Smart Energy Council: “Energy Conscious Australians Should Put Pressure on the NEG”

Smart Energy Council: “Energy Conscious Australians Should Put Pressure on the NEG”

Smart Energy Council NEG

Credit: Smart Energy Council

Smart Energy Council: “Energy Conscious Australians Should Put Pressure on the NEG”

About a month ago we commented on the impact of the Nation Energy Guarantee (NEG) on the renewable energy movement – namely, that it is a policy that will compromise aspects of the solar industry, such as the Renewable Energy Target (RET) rebate scheme, which have greatly contributed to the energy independence of hundreds of thousands of Australians. With the NEG quickly gaining traction, the Smart Energy Council (SEC) is now urging people to put pressure on the policy and stand up for the renewable energy movement – and we too would like to provide our comment on the impending changes.

Renewables Are Cheaper Than Coal

The solar industry is booming, saving many Australians thousands of dollars every year on the cost of their energy bills and creating a cleaner environment for our future generations. Over 2 million Australian families are enjoying the benefits of having a solar energy system installed at their home. However, many more millions of Australians may miss out once the RET rebate is removed with the introduction of the NEG. With recent energy policy, such as the Californian 2020 policy, requiring that newly built homes must have solar energy systems installed and British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s comments to The Guardian providing evidence that renewable energy is now cheaper than coal – it is clear that the world is moving towards renewable energy systems. We cannot allow Australia to be left behind. The impact of this will simply cost Australians more, whilst also hindering the progression of our country as a modern, technologically advanced nation.

The Impact

While the NEG claims to simply provide a reliable energy supply on top of an existing renewable energy supply, the policy seems to overlook the extent to which the RET rebate is responsible for the growth of the solar industry. This is almost certain to impact the rate of installation in Australian households. The government have said that subsidies for renewable energy systems are no longer necessary as the industry is thriving. The RET is responsible for that growth, as it has supported Australians to install renewable energy systems and the benefits of it are felt by individuals and communities. It’s becoming clearer that the proposed NEG will not include the RET’s system of what amounts to a rebate on renewable energy installations for households and businesses.

Take Action

The Smart Energy Council is calling on environmentally-conscious citizens to take preventative action and put pressure on the NEG. In around two weeks the States and Territories will decide the future of the renewable energy industry, most likely locking in this highly problematic policy. If you’re with us and believe the NEG will hurt more than it will help, you can show your support by emailing Premiers and Ministers by simply clicking this link: http://smartenergy.good.do/saverenewables/emailministers/.

We hope you will take action by contacting your MPs today – and encourage your friends and family to do the same. To take advantage of the RET rebate while it does last, be sure to contact us at 1300 969 471 or get a quote for your home or business at https://gemenergy.wpengine.com/get-a-quote/.


The NEG is coming. Here is what you can do to future proof your home or business.

The NEG is coming. Here is what you can do to future proof your home or business.

Residential Solar Roof

The NEG is coming. Here is what you can do to future proof your home or business.

You may have noticed an increased amount of solar installations in your neighborhood over the past few months. That’s because the solar industry is booming and producing record numbers. But with the proposed National Energy Guarantee policy, set to to succeed the Renewable Energy Target (RET) policy, some uncertainty as to the future of the renewable energy industry has struck the market. Here is our take on renewable energy supply projections, new policies and what you can do to guarantee your home or business is future proofed.

According to the latest information from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), renewable energy is forecast to supply one-third of Australians’ energy requirements by 2020. This represents rapid growth in the industry as only half that amount was supplied by renewable energy in 2015. May was a record month for rooftop solar installation with almost 19,000 rooftop solar PV systems being installed, which produced 19.9 per cent of consumed energy and saved 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 pollution over the month (the equivalent of taking 9.2 million cars off the road). Now 2 million Australian families have reduced their energy bills and shown their support for the renewable energy movement by installing solar energy systems on their homes.

Solar advocates from organizations such as Solar Citizens, the Clean Energy Council & the Smart Energy Council have recently expressed concern for the impact that the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy will have on this thriving movement. Green Energy Markets Director Tristan Edis & Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes have both declared their dissatisfaction for the NEG’s emissions targets, which, while they are in line with international commitments, are seen to be unambitious. The aforementioned 2020 renewable energy supply target stands strong despite this as it is based on solar and wind farms already under construction or contracted and stable residential installation rates.

Claims have been made that the NEG overlooks the extent to which the RET is responsible for the solar industry’s growth and may impact household’s rate of installation – The government have said that subsidies for renewable energy systems are no longer necessary as the industry is thriving. But this seems to overlook the extent to which the RET is responsible for that growth, as it has supported Australians to install renewable energy systems, the benefits of which are felt by individuals and communities. It’s becoming clearer that the proposed NEG will not include the RET’s system of what amounts to a rebate on renewable energy installations for households and businesses.

