Tag Archives: solar energy

Australian Solar Energy Society and Renewable Energy Costs

Renewable Energy Costs Decreasing – Interesting Times Ahead

The Australian Solar Energy Society [AuSES] executive and Board members are fully aware that 2012 and 2013 will be a chaotic time of change for the world community as far as our economic relationship with energy goes.

Fair Price for Solar Energy

John Grimes, CEO of AuSES at the National Conference Dinner last December made the point that a fair price for solar is the main objective for the industry in the short term, but governments are basically running behind reality.

The price of fossil fuel is set to rise dramatically in 2013 as many peak oil economists are predicting and this will herald a new era for the world. Renewable energy costs are becoming very competitive, with the result that our energy supplies will undergo constant change from now on.

Renewable Energy Costs Changing the World

Due to comparatively low renewable energy costs in mainstream energy supply, it  is set to continue expanding dramatically over the next few decades and continue on way past the end of this century.

Renewable  energy costs are now  so competitive, as Ray Wills of  SEA has pointed out, that within two years (and arguably right now), depending on what figures are used, we will see that the world has already changed for all time. However, some government bureaucrats, academics and many analysts may still be unaware of  how renewable energy costs have decreased. Therefore it is imperative that state of the art knowledge to passed through to these decision makers.

New World Economic System

The old world economic system has been faltering for a while now but many prominent politicians and financial institutions seem hell-bent to restore ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible.

This of course it is impossible and the real winners in the near future will be those who realize that renewable energy costs have changed for the better and start to embrace a new world economic system that replaces many of the failed constructs developed in the 20th century.

It will not be easy. Communication is the key and the saviour will be the internet.

The way people do business has already changed due to the dissemination of information over the internet. Gone already are the large adverts for automobiles. They are all on the web. Real estate has also gone this way, as has a great deal of consumer product merchandizing.

The transition from offline to online advertising can be expensive and therefore solar-e has initiated the Get Solar Campaign.

Ishaan Khanna – Incoming President AuSES Western Australia


renewable energy costs

Ishaan Khanna

In Western Australia, a sign of change is the appointment of Ishaan Khanna as the new WA President of this AuSES branch. He represents a new younger professional intake into the organization.

Ishaan Khanna works as a Senior Engineer within the Smart Grid Development Branch at Western Power Corporation, a transmission and distribution utility, in Perth, Western Australia.

He graduated from the University of Pune, India with a Bachelor of Engineering degree and completed a Masters Degree in Engineering from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.  

His employment experience includes working as a networks engineer for HCL Infinet, a large networking services company in India and as a planning engineer for Unison Networks Limited, a New Zealand electricity utility.

 He also worked with a global engineering consulting firm, AECOM, as a Power Systems Engineer, serving transmission and distribution utility clients worldwide.

Ishaan’s recent experience has been in areas of demand side management applications utilizing Smart Grid and Home Area Networks (HAN), hybrid stand-alone power systems and studying the impact of distributed generation on electricity distribution network. His previous experience has been in areas of project management, asset management, system modeling/simulation, reliability and network planning.

Transitioning to Renewable Energy with Smart Grids

Without smart grids the smooth transition to a higher percentage of renewable energy in the electrical system will be very difficult indeed. Therefore a man like Ishaan is the type of key person needed for this smooth transition to a cleaner energy economy and the utilization of more solar energy in our communities and electricity grids as renewable energy costs fall.

Renewable Energy Costs and The International Solar Energy Society

Over the last 50 years the International Solar Energy Society, now represented in Australia by AuSES, has been at the cutting edge of progress. It embraces not only a generation change within its organization but also staying at the cutting edge of solar matters.

From our perspective, at www.solar-e.com nothing has changed – it has simply speeded up. But in many ways history of the society has been left behind as a building block of the present has been created on these solid foundations of ethics and expertise.

 A new exciting and period of change is already with us.  Those who do not like it are holding back process. Thanks to the decline in renewable energy costs a new era has already begun and the old world is being quickly left behind.

