Solar powered wasps
NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Solar powered wasps
December 16, 2010
An article was published in the German scientific journal Naturwissenschaftenna about a study carried out by a team of Israeli researchers from the University of Tel-Aviv which highlighted how Vespa orientalis (originally from eastern countries but which is also found in southern Italy) has a particular structure in the abdomen which would be able to capture solar radiation and transform it into energy.
The study was born observing the fact that these insects were more active during the hottest hours of the day, contrary to what happens in similar animals. From here, using special microscopes, it was possible to analyze the different structures that make up the cuticle of these wasps ( their skin, to understand).
It has been seen that the yellow colored part of the abdomen is formed by several protuberances (50 nanometers2 high) intertwined, elliptical in shape with each inside a small depression. These particular structures would trap the light (thus carrying out an anti-reflective action) which would be accumulated to produce energy. In practice, to put it in simpler words, this wasp carries a real photovoltaic panel. The other way around the brown colored part is formed by numerous grooves 160 nanometers high2 which would have the task of facilitating / directing the light towards the yellow part.
The search did not end there. In fact, from increasingly in-depth analyzes it has been observed that the cuticle in the innermost part is formed by a set of chitin3 layers that filter the light towards a particular pigment, responsible for the extraction of energy from the rays of the sun: the xantopterin which in practice the delicate function of transforming light into electrical energy.
Ultimately from the study of the biocuticle of an insect it was highlighted that xantopterins could act as a light absorbing material in photovoltaic devices and to demonstrate their theory, the researchers created a small solar cell based on the same principle, managing to obtain the conversion of light into electricity, with a fairly low yield for the moment, but in any case worthy of note that opens up interesting prospects for the future.
Note(1) Image not subject to copyright
(2) 1 nanometer = 1 millionth of a millimeter
(3) Organic substance, nitrogenous polysaccharide, very resistant to chemical agents, which constitutes the external skeleton of arthropods, the cuticular coatings of other invertebrates, and the membranes of many fungi, lichens, bacteria (from Encyclopedia Treccani).
El término energía solar is referring to the aprovechamiento of the energy that comes from the Sol. By means of the installation of solar panels and other systems if it can use for obtener energía térmica or for the generación eléctrica.
Se trata de una fuente de energía renovable. La energía del Sol is considered inagotable a escala humana. Por lo so much, it is an alternative to other tipos de energía no renovables. Por ejemplo, a los combustibles fósiles or a la energía nuclear.
The cantidad de energía solar that recibe la Tierra es diez mil veces mayor que la que se consume al día en todo el planeta. Sin embargo, se distribuye de un forma más o menos uniform sobre toda the earth's surface, lo que dificulta su aprovechamiento.
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A group of Tel Aviv scientists found that a particular species of wasps presents an apparatus similar to the solar cells for the production of power. The wasp in question is a hymenoptera of the Vespidae family, similar to the hornet, which can reach the size of about three centimeters, precisely identified with the name of 'wasp orientalis' (Vespa orientalis Linnaeus).
It is widespread mainly in southeastern Europe and in the Middle East in Italy, it is present in the southern regions and in Sicily and usually nests inside cavities made in walls and trees, or directly in the ground. Observing their daily activity, which mainly consists of working at their own den, the scientists found that this type of wasp works a lot even during the winter, and that their activity is much more hectic during the central hours of the day.
It seems that the number of wasps entering and exiting the den, in fact, is double when the Sun it is tall, exactly the opposite of what happens with other similar insects. Assuming a correlation between the greater insolation and the greater activity, the observations and experiments have been directed towards the study of metabolic processes.
Israeli researchers are not new to this type of discovery concerning wasps: some important studies on both the social behavior and the biology of these insects were published from 2004 to 2007 and constitute the logical premise to what was disclosed only a few days ago. by Jacob Ishay, professor at Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Medicine, during an interview with the 'BBC'.
The wasps, as if they were real solar panels, use two areas of the body located on the exoskeleton, (also called the cuticle, which is nothing more than an external coating that protects the animal) one brown and the other yellow. For a long time it was thought that this double coloring had basically a defensive function compared to other animals. In fact, according to Ishay, the exoskeleton has much more interesting properties: the brown part contains melanin and the yellow part contains xantopterin, which is the yellow pigment present in many animals, especially in butterflies and wasps, but also present in the mammalian urine.
Well, the two differently pigmented body surfaces present on the body of the wasp orientalis are capable of capture 99 percent of solar energy from which they are affected. Radiation is absorbed by the cuticle through the pigments and transformed into energy.
For many years we have been aware of the fact that plants use the energy of the sun, but "it is the first time that it is discovered that a creature uses the sun as a direct form of energy", Said Ishay, who added that from the applications of the study of this animal"we could learn how to build very efficient solar cells”.
