90 MW registered in October, 2GW installed to date; Solar's most phenomenal occasion. Best Solar photo of the month.
Solar Market Intelligence

The Solar Black Hole
(and light outside the tunnel)

There were three recent major events in Australian Solar. One was a surprise (Combet's early reduction of solar multiplier), another had been coming for months (reaching the 2GW threshold), the other had been coming for millenia (the total solar eclipse). And we can expect each to continue: governments will still make arbitrary decisions that will slow but not stop the next solar threshold, and not even climate change will prevent the next Australian total eclipse from happening (in 2023). 

It is impossibly difficult to describe the beauty of experiencing a total solar eclipse. Most that have seen one would agree that it was the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen. And no picture of video, nor vision of partial eclipse can prepare you for the magnificent sight of a solar eclipse. For though both sun and moon are only as large as a fingernail held at arms length, their impression seems to stretch across the entire sky when they perfectly align.
Those who have seen a partial eclipse might wonder what all the fuss is about. For even when 99% eclipsed, the sun is too bright to look at and the image of a crescent sun can only be seen through eclipse glasses that block out the rest of the eclipse's magic. As totality approaches, an eerie soft light descends, an effuse glow. But it is only at the moment of totality that the sun reveals its true splendor, it's corona visible to the naked eye, stretching out across the sky. Awesome may be an overused word but it should certainly be reserved for such occasions, for a total solar eclipse is an awesome sight to behold, awesome in the truest sense of the word. And more than just a sight, for the experience is bigger than a fingernail, it stretches across the sky and beyond any visual representation.
Those who seen a solar eclipse are sure to feel elated, and certain to have fallen in love with the sun. The sun we love to sunbathe in in summer, love to warm us in spring, love to watch rise and set, love when it creates rainbows (and sundogs and northern lights). The sun that is responsible for life on earth. It's a shame more of our elected leaders didn't see the total eclipse, for had they done so, they may have been reminded of the suns beauty, that our food depends upon it, that almost all of our energy is derived from it, and of the simple elegance of creating electricity directly from it.
The next solar eclipses in Australia will be in 2023 (only in Exmouth WA), 2028 (NT, QLD, NSW, includingSydney), 2030 (SA, NSW, QLD), before passing over Uluru and Byron Bay in 2037. By that stage there will be solar power on every Australian roof. I'm not sure the forthcoming Australian solar energy forecasting service will account for the infrequent but highly predictable effects of the eclipse, but for those that are interested here is the impact of the eclipse on some solar power systems, here's a graph of the output of Queensland PV systems, as anlysed from PVoutput.org systems - you can see the distinct dip in output and subsequent fast recovery due to the 6:38am eclipse. 

The government's announcement was unfortunate for PV companies who have come to rely upon the pre-July sales rush to survive for another half-year. Though there will be a small boom in the coming weeks, and installers may work over Christmas, the announcement's timing will rob many homeowners of a chance to get a PV system installed in time. As distinct from the 5x-->3x multiplier reduction which occurred when there was plenty of stock in the country, the surprise timing of this announcement will make stock availability a significant constraint. Its also another example of why arbitrary ministerial changes should be avoided - with investors in PV likely to pull out or hold back from the market. We can only hope the RET Review removes such powers of adustment to the multiplier and Clearing House price.

As SunWiz Insights subscribers were first to discover, Australian PV system installations reached a cumulative 2GW in October. Registrations (which lag installations) were steady at 90MW in October. However, these figures were buoyed by Victorian registrations, which represented 25% of the national market in October. The next few months will likewise be buoyed by the installation rush in November and December, so registrations won't drop off as far as they did last year. However, January will be a slow start to the year for most. Notably, the trend towards larger systems continues, driven mainly by people making use of the 5kW cap that applied in Victoria and Queensland. But life in a post-incentive world looks like a lot of smaller systems, if NSW and WA are anything to go by. It may be that attention turns to SA (and ACT when its FiT is legislated).

