Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Who Owns The Sun?

And it's here. The big-business model of energy distribution has realised that rooftop solar PV is fucking with their profits, and just like in the USA and Spain, they're turning the screws.

Australian Utilities Behave, Predictably, Like Fuckwads

The difference here -- so far -- is that in Spain, the government has caved completely, and the USA isn't far behind, with various states (particularly Arizona) passing bylaws and generally shitting all over small solar PV.

Spain's Solar Stupidity

Spain Privatises The Sun

Let's Tax The Sun

Utilities Vs Solar in Arizona

The battle lines are pretty clear. On the one hand, there's us -- the people and the environment, all of whom will greatly benefit if we can decentralise the grid and enhance solar production. On the other hand, there are the big fucking utilities which depend on a captive audience... and there are the big industries, which cannot possibly supply their own needs through solar power, and are therefore dependent on the centralised production model of the big fucking utilities.

It's going to be a very ugly fight. Right now, sitting on my refrigerator there is a note from our local big fucking utility -- Aurora Energy. The note says basically that they have to study our application for solar PV for site suitability, etc. They give absolutely no suggestion of when this 'study' is going to occur, but according to them, we cannot move ahead on our installation without their authority... whether or not that happens in the time frame we've allotted for renovations.

We're renovating in late December, it would seem. If we have to install the solar PV separately, there will be considerable additional cost: men and machinery that would have been here already if we could do the installation at the same time as the renovations.

I figure Aurora is counting on that kind of thing, of course. The more barriers they can throw in front of people, the longer they can preserve their outmoded, nineteenth-century business model.

The question is this: what are we going to do about it? Because it does come down to us -- you, me, anyone and everyone who uses electricity. Are we going to continue being crucified by coal and oil?  Will we go on complacently letting these monopolies dictate how we lead our lives by controlling the electricity we need?

I don't plan to sit still. I'm a little caught up in things at the moment, but sometime very soon, Aurora is going to be catching a hell of a serve from me.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. If you don't plan to connect your PV panels to their grid, they have no excuse to be involved at all.

    The changes in QLD have led me to the thought that when we do solar for our place, it will be off grid. Even if the batteries don't happen for a while, or happen at relatively low capacity. I want 12VDC circuits and lights through the house, too. I don't want a system whose size is fixed by an expensive inverter installed with someone's grudging forbearance, I want to be able to extend incrementally and build my own features, like sun-position-tracking.

  2. I feel the same way about small nuclear reactors. Big Oil is terrified of tiny nuclear reactors providing cheap, abundant power to the People.

  3. Don't forget the other way they'll frell you. Current bill $1000, double old bill with 5kW of solar installed to have no bill. Can I have Soft Easy & Comfortable back? ie SECV

  4. :( bit too close to comment properly
    There are relevant technical & safety issues to be considered.
    The economics is messy when looking what the pricing structure should be.

  5. Look -- I have a degree of sympathy for the utilities. This model has worked for them for a century or so. But times are changing. Yes, there are tech and safety issues. But our Dear Leaders haven't shown any particular sign of changing our central power systems over to renewables -- and it's becoming increasingly easy to do solar at the end-user level.

    Sorry. The utilities are going to have to face up to exactly what steam engines faced. The model is changing.

    I fully expect the utilities to try and stop it. I've yet to see any organisation anywhere embrace its own obsolescence. But the ongoing increase in reliability and decrease in cost of solar shows no sign of falling away. In fact, since its only the last five years or so wherein research has really taken off, I'd say we've got another decade of refining to go. If current trends continue, by 2020 a typical rooftop installation will easily power the average household, and it will cost about a quarter of what it does now.

    No amount of shouting about technical and safety issues will change that. Very simply: the existing utility firms are going to have to restructure, and reconsider. We'll still need distribution and storage, because the sun doesn't shine at night, and because demand is variable. A company which handles distribution, storage and maintenance as its major income stream, and perhaps operates a couple of hydro stations to buffer peak load conditions -- that's a company which will do very well for itself.

  6. Edison tried to suppress alternating current because he controlled direct current, even though direct current was abysmally inefficient and outdated. He tried like a son of a bitch to convince the world alternating current was unsafe. He even electrocuted an elephant, arguing "see how dangerous alternating current is?"

    But I digress. Back to the point: solar power is totally unsafe. The risk of falling off of your roof and killing yourself outweighs any other advantages.

  7. I was looking at this report today for work

    Not bad. Some good numbers and some discussion of the technical & safety issues.

    Imagine a few homes in an area with solar panels all come on at once.
    1kW is 1000 Joules/s - enough to heat 1litre of water 1 deg c (correct me if I am wrong).
    10 homes all come on at once when the cloud clears. Power is already flowing to cover what is being used.
    Where does this excess energy go? Well there is gear for that but someone has to pay. There are limits to what can be achieved.
    all this is doable, but it needs to be organised and the gear paid for,