Is Solar Energy is More Expensive in the USA than in Australia?

Is solar energy to more expensive in Australia than it is in the US? The answer is no. Once you have a solar system installed the cost of producing energy is virtually zero no matter whereabouts on the planet you are. Where the big differences come into play is at the beginning. The cost of buying solar panels and then having them installed is another matter. There are two costs involved in the process that is going to do most of the damage to your bank account. The first one is the cost of getting the permits necessary from government authorities to install the PV system. The other cost which regularly blows out in the US is the cost of the installation.

If you are installing a standard system in the United States, it’s going to cost you close to double to have it up and running on your roof than the same system will in Australia. Most of this extra cost is going to be charged first of all by the companies selling PV systems. And in the final hit to your bank balance will be done by the installing company. Surprisingly, in the US market, it might be cheaper to go and build a utility-scale solar plant than it is to put one on your roof at home.

More profit equals higher costs to somebody.

Experts consider the reason why US installers charge margins up to 65% profit, against around 26% for their Australian counterparts is due to heavy competition in the Australian market. Even with a markup of 26% Australian installers like Eurosolar and Truevaluesolar are doing very nicely thank you. Another factor they say is driving down prices in Australia at the moment is the large utility companies. They pay what is called a “feed-in” tariff for home based solar systems putting excess supply back into the grid. Until this year the feed in tariff was close to what the utility companies charge their customers for power. As of this year, most of these feed-in tariffs have dropped by up to 95% for home suppliers.

The dramatic drop in feed-in tariffs in Australia has meant that people are less inclined to install a solar power system for their homes. To counter this, the energy supply companies have raised the price of electricity for domestic consumption by over 300% in recent years. None of these types of massive fluctuations has occurred in the highly regulated US markets. Another primary cause of the recent drops in the price of installing home solar systems has been advances in technology and manufacturing. Smaller panels are now more efficient than they were even two years ago and they can be manufactured faster and cheaper.

Advances in technology mean lower costs.

Experts in the area are currently stating that with the current technology in panel design and manufacture, prices probably cannot go much lower. Some of these price drops have been truly dramatic, in 2011 to 2012 the price of installing a PV system in Australia decreased by 14%. There have been price drops of up to 80% in four years for some PV systems generating less than 10 kW. This kind of drops has allowed a dramatic increase in the number of systems being installed which means much more work for installers.

The amazing thing about Australian uptake of solar systems is that it is virtually an unsubsidized marketplace. Regardless of that, Australia is still one of the three cheapest places on Earth to buy and install a solar system. Some heavily subsidised countries, like Japan and France, are considerably more expensive still. When you start looking at getting a solar system installed, the installing company will talk about two different types of costs involved, hard costs and soft costs. Hard costs which represent nearly 50% of the total cost are the hardware, labour and the like. Soft costs are things like permits and fees, taxes and the installing company’s profit margins.

In Australia a lot of savings are being made in the soft costs area, the Federal government has regulated some of the taxes and fees away from other authorities and streamlined the system. The dollars involved do not sound revolutionary, but saving nearly 90 days on an approval permit is a significant saving. Statistics suggest the soft costs involved in countries like Italy, Australia and Germany are about 40% minimum and up to 60% cheaper than the same expenses in the United States. Compared to Australia of course, the market in the United States is potentially huge. Australia had about a six-year lead over the United States with its regulations and experience, in 2013 the United States started closing this gap rapidly.

Record installations every year.

2014 to 2015 saw the United States install a record 3300 MW of PV system power. That translates into the US market growing from just over $8 billion a year in 2011 to a whopping $11.5 billion in 2013. On top of that, in 2013 California introduced a subsidy system for PV systems. This forced down the price of PV systems by 15% in that state in the first six months of 2013 alone. Other than subsidies, if US regulators seriously decide to drop the soft costs currently charged solar installation companies and homeowners. They will then seriously push down there now extremely expensive installation costs.

Mostly due to the low installation costs and to the high feed-in tariffs that have been available up until now for Australian homeowners, Australia has the highest per capita uptake of solar PV systems. In mid-2016 approximately one in seven homes in Australia has either solar, wind generators or both. About 16.5% of Australian homes are running some renewable system with 15% being estimated as solar. The nearest rival to 16.5% uptake is Belgium which has a current absorption of just under 5%. One thing, however, should be noted, just because the country has the most solar panels does not mean it produces the most solar power. A lot of the systems installed in Australia have only a small output. Most of these smaller systems are 1.5-5 kW in capacity. A typical air-conditioner can use up to 2 kW to run.

