be VERY interesting to see how this plays out !


THIS article is written from an ESKOM viewpoint .... fact is that MOST people now connect via their municipalities.


Cape Town is the only municipality that has an official document regarding buying back of electricity - at a THIRD of the unit rate !! Absolute no win for the home owner :( :(



let's see how this game plays out.

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:13 am

Mud Dog wrote:I read somewhere a while back that the Aussies have put a moratorium on grid tied PV systems that use the grid as a 'battery' because the revenue that is allocated towards grid maintenance from electricity sales has been dramatically undermined. Hence the swing towards self storage with batteries for which you don't need official approval. Although this to my mind still erodes sales that will impact on grid maintenance, it's not as bad as having to make paybacks as well. I'm sure they will make some adjustments in their accounting structure whereby you will pay a monthly connection fee that's separate from usage, that will go towards grid maintenance.

I wanted to use the grid tied option, but for now I have gone the battery storage route on a small scale to cover load shedding outages. Running just LED back-up lighting and a couple of dedicated plug points, I'm making use of it irrespective of shedding schedules, and can already see that I'm saving about 3KW per day, roughly that works out to a saving of between R200 and R250 monthly off just two 80W panels. The whole system should already pay itself off in a year or so.
THIS is why the Cape Town document is promoting a buy back figure of a THIRD of the unit rate. The rest to go towards the system upkeep ....

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:13 am

Mud Dog wrote: ...I'm making use of it irrespective of shedding schedules, and can already see that I'm saving about 3KW per day, roughly that works out to a saving of between R200 and R250 monthly off just two 80W panels. The whole system should already pay itself off in a year or so.
That's pretty amazing... think I must implement something similar!

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:21 am

Not to be negative on the approach, I am all for alternative to 'Eksdom' energy, but how long before the thief's in government realize that they have not yet made money from this? I can see more stupid taxes like "Solar Power Tax" in the future.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:22 am

Mr_B wrote:Just a thought... surely Eskom would be anti grid-tied residential solar systems in the current economic climate?? They are already cash strapped, any initiative that reduces their income won't be considered feasible. The residential users are where Eskom make the bulk of their income, and even though they won't be "paying" you for the elec you put back into the grid, they will be losing out on income due to the reduced bill. Eskom owes billions on infrastructure such as the new Medupi and Kusile power stations... the money to pay for that must come from somewhere?
the article Pieter links to talks of maybe 23MW by 2030.

That is absolutely NOTHING in the bigger scheme !!


There much more interesting issues at play .... :blushing: :siffler:

complexes - most modern complexes now use facility metering companies ... which often translates to a third party buys the power at the lowest bulk user cost from Eskom, then re-sells it at the MAX rate to those unfortunate souls in these complexes .... GOOD LUCK trying to negotiate with these guys to reduce their profit so you could go grid tied .....


then look at the vast number of people in multi storey dwellings, ie flats - simply not enough roof space, and this roof space belongs to the body corporate ...

then those in their own homes, do a quick calc of roof space - that face North, and dont have tree shade - and suddenly very few homes can generate usefull gauntities of power.





just went through the exercise to find space for solar panel at my house, for a pool .... scary how little of the roof space is usable !!

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:26 am

Cleaner wrote:Not to be negative on the approach, I am all for alternative to 'Eksdom' energy, but how long before the thief's in government realize that they have not yet made money from this? I can see more stupid taxes like "Solar Power Tax" in the future.
sorry, but you are a bit slow :lmao: :tease:

THIS is already discussed and forms part of the documents dealing with grid tied solutions .....

there ARE people out there that CAN supply more than what they will be using - thus PROFIT .... surely you never thought SARS would miss this revenue ...


part of the debate is thus that get "credit" for units supplied, against units used .... is a "saving" not also some profit ???



nee wat, bring maar jou eie vaseline vir die party ....