PV Market

  • Last month saw 90MW of PV registered across Australia, a slowdown from the peak of June/July but equivalent levels to September.
  • There were 13 systems larger than 50kW registered in the preceding three months, but only 2.5MW worth of systems exceeding 30kW.
  • Almost all of the USA's proposed development of utility scale PV(122 projects totalling 21GW) will be crystaline silicon; thin film isn't looking popular.
Want more information? Subscribe to Insights

STC Market

  • STC creation has fallen back to 570k/week, but is equivalent in level to the same time last year, and expected to rise on the back of Combet's announcement.
  • Weeks 44 & 45 of this year saw exceptionally low levels of trading, following the highest trading volumes reached to date in late October
  • The liable entities already hold sufficent volumes to meet their Q4 liability, but next years STP will be influenced by the 2012 installations (and lag in their registration).
  • The weekly and monthly STC creation tally are displayed on our website - check in regularly.
Want more information? Subscribe to ClearView.  

Solar Hot Spots

Of the postcodes with more than 500 installations, the following areas have the highest penetration of owner-occupied detatched dwellings:
  1. Postcode 4511 (Godwin Beach QLD) with penetration of suitable dwellings of 50%
  2. Postcode 4552 (Maleny QLD) with penetration of suitable dwellings of 46%
  3. Postcode 5171 (McLaren Vale SA) with penetration of suitable dwellings of 45%
  4. Postcode 4555 (Palmwoods QLD) with penetration of suitable dwellings of 41%
  5. Postcode 5351 (Barossa Goldfields SA) with penetration of suitable dwellings of 40%
Want to know which postcodes have the most PV in recent months? The largest system sizes in recent months? Where is solar hot? Subscribe to Solar Hot Spots.  

PVsell News 

We've made the following additions to PVsell over the last month:
  • Released a feature called 'PVupsell' which helps your or your customer choose the best system size.
  • Released a feature called 'Multiplier Move-on', which shows your customer why they should get an installation from you before 1st January.
  • Added an 'inputs used' sheet to (optionally) be printed. Soon to follow will be a tailorable disclaimer, and detailed proposal template
  • Plus many other tweaks and improvements.
Want to close more sales in the next month. Subscribe to PVsell.

SunWiz Activities

In the last month, SunWiz has:
  • Performed analysis of the Commonwealth electorates with most solar power installed for 100% Renew and ASC, which lead to our highest website traffic ever
  • Represented the solar industry after being invited by the Climate Change Authority RET Review Roundtable, and made a follow-up submission
  • Performed system design and grid connection applications for 2x 50kW systems.
  • Identified the best system size to meet a sites base load, which turned out to be 500kW rather than 2000kW.
  • Performed system design and line diagram creation for ten systems in the range of 1-5kW.
  • Some very exciting things I can't tell anyone about.
  • Extended a custom calculator of PV financial outcome
  • Performed numerous evaluations of PV financial outcome, using PVsell to identify the best system size and panel orientation.
  • Experienced the Total Solar Eclipse with clear skies inland from Cairns

To learn more about what we can do for your solar business, visit www.sunwiz.com.au

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Great Solar Pictures

This is a great time lapse exposure of the solar eclipse, which began just on dawn. The cone of darkness during totality is also visible.

This is a great map of the total solar eclipses that will pass over Australia in coming decades.

Copyright © 2012 SunWiz, All rights reserved. 

Show your customers a much bigger ROI under a 2x multiplier, with PVsell's new 'multiplier move-on' feature

Getting a move on gets you a far bigger return
Get a 'move on' to get a bigger ROI!
PVsell helps you convince your customer to act

Close Sales Fast
with PVsell's "Multiplier Move-on"

Though you may not like working over Christmas, for PV companies this is the last opportunity to make use of a surge in sales interest. The more sales you close now, the longer you'll be able to survive the inevitable quiet period that will follow.
The good news is that PVsell can help you close sales under the 2x solar multipier AND help you sell in a post-incentive world by proving the financial returns to your customer.

Multiplier Move-on: Selling under a 2x multiplier

This new PVsell feature compares the financial outcome if the customer secures a 2x multiplier, versus what they'll get if they delay action. As shown in the screenshot below, this can mean up to 2years longer payback for a small system, and much lower return on investment. Such information can easily convert a lead into an immediate sale - and it takes less than 2 minutes to enter the information PVsell needs to perform this analysis (and all of its other functionality shown below). 