SOLAR 101: A BEGINNER'S GUIDE - 2021 EDITION
Chartered Electrical Engineer, ex-CSIRO, Founder of SolarQuotes.com.au
Last Updated: 31st Mar 2021
Would you prefer to print this guide? Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version.
This cheat-sheet is for you if you are thinking of investing in solar power.
If you read this guide, you'll know more about solar energy than 99.9% of Australians, be able to go toe-to-toe with a solar salesperson, and be confident you're paying the right amount of money for a properly- sized solar system installation for your home.
The rest of this website contains lots more information on everything you could need to know about solar energy and installation. But there is so much information on my website it can feel a little like tumbling down a rabbit hole.
That’s why I created this Solar 101 guide, which should take you about 10 minutes to read.
Pro-tip: Are you a commercial property owner? read my Commercial Solar 101 Guide - it’s written specifically for businesses.
If you're feeling confident about solar power systems already and you're looking to get quotes from quality pre-vetted Australian installers I trust, click here.
Otherwise, here’s what you should know before you get quotes for solar power and proceeding with system installation:
- The four main components of a solar power system.
- Understanding how your home uses solar energy.
- How many solar panels should you buy?
- The solar rebate: still very much alive and kicking and generous.
- Don't get the 'rebate' and the 'feed-in tariff' confused.
- The basics of roof direction / angle for optimal solar electricity generation.
- How solar systems savings and payback are calculated.
- Costs for quality solar energy systems, and why quotes can vary wildly in price.
- Batteries - do you need them?
- How are you planning on paying for your system? Understanding finance.
- Remote inverter shutdowns - scary sounding, but benign.
Beginners Notes: kWh stands for 'kilowatt-hour.' It is a unit of energy. It measures how much electricity is used over time. A typical Australian home uses 16-20 kWh of electricity per day.
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: 08 7200 0177
Snail Mail: PO Box 470, Brighton, SA 5048 Australia
# 1 The four main components of a solar power system
Solar power systems comprise four main parts:
- solar panels
Let's go into more detail for each:
Component # 1: Solar panels
Solar panels are simply a collection of 60 or more solar cells. Panels can use different cell types and different cell arrangements.
For cell type - you can buy either monocrystalline or polycrystalline:
The difference in performance between a mono and poly panel of a similar wattage is absolutely marginal - so don't feel like you have to install one over the other.
For cell arrangement - you can choose
- 'standard', which look like the mono / poly panels above
- 'Half-cut', which doesn’t mean on the beers - it means they are cut in half
- nowshingled ', where the cells are slightly overlapping
Pro-tip: There are some benefits to using half-cut or shingled panels over conventional ones if you have shade that creeps up on the solar panels through the day. Otherwise, don't stress - any cell arrangement will work well.
Solar Panel Dimensions
Panel manufacturers generally make solar panels in two physical sizes - 60 cell "residential size", which is approx. 1m x 1.65m, and 72 cell “commercial size”, which are approx 1m x 2m.
"Commercial size" 72 cell panels are bigger and heavier and pump out more watts than residential-sized 60 cell panels.
Some companies will quote households 'commercial sized' panels to squeeze more power out of fewer panels on the roof. But that makes it much harder to get the 'clamping zones' right. And if the solar panel clamps are not in the correct place, you compromise the panels' longevity because they can flex too much.
Pro Tip: Don't install 'commercial-sized' panels on small residential roofs as you are asking for trouble.
Pro Tip: Goofy clamping zones are a common problem with cheap installs.
It doesn't really matter if you get mono, poly, regular, half-cut or shingled panels. What matters most is that you get a good brand that is well supported in Australia.
Solar Panel Brands
Now, you probably don't know a good solar panel brand from a lemon. And why should you?
So, here’s a handy chart of all the brands I consider to be good quality and well supported in Australia:
If you want to play it safe, stick to the brands on this chart! See the criteria we developed for the chart here. Note: SolarQuotes does not take incentives from manufacturers to promote or give their solar panel brand preference.
This list is not exhaustive - and if you’re not sure about a brand, shoot me an email - but this chart represents probably 95% of brands being quoted in 2021 in Australia and are manufacturers I consider a safe bet.
I could list all the brands I believe to be crap, but my lawyers are busy enough. So, unless you are an industry expert I’d just strongly advise sticking to installing brands on the chart.
To get an idea of how buying premium panels will affect your budget going for a high-end brand such as LG over a budget-end brand like Longi can add about 30% to the total system cost.
The difference in *performance* between a budget brand such as Jinko and a premium brand like Sunpower is fairly marginal. The main difference between the two is:
- how much their energy output will degrade over the years.
- the length of their product warranty.
