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Posted by wmmbb in CLIMATE CHANGE.

The solar hot water system, which we have had for about twenty years, has by now probably paid for itself. Like the solar cells not installed it is dependent of the sun, and on coal-fired power for back up and at night.

The question of the Feed-In Tariff, or the price paid for the excess energy that is transmitted into the grid, is important. I wonder about the economics and the relative value given to renewable energy, since the mark-up in my case is 75% with the wholesale price and the FIT are the same.

A better economic return on excess power generated is likely to increase uptake, reduce the time to repay the investment, and stimulate innovation, for example in producing more efficient inverters. If the Federal Government was serious about this aspect of their Direct Action policy they should set standards for the FIT, given the goal is to directly reduce carbon emissions and overall atmospheric green house gases.

As the NASA article has it, “Carbon Dioxide controls the  Earth’s Temperature”. Carbon Dioxide plays the principle role as a thermostat, along with the other gases, including methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. Carbon Dioxide accounts for about 20 percent of the greenhouse gas effect, whereas water vapour and clouds account for 75%. Whereas, Carbon Dioxide might fall as snow in the Martian atmosphere, under Earth conditions, water vapour is a condensing gas.

There are different electrical suppliers offering different mixes of wholesale/retail pricing, but their are as well contract fees. There are better deals on the FIT. The information processing required with the appropriate programs is not beyond the realms of possibility it nonetheless more involved than most individual commercial decision making. There are legal warnings concerning renting solar panel arrays.

The problem is that with privatization and the compete, compete mantra private interest has been placed above the common good. Then, as I understand it, there are technical questions related to the grids capacity to efficiently employ the excess power from solar generation. Then renewable energy is in competition with gas.

The market cannot, I suggest, develop alternative renewable energy sources, and since to my way of thinking their is a ethical and moral injunction to reduce carbon emissions, it is a decision for public policy. This flies in the face of the Abbott Government ideology, and as with climate science it will be conveniently ignored, and policy initiative will not be forthcoming, despite the ancillary economic benefits. A report suggesting that carbon emission goals are not ambitious enough have been rejected.  My conclusion is that they will favor the fossil fuel corporations over developing local innovative business and addressing climate change.

One of my neighbours asked my whether I had done a full study. I admitted I hadn’t , although I suggested some cost benefits.The broader question, given our individuals limitations of knowledge and understanding, is how we can make effective and reliable decisions. We don’t normally engage the range of positive and negative outcomes of risk management. Tim Lynam from the CSIRO considers the different social understandings of climate change along with adaptations and mitigation.



1. OzFenric - November 14, 2013

Wherever did you get the idea that “the goal is to directly reduce carbon emissions”? The goal of Direct Action is to protect the interests of the mining industry and the energy producers in a world where ignoring carbon emissions is becoming unsupportable. Increasing feed-in tariffs does not meet this goal, in fact it hurts the power companies, which is why tariffs have been lowered in most States from their original levels. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for standards for FITs.
A solar power system will still pay itself off, over time. But for the vast majority of householders, the initial capital outlay required makes it unobtainable.

wmmbb - November 14, 2013

There is a need to reduce carbon emissions given that Australia is among the highest per capita emitters in the world, and, I believe, the highest in the OECD.

Affordability is not so much the issue, which is related to the size of the array, the number of panels installed.. The Federal Government’s Solar Trading Certificcates provide a subsidy of around 25 -35%. The real question is daytime usage, and the comparative cost with, for example, gas heating. Peak demand is usually morning and evening.

The FIT is a key issue. There might be a universal price, set independently. The wholesale price of clean energy that fossil fuel energy. I do not underestimate the relative political influence of the corporate energy providers, although there are advantages to them as potential providers of clean energy. So I guess that is a return on investment (and innovation).

I don’t for a minute think that real reductions in ghg’s is a priority for Tony Abbott, but I have to believe that many of his colleagues are not climate science deniers, and it certainly would not be true of the government’s support base.We might assume that other countries will apply pressure to met the minimal goals. Then the aspirational goals of the Direct Action Policy, including solar panel installation, will be subject to closer consideration. So the FIT is a leverage point. As citizens and neighbourhoods we can also take direct action.

I have not great expectations. I felt we had a moral objection to act in a constructive, not simply symbolic way. We will do our best to adapt and use the system to its fullest.


To return to realpolitik, and what we must be ready for, George Monbiot is a relevant source. This will be no picnic. Stay strong.

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