Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby Smurf1976 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:25 pm

Ultimately, the power companies are relying on a certain volume of sales (kWh) in order to recover the fixed costs of running the network. That's the reason they historically promoted consumption growth and why 1:1 PV would ultimately send the industry broke if enough people installed it.

Eventually, I think they'll have to go down the track that was tried in Tasmania in the mid-1990's. That is, a very high fixed charge to recover the fixed costs, and energy at the wholesale rate + marginal costs of transmission and distribution. Worth noting that it became a key issue in the following state election and was eventually dropped in favour of recovering about half the fixed costs via a charge on consumption as is commonly done in the other states.

In terms of what that fixed charge needs to be, I'll make a fairly well educated guess of $200 per household per quarter as the fixed supply charge. That's pretty close to where it needs to be.

As for unit rates for electricity, about 17c / kWh as an "anytime" (not time of use) rate is close to being about right. That would work as a 1:1 rate for PV without sending the distribution companies broke.
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby zzsstt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:07 am

Smurf1976 wrote:As for unit rates for electricity, about 17c / kWh as an "anytime" (not time of use) rate is close to being about right. That would work as a 1:1 rate for PV without sending the distribution companies broke.


How does that work with the network charge? With the system as it stands at present, any 1:1 buy:sell price doesn't work because it still translates to a real-life loss of the 15c network charge.

The concept of a high network charge and minimal profit on power also won't work, because they have privatised the industry and now there are many non-distributor companies selling power. The entire shooting-match now runs on profit, so recovering costs is not enough. Both the network operators and the array of power resellers (Dodo and the like) need to make a profit, which is why the model we are moving towards is in fact high fixed charge AND high power charge!
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby Tracker » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:17 am

.
So big thanks to the bastards who sold off the retail side of power and opened it up to all others.

It proves that you simply can't open up these markets and then claim that it will be good for the consumer ..
Everyone wants to make a profit
..
.
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby zzsstt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:53 am

Tracker wrote:It proves that you simply can't open up these markets and then claim that it will be good for the consumer


It's a very tricky issue. Everyone wants "more", its in our nature. A regulated market works well, as long as a "fair" price to both the buyer and seller is agreed. State owned industry sometimes works, but gets corrupted by red tape and unions (and laziness) such that the costs are always rising and the quality tends to reduce. Private industry is as good or bad as it's owners - and BIG business is a cut-throat world where the shareholders always want more (see, I told you we always want more!). So the workers want more pay to do the same work, the shareholders want more return on their investment, and the company has to increase it's selling price. But the consumer wants to pay less, which is strange because the consumer is also the worker (and since the introduction of compulsory superannuation also the shareholder) and so knows, if being honest, that it isn't possible to be paid more to do less and also have a cheaper product as an end result. But the worker, via the unions, lays the blame clearly on the head of "management", which is equally strange because "management" are simply more "workers".

At the end of the day, human nature is to be greedy. This is why we have inflation - it's just a change in numbers but a loaf of bread is still a loaf of bread!

The government is also greedy, which is why it has two choices - either sell the product at a higher price, or sell the production facility for a cash injection. I'm not sure it ultimately matters to the consumer because in either case the price will rise!

In our case (people on this forum), our answer is to opt out of the entire system where we can. And with 250W panels now selling for $229 retail, I'd assume the number of people opting out will increase. Which must be a concern for those network operators relying on bulk sales to cover their fixed costs....... and also inevitably results in those without solar paying extra because of those that install it!

With the ever decreasing cost of PV and batteries, I wonder how long it will be before the PV industry starts pushing off-grid as a cost saving measure. I notice many are pushing "backup" systems already.
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby franks » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:48 pm

Guy on whirlpool forum (Hippysparx) in QLD is developing a turn key solution using Magnasine 4kW inverter charger LiFePo4/BMS battery bank, control logic/relays all in a cabinet..as a energy storage tool to export to grid max and use off peak to charge battery bank and UPS

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/18266978/Batte ... G_0157.jpg

Im tempted to pickup a 2nd hand Outback or Trace inverter charger and do a setup for my place :)
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby Tracker » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:12 pm

franks wrote:I'm tempted to pickup a 2nd hand Outback or Trace inverter charger and do a setup for my place :)


and that is exactly what I have done, and it works so well..
The best thing is to buy an AC-Transfer device ( Latronics ) and you can protect yourself by having a fall back, of Grid Connection.. ie. if your Home-Island Power fails, then it drops back to the grid

I am doing it but with the exception, you use a separate bank of panels and charge regulator to use the sun during the day, and then boost the charge (if needed) via off peak, so that you can again have the next day's solar, ready to run the house again..

