Government Moves To Ban Misleading Energy Discounts

Government Moves To Ban Misleading Energy Discounts

Government Moves To Ban Misleading Energy Discounts


Today, in response to a request by the Turnbull Government, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has introduced a new rule that will prevent retailers from offering discounts on an energy deal if the discount is based on higher rates than the retailer’s standard rates.

This decision follows a major electricity pricing report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which found many of the industry’s discounting processes were problematic and confusing. The Australian Energy Market Commission believes the new rules will stop energy retailers offering “pseudo-discount deals that leave consumers worse off”  – by levying fines of up to $20,000. 

The new rules stop retailers from discounting off-market retail contracts where the base rates – such as usage and daily charges – were well above similar standing offers, leaving consumers worse off than others without discounts. The rules won’t apply in Victoria however, as the state has a separate energy retail code from the rest of the National Electricity Market.

The rule change was flagged by the federal government in late December and will take effect from July 1.

The AEMC has also recommended strengthening the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) ability to enforce how retailers present their offers to consumers.

Big discounts on an energy offer can seem very attractive, but if the discount is only available because the price of energy is artificially inflated, the consumer can end up worse off.

The new rule will prevent retailers from attempting to confuse consumers, providing them with the confidence that a discount is exactly that — a discount.

These new rules and restrictions complement actions already in place to deliver more affordable energy for Australian households, including a rule change requiring energy retailers to notify their customers when their discounts are about to finish or change, a rule change proposal requiring retailers to provide their customers with advance notice of price changes, a rule change proposal to allow consumers to submit self-reads of their energy meters; and a rule change proposal to reduce the time it takes to install new meters.

Solar or no solar, this is great news for all of us still connected to the grid!

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

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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. 

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.

South Australia and Tesla to build world’s biggest virtual power plant

South Australia and Tesla to build world’s biggest virtual power plant

It seems like the South Australian Government really is serious about increasing its constituents’ energy security and affordability. Just a few months after delivering the world’s biggest battery at Hornsdale windfarm using Tesla Powerpack batteries, the South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has unveiled plans for the world’s biggest virtual power plant propelled by solar PV and Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries.

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.

From the FAQ on the South Australian Government’s Energy Plan website:

“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.”

Tesla Powerwall 2 home battery system installed

Tesla Powerwall 2 home battery system

Main objectives of the project:

  • Provide significant cost savings to consumers participating in the program
  • Demonstrate the ability of a virtual power plant to deliver savings to households and improve grid resilience
  • Introduce competition into the South Australian energy market, putting downward pressure on energy prices
  • Establish a new, dispatchable renewable energy power plant, providing energy when it is most required
  • Provide significant employment opportunities for installers and opportunities for involvement by South Australian manufacturers


The $800 million virtual power plant will be financed in stages, with an initial $2 million to be provided by the SA government as a grant, and a further $30 million as a loan from the SA government’s Renewable Technology Fund. The rest of the cost will be covered by private investors.


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.


You too can get solar + storage for your home or businessCheck out GEM Energy’s range of solar energy solutions today.

Elon Musk’s “World’s Biggest Battery” Completed Ahead Of Schedule

Elon Musk’s “World’s Biggest Battery” Completed Ahead Of Schedule

Tesla Battery System South Australia

He bet it all on his reputation and his ability to meet a deadline.

And today, Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of Tesla, has seen a return on his $65.5M dollar bet, as Tesla completed the installation of the energy storage system in South Australia one week ahead of schedule.

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 was awarded to Telsa in July, 2017, after South Australians suffered through a number of major blackouts in 2016/17. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) had warned of further blackouts for South Australia and Victoria in 2017, reporting that without current mitigation strategies, “the balance of supply and demand in these two regions is sufficiently tight that there is a material risk the reliability standard could be exceeded this summer”.

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”.

Tesla Bet

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.


Tesla isn’t just for big players like Neoen and the South Australian Government. You too can go hybrid or off-grid for your home or business. Check out GEM Energy’s range of solar energy solutions today.

GEM Energy’s large-scale commercial solar installation for Industria REIT reaches 75% completion mark

GEM Energy’s large-scale commercial solar installation for Industria REIT reaches 75% completion mark

commercial solar installation

One of the Solar rooftops at Brisbane Technology Park

GEM Energy are currently close to completed on a commercial solar installation across 6 properties at Brisbane Technology Park, owned by ASX listed Australian real estate investment trust, Industria REIT. The innovative 1.0 MW commercial solar installation is scheduled to be completed in early 2018 and will generate around 41% of the sites’ electricity consumption, creating stability for tenants and robust returns for shareholders.

For Industria REIT, the $1.6M capital investment at their Eight Mile Plains site makes perfect sense for a variety of reasons. For starters, the expected financial yield of 15% is double that of the usual yield they gain from buying property.

Then there is the issue of rising energy costs plaguing most Australian states, with Queensland having experienced price hikes of 136% over the last 10 years. Industria REIT will be able to provide valuable stability for their Brisbane Technology Park tenants by keeping electricity rates consistent with FY 2017 prices.

The property trust is also focused on corporate responsibility and increasing their sustainability track record. The commercial solar installation across the 6 rooftops is projected to generate over 40% of the sites’ electricity needs, spelling a sizable reduction of the organisation’s carbon footprint.

Lastly, Industria REIT is keen to future-proof their assets. All of GEM Energy’s solar systems can be expanded, and Industria REIT already have plans to do so by adding more solar panels as well as battery storage after the project becomes fully financially viable over the next one to two years.

Industria REIT's Commercial Solar Installation at Brisbane Technology Park. Components are Canadian Solar panels.

Solar Rooftop at 37 Brandl St, Brisbane Technology Park

Brisbane Technology Park – Commercial Solar Installation Specifications

  • Project Size:
    • 1.0MW of Solar Panels Across 6 Properties

With the installation schedule on track and the first 3 of 6 commercial solar installations at Brisbane Technology Park now completed, GEM Energy’s engineers are monitoring and finetuning the systems to ensure they are working at optimal capacity. The project is one of the largest business park installations in Australia and will be completed in early 2018.

GEM Energy’s National Sales Manager, Aaron Hilton commented,

“We’re really pleased with how this project is progressing to date, and so is the team over at Industria REIT. Given their existing embedded network, installing one of our systems was an absolute no-brainer. We can’t wait to see the results on this project.”

Commercial solar installations have seen significant growth over the last couple of years, including in regional Australia where electricity costs can be even higher than in metropolitan areas. Councils, schools, community organisations and businesses such as Industria REIT are turning to renewables to save money on bills, increase financial stability and become more sustainable.

View more information on this project and GEM Energy’s range of solar energy solutions for your home or business.

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