Renewable Energy FAQs
Click the energy questions below to open up our energy answers...
What is a Feed in Tariff (FiT)?
A feed in tariff is what you are paid by your electricity company for power that you send out to their network. This used to be measured (metered) either by gross production or net production. Gross metering no longer occurs in Australia.
What is Gross and Net metering?
Gross and net metering refer to how your solar power is measured. Gross metering is no longer used on new installations.
Gross metering is when ALL the power your system produces is sent directly out to the power grid (powerlines), then you use your power as per normal. Gross metering was used in NSW and Queensland on early installations.
Net metering is when the building uses any power produced first and only the excess power (the power being produced that you don’t use) is sent out to the grid.
Who are our network providers and what is their responsibility?
There are many network providers across the country. Here in Albury Wodonga we have 2 network providers to deal with. On the Victorian side it’s Ausnet Services and on the NSW side it’s Essential Energy.
Network providers are responsible for maintaining the electricity network (electricity grid). One of their most important roles is to ensure that the grid remains balanced, not too many voltage drops and rises as these can be costly (For more details, see ‘What are voltage drops and rises?’)
What’s the difference between retailers and network providers?
Network providers are those in charge of maintaining our poles and wires – the power network. Here in Albury Wodonga we have 2 network providers, Ausnet Services on the Victorian side and Essential Energy on the NSW side.
The retailer is who we buy our electricity from. There are 18+ retailers in Victoria and New South Wales, and they can also vary from state to state. Retailers must apply for a licence in each state in order to operate.
There are also retailers who generate power. They are called Gentailers. One example is RED Energy, an electricity retailer that also owns the Snowy Mountain Hydro plant.
What are voltage drops and rises?
Voltage rises and drops happen all the time in our electricity network. They occur within a safe range. Our network providers manage the peaks and troughs. Rarely they might go outside the acceptable range, often only for a split second. When this happens the network operators are called in to adjust the transformer on the network so that everything is balanced again.
What is baseload power?
Baseload power is a term used when talking about a minimum of power usage – power that is being used all the time, either at a generator level or a household level.
At a generator level, it relates to the minimum amount of power that must be created at all times to meet demand. There has been concern about renewables not being able to generate enough power at times required to meet baseload requirements. For example, solar doesn’t produce power at night time. However, we are realising that, with the uptake of household solar PVs and solar hot water, plus the introduction of other renewable technologies, our baseload power is changing shape. This is where battery storage will come into its own where power can be drawn as required.
At a household level, this is the power that is used while you are not home. Most appliances are switched off, with the exception of fridge, freezer and items left in standby mode.
What are reverse auctions?
Reverse auctions are new to the Australian energy market. This occurs at NEM (National Electricity Market) level. It’s where generators will put in a bid to sell their power on the NEM and the lowest price wins.
The ACT was the first to introduce the reverse auction concept with Victoria and NSW expected to follow suit shortly.
What is the difference between grid connect, stand alone and hybrid solar?
Grid connect solar is when your renewable energy system is connected into the electricity network. You have the network as your power source when your renewables are not producing.
Stand Alone power is when you are completely self-sufficient power wise and not connected to the electricity network at all. You will have a renewable energy source such as solar PVs) and a battery bank to draw from at night. You would also have a backup generator of some description for times when weather may hamper the amount of power produced from your renewable system.
Hybrid power is a combination of the above. You are connected to the grid, but also have a battery set up. This power management allows you to use and store solar during the day, then draw down from the batteries at night, thus reducing your reliance on the grid. However, the grid is still there as your back up. There are basic hybrid systems and then there are smart hybrid systems. The basic system will not prevent you from having a blackout if the grid fails, but the smart system will provide you with continuous power in those circumstances.
What is community energy?
Community energy is an approach to renewable energy development that involves the community in the development and ownership of energy generation. There are various models of community energy. It’s about picking the right model for the application. But above all, it’s about community involvement in decision making.
If I want solar for my house or business what do I need to know?
If you are looking at installing a solar system for your house or business, you need to engage a solar/energy professional who will analyse your bills and work out the best system to suit your needs and goals.
You will need to have approximately 1 years’ worth of bills. This will allow the solar/energy professional to see how much power you are using in a 12 month period, at what times and in which seasons. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t but it does help.
You will also need to know what it is that you are wanting to achieve. With the end of large feed in tariffs, it is hard to eliminate your electricity bill completely but you can make a pretty good dent.
Do you want batteries? Are you looking at installing a pool? Are you looking at selling in the next 5 years? These are just some of the questions you may be asked.
What else would you like to know?