Solar panels and global warming

From the time of Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, fossil fuels came to forefront as the primary source of energy to cater to the ever increasing demand. Petroleum, natural gas and coal constitute the primary fossil fuels. Easy availability of coal closer to the surface of the earth, its ability to be used without any further processing positioned coal as the best candidate for producing electricity, power railroads, steam engines, and even ships. This was followed by the petroleum revolution in the 19th century. Fossil fuels have made significant contributions to the global economy though it is being looked upon as a villain of peace in the 21st century. However, it is also true that enormous amounts of fossil fuels burnt over centuries have created severe impacts on the earth’s atmosphere. In turn, this has compelled global leaders to sit up and take stock. According to Euro Solar Global, they have now found the answer in renewable energy in the form of solar power, and wind power to lead the next round of global energy revolution.
The sun is a huge source of sustainable clean energy without the toxic pollution from fossil fuels impacting global warming. In this article, we examine the various beneficial impact of solar energy on global warming and how this perennial source of energy can influence factors that affect climate change.
Thermal plants are also known as CSP (Concentrating Solar thermal power stations) and PV or Photovoltaic cell based solar power systems constitute two broad categories under solar energy. Environmental impact in both the systems can vary significantly depending on the technology employed. Habitat loss, water use, land use and hazardous material used in manufacturing are among the major areas of concern. Another important factor is the scale ranging from the small rooftop solar panels to larger scale CSP and PV projects.

Land use/habitat loss

For the large scale solar projects, location is a major factor that could influence habitat loss and land degradation. The area of land required would also vary depending on the technology employed, topography and intensity of sun rays. About 4 to 10 acres is the estimated area requirement for a utility scale solar system based on PV cells to generate 1 MW of electrical energy. In the case of CSP, the area requirement can go right up to 16.5 acres for every MW that is produced.
Wind farms have the opportunity to share the land for agricultural use, but solar projects have lesser opportunities in this direction. However, land use concerns can be minimised or eliminated by identifying low-quality locations like abandoned mining sites, Brownfield, existing transmission/transportation corridors, etc. Smaller systems built on rooftops too will have minimal impact on land use.

Water use

The PV based solar cells need no water for generating electrical energy. However, some amount of water is utilised in the manufacturing process of various PV components.
On the other hand, the CSP plants do need water for the purpose of cooling, as with other thermal electricity generating plants. The cooling system employed location of the plant and plant design will determine the quantum of water used. CSP plants using wet-recirculation technology combined with cooling towers draw about 650 gallons water for every megawatt of electricity produced. CSP plants using other cooling technologies do bring more water though the overall water consumption pegs lower in the absence of water lost in the form of steam. Although dry cooling is an option for the CSP plants, it is not a viable solution.
Given that Australia receives the most sunshine in a year, there is vast potential to tap this never ending source of energy for domestic as well as commercial use. Once this happens, scarce water that is used in thermal power production can also find use in other areas like agricultural production. The transition can bring multiple benefits like increased agricultural production, reduced carbon footprint from coal-based power generation and above all, a cleaner environment for the population.

Hazardous material

The process of making solar PV cell includes several hazardous materials, and most of them are used for purifying and cleaning the surface of the semiconductor. These are the same chemicals used by the semiconductor industry and include sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, nitric acid, acetone and trichloroethane. While the quantum and type of chemicals used vary depending on various factors, workers do face certain associated health risks. Disposing of these harmful wastes is, therefore, a concern associated with the proliferation of solar power systems.
Technological advances have also brought into focus thin-film photovoltaic cells that carry more toxic material significantly compared to the traditional PV cells. Thankfully manufacturers enjoy a significant financial incentive in recycling these materials since they are expensive and some of them even rare. Any residual waste needs careful handling in the interest of public health and environmental concerns.

Global Warming Emission and how solar energy reduces greenhouse gases

Although global warming emission is absent in the production of solar energy, other stages involved in the life-cycle of solar systems including transportation of materials, manufacturing, maintenance, installation and decommissioning does require a certain amount of emissions. However, most of these emissions are in the range of 0.07 to 0.18 pound of CO2 equivalent for every kW of power produced. In the case of CSP, this range moves to 0.08 to 0.2 pounds. In both instances, these emissions are significantly lower compared to 0.6 to 2 pounds per kWh in the case of gas-based electricity production and 1.4 to 3.6 pounds per kWh in the event of coal-based power production.

