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Solar Guide: 2020 Guide to Solar Supply/Install Requirements

This Solar & Renewable Energy Guide is for you if you're considering investing in Solar   The three main components of a solar power system 1.  The panels, which will usually be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. These are the two main types of solar...

2020-21 PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSIONS

The Government is seeking submissions from individuals, businesses and community groups on their views for priorities for the 2020-21 Budget.  As a result of the Morrison Government’s disciplined budget management, the Budget is forecast to return to surplus in...

NEW

COVID-19: Contactless Site Induction APP

HIA Making space on site: COVID-19 site induction HIA has developed a COVID-19 site induction to help builders and trade contractors include COVID-19 into their regular site induction processes. The HIA Making space on site: COVID-19 site induction uses the HIA...

Solar Guide: 2020 Guide to Solar Supply/Install Requirements

This Solar & Renewable Energy Guide is for you if you're considering investing in Solar   The three main components of a solar power system 1.  The panels, which will usually be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. These are the two main types of solar...

2020-21 PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSIONS

The Government is seeking submissions from individuals, businesses and community groups on their views for priorities for the 2020-21 Budget.  As a result of the Morrison Government’s disciplined budget management, the Budget is forecast to return to surplus in...

This Solar & Renewable Energy Guide is for you if you’re considering investing in Solar

 

The three main components of a solar power system

1.  The panels, which will usually be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline.

polycrystalline vs monocrystalline solar panel

These are the two main types of solar panel technology used mainly for residential homes – the other types are thin film or cast mono which is a hybrid of the two.

Solar panels are the most visible element of your system, which is why you’re likely the most familiar with it. They are, in essence, the “face” of solar. If you go out and look up and down your street right now, you will likely be able to tell who does and doesn’t have solar energy powering their home purely by looking for solar panels on their rooves.

The way that solar panels work is that the panels generate DC electricity as sunlight, or solar irradiation, stimulates electrons to move through solar cells that are in-built into the solar panels. Contrary to what some may think, it is the sunlight itself, and not heat, that generates the electricity. In fact, overheated panels can become less efficient, similar to a computer overheating. Thus, any solar panel you choose must be able to withstand the warm Australian climate for around 25 years (we’re assuming you do want your investment into solar to last that long, right!?). There are a wide variety of solar panels on the market – so knowing where to start can be tricky. We’ll delve further into this in another article on another day, but for now, let’s quickly go into the technology and products so that you can better understand the options available to you right now.

Technology – Polycrystalline or Monocrystalline Panels?

Monocrystalline panels consist of singular large crystals, are darker in colour, even in aesthetic consistency and, as a result of the production process, the corners of cells are usually missing.

Polycrystalline panels consist of multiple smaller crystals, can be light or dark blue in colour and have variation in texture where some patches are lighter than others.

Historically, monocrystalline panels were seen to have an advantage as the superior technology in the Australian market. Historically, monocrystalline solar cells were producing higher peak efficiency as large crystal sizes tend to be more absorbent, and the technology was more readily available than polycrystalline solar cells. However, over time both technologies have matured and improved, making the difference quite negligible in most regions. In essence, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are great for any solar energy system in Australian climates.

Instead, it has become increasingly evident that the more important aspect to focus on is the quality of the product, the reliability of the manufacturer, and the performance of the product over time. These three factors alone can make all the difference in how much of your energy costs are offset, how long they will yield a return on your investment and how quickly you can receive support if things do go wrong.

How to choose your solar panels

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for when deciding on which solar panels to install for your home or business.

Though the savings of purchasing a budget panel may seem appealing in the short-term, they often depreciate more quickly and perform worse over time. Or just flat out don’t work. Or explode.

Solar energy systems are a long-term investment (systems should last around 25 years), so your main concern should be the performance of that system over time, the quality of the installation, the longevity of the products, and the warranties attached. Maximizing savings over the long term rather than minimizing the initial cost of a system is the smart move. Many companies offer very cheap systems and cut corners to get to that price – rushing installs, putting your home at risk, and selling the cheapest products that will barely last 5 years on an Australian roof. The products we sell are top of their range and come with a 20-30 year product and performance warranty as standard.

Brands

There are good budget brands that perform very well at an affordable price – we often recommend Jinko, Hyundai, Canadian Solar, Phono & Trina. Then there are our premium products, made with the highest quality technology and that come with extended warranties. These products include LG, QCells, and SunPower (suppliers of Apple and NASA), which are usually made and engineered in Germany or North America and are considered the best panels on the market.

2.  The next component of a solar system is the inverter, which will either be a string inverter or microinverters.Index of /upload-files/Inverter

Microinverters cost more than string inverters but bring a variety of benefits

Inverters are a crucial part of any solar energy system. Their purpose is to convert the DC electricity that the solar panels produce into 240V AC electricity, which is what powers everything in your home. The inverter is a hardworking piece of equipment that works constantly throughout the lifetime of your system – so it tends to be the piece most likely to have faults. This means they usually only have a warranty of around 10 years. For this reason, we will always recommend that you choose a high-quality inverter that is easily serviceable such as Fronius, ABB, Sungrow or SolarEdge.

