Batteries on new solar panels means they can keep the power flowing even after dark.
Batteries on new solar panels means they can keep the power flowing even after dark. TREVOR VEALE

Solar’s cooking with ... sun

ACCORDING to my friend who mows lawns in the airless centre of the Lismore 'wok', it was so hot the other week that a kind old lady offered him a cold glass of water.

"I don't know what the temperature it was, but you know it's really hot when that happens. That hardly ever happens," noted the Lismore Dad.

Now, after the rain, with everybody frantically needing their steamy patch of green manicured for a perfect Christmas, my lawn mower friend is pretty busy, but he's not stressed. The lawns will be mowed in good time.

As the deadline approaches for the half-price government rebate on December 31, which effectively halves the price on 1.5kw household systems, our local solar energy companies may be feeling the same pressure as my lawn guy.

Solar recently celebrated 'price parity' with coal in many parts of Australia and with the last rebate ripple being felt across the market, the solar industry is really cooking with, err, sun.

While there is no doubt booking your solar system before December 31 will save you money, if you don't have the cash right now, all is not lost.

This week, prime minister Julia Gillard announced the proposal of a new tariff which allows households to sign up for cheap rates at 'off peak' times, if they agree to pay hefty charges during extreme heat or 'critical peak' periods.

However, new technology in solar and battery systems which empower users to store energy for critical periods, mean that solar is looking like the smart money option well into the future.

Although regulations and risk management strategies are in place to ensure that the solar revolution happens as sustainably as possible, history shows that when there is a buck to be made, it's the people at the coal-face who are the ones who face the heat.

Instead of a government-paid public service announcement that implores us all to look out for each other as things heat up, particularly when it involves young working members of our community carrying heavy things on scalding roofs, I thought I'd give leave us singing 'Take The Pressure Down' from national treasure Johnny Farnham.

There is nothing in the song about giving cold drinks to the workers on your roof, but you get the message.


Questions to ask your solar company:

  • What sort of warranties do you offer on solar systems?
  • Will the rebate stand if the installation happens next year?
  • What is your after-sales service guarantee?
  • What battery packages do you offer so that I can prevent paying critical on-peak charges?
  • What payment plans can you arrange?
  • Which brands do you use and where are they made?
  • Do you support our local community with jobs?
  • Do you support the local community with sponsorship?
  • What sort of disruptions and delays can be expected during installation?

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