For example, 370W Jinko solar panels are warranted to have 83.1% of their rated output after 25 years and have a 12-year product warranty.
Top-end 400W Sunpower Maxeon panels are warranted to have 92% of their rated output after 25 years and have a full 25-year product warranty.
But - the Sunpower Maxeon costs more than double that of a Jinko panel. Is that slower performance degradation and longer product warranty worth it? That’s a decision for you to make.
Component # 2: Solar Inverter
The second main component of a solar power system installation is the inverter, which can be either a string inverter (around the size of a briefcase) or microinverters, which are approximately the size of a paperback book.
Microinverters cost more than string inverters, but bring a number of benefits
A string inverter is installed on a wall, and all the solar panels connect to it. A microinverter is installed on the back of, or beside each solar panel.
There’s also a third option - 'power optimizers'. These are a hybrid between the two because an optimiser system has both a string inverter on the wall * and * optimisers on each panel's back.
You can read about the pros and cons of each inverter choice in a detailed article here.
Pro-tip: Never mount a string inverter where it will be in full sun. Choose a shaded spot, a cool garage, or ask the installer to build a simple shade over the inverter. Direct intense sunlight kills inverters because it cooks them - and Australia's sun is particularly harsh.
The inverter's job is to convert the steady DC electricity solar panels produce into oscillating 230 volts AC electricity, which is what everything in your home uses.
The inverter is the component most likely to fail in a solar power system in the first 10 to 15 years. This is because they work really hard all day and they do wear out.
So even if you're on a limited budget, I'd recommend considering a mid-range or high-end inverter as I'm confident they'll last longer overall than the cheapest ones.
And if your inverter fails - that will bring down your whole system (unless you're using micro-inverters).
Solar Inverter Brands
Here’s a rundown of the inverter brands available in Australia I believe to be good quality and well-supported.
Again, this list is not exhaustive, but any reputable installer has a 95% chance of quoting you one of these brands:
These are all inverter brands I'd be happy to install on my own house. You can view the criteria we developed for the chart here. Note: SolarQuotes does not take incentives from manufacturers to promote or give their solar inverter brand preference.
Upgrading from a budget inverter like Goodwe to a premium inverter such as Fronius will add around $ 1000 to a residential solar system installation (a bit more if your system is over 10kW). Going for optimisers or micro-inverters can add an extra couple of thousand on top of that.
Component # 3: Solar Panel Racking
Your solar panels are mounted on a racking system that connects them securely to your roof.
There is a wide variety of racking brands out there - and at the end of the day, racking is just aluminum bolted together.
So, most brands are much of a muchness, except for premium brands such as Radiant that provide more adjustability and flexibility in the system's design and may corrode less over decades.
The chart below shows brands we're familiar with, and where they sit in a spectrum of price. Note that the difference in price between a budget end brand and a premium end brand is around $ 100 per kilowatt of solar panels installed:
The main difference between racking brands is how easy they are for installers to work with, especially with difficult roofs. Notes: SolarQuotes does not take incentives from manufacturers to promote or give preference to their racking brand.
Component # 4: Consumption Monitor
Consumption monitors are small devices that sit in your switchboard and measure how much electricity is coming from or going to the grid.
A consumption monitor in my switchboard.
To be clear - you can install a solar system without a consumption monitor, but I strongly recommend getting one.
Without a consumption monitor, your inverter will only be able to tell you how much solar energy your system is producing at any point in time. You'll only see the solar generation curve on your inverter's monitoring app:
But you’ll be blind as to how much energy your home is using - and when.
If you invest in the consumption monitor hardware, your monitoring app will be much more useful and will look like this:
The purple area is the energy used by your home.
I could go into a lot more detail about why having this extra information is important, but for now, I'll just say that for around $ 500, the installation of a consumption monitor will allow you to understand exactly how your solar system is working and is the best way for you to manage your energy use for maximum savings.
For me personally, it’s worth every dollar.
# 2 Understanding how your home uses solar energy
Your solar system will only ever operate in one of 2 modes:
Mode # 1 Your system is generating more solar power than your home needs.
Here, my solar power system is producing 4.4 kW.
0.9 kW is going into my home, with the surplus 3.5 kW simply going into the grid.
My retailer pays me a 'feed-in tariff' for each kWh of solar energy that I export. Here in SA at the time of writing, I'm getting 14 cents per kWh of energy exported.
Mode # 2: Your home is using more power than your solar system is generating
My home solar power system importing grid electricity because I'm not generating enough solar at this point in time.
Here my home needs 2.1 kW of power, but my solar power system installation is only generating 1.8 kW. The grid simply tops up my home with the extra 0.3kW required. Obviously, you have to pay for any imported energy.