Inverter Technology – String Inverters or Microinverters

The two main types of inverters are string inverters and microinverters. A string inverter is installed onto a wall in a shaded area and will convert the energy from a string of panels (for residential systems this is usually the entire system) into AC electricity to be used in your home or business. Microinverters are installed on the back of each panel, allowing the energy from the panels to exist independently from each other. When partial shading occurs on one panel in a string inverter system, the performance of the rest of the panels is also affected (as demonstrated below). Microinverters are the solution to this, as they allow the panels to operate independently but also come with an increase in price. There are also power optimizers, which are the middle-of-the-road approach between the two, as they are cheaper than microinverters but somewhat less effective. Shading isn’t always a critical issue so microinverters aren’t always necessary. To find out, our experts will help you assess your particular situation.

 

3. The third main component of a solar power system is the ‘racking’ or ‘mounting’, this is the foundation installed that your solar panels are mounted on.

Red Dot Rack - Solar Mounting Structures Specialists Thailand

The third main component of a solar energy system is the racking/mounting. This is what securely attaches your panels to your roof. Racking / mounting will not be a decision you need to lose sleep over. Any reputable solar provider will use quality racking equipment from brands like Radiant or Sunlock, which are Australian made. What is most important is that the installers of the solar energy system are CEC approved and that the company you go with has a reputation for quality installations. Many companies rely on quantity over quality, which means that they rush through multiple installations per day in a race to get as many done as possible and, ultimately, putting your home at risk! Volume-based, cheap and non-accredited installers are well known to cut corners, leave holes in rooves, leave loose live wires and other critical safety violations. While the initial cost may seem higher, companies such as ours will spend the extra time to ensure correct procedures are followed and that the performance and safety of your solar energy system and family are guaranteed.

Batteries

Batteries are used to store energy generated during the day to be used throughout the night when the system is no longer generating power. Battery technology is quickly developing into a more feasible option for those who primarily use their energy in the evenings. Battery technology has seen longevity in power on large commercial jobs such as boarding schools

Are batteries for you?

While battery technology has come a long way, it is still in its infancy and comes at a significant increase in cost. The value of including batteries on your solar energy system will depend on a range of factors such as your usage needs and your feed-in tarrif rate. Your feed-in tariff is the rate which the Government is prepared to pay you to send the energy you have produced into the common energy grid for all to use. If you are storing excess energy in a battery, then you are not feeding it into the grid and are not being paid for it. So when your FIT rate is high and you are not at home or working in the premises during the hours of the day to utilise the energy you produce, it does not make financial sense to store that excess energy. This is particularly the case given the relatively high up-front cost of a solar battery storage unit.

 

Solar Power & Renewable Energy Information

The Australian continent has the highest solar radiation per square meter of any continent and consequently some of the best solar energy resources in the world. The regions with the highest solar radiation are the desert regions in the northwest and center of the continent. Australia’s energy resources, including solar energy resources, and the factors impacting the development and adoption of the various energy resources to 2030 are outlined in the Australian Energy Resource Assessment.

Australia receives an average of 58 million PJ of solar radiation per year, approximately 10 000 times larger than its total energy consumption.

The Australian continent has the highest solar radiation per square meter of any continent and consequently some of the best solar energy resources in the world. The regions with the highest solar radiation are the desert regions in the northwest and center of the continent. Australia’s energy resources, including solar energy resources, and the factors impacting the development and adoption of the various energy resources to 2030 are outlined in the Australian Energy Resource Assessment.

Australia receives an average of 58 million PJ of solar radiation per year, approximately 10 000 times larger than its total energy consumption.

Electricity generation is increasing in response to government policies, notably the Renewable Energy Target, and as a consequence of the development of photovoltaic and concentrating solar thermal technologies through substantial research and development programs. These include the government’s Clean Energy Initiative Solar Flagships Program managed by the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism which has committed $1.5 billion to support the construction and demonstration of up to four large-scale solar power plants in Australia, using solar thermal and PV technologies. The Government’s aim is to establish up to 1000 megawatts (MW) of solar power generation capacity.

Geoscience Australia is contributing to this program by providing pre-competitive solar resource prospectivity data and analysis to assist the solar industry and research community. The first steps in this project were to improve the collection of solar insolation data through a collaboration project with the Bureau of Meteorology, to increase their solar monitoring ground station network, and to improve the satellite models base used in collaboration with those ground stations.

AREMI is a website for map-based access to Australian spatial data relevant to the Renewable Energy industry – with a focus on Developers, Financiers, and Policy Makers. This project has hosting provided by Geoscience Australia, funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, developed by NICTA in partnership with the Clean Energy Council. The site is an extension of the Australian Government’s National Map initiative.

AREMI is an open architecture system. When you access data through it, you are typically accessing the data directly from the government department or agency which is the custodian of that data.

Enter AREMI

© Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2020.