PVup-sell: Sizing and selling in a post-incentive world

This new PVsell feature helps your customer choose the PV system size that best meets their needs - both for residential and commercial customers. For the selected systems it calculates the key financial variables, allowing you to choose the best tradeoff between bill reduction and payback/return. For example, a 1.5kW system may have the best ROI, it may not reduce the customers bill enough; but the payback on a 5kW system may be too long for the customer's hurdle rate. In this case, PVsell shows that a 3kW system has acceptable payback, pleasing IRR, and results in smaller bills. PVsell thus also helps you avoid reputational damage from disappointed customers, by ensuring you can deliver what you promise.

PVsell helps you make a truly compelling PV Sales Pitch

Your Ultimate Solar Sales Tool - Commercial & Residential 

Other Features

Used by over 300 Australian solar businesses (increasing daily), SunWiz's PVsell has been shown to dramatically increase sales, particuarly with discerning clients. 
How? PVsell convincingly communicates in the language commercial clients understand: financial outcome. It graphically displays results that are compelling and believeable, helping your financial outcome

We're proud to announce that PVsell is now in the cloud. This makes PVsell in-field accessible to iPads and mobile devices, helping you close sales in the field. 
The best part is that from $450/year, it can pay for itself in a single sale.

Here's some of its features:

  • Calculations: Export, Payback, ROI, LCOE, NPV, IRR.
  • Load Profiles: Residential, Configurable, Uploadable
  • Tariffs: Default FiTs, Flat Rate, TOU, Demand Charges, Escalation
  • PV Performace: Degradation, Adjustable for installation conditions
  • Financials: Tax, Depreciation, Lease Periods
  • RECs: Automatic STC & LGC calculation, correct GST accounting.
Learn more about PVsell at www.pvsell.com.au
A glimpse of the PVsell dashboard:

Click here for more information: www.PVsell.com.au

Copyright © 2012 SunWiz, All rights reserved. 

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November 2012: 2GW PV Milestone Aligns with Total Solar Eclipse
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Solar Market Intelligence
Cumulative Australian PV Installations reached the 2GW Milestone in November 2012.
Shown is the cumulative level of sub-100kW installations. At least 45MW of installations larger than 100kW in size can be added to these figures

Australian PV Milestone

(SunWiz performs monthly in-depth analysis of the REC Registry to provide a market intelligence for its PV Insights subscribers. Through careful translation of STC certificate creation volumes, SunWiz is able to provide the market-leading indicator of PV activity with confirmed accuracy. Our market intelligence captures information earlier than the quarterly releases by the Clean Energy Regulator, which have significant lag and exclude systems pending registration.)

November 2012 will be remembered by Australian sunlovers for two noteworthy events: 1) a solar eclipse visible across most of Australia, and 2) the month cumulative Australian PV installations reached 2GW (equivalently 2,000 MW or 2,000,000 kW).  This threshold has been reached in previously only-dreamed of rapidity, and has been paradoxically accellerated rather than decelerated by the removal of government incentives. (Politicians take notice, there are tens of thousands of solar voters in your electorate.)

Take for example the case of Queensland. The graph below shows Clean Energy Regulator data released this time last year (red dotted lines), compared with the finalised figures once all installations were accounted for (solid red line), compared with installations registered so far this year. A few things are noteworthy: 1) July-December 2011 were very steady, at comparably low levels; 2) installations in January-June 2012 were significantly greater than at the same point last year, even before all installations are accounted for. So what led to these conditions, and how is this relevant to today?

Well, last year's reduction in solar multiplier (from 5x to 3x) set off a significant surge in installations, which pulled forward customers that might have otherwise bought in an orderly fashion, plus many that might never have bought solar but wanted to maximise their use of available government incentives. In the first half of this year, Queenslanders began to suspect that soon-to-be-Premier Newman would axe the feed in tariff - this suspicion alone was sufficient to cause people to start people buying, then this year's multiplier reduction (from 3x to 2x) accelerated the market. Fearing an overheated market, Premier Newman confirmed Queenslander's suspicions and slashed the feed-in tariff, but not before nearly 100,000 people had applied for it.