Don't know that you could have a "Turn Key" product, as it does need a deal of house - rewiring..

zzsstt wrote:At the end of the day, human nature is to be greedy. This is why we have inflation - it's just a change in numbers but a loaf of bread is still a loaf of bread!
.....
The government is also greedy, which is why it has two choices - either sell the product at a higher price, or sell the production facility for a cash injection. I'm not sure it ultimately matters to the consumer because in either case the price will rise!

NEVER has there been a case of the Govt. selling off something, without the product being dramatically more expensive after privatisation.

I am sure that I would prefer to pay a little more via a Govt. Owned service, than have it privatised and owned by foreigners.. and pay a lot more and see it largely gutted, in the name of PROFIT..
..
.,
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby zzsstt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:16 pm

Tracker wrote:NEVER has there been a case of the Govt. selling off something, without the product being dramatically more expensive after privatisation.


Certainly, because the buyer has to make a profit. Unfortunately it is also true that at the point where a government decide to sell something, that asset is normally so run down that it needs a massive cash injection and/or massive increases in price to survive. And neither has the appeal of selling the asset and boosting the budget!

I'm still not convinced about using grid power (offpeak or otherwise) to charge batteries. The losses in the system (batterycharger, battery, inverter) would seem to negate any potential gains. My own system falls back to the grid when the batteries are depleted, and then stays on the grid until the PV has recharged the batteries. I do however end up exporting power from the grid connect system (0c FIT) that could be used to charge the batteries, but at the end of the day (literally) the batteries are charged before the sun goes down, and the charge cost nothing, and I have used very little power because of the grid connect system... Realistically, and weather permitting, I am only using grid power in any meaningful way from whenever the batteries die (normally about 7am) to about 9am when the grid-connect meets our usage. And yes, I need more batteries!!
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby offgridQLD » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:22 pm

Realistically, and weather permitting, I am only using grid power in any meaningful way from whenever the batteries die (normally about 7am) to about 9am when the grid-connect meets our usage. And yes, I need more batteries!!


So how low are you running your battery's every night? Do they have a conservative cut off or are they just going to live a short life?

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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby Smurf1976 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:25 pm

zzsstt wrote:
Smurf1976 wrote:As for unit rates for electricity, about 17c / kWh as an "anytime" (not time of use) rate is close to being about right. That would work as a 1:1 rate for PV without sending the distribution companies broke.


How does that work with the network charge? With the system as it stands at present, any 1:1 buy:sell price doesn't work because it still translates to a real-life loss of the 15c network charge.

The basic concept is that the fixed network costs of having a line to your house in the first place are payable in full regardless of actual consumption.

The charge for consumption then only reflects the marginal cost of supply. That being so, it doesn't matter to the distributor what your net consumption level is since revenue changes in proportion to cost.

The approximate rates in Tasmania circa 1995 were fixed charges 96 cents per day. The highest residential tariff was about 6.6 cents per kWh from memory and off-peak was 4.4 cents. There was a further discount on off-peak if you asked for it and filled out the required forms which dropped it to around 4 cents from memory. There was also the discount 24 hour rate for heating which was about 5.5c I think.

Now we're paying $1.42 per day fixed charges. Normal tariff is 27.8 cents and off-peak (with 2.5 hour boost each afternoon) is 13.5 cents. 24 hour heating rate is 16.8 cents.

No prizes for guessing that I'm one of those who'd like to dump the current industry structure and bring back the HEC which supplied power that people (and business) could actually afford to use. It never made a profit of any significance but that wasn't its' purpose. Keeping industry running and thus people employed and keeping the lights on at home was its' reason for being. Then the politicians arrived to mess things up....
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Re: Should we use our solar energy or feed it to the grid ?

Postby Tracker » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:23 pm

zzsstt wrote:I'm still not convinced about using grid power (offpeak or otherwise) to charge batteries. The losses in the system (batterycharger, battery, inverter) would seem to negate any potential gains......

.. and remember that I actually set it up properly.. All time switched
I charged in the OP.. supplied a special cct during the peak... measured everything in and out, and found a 50% savings but this excluded the costs of the batteries. The other moderating issue was the inverter/charger, which had terrible losses..
I would be happy to use the system, but went the preferred path of using solar..

Another moderator, is the belief that off peak will be raised in proportion to peak as more folk take advantage of OP rates.
This is witnessed by the fact that some retailers charge more for OP.. They know that people are waking up.. I suspect...
..
.
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