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:31 am

ChrisF wrote:
Cleaner wrote:Not to be negative on the approach, I am all for alternative to 'Eksdom' energy, but how long before the thief's in government realize that they have not yet made money from this? I can see more stupid taxes like "Solar Power Tax" in the future.
sorry, but you are a bit slow :lmao: :tease:

THIS is already discussed and forms part of the documents dealing with grid tied solutions .....

there ARE people out there that CAN supply more than what they will be using - thus PROFIT .... surely you never thought SARS would miss this revenue ...


part of the debate is thus that get "credit" for units supplied, against units used .... is a "saving" not also some profit ???



nee wat, bring maar jou eie vaseline vir die party ....
Yep, Exzakary!

If bringing Vaseline is an option, it might go down better...normally it not :x
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:36 am

Chris, for the alt-power uneducated, like myself... some questions if I may...

- What components does a basic home PV solar system consist of?
- If I were to buy/install 2 x 120w PV panels and required aux components, what size and how many batteries would I use for storage(non grid-tied)?
- A basic system like this, would it provide enough juice to power a DSTV decoder, 40" LCD TV( +- 150w I think) and say 4 x 5w LED lights?
- Is it possible for a system like this to power a few items(TV+decoder) while charging the batteries as well?


B

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:52 am

Various options.

The dilema is that to do it "properly" - thus the system can power your COMPLETE house, including dishwasher etc etc is going to cost 150 to 200k !!!!!!

The next dilema is that it is not that easy to power "parts only" - short of splitting your DB to provide only certian lights and certain plugs ....


what does it take ?
For the full monty:
LOTS of panels !!
one mother of an inverter than can synchronise with the grid - THIS is not a cheap item !
Then a special power meter that is suited for grid tied solutions


The other option is hybrid-
not so many panels
slightly smaller inverter
either a battery bank or grid tied ....



My boss is an electrical engineer with a life time of experience. Over the last 18 months he has gotten various quotes to "go solar" for his own house .... we often discuss the options, the pros and cons ..... The payback period just does not compute, not yet. But for some it is no longer about money, but about consistent power - at what cost ?





just one small example -
My pool has a 0,75kW pump - the correct size for the flow rate and pressure required ! So let's consider going solar for this .... 30k !! 10 minutes later it was 28k ..... only 0,3kW pump though !! so wont work as well as it should !!!! some more talking the price comes down to 24k .... at this point I remind the supplier we have an account with them, and suddenly the price is down to 20k !!!!!!!!!!!!!

"price" certainly is an interesting debate - we are being shafted by opportunistic suppliers !!

whats worse, I understand why my pump is rated at 0,75 kW, and I KNOW that a 0,4kW 220V pump WONT work .... so why would a 0,3kW solar pump work ??

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:08 am

I'm not thinking grid-tied, or powering the whole house... I'm thinking of something that will tide us over during load shedding, which I believe is going to be a major issue for the next 12 to 18 months. It would be nice to power a few items that are used for many hours a day, like the DSTV decoder and at least 1 LED/LCD TV. Our area, on load shedding plan 2 is out from 8pm to 10pm, that's the wifes prime TV time... so I'm hoping to make a plan for her. That, and a few key lights for loadshedding periods would suffice.

There are kits available I see. Would something like this do the job:

http://www.sustainable.co.za/sustainabl ... -kits.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

or

http://www.sustainable.co.za/sustainabl ... -kits.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'm not concerned with integrating into the main DB, and will settle for a power socket or 2 around the house!

B

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:13 am

Surely if you load the grid during the day, all bussinesses will benefit as well as all the geysers that are warming the water for tonight when the grid is used extensively. That will leave Eskom with less electricity that they need to generate from Diesel/Coal after hours when there is a spike in usage. There will then not be the excuse that they ran out of Diesel as a reason for the load shedding...
The people in charge of Eskom also receive Million Rand Bonuses a few years ago when this load shedding started which must be a sign of their achievements...
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:18 am

What I've done is DIY, so no installer costs. I've not integrated with the existing wiring / DB - it's a stand alone unit with it's own wiring, fuses, switches and lights. The plug points are dedicated and dedicated plugs have only been fitted to a number of small draw items like LCD TV's, computer, monitor and ADSL router.