Such behaviour plays out internationally as well as locally (witness SA, VIC, WA, and NSW), and can be easily understood in terms of human behaviour. Most people are happy to wait for a better deal, knowing that PV prices are likely to continue to decline. However, when governments remove incentives, people will act very quickly to ensure they get the best possible deal. The nature of the SRES and state feed-in tariffs has been for steep step-declines in incentive levels that have in all likelihood resulted in more PV installed now than might have otherwise been the case. 

So today's 2GW milestone should not be taken as evidence that no further support for PV is needed; to the contrary, PV retailers in many states are struggling to re-write business models to accommodate lower volumes now that the second-last boom has bust. There will be much less work once the backlog of Queensland systems are installed, and SunWiz/Solar Business Services' Forecast suggest 2013 volumes may only be half their 2012 level (predicted to exceed 900MW this year), with South Australia (the only major state with a reasonable feed-in tariff) to eliminate its tariff in Q3 2013.  Today's milestone provides evidence of the need for a smarter way to gradually and incrementally reduce PV support in line with market conditions, rather than causing another bust by creating an incentive-reduction boom.

This is important in today's context. The Climate Change Authority is seeking a way to contain SRES costs (SunWiz was honoured to be invited by the CCA to represent the PV industry at its RET Review roundtable). We have argued that the solar booms have been caused by tariff and multiplier reductions which have (finally) almost played out, but the CCA is still fearful of an overheated PV industry acting to impact on retail electricity prices (even while it acknowledges that the impact is offset by a near-equivalent reduction in wholesale electricity prices). However, the main problem with the CCA's proposal to apply a solar 'divisor' to the entire system capacity (not just the first 1.5kW) is that it will need to be fore-communicated by the minister well in advance so that the PV industry can advertise updated pricing to new customers. The minister will need to guess at the level of divisor required to 'tame' the industry, even when the market conditions shift faster than the minister can respond. The reduction but is likely to be infrequent and thus aggressive (without any ability to undo the divisor). History has proven that, given this warning of steep reduction in incentives, demand for PV will spike, creating an installation rush followed by a bust.

To avoid this scenario playing out, what is needed is a more gradual adjustment - some ideas being considered by the industry include the STC price (which would behave differently if the SRES had a soft, rolling annual cap), or annually reducing the deeming period from 2016 to coincide with the RET's end in 2030. We would prefer there to be no change to SRES, particularly because SRES's contribution to electricity prices has peaked; but if a change must be made, the entire industry would prefer to avoid a perpetuation of the boom-bust that plays out when a steep reduction in incentives occurs. We have written to the CCA arguing that small-commercial PV is unlikely to materially impact electricity prices and should be retained within the SRES, that perpetually adjusting incentives to push paybacks beyond 10 years will leave nobody to maintain systems or meet warranties on existing systems, and that the solar divisor is a blunt instrument that will be counterproductive.

Whatever happens, there must remain an incentive to use accredited product and installers, and to register systems so we can bring you good news like today's. For with 2GW on the grid, PV now has a material impact upon the electricity market (in which 25-50GW of generation may be active at any time). To successfully operate the market, the Australian Electricity Market Operator (and its participants) need detailed understanding at 5-minute intervals of the volume and performance of PV. Beyond a forecasting excercise, intimate knowledge of PV output behaviour is required, which is why SunWiz invests a lot of time in understanding PV performance, and in tracking how much PV is connected to the grid, and the relationship between deployment and government incentives. We'll even be watching the impact this month's solar eclipse has on solar panels across the nation (and the eclipse's effect on the solar panel we'll be taking to the path of totality). How eclipsed will you be? Find out here, or see the image below. 

