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Solaray Energy Director Jonathan FiskWith record Australian solar photovoltaic (PV) sales last year, Sydney-based installer Solaray Energy reports that one in five inquiries come from people concerned about faulty or failing solar PV systems.

Solaray director Jonathan Fisk said his company last year received hundreds of inquiries from people with several-year-old systems that were poorly designed and not working well. “Up to 20 per cent of our inquiries at the moment are coming from people with a faulty, failing or poor-performing solar PV system,” he said. 

“The problem is that too many systems used poor quality equipment or were poorly installed to keep the price down. Over time, these systems start degrading or failing, leaving many consumers with no recourse or remedy as often the installers have long since left the market. This, combined with the problem of DC isolators - fundamentally flawed safety devices that were not designed to be on the roof for 10 plus years – leads to even more performance and safety issues. DC isolators are now the most common cause of solar-related fires in Australia.”

Solaray Energy, the 2020 installer of the year for microinverter manufacturer Enphase Energy, revealed this high level of consumer concern after Fire and Rescue NSW reported incidents of solar-related fires in NSW had increased more than 500 per cent during the past three years. FRNSW data shows firefighters attended 139 solar panel fires last year, compared to 56 in 2019 and 22 in 2018.

Duncan Jacklin Blue NRG BW WBlue NRG General Manager Duncan JacklinBusiness-only electricity retailer Blue NRG has partnered with Australian smart energy innovator carbonTRACK to provide its customers with tools to remotely monitor and control their energy consumption.

As of February 2021, Australian-owned and operated energy retailer Blue NRG is offering its business customers access to carbonTRACK’s Energy Management System to help them reduce their electricity bills.

The carbonTRACK Energy Management System equips businesses to monitor and control their energy use by identifying their unique usage patterns and enabling them to optimise that use.

Blue NRG General Manager Duncan Jacklin said the carbonTRACK Energy Management System would provide customers with transparency and control of their energy use. “We’ve grown rapidly based on competitive rates, value-added energy services and local customer service,” he said.

Cameron Penfold Paul Fletcher and Tim Harris W(From left) Optus Retail’s Cameron Penfold, Federal Minister Paul Fletcher
with Redflow MD Tim Harris and Redflow batteries

Australian energy storage company Redflow Limited has partnered with Optus to deploy Redflow batteries as part of the Australian Government’s network Mobile Network Hardening Program. The Honourable Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher visited Redflow’s Brisbane headquarters to launch the initiative, which is funded in part by the Government’s bushfire relief package.

Minister Fletcher said: “I welcome the fact that Redflow’s innovative Australian technology is being used by Optus in their mobile base station battery upgrades, funded under the Morrison Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) program.”

Earlier this week, Optus installed its first Redflow battery system under the Government’s program at a black spot site in Lexton, Victoria.  It is planning to deploy Redflow batteries in at least 56 black spot sites as part of the program. Optus has also used Redflow batteries in the environmentally sensitive Daintree Forest in Queensland since 2019.

Leith Elsegood, principal of Redflow WA partner, TIEC ElectricalWA stockfeed supply company Semini Custom Feeds has ordered a 60-battery Large Scale Battery (LSB) – Australia’s largest Redflow-based energy storage system - to cut its fuel and energy costs by 80 per cent.

Working with Redflow’s WA partner, TIEC Electrical, Semini Custom Feeds expects the 600 kilowatt-hours (kWh) system to cut its costs by about $120,000 per year based on current expenditure on diesel, maintenance and mains power.

The Redflow LSB is a powerful integrated system for deploying as many as 60 Redflow zinc-bromine flow batteries in large energy storage systems, delivering as much as 600kWh of energy storage capacity and comprehensive redundancy capabilities. Once the Redflow LSB and 400 kilowatts-peak (kWp) photovoltaic (PV) solar panel system is deployed, the family-owned business, located at Cowaramup, 260km south-east of Perth, near Margaret River, will also eliminate its need to buy electricity from the grid. The design aims to mitigate 80 per cent of the diesel and servicing costs and all costs for grid-connected services.

The Semini Custom Feeds order is the latest success for TIEC Electrical and Redflow in the WA agricultural sector. Last year, TIEC installed Redflow batteries at multiple rural sites including a WA orchard that has beaten bushfire blackouts and a rural “dream home” that has saved more than $100,000 by not connecting to the electricity grid.

Semini Custom Feeds CEO and Managing Director Jack Semini said the Redflow batteries, coupled with PV solar panels, would greatly reduce the company’s operational overheads. “Once TIEC has set up this system, it will greatly reduce the amount of diesel we need, which will be good for both our profitability and for the environment,” he said.