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What do I need to know?
What is solar photovoltaic power?
Solar PV is the accepted best system used all around the world to generate free energy from the sun. In basic terms, the solar panels consist of 60 modules made up of either polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon elements that respond to the sun’s radiation and produces direct current (DC), much like you will find in a battery. This free energy is then transferred by heavy DC cables to an electronic device called an inverter which converts the DC into Alternating Current (AC), which is what the majority of appliances in your home need to operate.
What is a grid connect system?
A grid connect system is a solar PV system is what we consider to be a traditional solar panel system. The solar PV panels generate DC, that is then converted to AC and that’s what runs your appliances. Excess power generation is sent back to the grid for a small credit called a feed in tariff – these vary greatly from region to region.
On poor weather days, or if the household demand is greater that the output of your system, the grid supplies the necessary additional electricity you need. In the event of a power outage, the solar PV system will not work, as it needs the grid to function safely.
I’ve heard of Hybrid systems, what are they?
Hybrid solar systems, as very much like traditional solar PV systems, however, they have the addition of battery storage, so that excess power production first goes into charging the batteries and then once fully charged goes back to the grid. When the sun goes down for the day, the batteries start to discharge into the inverter to produce AC electricity for overnight usage in the home. If connection to the grid is lost the system will not work.
So, how does that differ from a standalone system?
Well, a standalone system has no connection to the main grid. It is a completely self-sufficient system that generates enough power throughout the day to run the household appliances and to charge the batteries. Overnight, the batteries discharge and feed the house with AC power in the usual way. In the event that bad weathers cuts down the amount of power generated or if the load increases due to unusual demand, then a generator can be configured to start up automotically as a backup. Standalone systems do not have any connection to the grid and therefore, you will never get a power bill.
I’ve heard about these government rebates, what are they and how do they work?
The Federal Government, currently provide incentives to householders and some businesses to install solar PV systems to help them reduce their energy costs and to reduce the emissions from dirty power stations. These rebates are paid in the form of “small-scale technology certificates” and what happens is that you the customer will be granted a number of certificates depending on the output of your system. You then assign these to the solar installer, who reduces your investment cost by that same amount, leaving you with a much smaller level of investment.
What is a feed-in-tariff?
FiTs are the credits you receive form your electricity retailer for the excess power you may generate on any given day. Presently, Ergon is mandated by the Queensland Government to pay 6.5 cents per kilowatt sold back to Ergon.
Can I still sign up for the 44 cent feed-in-tariff?
Sadly no. The state government abolished this system two years ago, however, if you signed up prior to the removal of the scheme, you will still get the Fit credit of 44 cents.
If however, you are on the now defunct 44-cent FiT and you sell your house, the scheme ends. Similarly, if you change the size of your inverter (as opposed to replace it for the same size or smaller) you will also lose the 44 cent FiT. If you have the benefit of the 44 FiT, your arrangement is protected until 2018 under current government rules.