How do solar panels reduce greenhouse gases

Solar energy produced with the help of solar panels significantly contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The cause of climate change is greenhouse gases, and when we overload the environment with these emissions, they, in turn, cause a steady rise in the earth’s temperature. The consequences are not limited to climate change alone, but also impact our health adversely.
The continuing supply of raw material (sun rays) free of cost, and the clean energy derived from the sun make a strong case for further proliferation of solar systems around the globe. Every individual and business can make stellar contributions towards reducing global warming and thereby help the cause of climate change by adopting solar energy as the primary source of all energy needs.

Furniture Removalist – How They Made My Moving Easy

moving truck

I would like to share my personal experience on relocation. I went through the mixed feelings of enjoying my promotion and sad for moving to another state. The Immediate biggest challenge for me at that time was moving to Adelaide. Hiring furniture removalist has helped me to overcome the challenges and changed my way of thinking poorly about moving interstate especially with the association of family and kids.

There are times when we are not in absolute control of our future. This morning, when I reported for work, I was asked to meet our CEO. My performance was above par, and as head of sales, my team was always riding above the set targets. So, the CEO had little or no room for anything negative. I could not help that mild palpitation when I knocked on the CEO’s door. Something was waiting – good or bad? Well, the CEO was quick to break the ice, and he said, our Adelaide division needed someone like me because the company’s performance could be improved with more focused direction and involvement. Obviously, there were perks attached to the proposal to move from Melbourne to Adelaide called for plenty of homework and planning.

That evening I broke the news to my family and the first thing my wife reminded me about was the timing. Yes, we had two school going kids and therefore, finding a new school in Adelaide for the kids and the timing the move itself to suit the start of the next school term was essential. We decided that I will spend the first month alone in Adelaide while my family stayed back to complete the school term.

The next big tasks were finding our new home in Adelaide and moving from Melbourne. My employers were kind enough to find the new home for us and provide the logistics for the move. That was about half the job done, and we still had to do many things for ourselves. We have been in Melbourne for nearly a decade and over time added a significant amount of furniture to our household. Some of them were expensive and acquired with great passion, and some others had their little stories to tell. One night my wife mentioned that while scouring the internet, she noticed that there are specialist furniture removalists apart from the general removalists. Honestly, we had never thought of such a service and were only planning to speak to some of the public removalists.

My wife decided to set up a meeting with a couple of furniture removalists the following weekend since I was also visiting my family over the weekend. From the discussions, we learned many things which we had never really given a thought. The following is a gist of the conversations we had with our furniture removalist.

1. Preparing the furniture
2. Creating an inventory and estimating the time needed to dismantle the furniture and make them for movement
3. Selecting tools needed for dismantling
4. Prepare packing materials like shrink wrap, bubble craft, furniture pads and other packing essentials
5. Prioritising furniture requiring dismantling to save time
6. Removing furniture components like table legs, glass tops, bed shelves and frames, securely keeping the hardware and marking them appropriately, should gain priority. Remember also to tape the device to the own furniture.
7. Wrap fragile and expensive furniture using furniture pads and old blanket so that to prevent potential damage.

Interstate issues

We were informed that interstate quarantine restrictions operated on certain items and we were provided with a detailed list handy although most of the stuff we had did not face any restrictions.

Access

A very useful point in discussion with one of the furniture removalists. The first question he asked us was whether our Adelaide home was an independent bungalow or an apartment on a higher story. At first, we could not appreciate why this question was raised. He then explained that the width of the stairway, doors, etc. was crucial in determining the extent of difficulties involved in the job. He further added some of the following points to be considered:-

Accessibility for the truck: Cars can easily access most driveways. However, when a loaded truck comes in, it can be different. Overhanging trees are a major trouble point for vehicles which could mean physically carrying the furniture over a longer distance.

Moving into Apartments: Many apartments have specific guidelines to follow for the use of standard utilities like lifts, stairway. The hours when moving in and moving out are permitted may also be included in these guidelines. Similarly, access to lifts may be conditional to certain measures to protect the elevator interiors. In some instances, specific payments may also need for the use of the lift which could limit the time available for moving your belongings to the higher storey.

parking

Parking: Parking should be available closer to where the furniture and your household belongings are stored / unpacked. In some instances, access problems can increase the amount of manual labour involved in the operation, and therefore, the costs.

Scheduling: Our truck was expected to take about 72 hours before arriving in Adelaide. Our new home should be ready in all respects to receive the truck and start unpacking. This aspect required fine tuning, and we agreed to work on it.

The size of the truck: Need confirmation on the accessibility of the vehicle regarding its size. We were also asked to ascertain any restrictions that applied to the specific type of vehicles, restrictions with regard to time, etc.

moving truck parked

The final question was why we should have two removalists, one for furniture and another for other belongings. This is the answer we received.