In Adelaide, I pay 36 cents for grid electricity and get 14 cents for exported solar energy. This means self-consumed solar is more than twice as valuable as exported solar electricity.
This is why I have my appliances set to run when the sun is out and don't feel guilty when I switch on my aircon to pre-heat or pre-cool my house during the day, for a comfortable temperature at night.
# 3 How many solar panels should you buy?
My answer to this question has changed considerably compared to just a few years ago.
This is because solar installation prices have fallen considerably and electricity prices have risen.
The only limitations now are your budget, what your roof can properly fit, and the amount your local electricity network (DNSP - Distributed Network Service Provider) allows you to install.
For most homes, the minimum you should consider is buying 6.6 kW of panels (approx. 18 in total) with a 5 kW inverter.
Pro Tip: You can, and should, install up to 33% more panels than the inverter is rated at. For example, if you install 6.6kW of panels with a 5kW inverter, you’ll get 33% more solar rebate and lots more power in winter, mornings and evenings. It's a very efficient use of the inverter. Also, in many areas, the smaller the inverter, the easier it is to get permission to connect to the mains electricity grid.
If you use a lot of electricity or you're likely to add an electric car and / or battery to your home in the next few years, you should consider going larger than a 6.6 kW installation.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone complain that they put too many solar panels on. But people do regret putting too few panels on - because it’s expensive and complicated to add panels to an existing system at a later date.
I’ve written about this topic in more detail here.
# 4 The solar rebate: still very much alive and kicking - and generous.
The famous Australian federal solar rebate, technically known as the STC scheme, acts as a point of sale discount off a solar installation's final cost.
All the prices you see advertised will already include this discount. It’s worth about $ 500 per kilowatt of solar panels installed, but this will vary slightly depending on where you live.
So, for example, 6.6 kW of panels attracts around $ 3,300 in rebates.
Anyone can claim the rebate, even if you've already bought solar power systems in the past and want to buy a new system.
The only restrictions on claiming the rebate are:
- Your system installation must be less than 100 kW in size (which is bloody big!).
- You get it installed and designed by a Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited professional (you can ask the installer on the day to provide proof of accreditation!)
- You use panels and solar inverters approved for installation in Australia by the Clean Energy Council (such as those I mentioned in my chart above).
The federal solar rebate is slowly being phased out. It reduces by one-ninth of today’s value every January until it goes to zero in 2031.
Approximate solar rebate for 6.6kW of panels ($ 37 STCs, Zone 3).
For Victorians, the Labor government introduced a state-level rebate that offers eligible recipients (up to) an extra $ 1,850 off the cost of a solar system at the time of writing.
Pro Tip: The 'federal rebate' is based on the number of solar panels, not the inverter's size. This often makes adding panels over and above the inverter rating very worthwhile.
# 5 Don't get the 'rebate' and the 'feed-in tariff' confused
We’ve already learned the 'feed-in tariff' is the rate you are paid for solar electricity you export into the grid.
Between 2009 and 2012, people signed up to generous feed-in tariffs that paid them anywhere between 20 cents and 66 cents for every kWh of electricity exported. These generous tariffs were designed to kick-start the solar energy industry when solar power systems were much more expensive.
Solar energy systems have reduced in price more than 85% in Australia since 2008, and the feed-in tariffs have reduced to between 3 and 20 cents, depending on your retailer.
This reduction is why you see so many people screaming 'Solar power isn't worth it anymore! The rebate has been massively reduced! '
They’re actually confusing the rebate with the feed-in tariff. As mentioned, the 'federal rebate' is still alive and kicking. It is being gradually phased out but isn't being reduced significantly anytime soon.
We’ve run the numbers, and even with these lower feed-in tariffs, it’s not difficult to get a 5-year payback on your solar energy system.
Pro Tip: When you get a solar power system, use the timers on your washing machine and dishwasher so they run during the day. Also, put timers on your hot water and any pool pumps, and you can shift significant amounts of energy use to the daytime, increasing the returns on a solar system installation.
# 6 The basics of roof direction / angle for optimal solar electricity generation.
First - the absolute basics. The sun rises in the east, and sets in the west.
- East-facing panels will generate more power in the morning.
- West-facing panels will generate more in the late afternoon.
- North-facing solar panels will generate the most energy overall, but less in the morning and late afternoon compared to east and west-facing panels respectively.
East and west-facing panels will produce about 15% less energy per year compared to north facing.
But - a working household can self-consume more solar energy with east and west-facing panels, because they produce more energy before and after school / work, accelerating their system's payback compared to a north-facing one.
Sadly, I’ve spoken to more than one homeowner with a massive east or west roof ripe for harvesting solar energy who thinks it just isn’t worth it if their panels can’t face north.
It used to be true if you couldn’t install panels on a north-facing roof, then a solar power system wasn’t worth it.