We just need key legislators and champions of industry to realize it and get on board. The train is leaving the station!

See other related articles on this site which may interest you:  energy consumption growth   peak oil solutions and carbon tax


Feed In Tariff WA

What does the future hold for feed in tariffs in WA?  The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia has summarised the outcomes of a recent forum.  Please click on the image to download the full report and feedback from participants.


Feed In Tariff

Forum report Aug 2011

Ceasing the Feed in Tariff WA Will Negatively Impact the Entire Solar Industry

Amongst the key industry messages from the forum is the warning the cessation of the feed in Tariff WA will impact the solar PV industry negatively. The affected industries will be not only the wholesale, retail and installation companies but those supplying and servicing each of these sectors. When policy changes without well co-ordinated transition from one system to the next, entire industries can collapse. In NSW some companies have lost 75% o their staff and job losses in the sector are estimated to be over 3,700 people.

Resetting the Level of Feed In Tariff

The forum discussed setting a fair price and was clear that a level of $0.07 would be seen to benefit Synergy and unfairly impact the consumer. What  is a fair margin on the price of energy?  Back in 2007 APVA suggested a fair price to be between $0.13 and $0.16 per kWh for exported energy. Four years later a fair price for feed in tariff WA should be higher.

Investments Need Clear Policy Directives

Setting different rates for exported energy according to when an installation was made, is seen as unsatisfactory and inequitable to the consumer. To avoid boom and bust cycles the solar industry needs a degree of certainty in policy direction from government. This has not been the case with the policy decisions regarding feed in tariff  WA.

Action to Review the Ceasing of Feed In Tariff WA

Calls to action include an industry and consumer petition for a committee enquiry into renewable energy and feed in tariff WA. The Association would welcome a meeting with state governent officials to present the  view of the solar industry and offer solutions. In all an improved mechanism is called for and a demand that the voice of the consumer be heard on this matter.

The industry is seeking an extension to the feed in tariff WA cap until a longer-term solution can be achieved.


See the full report Feed In Tariff WA and review articles on related topics; solar industry budget cuts, solar energy rebates australia, carbon tax and passive solar homes.



Solar-e.com endorses and commends the efforts of John Reed in establishing SOLARDAY 2011 across the United States of America and promoting its incorporation into the calendar of other countries throughout this amazing world that is our home.



This type of focus is just what we need to make the general public throughout the world more conscious of the need for a 21st century solar economy as fast as possible.

For Wise Earth P/L (our parent company) and its staff and management, every day is SOLARDAY!

Therefore, we take seriously this brilliant and visionary promotional idea.  The next 20 years (up to 2030) will be the most important time for human action on Climate Change, in adapting to it and abating it in the medium and long term.

Now is the time the planning for our sustainable energy future.  There really is no choice eventually.

We are absolutely convinced through our own research via our networks of imminent experts throughout the globe, that we need to go solar as fast as possible.

Instead of burning our cheap precious fossil fuels on ‘business as usual’ type developments and maintaining the ‘old fossil fuel economy ‘as long as possible, we really need to be using this cheap energy to produce as much solar energy utilization as possible and every other year from hereon, while it is still abundant.

It then can gain a critical mass and begin to replicate itself before our cheap fossil fuel is wasted.

Solarday 2011: How to get involved

To help get the message out there about SOLARDAY, the following is a personal invitation from John Reed to be involved and a media release for SOLARDAY 2011’s events.  Also here is a list of the contributors and participants of SOLARDAY 2010’s event.

We recommend that you personally, as a non-profit, commercial enterprises and government authorities get on board with this and look at practical and effective ways of networking with solar-e to achieve exactly what this day has already become, and representing a potent symbol of the type of society and economy we need to develop.

I think that all societies and associations should get involved with this initiative.  We need cooperation and collaboration and teamwork to pull off intelligent change.

This should not be a competition!  It is our kids and grand children’s future we are helping to create.

Let’s applaud John Reed’s initiative and get on with it!


