So­lar power up your farm to save money

Al­ter­nate power sources and how to get the best from them

NewsMail - Wide Bay Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - Peter and Bevly Hughes

THE South East Bur­nett Land­care group has a rep­u­ta­tion for putting on in­for­ma­tion days that pro­vide what lo­cal land­hold­ers want to learn about.

As pres­i­dent Beth Shanks de­scribed it, “with the cur­rent con­cerns over the spi­ralling costs of elec­tric­ity we had to do some­thing to see what al­ter­na­tives there might be.”

Ms Shanks said that many land­hold­ers in the area use ir­ri­ga­tion as an es­sen­tial part of their farm­ing op­er­a­tions and ris­ing costs are hav­ing a se­ri­ous ef­fect on prof­itabil­ity.

So­lar Power Wide Bay Bur­nett, Barry Hunter spoke about dif­fer­ent al­ter­nate power sources and how to get the best from them.

He said that he was not going to dis­cuss costs and prices as each ap­pli­ca­tion is dif­fer­ent and re­quires care­ful assess­ment and plan­ning to get a suit­able in­stal­la­tion that may in­clude hav­ing to up­grade the cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties such as me­ter box.

“Whether it is for the house, shed or ir­ri­ga­tion there are dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments,” Mr Hunter said. “Many of the old tar­iff measures that al­lowed lower rates at times have been aban­doned, and as is al­ways the case with govern­ment or govern­ment con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tions the prices never seem to come down no mat­ter what we are told.”

He said that stan­dard fixed charges are a 30% com­po­nent of the bill and re­main the same no mat­ter how much power you ac­tu­ally use.

Mr Hunter said that one of the big­ger prob­lems in many ru­ral ar­eas is the orig­i­nal in­stal­la­tion of “sin­gle wire

Whether it is for the house, shed or ir­ri­ga­tion there are dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments.

— Barry Hunter

earth re­turn” lines.

Com­monly known as SWER, it is not pos­si­ble to have a feed back into the elec­tric­ity grid from that sys­tem.

Mr Hunter said that any­one on an SWER line will be aware that volt­ages vary de­pend­ing on the time of the day and load.

To get power from a so­lar sys­tem back into the grid re­quires and in­verter usu­ally set at about 255 volts so that any gen­er­ated cur­rent above that level feeds back to the grid.

Mr Hunter ex­plained that with a feed back to grid sys­tem any power re­quired on the prop­erty is used first with any left­over going to the grid.

“A 5kw gen­er­at­ing so­lar sys­tem can fed that back to the grid,” Mr Hunter said.

“You get a feed­back tar­iff up to 5kw, but any above goes into the sys­tem with­out feed­back tar­iff be­ing paid.”

Mr Hunter cleared up a cou­ple of mis­con­cep­tions re­gard­ing so­lar power say­ing that tem­per­a­ture has very lit­tle ef­fect on the amount of power gen­er­ated and that it is light not tem­per­a­ture that gen­er­ates the elec­tric­ity.

PHOTO: ALIS­TAIR BRIGHT­MAN

SAV­ING MONEY: So­lar Power Wide Bay Bur­nett, Barry Hunter spoke about dif­fer­ent al­ter­nate power sources and how to get the best from them.

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