Now that prices of solar power systems have dropped so much, you can get a fantastic return on investment from east or west-facing panels, or a combination of north, east and west.
Hell, despite what many well-meaning installers may claim, you can even get a good return with south-facing solar panels!
I am about to install panels on my south-facing roof because I have a battery and two electric cars, and need as much generation as possible to recharge them.
The ideal panel angle to maximize the energy produced over the whole year is simply within a few degrees of the latitude of your location:
So, for my house in Adelaide, the ideal solar panel angle is around 35 ° from horizontal.
If you're not able to install your panels at the ideal angle, don't worry too much. The solar panels in my own installation are at 15 degrees, and I only lose 4% in annual energy yield compared to the perfect angle.
Generally and unless your roof is flat, the ideal angle is whatever your roof is built at.
If your roof is flat, you can still install the panels flat - but you need to be aware that you'll lose about 10% of your total annual generation, and you'll need to pay someone to clean them frequently (around 3- 4 times a year), as you need at least 10 degrees tilt for rain to reliably run off the panels and clean them.
I recommend using tilt frames for a flat roof to avoid the lost generation and hassle of cleaning them.
Beginners Notes: The best angle to mount your solar panels is the angle that your roof has been built at. The exception is flat roofs. If you have a flat roof you must either mount them on tilt frames so they self-clean in the rain, or mount them flat and be prepared to get them cleaned multiple times per year.
# 7 How solar system savings and payback are calculated
This depends on a few key things:
- The output of your solar power system (which, when annualized, is very consistent!)
- Your 'self-consumption ratio' - which is how much solar electricity you use in the home vs exports to the grid.
- Your feed-in tariff - which, as already mentioned, varies from retailer to retailer and state to state.
- Your usage tariff - which is what you pay for grid electricity.
Putting it all together - the main way a solar installation saves you money is by offsetting your grid electricity usage.
If you pay 36 cents per kWh - as I do in Adelaide - and your solar power system generates one kWh to offset that - you’ve just saved 36 cents.
But, if your solar system generates one kWh and sends that to the grid because it’s not needed– the value of that exported solar electricity is less.
Using my own plan as an example, I'm paid 14 cents as a feed-in tariff by my retailer, AGL.
14 cents is less than half of 36 cents (which is my usage tariff) - so self-consuming my solar power saves me more than twice as much as exporting it does.
Now, imagine being somewhere like Perth, where you can only get an average 4 cent feed-in tariff and pay 28c for grid electricity.
Meaning that, in Perth, self-consumed solar electricity is worth seven times as much as exported solar energy!
But - even in a crappy situation like Perth's - a solar power system can still deliver a sub-5 year payback with only 20% self-consumption.
Here are some payback calculation examples for a 6.6 kW system taken from my solar calculator using typical prices and usage patterns:
- Sydney: 3 years
- Brisbane: 3 years, 2 months
- Canberra: 5 years, 3 months
- Perth: 4 years, 5 months
- Melbourne with VIC rebate: 2 years, 6 months
- Melbourne without VIC rebate: 3 years, 6 months
- Adelaide: 3 years
- Darwin: 6 years, 4 months
- Hobart: 6 years
Note: your circumstances will vary - make sure you do your own estimates if the payback is important to you.
About solar self-consumption
Australian households that use a lot of electricity during the day or can set their appliances to run on timers can have a self-consumption ratio of 50% or more and are a natural fit for solar panels.
Such households can see very short paybacks of between 2.5 to 5 years, a 20 to 25% return.
At home, I have 6 kW of solar and a battery, plus 2 electric cars. On my most recent winter bill, my self-consumption was a staggering 90%.
As the world becomes more and more electric, the amount of solar electricity used in a typical home will only increase.
But right now, If you are not at home during weekdays and don't have an energy-guzzling pool or battery, your self-consumption will be lower. That may push the simple payback out to five to seven years, mainly depending on how high your feed-in tariff is.
But bear in mind, that’s typically a 12 to 15% return on investment - try getting that from the bank!
I'll finish this section by saying - avoid any solar energy company that calculates your solar system savings based on 100% self-consumption.
Crazy high self-consumption, like my winter consumption, is still rare. Make sure you see the savings for more realistic scenarios such as 20% and 50% self-consumption.
# 8 What price-range can you expect to pay for quality solar power, and why can quotes vary wildly in price?
As of January 2021, approximate prices for good quality solar panel systems in Australia (Tier 1 panels + quality string inverter), including full installation, are in the range of:
3kW: $3,500 – $5,000
5kW: $4,500 – $8,000
6.6kW: $5,000 – $9,000
10kW: $8,000 – $12,000
To be clear - the upper end prices are for top-end system installations (e.g. LG / Sunpower panels), installed by a solar energy 'craftsman'.