Garry Baverstock AM

Solarday 2011 Letter from John Reed

Solarday 2011 Media Release

Solarday 2010 Participants

SolarDay 2011 letter from Doris Matsui from the U.S. Congress

Governance and Solar Energy Interview

An informed opinion by Gary Burke to a basic question by Garry Baverstock AM

Gary Burke is a sustainability strategies consultant, specialising in sustainability-framed economics, and at the time of this article was in the process of finalising his PhD. Gary is also an accomplished musician. He has spent a lifetime thinking and investigating how our economy should be based to maximize true wealth and happiness.

Question by Garry Baverstock

What is stopping the mainstream use of solar and renewable energy?

After many discussions I asked Gary, why he thought governments have not supported a comprehensive switch back to a solar economy, when it is obvious for sometime now that this planet is in a dangerous position due to depleted of many energy resources and fossil fuels, and the huge looming disaster of Climate Change?

Here is Gary Burke’s eloquent response.

Key Issue

For me, the key governance issue is ‘why has solar and renewable

energy not already been implemented?’


The Political/Economic System

The answer is that the systemic parameters that establish the ‘viability’ are inherently non-sustainable. This is a legacy of the dominance of neoclassical economic theory in the policy world; neoclassical economists dominate treasuries and their way of thinking is about as realistic a medicine was in the 19th century when they would use leeches to bleed people as a cure for most illnesses.


What is Sustainable and Understanding the Terminology?


To help clarify the situation, I draw a conceptual distinction between ‘non-sustainable’ – which is system-based – and ‘unsustainable’ – which is behavioural. Using this distinction, we can differentiate between strategies that are needed to remediate behavioural unsustainability (e.g. dumping pollutants in rivers) and systemic non- sustainability (e.g. assessing renewable energy as unviable). Non- sustainability requires policy, institutional and epistemological change — i.e. changes in the way we think about things.


The Solution


The solution is to move towards sustainability, but the problem is that the notion of sustainability has been arrogated by economists, so that, even supporters like you, don’t like to use the word.


So governance for renewable energy means both creating a policy framework that can accommodate the complexities of the real world as we now know it (e.g. biophysical limits to the planet, peak oil, butterfly effect, etc), but also there needs to be a disarrogation of policy from the economists who believe everything has a bottom line measurable in dollars and cents. I argue in my dissertation that when sustainability is disarrogated from neoclassical economists (e.g. abolish meaningless and thought-corrupting concepts like natural capital as representations of nature, human capital as representation of human potential, and social capital as a representation of community development), then a sustainability-framed economics becomes possible.


In other words, with a sustainability concept designed to accommodate complex and dynamic systems, then we can ask ‘what sort of economics do we need to help us manage in this context?’ So, instead of saying ‘is sustainability economically viable’, we assess economic policy to see if provides sustainability.


Switch of Priorities


This ‘mental switch’ of priorities, then makes the governance of solar and renewable energy very viable because it stands up when considered in a sustainability context.


I detail such a sustainability policy framework in my dissertation: it is derived from biophysical parameters and limits, sustainability principles (e.g. precautionary principle, intergenerational equity, cultural respect, etc), processes that accommodate complexity and dynamic ‘learn as you go’ strategies, and perspectives that acknowledge that humans are able to, and need to live and work with nature in ways that enhance well-being on the planet.


This is not pipedream stuff; there is plenty of literature about theory and practice of these aspects: reflexive governance, adaptive management, transition management, community engagement, action research, green accounting, etc. The problem has been that sustainability has been approached with an economic interpretation, rather than as a multidimensional, multifaceted systems phenomenon. I call it the ‘Tragedy of Economism’ because policymakers have simplified the complexity of the issues, and they have arrogated the concept of sustainability, in ways that suit their simplistic, unrealistic, methodologically corrupt approaches to economic management.


Therefore, solar and renewable energy strategies are dismissed as being unworkable. I argue that neoclassical economics is non-sustainable and needs to be reconceptualised, and accounting systems recalibrated to accommodate what is really going on in the world. I detail how this may be done in my dissertation.


