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Solar Power in Australia represents a superb investment opportunity
With retail energy prices rising fast, now is the time to invest in solar to maximise returns and savings, ROI typically available from 1.5+ years

Australian Solar Scenario

The centre-point for the current federal legislative scenario for solar power, wind power, hydro in Australia is the 'Renewable Energy Target' (RET). This evolved from it's legislative predecessor MRET (mandatory Renewable Energy Target). The RET has been structured to encourage a mix of large-scale and small-scale renewable energy production, and to avoid what might be considered over-reliance on one or the other, as has happened in some places where renewable power has been implemented and encouraged through legislative framework.

Renewable Energy Target (RET)

The Renewable Energy Target (also referred to simply as RET) is the name given to Australia's federal commitment that 20% of electricity be generated by renewable sources of power including solar power, Hydro, wind and biomass by the year 2020. The primary purpose and the motivation for this scheme is to curb greenhouse gas emissions, through the uptake of renewable energy technology, to a level which is intended to produce 45,000gWh's (gigawatt-hours) of zero-emission, green energy in 2020, as a total figure of the combined LRET and SRES systems (with 41,000GWh to come from large scale, and 4000GWh to come from small scale renewable energy plants).

LRET & SRES, REC's, LGC's, LREC's & STC's

Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGC's), which are sometimes referred to as Large-scale renewable energy Certificates (LREC's) & Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC's) were formerly known as Renewable Energy Certificates (REC's), are the financial instruments which are used to underpin the RET / LRET & SRES system and to make it work. There is a market in STC's, and the value of these instruments fluctuates.

Renewable Energy Market

Central to the market for renewable energy certificates LGC's / LREC's / STC's is the following: electricity retail companies and wholesale electricity buyers must show that they are achieving annual targets for renewable energy implementation. If there is a shortfall they can buy these financial instruments to account for that. If they have not generated enough credits, they can purchase them through the clearing-house, and this creates a fluid, working market for these instruments. The motivation for electricity retail companies and wholesale electricity buyers to take part in this clean energy market, is that they incur a fine of $65 for every unit they have not generated or bought.

Small Generation Units and Renewable Energy Power Stations

These financial instruments are 'created' according to the estimated output of a system, over a predefined 'deeming period' at a rate 1 REC / LGC / LREC/ STC per megawatt hour / MWh produced over that that recognised deeming period (15 years, although a quality system could function at 'high efficiency' for more than twice that timeframe). Systems less than 100kW rated power are eligible to receive the value of these credits upfront in the form of a discount on the purchase price of the renewable energy power plant, while qualified systems larger than 100kW peak rated power receive the credits annually based on the power produced over the preceding 12 months. Further to this, small scale systems currently receive a multiplier of 3 x STC on the first 1.5kW, with normal 1:1 for the remainder of the system - this is why there is often a seemingly disproportionate variance in the cost of a small 1.5kW solar power system, when compared to a 2kW, or 3kW solar power system.

It is worth noting where smaller PV systems are concerned (and also very important for larger systems however the effect 'the multiplier' has on capital cost is negligible on larger systems like 50kW rated power or 80kW rated power output), that you will only receive the multiplier and credits once per eligible address, so it's important to buy a system that will make a difference to your ongoing energy expense, in other words, a 1.5kW solar power system will typically produce somewhere between around 4.5kWh - 7kWh per day depending on location through Australia. If your consumption is closer to the average energy consumption of about 19.7kWh per day, than you would probably be better off considering a larger solar PV system, and maximising your available roof space and investment.

Renewable Energy Synopsis

Everybody in the industry, and probably just about everybody else also, has been talking and hearing more and more about impending energy price rises. It is about as certain as anything can be, that retail electricity prices will continue to rise, and that the curve of that electrical price-rise will steepen and become more severe. The further we get toward 'peak-oil', the more value is placed on units of power generation, the more value is placed on oil, coal, gas, fossil fuels and renewable power. Fossil fuels are in demand, and the demand will remain for some purposes, in the interim, clean renewable energy is becoming more affordable and logical for more end-users.

In regional Australia and in the Asia-Pacific, or Australasian region (encompassing the Pacific Islands) the cost of implementing grid power is often preventative. The further you get from a pre-existing grid, the more expensive it will likely be to extend that grid to where you need the power. In the case of regional Australia, (let alone an Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or remote PNG) it is common to spend '$20,000 per pole', that is, per electricity pole. One pole is required for every certain amount of meters. That means if your property is 2kM away from the pre-existing electrical grid, the cost of extending that grid to your property is massive, and ultimately means, you are in a position to look at off-grid renewable power solutions. Purely from the cost aspect of finding an energy solution, you can evaluate how much power you are likely to need at Max load, then consider at which times you may want to use that power, and implement an off-grid, battery back-up solar power solution that will provide you with long-term 'free' (once the capital equipment and installation has been paid-off, and return on investment (ROI) payback has been achieved, for far less expense.

This area is very interesting and topical, and the chances are that the issue of energy problems and solutions will remain in the headlines for the rest of our lives. Regulations and frameworks governing and effecting the area of power generation, dirty fossil fuel, dangerous nuclear fuel, and zero-emission clean renewable power will continue to evolve. Clean renewable energy will also continue to play an ever growing part of our ongoing energy solution.

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