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Solar has come a long way since American inventor Charles Fritts created the first solar cell in 1883. It’s still an ever changing industry though, with scientists striving to make panels more efficient, more powerful, and more affordable. 

We’ve rounded up some of the most interesting things happening in the solar sector, from floating solar through to sharing your solar with your neighbour (or your whole suburb). 

 

Community Solar

Where there’s a problem, there’s a community solution, and solar is no different. While solar is a great solution for homeowners, it’s not always optimal for renters or people who live in apartment buildings. 

Communities are coming together to build solar farms, and share the power. Haystacks in NSW is a prime example, as well as the amazing community effort behind a community battery installation at Yackandandah. 

 

Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)

You’re not alone if you haven’t heard of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Often used to sell power, this is where a business can enjoy the benefits of solar power without having to pay for, own or maintain a solar system. 

The good news is that PPA’s are now becoming more widely available for business owners, and in some cases, even on residential properties. 

What does that mean for you? You let a solar company use your roof, buy energy from them at a greatly reduced rate, and avoid paying any money up front*.

 

Floating Solar

You’ve seen solar on a roof, or on the ground, but have you seen it on water?

Reducing water evaporation, and saving valuable land space are just a few benefits behind floating photovoltaic. Groups such as REC and Tigo are leading the market, building customised solutions across South East Asia. We even have some in Australia, our closest being the 100kw floating solar farm at Lismore. 

 

Battery Backup

As more consumers seek energy independence and battery reliability and technology improve, batteries are set to become a common addition to new solar systems. 

While going off grid can be expensive, a grid-connected system with battery backup (known as a hybrid system) offers the best of both worlds; the ability to supply your own energy needs for the most part, while still having backup from the grid if your needs change, or the weather is bad.

With opportunities to connect to Virtual Power Plants and save behind the meter, we can expect to see battery uptake increase rapidly in the next few years.

Virtual Power Plants (VPP’s)

If you’ve ever played the stock market, now you have the chance to play a new market; the energy market. Virtual power plants allow everyday people to store energy in their home batteries, then buy and sell it for a profit during peak times or when there’s a sudden demand for power. 

Some areas (such as Ergon) don’t support direct buying and selling, but innovative solutions such as sonnenConnect allow you to become part of a larger deal and earn some money back from your solar system. 

 

New home solar

While many homeowners chose to install solar onto their existing residences during the initial solar boom, there’s another expanding market; new home owners. 

With cheaper installation costs and energy efficiency built in from the foundations up, many people are choosing a new home package which includes solar, so they can start saving straight away. 

 

Electric Vehicles

With electric vehicles rapidly becoming the future of driving, electricity is increasing in demand. 

Electric energy usage is set to double in the next few decades as people install chargers at their homes, so choosing the right energy system today is the best way to ensure you’re ready for the vehicles of tomorrow.  

With more mileage and affordable prices, more of the vehicle brands we know and love are moving to electric. When Australia’s energy policies catch up, uptake of EV’s will skyrocket.