Learn more about the RET rebates.

The exact impacts of the NEG are unforeseeable at this stage, though there are signs that solar installation incentives may change and impact Australian’s ability to go solar. Our hopes are that Australians will still be seen as renewable energy leaders, reaching record emissions and supply targets and continuing to reap the benefits that solar energy systems produce. The best thing you can do to future proof your home or business is to claim the RET rebate with us while it still lasts.


See GEM Energy’s range of solar energy solutions or enquire now.

GEM Energy To Deliver 648kW Of Solar To Australia Zoo

GEM Energy To Deliver 648kW Of Solar To Australia Zoo

The Crocoseum at Australia Zoo in Beerwah, QLD Image: Core Architecture


We are pleased to announce the delivery of a 648kW solar power plant to Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland.

The project will take place in 2018 and will include over 1800 Canadian Solar solar panels brought together with a SolarEdge DC to DC optimizer system. The system is to be installed at the world-famous Crocoseum facility.

The state of the art, world renowned wildlife facility has complex energy needs, with heating pumps and pools, kitchens, retail shops and more, spread out over hundreds of acres. The commercial solar array will absorb energy from the sun and is expected to yield 21GWh, or 21 billion-watt hours over 25 years. It’s expected to reduce emissions by 16,500 tonnes.

You can view more of our recent projects here or read in-depth case studies on our commercial work here.

Wes Mannion, Director of Australia Zoo, said the investment long term would allow them to put even more resources into conservation.

“Our ultimate goal here at Australia Zoo is to have a world class facility and reinvest our proceeds into saving wildlife and wild places around the world. By installing solar, it helps us two-fold – we’re contributing to the reduction of emissions in our own environment, and we’re also saving a substantial amount on electricity long term”.

National Sales Manager at GEM Energy, Aaron Hilton commented:

“Australia Zoo was paying a significant amount for their power and it’s a real honor to be able to help them operate more efficiently and reach conservation goals through renewable energy. We are extremely proud of our in-house engineers as they have been able to satisfy stringent network requirements in an area of limited infrastructure and bring this project to fruition”.

The installation is a major investment by Australia Zoo into its long-term sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint, in line with its global conservation mission. The project is set to kick off in late April, 2018.

Look No Further. Get Started Today. 

POWERWELLS UPDATE 2: building, networking, travel – and a smouldering volcano!

POWERWELLS UPDATE 2: building, networking, travel – and a smouldering volcano!

PowerWells Update 2: Community Consultation Trip Powered By GEM Energy

Building, networking, travel – and a smouldering volcano!

So much has happened for Nick and Brad aka PowerWells over the last month, we scarcely know where to begin this report. In short – the guys have had their hands full!

They have built the first five Wellsons (their amazing fully recycled power generation kits made from recycled solar panels and laptop batteries) to be deployed as case studies for an effective larger rollout in the future. Brad and Nick have found the locals welcoming, organisations such as Dojo Bali well-organised, and the issues with sourcing parts surmountable – things have fallen into place.
They have been learning as much as possible about the needs of remote communities and built strong relationships with locals, expats, aid organisations and social enterprises all around the region.

The first three completed Wellsons are ready for deployment.

They have taken road bikes to where road bikes should not be taken, and have encountered smouldering Mt Agung – a ticking time bomb 75 kilometres north-east of Kuta that has been spewing smoke on and off for the past six months. A more calming highlight was the Nyepi religious festival in March, with a big parade followed by a day for quiet reflection which includes not using any lights or electronics all day – the entire internet across Bali was even turned off for the first time!

Powerwells On Scooters Volcano

Mt Agung looming in the background – the volcano is due to erupt any day

In early April Brad and Nick set off on another travelling stint of their community consultation tour again to deploy their first three Wellsons at meaningful homes. Through their excellent work building relationships, Brad and Nick were able to leave the mobile phone charging stations with three different organisations who will move the kits around to villages and community hubs that have need for them and keep in touch with Brad and Nick. It’s a great way for the guys to an ear to the ground and gather the data they need to ensure the future success of the PowerWells mission.

As to where the Wellsons are currently housed – our guys left Wellson # 4 with the East Bali Poverty Project, an organisation that has been supporting the region for the past 20 years building roads, medical centres, and schools. The Wellson is currently providing light and a phone charging facility in the workshop of their social enterprise East Bali Bamboo Bikes. Once the still predicted Agung eruption occurs, it will be deployed at the evacuation camp built by the East Bali Poverty Project, and then be moved around the province wherever it is needed.

Wellson # 3 went to the NGO IKAN KECIL Foodbank and Community Centre which provides food and other supplies such as dust masks to some of the unofficial evacuation camps that have sprung up around Mt Agung. They are currently focusing on some community building projects in the area and preparing for the volcano’s eruption which is still predicted to happen in the near future.

