25 C
Byron Shire
October 16, 2021

The great solar riddle: saving money, the planet or energy independence?

Latest News

Let’s get real

AFL Aussie Rules Grand Final in Western Australia... Rugby League Grand Final in Queensland... Melbourne Cup in Tasmania?    Margaret Keating,...

Other News

COVID-19 update in Northern NSW

From 8 pm yesterday, 12 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Northern NSW. Nine cases have been identified...

Lismore landmark saved as Skimmo’s site DA knocked back

Lismore residents watch avidly last night as the drama of a development application for 135 Union Street South Lismore, played out on their little screens.

Vale Frank Mills OAM 26.5.1928 – 3.10.2021

Frank Mills was a natural raconteur. So it was no surprise when his family found a folder labelled The Story of Frank Mills.  It contained this story (which his granddaughter has slightly edited) and two poems, with the instructions: ‘Not to be read until I’m dead’

Police call for busking ban, backed by Byron mayor

Have you noticed that the streets of Byron Bay have been a less tuneful and colourful place in the past week or so?

International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2021

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is an annual day of remembrance for the families of lost babies and is observed on October 15.

‘Blood, sweat and no beers: NSW, we’re back – you’ve earned it’

The new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet held a press conference at a Sydney club this morning where he spoke about the state opening up toorrow. 'Today is a big day for the state. You've earned it. It's been 100 days of blood, sweat and no beers but we've got it, and we're back!'

By Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy

So why do people want to install solar? Is it to save money? Is it to save the planet? Or is to have greater independence from the local utility?

It is a subject of intense debate in the electricity industry. Business models and executive careers depend on it. To briefly summarise the position of most Australian utilities, the likely motivation is to save money, and that can be fixed by well, fixing the tariffs. It is really a matter of price. And in any case, most people couldn’t be bothered stuffing around with the new technology.

It is a curious view to take in a market where nearly one in four houses already has solar, and where 16,000 households are adding rooftop solar systems across the country each month.

And there are signs that the major retailers are losing the courage of their convictions, or simply waking up to fundamental trends. All three have recognised the potential for households to either leave the grid, or simply demand to have more control over their energy system.

And it’s probably just as well because, according to New Zealand energy network operator Vector, which runs the poles and wires, and increasingly, the solar and storage, in that country’s biggest city of Auckland, the theory that price is the only motivation is  not correct.

Vector CEO Simon McKenzie, who pioneered the company’s groundbreaking solar and battery storage leasing scheme, says customers want solar and storage because they value the environment, and they value their independence. And they are tech-savvy enough to get on and do it, in much the same as they gotten their heads around the move from landlines to smart phones.

‘Solar panels and associate technology are maturing to the point of mass market appeal. The balance of power is shifting from the utility service providers to he consumers,’ McKenzie said in a presentation to analysts and media on Friday.

‘New distributed generation (and storage) and technology allows them to switch from the grid (if they want to),’ he said.

‘So they are demanding choice and the highest level of service from utilities. They are targeting energy consumption as an area to save money; they are environmentally conscious and they are willing to adopt technology such as solar panels which allow them to generate own electricity.’

McKenzie says most people in the ‘traditional’ energy markets thought hat the attraction of solar was primarily one about economics.

But he argues that customers are only looking at price as a third order issue. Mostly, he says, they are motivated  by the desire to take charge of their own energy requirements, and by environmental issues. ‘They want to embrace solar as a solution (to those issues),’ he said.

And it need not be so bad for traditional utilities. Vector last year trialled its ‘Sun Genie’ program, offering to install rooftop solar and storage for consumers under a leasing arrangement.

Vector says it cuts down on network costs, and help engage the consumer. Happily, people who go solar and storage tend to consume more, McKenzie says.

‘You have got to ensure that the environment is such that solar can be integrated into the network and that customers have the ability to manage those solutions,’ he said.

‘There is no doubt that a lot of people are looking to embrace solar.’

McKenzie says Vector is currently reviewing where it goes next with its Sun Genie product which recently completed trials that identified the benefits of battery storage and how to integrate them into networks.

McKenzie sees strong opportunities in Australia, particularly in NSW and Queensland where the electricity networks will be either partially privatised or will seek co-investment.

Vector is looking to roll out both its smart meter and its data management products in Australia, and is talking to utilities in Australia to set up new partnerships.

McKenzie lamented the fact that the regulatory regime is not keeping pace with new technology developments. The regulators, he says, set their pricing points on the assumption that assets will have a life of 40-45 years, as they have done for the past century. But there is no allowance for the fact that techno logy is now changing rapidly and hat these assets could be stranded or made redundant.

That criticism was directed at regulators in NZ, but it could equally apply in Australia, where regulators are struggling to keep up with the fundamental move towards distributed generation.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Go The Solar, Easy to say not so easy to do or is it. 8 panels $1800 + storage 8 batteries (200a/h 12volt) regulator+ Inverter say 5kilowatt, and wiring, $2400 for batteries regulator $120 – $150, inverter around $5-600 dollars.Total about $5-6000,Cheap isn’t it, Considering that in 1986 to get the 1600 watt output of the panels you would to have to have had 40 panels at a cost of $17000, now we’ll buy the batteries (Thousands of dollars) Inverter about $6000. So what I’m saying is that Going Solar has never been cheaper, Get With It……

  2. Electric power monopolies have to come out of the dark ages and face reality. They are on the cusp of going the same way as mass media as it goes under to social media. It is now a good investment to cut off from the grid altogether, not only financially, but also for the convenience of being shot with the managerial arrogance which rammed all that self-serving bulldust about carbon pricing down our necks with every bill they sent.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Mandatory vax

I write to you in response to the article on the front page of The Echo relating to mandatory vax. I find it extremely...

End the cult

A military conflict between China and the USA would very likely result in global nuclear war, a major setback to human civilisation and possibly...

Hundreds queue to have COVID test and two new cases in the NNSWLHD

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) is urging people to continue coming forward for testing and vaccination after two further COVID-19 cases were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, October 14. 

Charges after cars damaged in police pursuit – Coffs Harbour

Police say a man has been charged following a pursuit, where a number of cars – including an unmarked police car – were sideswiped on the Mid-North Coast yesterday.