For the lights I've done mostly 'concealed' lighting using LED strips because one doesn't want to look at two light fittings in each room. Each room has it's own switch and for this I just used ceiling pull-switches tucked away to the side of the doorways, which looks neat enough (no surface cabling). Some of these lights, like bathroom, toilet, kitchen and lounge run continuously during the time that we are awake. The light is adequate unless you want to read and in the kitchen one might need to turn on the normal fluorescent lights for the odd task. So far we seem to manage pretty well without the grid lighting.

All told, (incl switches, wiring etc. - admittedly some of which I had on hand - also already had two inverters) my 'back-up' system has cost me a mere 6½K .... not the end of the world, and I think far cheaper in the long term than generators with fuel / maintenance costs.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:29 am

P.S. The system uses two SMF 101 batteries (104ah) that only cost 1.2K each (trade price) - not a deep cycle, but more than adequate for my purpose.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:34 am

In the article they say
Billing considerations

Net-energy metering, measured in kilowatt-hours, will be used instead of rand, the regulator said.

Each month, the electricity that small-scale generators produce in excess of their own consumption will be sent back to the grid and credited to their accounts for up to one yearly billing cycle, after which any remaining credit is forfeited to the distributor, it said.

“This reduces any incentive for the customer to oversize generation with respect to load.”
Which means (as I understand) they won't buy the excess power from you, your account will be credited in units. When you need electricity you use the units. The units you have not used within a year you loose. So you wont be able to make money from Eskeom, but you will be able to use the grid as a "battery".

Looking at the cost of batteries it is not such a bad idea.
Looking at the cost for Eskom to build more power stations (plus cost of bribes) it is cheaper to let some private clients stop using their services.
Only 5 million people pay tax in SA, thus I doubt that more than a million households (if so many) will ever put something back in the system.
Unless, like with hot water systems, we have to buy and install our own systems and the black people get theirs for free again.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:34 am

Mud Dog wrote:What I've done is DIY, so no installer costs. I've not integrated with the existing wiring / DB - it's a stand alone unit with it's own wiring, fuses, switches and lights. The plug points are dedicated and dedicated plugs have only been fitted to a number of small draw items like LCD TV's, computer, monitor and ADSL router.

For the lights I've done mostly 'concealed' lighting using LED strips because one doesn't want to look at two light fittings in each room. Each room has it's own switch and for this I just used ceiling pull-switches tucked away to the side of the doorways, which looks neat enough (no surface cabling). Some of these lights, like bathroom, toilet, kitchen and lounge run continuously during the time that we are awake. The light is adequate unless you want to read and in the kitchen one might need to turn on the normal fluorescent lights for the odd task. So far we seem to manage pretty well without the grid lighting.

All told, (incl switches, wiring etc. - admittedly some of which I had on hand - also already had two inverters) my 'back-up' system has cost me a mere 6½K .... not the end of the world, and I think far cheaper in the long term than generators with fuel / maintenance costs.
That's exactly what I'd like to achieve. Something that carries us over the load-shedding periods, and can power a few items during the day, like TV+decoder, more so that I don't have to swap plugs before/after load-shedding periods. I'm not a fan of generators, they are noisy, dirty and cost quite a few pennies to run! Solar is greener and cleaner!

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:00 pm

I don't understand electricity that well, how will it work with the current infrastructure that we have that the power from a solar system in your house will be fed back into the GRID? Can someone please explain it to me.... :?:

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:34 pm

I know as little as you do, but as I understand you attach an inverter to the solar panels which convert the panels' 18 volt to 220 volt.
It is connected to house's mains via a special thing. When you generate enough power yourself you use your own power. If you generate to little that thing disconnects the solar system and connects you to normal power. If you generate more than you use that thing let your too much power go into the normal grid via a special power meter. This meter can run backwards, not like your normal meter which only measure your consumption, this one also measure what you put back.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:16 pm

Mr_B wrote:That's exactly what I'd like to achieve. Something that carries us over the load-shedding periods, and can power a few items during the day, like TV+decoder, more so that I don't have to swap plugs before/after load-shedding periods. I'm not a fan of generators, they are noisy, dirty and cost quite a few pennies to run! Solar is greener and cleaner!
It's certainly possible Bretton, but with my system I'm not sure that you will be able to power those things permanently during the day - you would either have to have limited usage or change the plugs over (I estimate I should get about 3 hours daily usage with what I connect to the plugs). More panel power and battery storage should be able to give that to you, but then the cost escalates again.