Notes the above prices also include the discount from the solar 'rebate'.
However, for those of you in Victoria, the above prices do not include the state-level rebate offered by the Victorian government (which provides a further rebate of up to $ 1,850).
If you want to downgrade to a reputable budget inverter (e.g. brands on the left-hand side of the inverter chart higher up this page), you may be able to save around $ 800 on these prices.
Costs can increase if you need a switchboard upgrade or other electrical work is required to make your home suitable for solar power, or if the design of your home makes the installation more difficult.
If you decide to install micro inverters or an optimiser-based system over a string inverter, costs will also increase by approximately 20%.
Installing battery storage (for an off-grid or hybrid system) will at least double the system's price.
Pro Tip: Really cheap solar energy systems cost more in the long run, from repairs and lost output. I tell my friends to avoid these systems. It breaks my heart to see cheap solar panels go to landfill after a few years.
#9 Batteries – do you need them?
Batteries are great for energy security. The peace of mind from knowing that you will still have lights, refrigeration and other essential circuits no matter what happens to the grid can be priceless.
Batteries are also great fun. Seriously! There is something extraordinary about seeing your house run off nothing but battery power.
Batteries also provide a form of insurance against the risk of electricity prices going up and feed-in-tariffs going down.
A properly sized, correctly installed and configured battery can reduce your grid use by up to 95%, making you almost immune to electricity and feed-in tariff changes. To be clear – no-one knows which way electricity prices and feed-in-tariffs will go. However, if you have a battery you won’t care!
But these benefits come at a cost.
For example – without a battery rebate – it will cost around $10,000 to add a decent amount (around 10 kWh) of quality energy storage to a solar power system in Australia. Take 30-50% off these costs if you live in VIC, ACT or SA and are eligible for your state’s battery rebate.
The typical payback period of an unsubsidised battery of that size is at least 15 years. Most batteries have a 10-year warranty.
Compare this with a solar energy installation without batteries. A regular non-battery solar power system has a typical payback of around 3-6 years and will last about 25 years.
So – if you are buying batteries only to save money, unless you can access a state-based battery rebate, installing battery storage isn’t worth it for you. My advice is to wait 2-5 years for battery costs to come down before investing in energy storage.
Certainly don’t wait for batteries to come down in price before buying a solar power system, because that is locking in more years of high energy bills every quarter.
Pro-tip: You don’t need to buy a special type of system to be ready for batteries. Every grid connect system ever installed in Australia is compatible with future batteries using a technique called ‘AC coupling’.
But if you want a battery for energy security, insurance against changing electricity prices, and for the exciting technology, go for it. I’ve got one on my home, and I love it.
A note about state battery rebates: In South Australia, some postcodes in Victoria and ACT you can now get a battery subsidy which could halve the cost of a battery installation, potentially giving a sub-10-year payback.
A note about Virtual Power Plants (VPPs): A recent phenomenon is the ‘VPP’. In a nutshell, you can get a cheaper battery if you agree to let your electricity retailer control it.
They will then be able to charge and discharge your battery at will to profit from electricity price fluctuations. These VPPs are very new – so buyer beware! My personal take is if you want more control of your energy use, then don’t relinquish control to a big energy company.
Pro Tip: Counter-intuitively, some battery systems will not provide backup when the grid goes down. If you want backup, you must specify this upfront, as it requires careful design and some rewiring of your switchboard.
#10 How are you planning on paying for your system? Understanding finance.
Most Australians buy solar power systems with cash. If you are debt-free and have cash looking for a place to go, investing in a solar power system is worth serious consideration.
A solar system installation currently generates a tax-free, reliable return that is far higher than bank interest rates or government bonds at the time of writing.
However, some of us don’t have the luxury of easy access to thousands of dollars. Many solar installers offer “no interest” finance – and if that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it probably is.
Pro Tip: If you see a deal that claims ‘no interest’, your BS detector should be going off. All finance has a cost. The “no interest” deals often charge the installer a fee of around 15-25% on top of the ‘cash’ price. That extra cost is ultimately paid by you.
Now – don’t misunderstand me. Plenty of reputable solar installers, not just the ripoff merchants, offer “no interest” finance because many customers demand it.
But in my experience, you can get a much better deal overall by shopping around for a low-interest finance provider and avoiding the easy-sign-up, ‘no interest’ deals.
#11 Remote inverter shutdowns – scary sounding, but benign.
In South Australia, it’s been a requirement since October 2020 that your solar system can be ‘shut down’ remotely by the electricity network.
Why should non-South Australians reading this care? Because this will likely roll out nationally as the other states catch up with SA’s solar power capacity per capita.