PowerWells Wellsons deployed at KECIL Foodbank and Community Centre

Wellson # 2 was installed at the Green School’s innovation centre as a showcase for a sustainability event before it will be moved to a remote village in the area. Green School was founded in 2006 and focuses on sustainability, holistic education, recycling, and innovation. PowerWells have made some great friends here, and we look forward to seeing their plans for future partnerships come to fruition!

PowerWells Wellson installation at Bali’s Green School

While travelling off the beaten track, the guys kept coming across may houses that ran extension cables up to a kilometre long from houses with electricity to charge phones, torches, and run lights. Seeing this was great validation – while these houses do not need their power generation kits, it showed them how the houses with electricity act as hubs where the surrounding community congregates. Brad and Nick gained a lot of valuable knowledge about the needs of remote villages from the people and organisations they met along the way.

It was time to expand their community consultation tour eastwards – island-hopping from Lombok to Sumbawa, Flores, and Sumba!

Brad and Nick were lucky enough to catch a ride on the Rainbow Warrior from Bima – Greenpeace International’s massive ship that assists in their various missions around the world’s oceans – and Nick somehow managed to find the time to feature on the Smart City Podcast talking about how to address inequality in remote communities.

We are so proud to support these changemakers on their mission for energy independence in remote communities – stay tuned for updates on their facebook page and via our blog!

POWERWELLS UPDATE 1: Getting busy in Bali

POWERWELLS UPDATE 1: Getting busy in Bali

PowerWells Update 1: Community Consultation Trip Powered By GEM Energy

Getting busy in Bali

For the first leg of their community consultation trip, PowerWells co-founders Brad and Nick have set up their base of operations in Denpasar and travelled around the island to network and meet the who’s who of Balinese recycling, start-up and maker culture. They have sourced an abundance of parts locally and applied a learn by doing approach, assembling several PowerWells microsystems to be installed as trials in remote villages to gather more data on what is needed to make their mission a success.

For those who are playing catch up, the PowerWells journey began late last year at a Hackathon at Logan’s e-waste recycling facility Substation 33. Three guys, all from from very different backgrounds, came up with a plan to combat energy poverty by bringing small-scale, off-grid and upcycled solar and battery-powered energy stations to remote villages in Indonesia and West Papua. The guys worked hard and the concept developed quickly – within three months, a fully recycled power generation kit was designed and tested in an Indonesian village, and $12 000 was raised through their crowdfunding campaign. GEM Energy came on board as major sponsor in February to facilitate the entrepreneurs’ trip to Bali to test the microgeneration power units further and gather more data on how the technology can best serve local communities.

Just two weeks ago, the PowerWells team touched down in Bali to begin their mission. Brad and Nick’s first introduction to the Indonesian start-up scene took place at the start-up coworking space Dojo Bali, where they were warmly welcomed by Brisbane legend Scott Rogers and a bunch of other expats and locals. Their first few days comprised of presenting their mission during one of the “Startups + Social Impact” nights, dealing with flat tyres, celebrating new friendships and local partnerships, as well as gaining insights on local knowledge and street smarts (“how not to be a bad foreigner” and “how not to end up in hospital/jail.”)


To find a cheap, local e-waste source for laptop batteries took some sniffing around, including a visit to Denpasar’s main garbage dump – which was a total reality check. Landfill is, of course, a ubiquitous issue, but developing countries cast a special light on the dire situation of people (and animals) living in dumps. Plastic is the scavenged resource of choice at Denpasar’s dump, worth 40c per large bag. The PowerWells team found no e-waste there, and generally, it seems that Balinese recycling culture is coming along quite healthily with several recycling stations for different materials spread around – great news for this gorgeous island and its gorgeous people!

Brad and Nick finally hit the jackpot after digging through a shopping mall full of second-hand electronics – they found their supplier for large quantities (3000!) of old laptop batteries, for 5000 rupiah (or 50 cents AUD) each.

PowerWells found a home at Bisamake Makerspace, Bali’s newest maker space with an impressive array of machinery including 3D printers and all kinds of tools. There is also a well-stocked retail section with loads of spare parts for the guys to rely on. Brad and Nick are assembling the first lot of PowerWells units for the trial here (as well as in their hotel room). To assemble the second lot of PowerWells units, the rest of the 100 units they have crowdfunded, they are looking to rent a shop next door later in the year.


It seems like some great new partnerships were born for PowerWells over the last week, and Brad and Nick have found plenty of support and helping hands wherever their travels and scooter rides have taken them. One of the most fortuitous connections occurred near Ubud at the amazing eco-village, Sundaya, a showcase for sustainable building and living. One of the residents, Petra, has been providing small solar systems for remote local communities for many years – so there was a lot of common ground to be covered!