Change is Possible


For those who think it is impossible to change, consider the changes made in public health since the end of the 19th century when germ theory was finally accepted after decades of denial: disease was no longer thought of as ‘humours’ from air-borne spirits, but from bacteria in dirty water. The response was a massive investment in

public health and hygiene: engineering, education, social reform… Or consider the abandoment of phlogiston theory in the late 18th century which was still taught when Adam Smith wrote ‘The Wealth of Nations’. Not only did phlogiston theory provide a false account of how the world was constituted (phlogiston was an imagined substance absorbed from the sun and released in combustion as flame) but it also caused scientists to be wrongly focused on trying to understand fire – because it was one of the key elements of the Aristotlean paradigm. When oxygen was isolated (or de-phlogisticated air, as it was known), a group of aware chemists realised that a totally new language and

scientific paradigm was needed to accommodate the world as they now knew it. Hence, the elements of modern chemistry, the periodic table, etc.


This paradigm shift was not done easily, or without conflict. It required a group of dedicated scientists and practical realists to insist that chemistry needed integrity that matched current understanding.


The other example of paradigm change that is particularly relevant to renewable energy is the abolition of slavery. Although the argument for the abolition was essentially a moral and ethical one, the main argument against it (which is pretty well forgotten now) was an energy-based argument. A slave-based economy had become dependent on a source of ‘free’ energy (ie the slaves): surely the economy would crumble if slaves were freed and people had to pay for labour?! It didn’t because correct, moral and ethical decisions create stronger communities and hence, more confidence to engage in economic activity. The collective guilt is lifted and people lighten up.


The parallels with the renewable energy debate are obviously similar: if renewables became mainstream a whole lot of collective guilt would be lifted and people could get on celebrating life and helping to enhance the gifts that life brings.

Paradigm Shift


I argue that a similar paradigm shift is needed to countervail the dominance of the inadequate and iatrogenic neoclassical economic paradigm. I demonstrate in my dissertation how this is best done in a free enterprise economic framework, but one in which sustainability frames the viability of investments.


Without the paradigm shift, and the concomitant change in thought processes, the implementation of renewable energy will be considered unviable because the economic framework that is doing the viability assessment is itself non-viable. Without the shift towards a sustainability policy framework, platitudes and generalisations about more education, government support, etc will continue to be made. Arguing for renewable energy in the contemporary policy framework that is dominated by neoclassical economic arguments is to remain trapped in a cul de sac. The same arguments emerge time and again. Check out the history of renewable energy organisations and movements; pull out the ‘barriers to renewable energy’ research that was done 20 years

ago. It is all there. The problem is the implementation gap that exists because renewable energy cannot be deemed economically viable in an inherently non-sustainable framework.


The good news is that a paradigm shift can be done merely by changing our way of thinking. If we believe that we are homo sapiens, then surely thinking differently is one of the key survival strategies of our species.


The other example of paradigm change that is particularly relevant to renewable energy is the abolition of slavery. Although the argument for the abolition was essentially a moral and ethical one, the main argument against it (which is pretty well forgotten now) was an energy- based argument. A slave-based economy had become dependent on a source of ‘free’ energy (ie the slaves): surely the economy would crumble if slaves were freed and people had to pay for labour?! It didn’t because correct, moral and ethical decisions create stronger communities and hence, more confidence to engage in economic activity. The collective guilt is lifted and people lighten up.

The parallels with the renewable energy debate are obviously similar: if renewables became mainstream a whole lot of collective guilt would be lifted and people could get on celebrating life and helping to enhance the gifts that life brings.


Gary Burke presents his views in a talk entitled: ‘The Tragedy of Economism: How economists are thwarting effective sustainability policy’ in April, 2011 at Curtin University in Western Australia. Please email www.solar-e.com for further details.

Further reading of Gary’s work on this subject is available in the repository section of this web site.