This means the local network in SA, and soon networks across Australia will have a big red button that can shut down all recently installed solar power systems from exporting to the grid! Sounds a bit scary, eh?
Some believe this means the government will shut down your solar power system whenever they like, and that installing solar is now no longer worth it as a result. There are all sorts of conspiracy theories going around about this.
Speaking as a chartered electrical engineer who understands how hard it is to maintain the electricity grid, the SA government’s concerns regarding the grid’s stability are well-founded.
I would be astonished if such remote shutdowns happened more than 2-3 times a year, for more than a few hours at a time.
Meaning – any shutdowns’ financial impact is likely to be in the tens of dollars per year.
Pro Tip: While some solar system designs will totally switch off when they receive the ‘remote-shutdown’ command, better-designed systems will only shut off grid exports while continuing to deliver solar power to your home. Insist on the latter design if you are getting solar in South Australia (and if you are forward-thinking, insist on it wherever you live).
Don’t stress about scary-sounding “remote shutdowns”. Be glad Australia is taking steps to integrate world-leading amounts of renewable energy into the Australian grid.
It is a wonderful thing that solar power is now so abundant that we occasionally have too much. It means we typically have heaps of clean energy running through the grid, which is something to be really proud of.
The next step
So there you have it, my ‘101’ guide to solar power for your home.
If you have any burning questions about the information in this guide, my contact details are:
Snail mail: 3/39 Grenfell St, Adelaide, SA 5000 Australia
If you’re considering installing solar panels or batteries for your home or business, SolarQuotes can help you get quotes from high-quality, trusted installers quickly and easily:
Finn Peacock, founder of SolarQuotes.com.au
Disclaimer: This page does not constitute financial advice. Peacock Media Group Pty Ltd recommends you seek independent financial advice before signing any contracts, and your mum probably does too.
Energia solare vantaggi e svantaggi
L’uso dell’energia solare, anche per uso domestico, viene sempre più spesso presa in considerazione. Ma prima di investire in un impianto a energia solare bisogna valutare bene i vantaggi e gli svantaggi che questo tipo di tecnologia comporta.
I vantaggi che si ottengono utilizzando l’energia solare sono molti:
- è costantemente utilizzabile in quantità. È possibile sfruttare l’energia del sole senza preoccupazioni, proprio perché è una fonte rinnovabile e inesauribile
- è a basso costo. Utilizzare questo tipo di energia permette di risparmiare notevolmente sulle bollette, essa è economica poiché non prevede costi di produzione o trasporto, previsti invece per l’energia ottenuta da combustibili fossili
- è un’energia pulita. Il processo che permette di ottenere energia dal sole non inquina il pianeta
- it's a investimento. Installare un impianto che utilizza l’energia solare prevede un costo iniziale che viene poi recuperato nel tempo grazie a bollette più basse Esistono anche molti incentivi offerti dallo Stato che ne ammortizzano i costi
- è autoprodotta. Questo tipo di energia si può ottenere anche senza essere dipendenti da grandi società a differenza dei combustibili. È possibile infatti produrla privatamente, ad esempio sul tetto della propria casa
- prezzo sempre inferiore. I sistemi a energia solare hanno costi sempre più vantaggiosi
- è certificata. La tecnologia che viene usata allo scopo di ottenere energia dal sole è molto sicura e richiede poca manutenzione.
L’uso dell’energia solare in ambiti privati si sta diffondendo sempre di più. Una maggiore sensibilità verso i temi ambientali sta agevolando e diffondendo le energie pulite e rinnovabili, con lo scopo di ridurre the emissioni di CO2 e l’inquinamento. In più, utilizzare questo tipo di energia permette di ottenere l’indipendenza energetica.
Optare per immagazzinare energia prodotta da un impianto a energia solare significa quindi produrre buona parte del proprio fabbisogno energetico, facendo scendere i costi delle bollette relative all’utilizzo della rete elettrica nazionale. In più si avrà il piacere di produrre e usare un’energia pulita a impatto zero.
Ovviamente però, anche se i vantaggi sono molti, ci sono anche vari svantaggi che bisogna conoscere e prendere in considerazione.
- discontinuità: Si dovrà continuare ad usufruire dalla rete elettrica nazionale perché l’energia solare, ad oggi, da sola non basta a soddisfare il fabbisogno energetico, dal momento che essa è variabile e discontinua. Non solo dipende dal succedersi del giorno e della notte, ma anche dalle condizioni metereologiche e quindi dal cambio delle stagioni
- difficoltà legate allo spazio: a volte può essere difficile se non impossibile installare un impianto a luce solare privato. Per far in modo di ottenere abbastanza energia dai raggi solari, infatti, si devono disporre pannelli solari su un’area abbastanza estesa. Altri problemi potrebbero sorgere nel caso in cui si condivide un edificio con altri condomini ad esempio. In questo caso tutti devono essere d’accordo e partecipare alle spese di installazione per un impianto comune
- costo: la spesa iniziale per installare un impianto a energia solare è un vero e proprio investimento che non rientra nelle possibilità economiche di tutti. Anche se è possibile recuperare l’importo speso nel giro di una decina di anni. Bisogna però considerare il fatto che esistono diversi incentivi, come ad esempio le detrazioni fiscali, per chi sceglie di investire in un impianto fotovoltaico.