Petra put the guys in touch with several people that are now supporting them on their various missions – it’s beautiful how things fall into place when your mission is just.

PowerWells secured help for fieldwork and filming through the IDEP Foundation who do amazing work in environmental education and emergency assistance throughout Indonesia. The other exciting connection is with a local recycling specialist who has been using e-waste for years for solar projects and developing Eco-bricks, which are a brick-like construction material made from waste plastics.

And then Brad and Nick found their plastic bucket supplier from Bali Recycling – another promising contact for future recycling projects! The plastic buckets hold all the PowerWell electronics perfectly.


By now the guys have broken down over 100 laptop batteries and have assembled a number of PowerWells units. They are increasing their initial target of three to spread the community consultation a little wider and get more quantitative data. Key to the success of the whole trip is to gather as much information as possible so they can make well-informed decisions on the design and functionality of the PowerWells units. Plus they might as well use up the components they have on hand!

GEM Energy is excited to follow and champion the PowerWells mission and journey as their official sponsor. We would like to congratulate the guys on their progress so far and wish them all the best for the coming weeks! On ya guys, great work!



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GEM Energy sponsor Brisbane-based renewable energy start-up PowerWells

GEM Energy sponsor Brisbane-based renewable energy start-up PowerWells

PowerWells in papua and indonesia

Scrapped solar panels and laptop batteries combine into power generation microsystems to bring energy independence to remote locations.


For PowerWells co-founders Brad, Nick, and Amatus, it has been a busy three months. The three guys from very different backgrounds (a former town planner, an e-waste specialist, and a West-Papuan tinkerer) met at a Hackathon at Substation 33, an e-waste recycling facility near Logan in Brisbane’s south, in late November. They quickly realised their mutual desire to come up with something that could make a difference to the lives of those in developing communities. Here in Australia, they saw e-waste all around them – major battery dumps, technology and devices merely three years old constantly becoming landfill, and in one of those lightbulb moments – the PowerWells concept was born.

The PowerWells story sounds like a start-up fairytale, which is not to say that it hasn’t been a lot of hard work. In just three months, the three entrepreneurs have formed a partnership, designed a fully recycled power generation kit, tested and finalised the microsystem’s design on-site in an Indonesian village, raised over $12 000 through their crowdfunding campaign to finance the first 100 kits, and – tadaaaaa – secured GEM Energy’s sponsorship for their upcoming community consultation tour to rural Indonesia!

It may come as a surprise to some, but villagers in regions like remote Indonesia use their mobile phones a lot. Just like the rest of us, they like to stay in touch with each other and the world and take advantage of the economic and educational opportunities provided by global interconnectivity. They also use these devices as a convenient way for providing lighting at night – a cheaper option than kerosene, small batteries or candles. In the absence of mains power, people often travel long distances to the nearest town to charge their phones.


PowerWells Installation in rural Indonesia

PowerWells Installation in rural Indonesia


PowerWells are set to change that energy poverty dynamic, unlocking valuable time and resources for remote villagers.

One full charge of a PowerWells microsystem can charge a single iPhone up to 100 times, or up to 50 devices at once. The idea is that a village’s PowerWell will become a similar central point for the community, just like a village well – a place where people come to charge their device and socialise, before taking their charged device and using the power where they need it. The power will also be valuable for lighting up communal spaces at night.


PowerWells lighting up communcal spaces at night

PowerWells lighting up communal spaces at night


The cost for one PowerWell (and yes, the name was inspired by the Tesla Powerwall) is just $120, made up of a single solar panel, a battery pack made from 25 upcycled laptop batteries, and a few other, easily sourced recycled materials.


kids charging phones with PowerWell

Kids in rural Indonesia charging phones with a PowerWell


If you think a PowerWell might even be an ideal addition to your home, so you can say bye-bye to the grid, you might need to think again though. The amount of electricity produced by the kit is comparably small for what we Westerners are used to consuming. PowerWells won’t (yet) be powering fridges or air conditioners. But for remote villagers all around the world, PowerWells will make a huge difference.

The PowerWells concept is a powerful example of energy independence and GEM Energy are excited at the opportunity to support these gamechangers on their mission. For us here at GEM, solar energy is not just a way to make a living, it’s our way of life – we are passionate about renewable energy, and we want more people to have access to it – not just in Australia, but throughout the rest of the world as well.


We are proud to support PowerWells on their Indonesian Community Consultation Trip to ascertain how the power generation kits can best serve local villages.


Stay tuned for our weekly PowerWells updates!


PowerWells Research and Development


Australians all around the country are going solar with their homes or businesses

Check out GEM Energy’s range of solar energy solutions today.