Subscribers to SunWiz Market Insights discovered this month:
  1. How much PV had been registered in October nationally and in each state
  2. The average size system in each state, plus the most popular system sizes in each state
  3. How many new applications are flowing through in Queensland
  4. The prices of systems in each capital city, and how'd they'd changed over the past few months, through SunWiz analysis of Solar Choice Market Insights
  5. The volume of PV panels imported in recent months, and from where they came
  6. Large-scale market intelligence, including the volume of systems over 30kW (and who's installing them), and what prices have won recent tenders
  7. Characteristics of the USA utility-scale market
  8. Solar Hot Spots, including how each state is faring compared to last year, and where the stable and growing hot spots are in each state.
If you also want to enjoy some sun-loving fun, read this blog post by Nigel Morris.

SunWiz passionate advocates of the PV industry, representing its interests and contributing to the industry through dialog and studies for the Clean Energy Council, Australian Solar Council, Australian PV Association, Solar Energy Industries Association, 100% Renew (regular donor), and the Australian Energy Market Operator. Warwick Johnston received the AuSES Award for Industry Contribution and Leadership 

SunWiz Activities

To learn more about what we can do for your solar business, visit www.sunwiz.com.au

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Copyright © 2012 SunWiz, All rights reserved. 

86 MW registered in September, the town of Warwick (QLD) a solar hot spot;  Discovering a forgotten paradise, great solar pictures
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Solar Market Intelligence

Solar Market Synopsis: October

Australian PV system registrations fell considerably in September, following a general downturn in the market. A downturn was expected after the reduction in solar multiplier drove installations into Q2, but registrations in Q3 were buoyed by the closing feed-in tariffs in Queensland and Victoria, and by the lag between intallation and registration. Overall, 84 MW was registered nationally in September, a 15% fall from August, and 27% lower than the registration peak in June. September was a quieter month in all states other than Victoria, who managed to register the same volume as the previous month. 40% of recent system capacity went into Queensland, with Victoria at 25%. However, registration in both states is expected to decline considerably over coming months.

In Q3 last year, NSW registration plummeted as the backlog of approved systems were finally installed ahead of the multiplier reduction. This effectively sucked the life out of the state, which languised for 12 months.  So, perhaps the least-worst news is that NSW has finally recovered from the valley of death that followed its installation boom: Registration figures in Q3 2012 were higher than those for the same period one year ago, though still lower than those figures of Q3 2011. A one-to-two year setback must also be considered as possible in Queensland, where 9 months of pre-registered interest was created at the closure of its feed-in tariff. Anecdotally, NSW companies used to selling in the absence of a feed-in tarff are making new sales more easily in Queensland than local companies, but the industry remains dependent upon the SRES to sustain itself as it weans itself off transitionary support provided by the solar multiplier.

As a result of the wind-back in feed-in tariffs, people are moving back towards smaller systems in NSW and WA, which could be considered a less efficient outcome for the environment. This trend is countered by those seeking to make use of the last remaining feed-in tariffs to install a larger system. However, once such installations run out, we may see all states return to smaller systems. This has two impacts worth noting - 1. it increases the competitiveness of the PV industry due to the low barriers to entry, and 2. it removes the state-policy counterbalance to federal policy settings over the past six years that have advantaged lower-quality product.

PV Market

  • Last month saw 84MW of PV registered across Australia, a slowdown from the peak of June/July.
  • >20% of Queenslanders recently chose a 5kW system, largely due to the ending feed-in tariff. By contrast those in states without feed-in tariffs sell 5kW systems only 7% of the time.
  • The PV industry continues to be highly competitive - the top 20 PV retailers and STC-creating wholesalers only account for 40% of the market
Want more information? Subscribe to Insights

STC Market
  • STC creation has been fairly steady at about 700k/week, but STC trading has noticably fallen in volume
  • Demand (purchases) for newly created STCs has fallen considerably in recent weeks, influencing the STC price.
  • With just over one week before the Q3 surrender period closes, liable entities already hold sufficient STCs, and the banks hold enough to meet liable entities Q4 requirements.
  • However, 6 liable entities remain short of their expected liability.
  • The weekly and monthly STC creation tally are displayed on our website - check in regularly.
Want more information? Subscribe to ClearView.  

