Monthly Archives: July 2010 By the People, For the People

27 July 2010

Since the website’s inception, has been going through an evolutionary process. As we continue to grow due to our partnerships and the contributions/participation of our visitors, we are constantly adapting and modifying the design of As the site evolves, we work with IT specialists and web designers to adapt and improve the website.

Our hits and visitors are growing. Our Alexa rankings have improved significantly. Our website grade on marketing effectiveness is excellent. Our goal for is continued growth due to your involvement. Your contributions will continue to shape this site to where it needs to be. Your participation will help create the final result.

As a business, we have a philosophy of growing a website with the public interest at heart. It is our vision to create an all-encompassing global community with a focus on solar energy, renewable energy, and energy efficient architecture. In our view, is owned by the community. It is a website that has been created by the people, for the people.

If you are interested in establishing a relationship with, contact us and we will be sure to find a place for you. We have also compiled a list to give you ideas of how you can be involved.

Check out our advertising and sponsorship opportunities. Fees and charges for Advertising/Sponsorship have been set to reflect the financial input needed to make the potent force for change it could become and make it truly a sustainable enterprise.

You can find out more information about us at About solar-e.

We also welcome comments and suggestions to better suit your needs.

< Back to Blogs

Solar Policy Takes a Hit

Solar Industry Budget Cuts Announced

They say a day is a long time in solar policy. Over the weekend we saw Prime Minister Gillard announce $370 million in solar industry budget cuts to pay for the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program.

Solar Hot Water was the first target. A total of $150 million was pulled out of the federal government’s solar hot water rebate program, (the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme) with $75 million lost in 2010/11 and another $75 million in 2011/12. This could result in the premature end of that program.

Next the solar industry budget cuts affected Solar Flagships, with $220 million taken from stage one, (with $70 million lost in 2012/13 and a further $120 million in 2013/14). The Solar Flagships program has already been delayed by around a year while industry waited for detail and now funding has been cut.

In addition to the above, more solar industry budget cuts came from changes in the support given to small scale solar (solar hot water and solar PV). Originally the small scale scheme was proposed as an uncapped scheme. When the legislation passed however, a potential cap on support for small scale solar was set at 6 million Renewable Energy Certificates Australia in 2015.

Sounds OK? Not when you consider that in 2009 over 10 million small scale Renewable Energy Certificates Australia were created. (And no, this figure is not inflated by phantom REC’s to any significant degree, as phantom REC’s only started to wash through the system in late 2009). That means that the Renewable Energy Certificates price paid for residential solar could be reduced in the near future. More solar industry budget cuts ahead?

Connecting Renewable Energy to the Grid

On first pass it seemed that the solar industry has had a small win with the government committing $1 billion to connecting renewable energy to the grid. But then we learnt that the first tranche is $100 million over the next 4 years.

The cost of installed High Voltage Transmission lines that actually extend the grid are estimated to be around $1.7 million per kilometre. As it stands this policy is set to deliver less than 15km of new transmission line per year for the next 4 years.

Renewable Energy Feed-In Tarriff Victoria

But good solar policy is being implemented. Last week the Victorian Government committed to a 5% solar target by 2020, and a feed-in-tariff to drive that commitment. It’s a very strong policy – precisely the sort of policy the federal government should be adopting –  rather than solar industry budget cuts they need to be increasing support.

National Target for Solar Energy Supply

For too long the solar industry has been an easy target. Our industry is subject to constant policy change, delay and uncertainty. This is no way to run industry development policy.

What we need is long term stability. First, let’s set out a national target for solar at 5% of electricity generation by 2020 (around 6,500MW of capacity).

Next, put the policies in place that will drive domestic, commercial and industrial demand for solar. The federal government must build on existing State and Territory support for solar, by expanding feed-in-tariffs to include larger commercial and industrial solar.

At the largest scale a competitive feed-in-tariff would be ideal. This is where the projects that help reach the target, and can be developed for the lowest feed-in-tariff are successful.

Next we need to drive down the costs of these solar projects. One important way to do this is through government backed loan guarantees, which act to reduce the cost of project finance.

We have a world class solar resource. We have strong public support. We have proven technology that is rapidly falling in price. It is time we got serious about a comprehensive, long term plan for a solar Australia, instead of being hampered by solar industry budget cuts.

Need a Long Term Solar Energy Plan

Australia’s solar resource is available everywhere, it closely matches demand, and can it be stored and dispatched when it is needed most. If we are all active in spreading this message over the next week or so, perhaps it is not too late to turn the fate of solar around.

Now is the time to speak out.   Get active in online discussions; write to the media, and to your local federal candidates.

John Grimes, CEO   Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES)
Website: Email:

Some useful media addresses follow:

The Australian Financial Review Sydney Morning Herald

Daily Telegraph Canberra Times Courier Mail The Age Herald Sun Adelaide Advertiser Keep letters to 200 words and include your full name, daytime phone number and address.

We need to prevent more solar industry budget cuts. Spread the word that solar needs policy stability now.Click to read related articles on photovoltaics, renewable energy systems, green roofs, LEED and green architects on this blog.

< Back to Blogs

Energy Efficient Business Needs More Stars

25 July 2010

Ray Wills, CEO
Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA)

The WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) welcomes the Labor policy announcement today that will provide tax breaks to businesses that improve the energy efficiency of their commercial buildings.

WA SEA, Australia’s largest energy industry chamber, notes commercial buildings account for almost one fifth of Australia’s energy use.

‘Improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings could easily cut 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions,’ says WA SEA Chief Executive, Prof Ray Wills.