L'energia solare è una fonte di energia rinnovabile che funziona assorbendo la luce solare e convertendola in energia elettrica. L'installazione di pannelli solari fotovoltaici consente alle aziende di generare valore da risorse come tetti, parcheggi o terreni inutilizzati e produrre energia in autonomia, anziché consumare quella ad alto costo della rete elettrica.
L'energia generata dai pannelli solari fotovoltaici può essere utilizzata direttamente in sito, immagazzinata per utilizzo futuro o reimmessa nella rete per generare nuove fonti di entrate. Questo tipo di energia è conveniente, affidabile e sostenibile al 100%: l'ideale per le aziende che vogliono ridurre sia i costi dell'energia che le emissioni di carbonio.
Ulteriori informazioni sulla nostra soluzione per l’energia solare
Guarda il nostro video per capire perché il solare dovrebbe essere parte integrante della tua strategia energetica. Utilizzare una fonte di energia rinnovabile al 100% e generare elettricità efficiente direttamente in sito.
Energia solare vantaggi e svantaggi
Abbiamo capito l’energia solare come funziona, quali tipologie di impianto si possono usare per trarre maggiori benefici, ma bisogna anche conoscere, oltre ai pregi, anche i difetti delle varie tipologie di energie alternative, quindi soffermiamoci un attimo a provare a capire per l’energia solare vantaggi e svantaggi in cosa consistono, così da avere un’idea chiara se conviene realmente usare l’’energia del sole per produrre elettricità o meno. Ovviamente la risposta è scontata, in quanto chiaramente qualunque fonte naturale che consenta di evitare l’uso di combustibili fossili rappresenta un grande beneficio, sia in termini di risparmio economico sia per quanto concerne il benessere della natura, ma avere una panoramica completa è molto importante. Il sole, come tutti noi ben sappiamo, è una delle fonti energetiche più green e naturali (oltre che non inquinante) che esistono, dal momento che non prevede nessuna combustione a gas e quindi nessuna emissione di anidride carbonica o di altro agente che rischierebbe di portare a un inquinamento anche su grande L’installazione di un impianto fotovoltaico, sebbene la grande maggioranza di noi probabilmente lo vorrebbe se avesse un terreno ove posizionarlo, è innegabile che rappresenta una spesa cospicua e i tempi prima che questa spesa venga ripagata dal risparmio sulla bolletta ottenuto grande allo sfruttamento dell’energia solare per la produzione di elettricità possono essere anche talvolta abbastanza lunghi, quindi si deve considerare come ci possano volere anche taluni anni prima che si possa ottenere una situazione di parità tra la spesa sostenuta e il risparmio, e ulteriore tempo prima di poter guadagnare con l’utilizzo dell’impianto fotovoltaico. Questo può rappresentare un elemento negativo, anche se ovviamente dipende da persona a persona e dalla propria disponibilità economica: se si hanno problemi economici, affrontare l’acquisto di un impianto fotovoltaico potrebbe non essere ottimale, mentre qualora si avessero dei risparmi da parte, e usandoli non si intaccherebbe la propria qualità di vita negli anni a venire, allora investire in un impianto fotovoltaico è senz’altro una scelta intelligente. Parlando di energia solare vantaggi e svantaggi, ci siamo concentrati finora principalmente sui vantaggi, ma occorre pensare a uno dei principali svantaggi del fotovoltaico, ovvero il rischio di non avere una garanzia sulla produzione di energia elettrica(a causa degli eventi climatici, e anche del semplice alternarsi del giorno e della notte, considerando inoltre come durante l’inverno le giornate siano più brevi e di conseguenza anche la quantità di sole che può irradiare i pannelli consentendo loro di accumulare energia), ma per ovviare a tale problematica esiste il sistema di accumulo, il quale è già previsto solitamente all’interno dell’impianto solare termico.
Capire nel concreto l’energia solare come funziona è davvero molto interessante, così come stabilire quali sono per l’energia solare vantaggi e svantaggi, in modo da capire se l’uso di questa tipologia di impianti può davvero fare al caso proprio, rispondendo a quali sono i propri bisogni in termini di efficienza energetica per uso domestico o industriale, o meno.