Generating electricity from the sun is a cost effective alternative to electricity generated from fossil fuels. However, what about when the sun goes down at the end of each day? Can you still generate electricity, or do you have to rely on power from the main grid?
Without solar batteries to store excess power generated during the day, the excess is usually fed back into the main electricity grid. By doing this, you receive a credit on your next power bill from your power company. However, this credit most often paid to you at a far lower rate than the saving you could have made if you’d used the energy yourself. So wouldn’t it be better to cut out the main grid altogether and store your solar power for use at night or cloudy days?
Storing Excess Solar Power for Later Use
Many people aren’t home when most of their solar power is generated – during the day. They come home at the end of a long day at work, and that’s when electricity usage increases. By storing all that solar power in batteries, you’re able to take advantage of all the free electricity your solar panels generate. Once the sun goes down and solar energy production stops, your home will switch to using the power stored in the batteries, making your solar energy system much more efficient and cost-effective.
The Best Reason to Use Battery Storage
When your solar energy system generates more power than you use, it feeds back into the main grid, and you’re paid for it in the form of a credit on your power bill. At night, you’ll need to use power from the main grid, but you’ll pay much more for it than what you were paid for your excess solar power. This means you’re buying back your own energy at inflated prices. A much better way is to store your own solar power in batteries and use it at night.
Reduce Your Dependence on the Grid
If you have a solar energy system installed, it makes no sense to have your excess solar energy fed back into the grid. After all, you switched to solar power to save money. By using batteries to store your excess power, you can drastically reduce your power bills and become almost independent from the main grid, which, let’s face it, can be overpriced and unreliable.
What Size Battery Do You Need?
When considering battery storage for your solar power, you need to speak to an expert who can work out the best size for your needs. It’s not a case of buying the biggest battery; the best battery for you is one that stores just enough solar power without overflow. Both residential and commercial solar energy systems can benefit from battery storage, with commercial batteries needing to be much bigger for increased energy storage.
Expert Advice from the Solar Energy Professionals
No matter what your energy needs are, battery storage is becoming the most efficient way to take advantage of free energy from the sun. Talk to GEM Energy about all your solar power needs. Call 1300 969 471 or contact us online.
Switching to solar power has many advantages, not just for those who choose to make the switch, but for the entire planet. Solar power is an efficient and clean alternative for residential and commercial energy purposes, which has seen a surge of new technology and awareness by governments and consumers in recent years.
Free and Clean
Energy from the sun is plentiful, clean and free. Solar panels and inverters turn sunlight into usable electricity without combustion, smoke or other greenhouse gases – or using any other source of power to transport it. Once you’ve installed and set up your solar panels, all the electricity created from the sun is free, greatly reducing your utility bills and carbon footprint.
Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal are non-renewable sources of energy, as well as major contributors to pollution and climate change. The more we use them, the costlier they become to extract from the earth, causing damage to the environment. By using solar energy to power your home or business, you’ll be reducing your dependence on our diminishing and expensive fossil fuels.
Harnessing the sun for solar power is a quiet process. There are no moving parts and there’s no noise pollution. Unlike a noisy, smelly power plant, solar panels quietly get on with the job of making energy.
Solar technology continues to advance and improve, so it’s easy to add new technology to existing solar energy systems. Solar panels can be installed in almost any configuration for maximum efficiency when electricity needs increase.
Easy Installation and Low Maintenance
Installing solar panels is a relatively easy process. There’s no need to find extra room since they work best on your roof; an area that isn’t used for many purposes. Once installed, solar panels require very little maintenance, needing only occasional cleaning of the glass panels and a regular inspection.
Solar panels can be a huge benefit in remote communities. Once installed, they quickly generate electricity by themselves. The cost of installing solar technology is much lower than the cost of running electricity out to very remote areas. Farmers are now using solar panels to power pumps that supply water from underground, reducing the need for high-maintenance windmills that won’t work unless it’s windy.
Government Incentives and Rebates
There are now government incentives and rebates available for residential applications. They subsidise the upfront cost of installing a solar power system. The more the prices come down, the less government subsidy you receive, so it pays to speak to an expert when you want to switch to solar power generation.
Switching to Eco-Friendly Solar Power
When you’re ready to make a change for the better and install a solar energy system, speak to GEM Energy. We can provide professional advice on the best way to move forward. Call us on 1300 969 471 today or enquire online.
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.
“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.
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 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 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 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.
How virtual power plants work – Image credit: Government of South Australia
The virtual power plant will be a state-wide network of solar panels and battery systems with the capacity to power about 20% of South Australia’s average daily electricity requirements, or about 75,000 homes. The virtual power plant will offer 250MW capacity and 650MWh of storage, adding competition to the market and thereby reducing electricity bills for consumers.
Private homeowners signing up for the program are set to save about 30% on electricity bills while also getting some protection from blackouts. A major benefit of this new home energy technology is the Powerwall 2’s ability to keep powering your home even when the grid is down – as long as the battery is charged.
At least 50,000 South Australian homes, about half of them public housing, will be fitted with solar PV + storage systems by 2022. A trial has already started with several hundred public housing properties having the systems installed at no cost to the tenants. The solar systems consist of one 5kW solar PV system with one 13.5kW Tesla Powerwall 2 battery per household. The intention with this early rollout is to lower costs for those who need it most while benefiting the wider community through the generation of more renewable energy to shoulder the daily power demand.
“Although 1100 homes will have the home energy systems installed as a part of the trial phases of the program, their power will be aggregated through the virtual power plant software and the benefits distributed to all Housing Trust tenants that sign up. This will model and demonstrate the expected operation and value of the broader system and provide data to stakeholders and investors about how the virtual power plant will work.”
The independent solar electricity network will be privately owned and operated, with a variety of ownership and financing structures available to private households. Tesla will be responsible for the installations, while a suitable retailer to handle customer liaison and billing will be found after the initial trial stages.
Dubbed by many as the “world’s largest lithium ion battery”, Musk (think electric cars and living on Mars), French renewable energy firm Neoen and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherilll collaborated to bring the battery storage system from concept to completion in record time. The system is made up of Tesla Powerpacks, which have the capacity to store 100MW of energy produced by the nearby Hornsdale Wind Farm (privately owned by Neoen).
To put that into perspective – the battery system can power 30, 000 homes for an hour, or 100 homes for an entire 24 hours.
The project gained a lot of attention in the media, as Musk and well known Australian entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes (Atlassian) engaged in Twitter banter that saw Musk commit to the delivery of the project within 100 days “or it is free”.
The SA Government’s stake in the game comes in the form of significant government investment, including approximately $50M in taxpayer money. But don’t worry – in exchange, the Government and the residents of South Australia will be able to use some of the output of the battery to provide stability for the grid. The battery will also present a cheaper option for purchasing energy when supply-demand pressures and price hikes become unsustainable
The battery is just one of several measures announced in the Premier Weatherill’s broader $550 million energy plan, seeking to address supply shortfalls, soaring prices and concerns over security of the electricity grid.
Testing is expected to be conducted over the coming days, as the battery is scheduled to be completely operational by the December 1 deadline.