What I have done so far is easily affordable and is as I said more for load shedding back-up, but it's also a start towards grid independence and can be expanded upon at any time.

I've split my system in two - two panels with two separate comptrollers and batteries. One unit is inverted to 220v (pure sine) for the three plug points and the other is a 12V unit for LED lighting alone.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:43 pm

pietpetoors wrote:In the article they say
Billing considerations

Net-energy metering, measured in kilowatt-hours, will be used instead of rand, the regulator said.

Each month, the electricity that small-scale generators produce in excess of their own consumption will be sent back to the grid and credited to their accounts for up to one yearly billing cycle, after which any remaining credit is forfeited to the distributor, it said.

“This reduces any incentive for the customer to oversize generation with respect to load.”
Which means (as I understand) they won't buy the excess power from you, your account will be credited in units. When you need electricity you use the units. The units you have not used within a year you loose. So you wont be able to make money from Eskeom, but you will be able to use the grid as a "battery".

Looking at the cost of batteries it is not such a bad idea.
Looking at the cost for Eskom to build more power stations (plus cost of bribes) it is cheaper to let some private clients stop using their services.
Only 5 million people pay tax in SA, thus I doubt that more than a million households (if so many) will ever put something back in the system.
Unless, like with hot water systems, we have to buy and install our own systems and the black people get theirs for free again.

Pieter sadly this model DONT WORK - they need ekstra money for the upkeep of the distribution system.

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:10 pm

Me want to speak you clever guys a question:
If I change all the globes in my house to 12 volt and at the DB board I disconnect the wires from the circuit breaker and connect to a battery, will it work? Some people say you will get a voltage drop but a guy in Malmesbury who converts houses to solar told me the other day the voltage drop is not that big and it works?

If the qty is enough I can order just about any globe in 12 volt. I can even have GU10 made in 12 volt. So I can easily change all the globes in my house to 12 volt.
Unfortunately most of the lights in my house are GU10.

At the moment all my lights are LED. If I switch on all the lights in my house I will use about 150 watt and that includes the 20 watt flood light at the braai.
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Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:35 pm

Pieter my neighbour has just installed a number of 12V lights in his house - all from a single SMALL battery. NO issue with voltage drop, and this in a reasonably large double story house with long wire runs.

He took it a step further - three button remotes placed at various points in the house ... now you can switch these circuits from any point

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:38 am

:thumbup:

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Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:10 am

Interesting vid ............

phpBB [video]

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Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:10 am

Andy very impressive video.

And this is probably very much like what happened at the Caledon Klipheuwel site - nice and close to main roads, and nice soft soil .....


Now spare a thought for the likes of the Nobelsfontein Windfarm - http://www.gestampwind.com/en/business/ ... lesfontein" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.jgi.co.za/news/item/j-g-work ... r-billions" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

FAR from any services.

Roads had to be built for the trucks to deliver the equipment.

The soil was ROCK. At some point they considered blasting for the cable trenches .....



Under ideal conditions these are massive projects.

When you try this in the Karoo it becomes VERY challanging !! :)

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Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:31 am

Amazing video, thanx for sharing Andy.
We now have a wind farm at Hopefield and Vredenburg, so these wind turbines became part of our lives.

It is very interesting to see how they assemble it. I think it is engineering genius. Everything have to fit perfectly, there is no hitting it with a 20 pound hammer until it fits.
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Thu May 19, 2016 10:23 pm

Check this out:
Portugal kept its lights on with renewable energy alone for four consecutive days last week in a clean energy milestone
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ ... ergy-alone" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Portugal kept its lights on with renewable energy alone for four consecutive days last week in a clean energy milestone revealed by data analysis of national energy network figures.