General removalists do not employ personnel with specialised knowledge and experience in handling furniture removals. Many Australian homes have expensive furniture, and the owners are fondly attached to some of them. Some pieces could even be hereditary furniture whose value cannot be determined in dollars alone. Furniture removalists, on the other hand, are specialists with a broad range of experience from handling several furniture removal tasks.

Finally, it was time to sign the contract and wait for the work to commence. Our service provider was extremely cooperative and worked with us closely at every stage of the job. Unpacking and setting up our furniture in our new home at Adelaide was also equally professional, and every single piece arrived without even a scratch!

My Fear Of Heights: How It Paralysed Me And Changed My Life

climbing trees

The story of my life, How I overcame my depression after falling to death. Thanks to my psychiatrist I am still mentally stable. Feel free to read how I got my life back after my tragic accident.

I was one of those kids that loved heights. My mother would constantly scold me to “Stay out of the trees” and “get off the roof”. I enjoyed being up high and never thought twice about any danger that would befall me should I tumble from such high places. Like most kids those things never even entered my mind, it was just good fun.

Through the rest of my school years, middle school and high school I pretty much abandoned the adventures of tree climbing and focused on other things. As is common with adolescence, girls and studies start to take the place of daydreaming about being a monkey swinging in a tree. Sure there were the occasional instances of jumping from a high cliff into a nice cool lake in the summer, but otherwise, my height adventures were over albeit temporarily.

The joy of climbing would eventually return to me as an adult when I pursued a career as a contractor. Clearly, as a contractor I would spend quite a bit of time back on the rooftops I enjoyed as a young boy.

Work was going well, and my busy was steadily growing. I had amassed a small fleet of trucks and had a great small business going. Revenues were increasing yearly, and there was very little I could complain about. I did get a touch when the market dipped but overtime the calls started to return, and business was back to usual.

As the business grew, I ended up relying on my crew more and more for the hard labour and would only fill in if someone called in sick or missed a day for some other miscellaneous reason. These were few and far between so when they did come up I didn’t mind them much since it felt good to work with my hands occasionally.

Luck would have it that on one of those fateful days I would suffer an unfortunate accident. As a business, my crew and I were always extremely careful to follow all rules and directions, but sometimes things happen that are out of your control. When my accident occurred, I was on the roof of a two-story house. It was a beautiful house that overlooked the entire valley, and I was repairing their roof. The common saying with accidents is that “it only takes a second” and in my case, that couldn’t be truer. One moment I was down on my knees working on the roof and the next moment I stood up, lost my balance, and fell the full two stories.

fragile roof

It was one of those falls that knocked the air out of me and left me lying on the ground for several long minutes before I even tried to move. While on the ground I felt ok, at least I didn’t feel any immediate pain. That all changed as soon as I tried to sit up.

The moment I lifted my back from the ground a sharp pain shot up, my entire spine and I realised the fall had been much more serious than I originally thought. An ambulance was called, and I was put on a gurney and taken to the local hospital where I learned that I had severely damaged several vertebrae in my back. The hospital staff did their best to put on happy faces and to appear optimistic but as the testing continued it became obvious that I would probably never be able to walk again. With the fall I had lost the use of my legs. In the short span of time, it took me to stand on the roof and then fall off of it I had become paralysed for the rest of my life.

Like all people that find themselves suddenly paralysed I went through a long period of depression and was put on a steady regimen of exercise to try and return my ability to walk. After months of assistance from a nurse, it was decided that there had been no progress and it was determined that I would be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of my life.

With the final permanent diagnoses, I had a mental change. Where I had previously been depressed and lethargic about my condition, I had a rousing change about and decided I could do something else positive even if I wouldn’t be able to do it walking.

paralised

I had been reading a lot about people that had been writing blogs for a living. I still had money from my contractor business, so I knew I would be able to support myself for a while why I got my blog started. The idea was that I could start a blog that would help other people in similar situations. As someone that recently became paralysed I understood the unease and the depression and general confusion that comes from being uncertain about your future and about how you’ll even get by day to day. I wanted to create a blog that would help others like myself to feel less helpless.

It took a while to get my blog off the ground, but consistency was the key. The more I posted, the more traffic I got and the more traffic that visited, the more comments and links began to appear. It was clear that my blog was doing exactly what I had set out for it to do, help others. Overtime I was able to make a living wage from my blog, and it became my fulltime career. Through carefully placed ads and product placements, I was able to make a substantial amount of money which allowed me to continue living the lifestyle I had before becoming paralysed.