Solar Hot Spots
Of the postcodes with more than 500 installations, the following areas have the largest average system size:
  1. Postcode 2680 (Griffith NSW) with an average system size of 4.75kW
  2. Postcode 4564 (Marcoola QLD) with an average system size of 3.52kW
  3. Postcode 4370 (Warwick QLD (woohoo!!!!)) with an average system size of 3.35kW
  4. Postcode 4213 (Mudgeeraba QLD) with an average system size of 3.34kW
  5. Postcode 2620 (Queanbeyan NSW) with an average system size of 3.32kW
Want to know which postcodes have the most PV in recent months? The largest system sizes in recent months? Where is solar hot? Subscribe to Solar Hot Spots.  

SunWiz Activities

In the last month, SunWiz has:
  • Presented to a standing-room-only audience at All Energy on the topic of how PVsell can help you close more commercial PV sales, more quickly and more accurately. Thanks for your feedback, people are loving what PVsell is doing for their business.
  • Designed an interactive dashboard for a PV distributor that helps them find new clients and better service their existing ones.
  • Some very exciting things I can't tell anyone about.
  • Extended a custom calculator of PV financial outcome
  • Performed numerous evaluations of PV financial outcome, using PVsell to identify the best system size and panel orientation.
  • Discovered remnant old-growth forest in a hidden valley in Northern NSW

To learn more about what we can do for your solar business, visit www.sunwiz.com.au

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Great Solar Pictures

This is a photo showin a combination of atmospheric effects caused by sunlight interacting with high-level ice. Its caused by the refraction and reflection of sunlight through geometrically-arranged ice crystals (like 'icebows').
For those reading this far, next month I'll be viewing the most amazing sun-phenomenon: a total solar eclipse (my fourth), in Cairns.
Sun Dog
Copyright © 2012 SunWiz, All rights reserved. 

100MW registered in August, Top 20 only create 30% of STC market, Teaching dad to surf
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Solar Market Intelligence

Solar Market Synopsis: September

PV Market

  • Last month saw 100MW of PV registered across Australia, a slowdown from the peak of June/July.
  • This means in excess of 540 MW has already been installed in 2012.
  • Analysis of Solar Choice pricing information shows that economies of scale are apparent: the gross (pre-STC) $/W of a 1.5kW is 25% higher than the $/W of a 3kW system.
Want more information? Subscribe to Insights

STC Market
  • STC creation has fallen back to 700k/week, whereas STC trading continues to grow in volume
  • STC creation is finally lower than demand (purchases) for newly created STCs.
  • Small STC creators are representing a growing portion of the market. Those outside the top 20 creators now account for almost 70% of creation
  • The weekly and monthly STC creation tally are displayed on our website - check in regularly.
Want more information? Subscribe to ClearView.  

Solar Hot Spots
  • The ABS 2011 Census data is being analysed to reveal newly emerging demographics favourable to solar uptake.
  • The data reveals that nationally 1 in 10 occupied dwellings now has a PV system. However, 16.7% of solar-suitable dwellings (owner occupied detached/semi-detached) now have PV.
  • Penetration is highest in SA (28% of suitable dwellings), compared to 11% in Victoria.
Want more information? Subscribe to Solar Hot Spots.  

SunWiz Activities

In the last month, SunWiz has:
  • Rallied the troops to make a submission against the Queensland Competition Authorities preference for gross metering in their issues paper.
  • Put through its final paces a cloud-based version of PVsell, and delivered training to highly-engaged new clients.
  • Presented at East Solar 2012 on Lessons from the Leaders of solar power.
  • Developed a customer-specific commercial PV financial calculator.
  • Assisted the APVA with its RET Review submission.
  • Designed a 1 MW off-grid PV power station which is extensible to 2 MW or 5 MW.
  • Co-authored the Clean Energy Councils Australian solar power report.
  • Successfully arranged for 4x 50kW systems to be connected to the network in three different distribution networks.
  • Taught my father to surf by pushing him onto waves at Byron Bay

To learn more about what we can do for your solar business, visit www.sunwiz.com.au

PVsell Demonstration & Training Solar Outlook 2013 Solar Market Synopsis: August PVsell Launch
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