Electricity consumption in the country was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday, the analysis says.

News of the zero emissions landmark comes just days after Germany announced that clean energy had powered almost all its electricity needs on Sunday 15 May, with power prices turning negative at several times in the day – effectively paying consumers to use it.
Wind power generates 140% of Denmark's electricity demand
Read more

Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the Wind Europe trade association said: “We are seeing trends like this spread across Europe - last year with Denmark and now in Portugal. The Iberian peninsula is a great resource for renewables and wind energy, not just for the region but for the whole of Europe.”

James Watson, the CEO of SolarPower Europe said: “This is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years. The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe.”

Last year, wind providing 22% of electricity and all renewable sources together providing 48%, according to the Portuguese renewable energy association.

While Portugal’s clean energy surge has been spurred by the EU’s renewable targets for 2020, support schemes for new wind capacity were reduced in 2012.

Despite this, Portugal added 550MW of wind capacity between 2013 and 2016, and industry groups now have their sights firmly set on the green energy’s export potential, within Europe and without.
Solar power sets new British record by beating coal for a day
Read more

“An increased build-out of interconnectors, a reformed electricity market and political will are all essential,” Joy said. “But with the right policies in place, wind could meet a quarter of Europe’s power needs in the next 15 years.”

In 2015, wind power alone met 42% of electricity demand in Denmark, 20% in Spain, 13% in Germany and 11% in the UK.

In a move hailed as a “historic turning point” by clean energy supporters, UK citizens last week enjoyed their first ever week of coal-free electricity generation.

Watson said: “The age of inflexible and polluting technologies is drawing to an end and power will increasingly be provided from clean, renewable sources.”

• This article was amended on 19 May 2016. An earlier version said that in 2013 Portugal generated 27% of its electricity from nuclear, 13% from hydro, 7.5% from wind and 3% from solar, according to Eurostat figures. In fact those figures are for the whole of the EU; Portugal does not have any nuclear power plants.
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Thu May 19, 2016 10:29 pm

Some thing different!. With our water crisis now they reckon desalination of seawater and solar pumps all along the pipeline form the sea to Windhoek is about the only solution!
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Fri May 20, 2016 5:12 am

Johan Kriel wrote:Some thing different!. With our water crisis now they reckon desalination of seawater and solar pumps all along the pipeline form the sea to Windhoek is about the only solution!
costly - YES

Possible - YES !!!!!!!!!!!

There have been MANY research projects over the years about desalination.

Few years back Mosselbay started a desalination plant in the mids of a severe drought .. and stopped when the rain came ... :naah:


as for pumping the water - Grundfoss have all the gear they could ever need for this application.

the engineering of this is actually very easy, just the project budget ....

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Fri May 20, 2016 5:26 am

Pieter we are still some way away from what Europe has now achieved.

Their maths model that encouraged everybody and his nephew to install solar and wind is what got them to this point so fast.

GREEN - yes, this approach WORKED.

INRASTRUCTURE - NO, this model is doomed to failure ! When you have a system where the whole country has access to power, but very few actually have to pay for power it results in situation where not enough money is payable to cover the maintenance of the distribution network .... This is also well documented, and the core of why the City of Cape Town has this "NON-atractive" model for solar installations.


getting past the maths.

Solar is only of use during the day, handy to power industry.

And we simply dont have enough water for hydro to make any useful contribution ...

Thus we need insane amounts of wind turbines. Fortunately we do have space. But these farms dont come cheap, and it takes many years per project. But there ARE many being built, and many more that have been approved and are now starting up.


The other side of this coin - power USAGE.

We are a bunch of spoilt brats, and have been wasting power at a shocking rate for way too long !!!

HOW can any human, except and architect ... well I did say human, justify installing 1200W worth of downlighters in a small townhouse !!!!!!!!!! You CAN get more light for that same application at less than 100W, in fact it IS possible to light up that same area for less than 50W.

Walk into any shopping centre today and you see mountains of heaters .... what happened to closing the door and windows and putting on some warm clothes ,,,,



There simply is not enough wind turbines in the world for the rate at which we waste power !!

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