In short working on the blog felt incredible. I didn’t even have to leave my house to be a financial contributor to my household. When I first got my diagnoses, I thought I was doomed to be a drag on my family forever, with blogging as a business that has all changed.

Tutoring Centre: Do we need it

In the last two decades or so, the world has witnessed a quantum shift in the way it does business from rocket science to the most rudimentary grocery store. Imposing chain stores, shopping malls, internet shopping, and there is an endless list of new enterprises that impact our lives. Behind these enterprises, a team of young professionals are at work to ensure that the customer is always in focus and customer satisfaction has taken centre stage of business today. To cater to this new trend, employers today look for well-rounded professionals with comprehensive knowledge of the diverse functions of business.

Thus, the era of specialists has now transitioned to specialist generalists!

 

Changing needs not addressed by traditional education systems.

Primary and secondary education in developed and developing economies globally has failed to address the changing needs of business effectively. As a result, many of our children are underprepared or unprepared to meet the challenges of the new age economy. Although we do talk of artificial intelligence and robots, the human brain can never be belittled because a human is almost always needed to ensure that these wonderful masterpieces deliver what they are expected to deliver and do not go berserk due to bad wiring or other glitches. More specialised services in Science, Artistic and Scholarship tutoring are needed to meet children’s interests.

 

Young minds need programming

There is an urgent need to program the young minds to adapt to the changing environment, and traditional schools are as yet unprepared to meet this challenge. Tutors and tutoring services can effectively fill this void and help our children with more focus on the market realities as they exist today. The need of the hour is, to create a synthesis between the orient and the occident. Some of the learning systems we have learned from our forefathers are still valuable and can effectively complement the offerings from the wired world. For a focused tutor, it is never difficult to determine where the lines should be drawn.

 

 

Unethical practices in the digital world

In the wired world, there are many services that help our children cheat the traditional methods of homework and assessment tests. Subject experts around the globe or even professional teachers from your own city or a city distanced by several thousand miles can prepare and deliver an assessment test or homework to your child when he/she is sleeping. The cost is often trivial, and the kids can meet that cost from their pocket money.

As parents/guardians, it is our responsibility to understand the dangers lurking behind this trend and guide our kids on the right path. Dangers of exposing our kids to the wired world early on are not limited to their assessments or homework. We, as parents/guardians ought to take charge and create a balance between what is good and what is not so good for our kids. The task is far from being easy, but a determined parent can steer the kids on the right path.

 

Tutors can help

Tutors and tutoring services, on the other hand, are individuals you can meet in flesh and blood and discuss the problems of your child. A tutor can also instantly recognize whether your child is genuinely focused on learning the allotted lessons or indulging in unethical practices described above. Most parents/guardians lack the wherewithal to undertake this policing. However, it should be understood that the idea is not to point the finger at every kid. On the other hand, we cannot afford to side step the fact that thousands of children across nations are providing superlative revenue to these none too ethical service providers on the global arena.

Still need reasons why tutoring is important for your kids?

If you are still looking for reasons why tutoring is important for your kids, consider these:

  • One to one learning
  • Ability to analyse behavioural patterns
  • Identifying weak spots and taking corrective action
  • Frequent interaction with parents when intervention is desirable
  • Highlighting the importance of a strong primary/secondary education foundation for long-term goals
  • Motivation

 
Tutors can help

Customization

Customization is another huge advantage with tutoring. It is not a one size fits all which is the approach in schools. The tutor strikes a personal note with the child, and that helps in creating a healthy environment where the child is constantly motivated and encouraged to learn. Preparing for assessment tests or doing the homework are but natural processes in the course of study. Ingraining the ability to complete these tasks systematically and highlighting the achievements while focusing on areas needing improvement are the major tasks of the tutor. Therefore, when you engage the right tutor or tutoring service, this personalized rapport will make a huge difference to your child’s learning abilities.

 

Choose the right tutor or tutoring services

Guardians and parents should, however, choose the right tutor or tutoring service to get the best results. The digital world offers a slew of resources, and the first step is identifying what is available close to you. Zero down to some of the service providers who look promising at first sight and speak to some of them to understand their services at close quarters. References are important since you can gain a wide array of information about the particular tutor or tutoring service from people who have already used them.

We need to ensure the future of our kids and quality education is the best way that we can equip them to meet the challenges when they enter today’s highly competitive world. The effort that parents put in today will help our children scale great heights when they are ready to take the plunge at the end of their academic career.