"Winner for Energy Efficiency and Environment at the recent NECA Excellence Awards, Australian Wind and Solar provide their customers with a range of renewable energy solutions. Managing Director Adam Falzon, who has been in the industry for twenty years, heads a team with a wealth of experience in renewable energy and construction. Of the award-winning project Mr Falzon said, "Our team worked diligently to find solutions and ideas to overcome obstacles to ensure the overall success of the project, we had the opportunity to work with newer technologies like the SMA units and the ImmerSUN and thus creating a suitable efficient hybrid system".
For a recent project Australian Wind and Solar worked with a school camping ground in Meredith to establish a renewable power setup. This was a unique project as it required the team to come up with creative solutions to technical and design challenges, such as the number and arrangement of the buildings on the site, the demand for power, which varies dramatically from high usage during a camp to virtually none between bookings, a lot of trees and shady areas on the site, and a limitation on the export capacity imposed by the distributor. Many of these were resolved by implementing a combination of solar panels and wind turbines, with the latter allowing for greater storage potential and offering options for expansion. The export limitation is possibly the biggest challenge, and the technology currently available
to deal with it is somewhat limited, but Mr Falzon said Australian Wind and Solar were considering developing technology for Australian usage. Excess power can be diverted to the hot water tank rather than sending it back to the grid, as this will help the consumer to pay off the cost of the installation more quickly as well as being more energy efficient.
The device used by Australian Wind and Solar to achieve this is the SunnyMate, which monitors the electricity being produced and diverts it to the hot water tank before it can be exported to the grid, even when the consumer is not on site, but power is still available to them for other uses as they need it.
Along with greater consciousness of the impact that our behaviour in many areas has on the environment, the high cost of paying for power from the electrical grid is a motivating factor in the decision being made by increasing numbers of consumers to turn to renewable energy. LED lighting in particular has acted as a starting point for people to take a more proactive role in energy efficiency on a personal level, and
along with solar hot water, efficient induction cooking plates and wood heating it is one of the ways that more environmentally-friendly power solutions can be included in residential projects.
The inclusion of renewable energy in the construction of a new home in Daylesford was another job that Australian Wind and Solar has worked on lately. The customer wanted to be environmentally friendly while saving money, so a hybrid wind turbine and solar panel power solution was perfect as the cost of a renewable energy installation in a new home also has the potential to be much less expensive than connecting a new site to the grid.
As incorporating renewable technology into the construction process for new builds is easier than implementing it in existing buildings, encouraging the consumer to go with renewable energy from the outset will benefit both them and the installer, not to mention the environment. Whatever the project, good design and an understanding of the client's needs are vital for it to succeed.
Some long-term challenges that the industry faces in the area of renewable energy include the need for regulation of products. Customers or installers may select product which represents lower initial cost but these are not always as reliable and may not provide the adequate longevity expected. Fortunately, those ultimately choosing the cheaper option are in the minority, but better quality across the board will further improve the reputation of renewable technologies. To ensure minimum compliance to standards it is necessary for companies and installers to get the necessary certification locally, this will also be of benefit to the industry. Higher standards for quality will also help improve the reputation of wind power as a worthwhile alternative or adjunct to solar. This greater popularity and demand will translate to lower costs and production times, as currently wind turbines are made in small production runs. Currently wind turbine availability is dictated by production schedules and delivery time lines. As demand grows this helps to reduce capital cost and improve availability.
Mr Falzon's advice to installers was to not be afraid of branching out into renewable energy, or of diversifying from just solar panels and to consider wind as an allied option. With some training, such as provided by the NECA EcoSmart Electrician program, and community information, such as what is available on Energy Matters forums at http://forums.energymatters.com.au/ installers can gain additional information and resources."
- Ian Johnson, Manager - EcoSmar Electricians, NECA