‘The measures announced by Labor today as an election commitment are significant and will create real change in the energy intensity of Australia’s economy. Improving energy efficiency in Australian buildings will improve both business profitability and national productivity, and strengthen Australia’s economy,’ says Prof Wills.

‘However, the measure is overdue and still only modest, not ambitious. We must change the paradigm of wasteful energy use in Australia’s business and aim for the stars – or at least more stars.’

‘The tax break proposed for buildings going from 2 stars or lower to 4 stars or higher must instead be strengthened.’

‘When spending taxpayers’ dollars, we must reward the best outcomes and not the “least best”. In particular, 4 stars is not all that ambitious, and the base for receiving the tax benefit should be at least a minimum 5 Star Plus performance level under the Building Code of Australia.’

‘Further, a graded reward could be applied, with a 25% tax break if the renovated building achieves 5 stars, a 33% tax break for 6 stars, and the full 50% for more than 6 stars,’ suggests Prof Wills.

‘Such measures must be accompanied by strengthened mandatory energy efficiency reporting of the energy use and efficiency that takes in all commercial buildings, not just big ones. Sales and rental advertising must disclose energy efficiency on both buildings to allow the potential owner or tenant to compare the running costs in different buildings.’

‘Eligibility criteria for the tax breaks announced today must include mandatory installation of renewable energy electricity generation, as well as solar water heaters or optionally high efficiency water heating such as heat pumps, on all buildings seeking benefit from this scheme.’

‘And consideration must be given to retrospective application from the date of the election – if start dates for initiatives such as this are delayed, markets will stall until start-up, and the building industry will be stuck in the doldrums of delayed incentives.’

‘Similar measures need to be developed across all Australian governments, and COAG and Local Governments must continue to improve energy ratings of new houses and buildings, with built into all renovation approvals.’

‘Most importantly, the Federal Government must also walk the talk – measures being encouraged for business must be rolled out and demonstrated as a greater priority in government operations. All government departments and agencies must be instructed to increase energy efficiency and install renewable energy on all existing government facilities and other public buildings. Further, the Government must ensure new buildings built on the public purse are energy efficient buildings and powered by renewable energy.’

‘In particular, all Government operations must aim to source 100% renewable energy for their power requirements by 2015.’

‘We must fundamentally change the way we think about energy and how we do business. And we must act,’ says Prof Wills.

Editors notes:

1. Labor statement on tax breaks for green buildings

2. What the world is doing

3. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of enterprises has a growing membership of over 340 industry members from a diversity of businesses. WA SEA is the largest energy industry body in Australia.

4. WA SEA bringing you the Energising SE Asia Conference 23-26 March 2011, Perth.

< Back to Blogs

No Need for Fossil Fuel in 40 Years

24 July 2010

Ray Wills, CEO
Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA)

The WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) welcomes the Greens policy announcement today that “Australia can be a renewable energy powerhouse, harnessing our tremendous resources of sun, wind, wave, earth and human ingenuity to replace our reliance on coal with 100% renewable energy within decades”.

WA SEA, Australia’s largest energy industry chamber, agrees.

While other promises surfacing election consider modest measures for a sustainable future, the rest of the planet is consistently turning to renewable energy to provide power on a scale that is unprecedented in the fossil fuel age.

In a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century on 15 July 2010, renewable generation is now 25% of world electricity generation.

Almost 50% of new generation built around the globe last year (2009) was renewable energy. Globally, about 80 gigawatts of renewable power capacity was built in 2009, compared to 83 gigawatts of fossil fuel plants.

China added almost half of the total with 37 gigawatts of renewable energy last year, making China the world’s leader in renewable energy generation.

Clean energy accounted for 60 percent of new capacity in Europe, and more than half of new power generation in the U.S.

Alternative power now accounts for about a quarter of global generating capacity, or 1,230 gigawatts out of 4,800 gigawatts.

What about Australia?

Australia averages around 8% renewable energy generation (and Western Australia about 5%).

In a year that saw almost 50% of projects in the rest of the world go renewable, as at October 2009, non-renewable electricity generation projects accounted for around 76% of planned additional capacity – according to ABARE data.

Australia doesn’t get it.

‘Australians stand on a beach looking to the sea, seeing off a coal cargo ship and ever hopeful of a new gas reserve offshore, with the sun shining down on us, the wind in our faces, the waves crashing on the shore. It appears we can’t see the renewable forest for the fossil trees,’ says Prof Wills.

‘We must fundamentally change the way we think about energy and how we do business.’

‘Traditional economic commentators and traditional politics is focussed on sticking on the well-worn path, to the middle of the road. With the rush to conservative economics, we are missing the obvious opportunity to Australian markets. Australia is the Middle East of renewable energy and we are failing to harvest the energy bonanza for the benefit of the Australian economy and that will ultimately prove to be to the advantage of Australia’s export industries,’ says Prof Wills.

‘Our nation must ramp up use of Australia’s massive renewable energy resource for the benefit of the economy and all Australians.’

‘We need to take action; the rest of the world is already ahead. Renewable energy sources that will dominate generation in every nation in the 21st Century because renewable energy will deliver on both energy security and on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions’ says Prof Wills.

Editors notes:

1. United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21)

2. Greens statement on 100% renewable energy by 2050 

3. ABARE’s list of major electricity generation development projects

4. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of enterprises has a growing membership of over 340 industry members from a diversity of businesses. WA SEA is the largest energy industry body in Australia.

5. WA SEA bringing you the Energising SE Asia Conference 23-26 March 2011, Perth.

< Back to Blogs