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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We provide answers to many frequently asked questions that are asked by our clients! Many of which support why we are your perfect partner to assist you through your energy transition to low cost zero carbon utilities! 

Why is Element47 different?

Element47 stands out due to its commitment to low-cost, low-carbon utilities and its dedication to providing expert advice for optimal long-term outcomes for all stakeholders. 

What is a Microgrid?

A microgrid is a localised energy system that can operate independently or in conjunction with the main power grid. It often integrates renewable energy sources, storage, and advanced control systems to provide reliable and sustainable power. 
How much renewable energy generation can I connect to Western Power?

The amount of renewable energy you can connect to Western Power depends on various factors, including regulations, available infrastructure, and capacity constraints. There are a number of thresholds which determine the grid protection requirements which requires assessment by Western Power. This assessment also includes the grids hosting capacity for renewable energy. 
What are the different Western Power connection thresholds?

Western Power has various connection thresholds that dictate the requirements and processes for connecting different levels of energy generation to their grid.

An Embedded Generation Connection application is required to install a new inverter system, change or relocate existing inverters, or add another generation source such as batteries.
For inverter systems with a connection limit up to 30kVA (30kW AC) depending on the connection type:

  • up to 5kVA standard single-phase connection

  • up to 15kVA standard three-phase connection

  • up to 30kVA LV connection

For systems greater than 30kVA or exceeding 10kVA per phase, refer to the Inverter system greater than 30kVA to 150kVA or Inverter system greater than 150kVA to 999kVA process. Below is an extract from the Western Power, the South Western Australian Network Operator. 
What are Small Scale Technology Certificates (STC’s)?

STCs are financial incentives offered in Australia to encourage the adoption of small-scale renewable energy systems, like solar panels and solar water heaters. STC’s can only be claims for systems up to 100kW of installed solar PV panels. 

Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) are like rewards for using renewable energy. Each STC is worth the same as 1 megawatt hour of clean electricity that comes from sources like solar panels, wind turbines, hydroelectric, solar water heaters, and air source heat pumps. These certificates make it financially attractive to set up these small-scale renewable energy systems because they cut down the initial installation expenses.

Here's how it works: In the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), when you install a qualifying small-scale renewable energy system, you get a certain number of STCs. The number of certificates depends on where you are, when you installed the system, and how much electricity it generates or saves over a specific period.

For solar panels, wind, and hydro systems, the certificates are based on the electricity they produce in megawatt hours over one or five years, or a specific maximum period. Solar water heaters and heat pumps get certificates based on the energy they save over a set period.
You can figure out how many certificates your system might earn using calculators provided for small generation units and solar water heaters.

These certificates are managed through an online system called the REC Registry. It tracks the creation, checking, auditing, and transferring of certificates.

Once these certificates are made and checked, they become like money. You can sell them to recover some of the money you spent on your system, or you can transfer them to others at an agreed-upon price. It's a neat way to benefit from using green energy and encourage more people to adopt clean technologies.
What are Largescale Technology Certificates (LGC’s)?

LGCs are certificates provided in Australia for large-scale renewable energy generation projects, serving as incentives to promote the development of such projects. LGC’s apply to solar PV systems greater than 100kW of installed PV panels. 

The nominated person for an accredited power station may create large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) for eligible electricity generated by the power station. Eligible electricity is electricity generated from the power station's renewable energy sources.

One LGC can be created per megawatt hour (MWh) of eligible electricity generated by a power station. The amount of electricity generated by a power station is to be worked in accordance with the large-scale generation certificate general formula.

A nominated person can create LGCs by submitting a 'claim' for LGCs in the REC Registry. Once a claim for LGCs has been received, the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) determines the eligibility of LGCs created - this process is called the 'validation' process - and will register eligible LGCs in the REC Registry.

Registered LGCs can be sold or transferred to entities with liabilities under the Renewable Energy Target or other companies looking to voluntarily surrender LGCs. Liable entities are companies (mainly electricity retailers) that are required to purchase and surrender LGCs to the CER each year in fulfilment of their obligations under the  Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000.

LGCs are sold to liable entities (and other companies or individuals) in the market at a price determined by agreement between those parties.
Can I install more than 30kW of Solar PV?

Yes, your electricity consumption profile and connection will need to be reviewed to see if it is suitable to a bigger solar PV system. 

Anyone telling you outright in the industry that this is not possible, might as well be selling you a used car. You should be wary of anyone trying to sell you this type of system as they are likely just trying to get a quick win. 
Why would someone try and sell me a 30kW or 40Kw or 100kW solar PV system?

People might suggest or offer to sell you solar PV systems with sizes like 30kW, 40kW, or 100kW for a few good reasons. One reason is about the limit set by Western Power for connecting the system to the grid, based on how much electricity it produces (AC or kVA connection threshold). The other reason is related to government incentives called Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), which are tied to how much electricity the solar panels generate yearly until 2030. The calculations for STCs depend on the solar panels' DC capacity (installed capacity).

The 30kW system size is important because it falls within a range that gets quicker approvals from Western Power for grid connection. This makes the process smoother and faster for systems up to 30kW in size.
When we talk about a 30kW system, we're talking about the amount of power the solar panels, and sometimes hybrid battery inverters, can produce when they're connected to the grid. This size works well for getting those quick approvals from Western Power for systems up to 30kW.

Another thing to note is that a 30kW inverter, following the Clean Energy Council (CEC) rules, can handle about 1.33 times the solar panel capacity eligible for upfront STC (Small-scale Technology Certificate) government rebates. This is why you often see marketing for around 40kW (DC) system sizes – it helps you get these incentives effectively.

Systems that can be sold up to 100kW usually mention this because 100kW inverters are usually between 70kW AC and 100kW AC. This is to maximise the STC rebate and keep the initial cost (CAPEX) low. For anything above 100kW, you earn Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) over time.

To sum it up, the recommendation for 30kW, 40kW, or 100kW solar PV systems has a lot to do with quicker approvals, fitting with rebate calculations, and the potential to make the most out of government incentives.
Are batteries viable?

Yes, battery storage systems are becoming increasingly viable as their technology advances and costs decrease. They offer benefits like energy storage, load management, and grid stability.
Costs have declined significantly over recent decades and warranties on most batteries are a standard 10 year warranty. 

Are batteries available?

Yes, battery storage systems are available from various manufacturers and suppliers, offering a range of options for residential, commercial, and industrial applications.

Their availability and lead time varies with many batteries being off the shelf from wholesalers. Larger batteries are a more custom order and available usually within grid connections timeframes. 
How do batteries help reduce my electricity costs?

Batteries can store excess energy generated from renewable sources, allowing you to use it during peak demand times or when the renewable sources aren't producing. This can lower your reliance on grid power and reduce electricity bills. 
How long do batteries last? What’s their lifecycle?

The lifespan of batteries varies based on the technology and usage. Generally, lithium-ion batteries used in home energy storage systems can last around 10-15 years or more, depending on factors like depth of discharge and maintenance.
Do I need a Retail Electricity Account, contract, or tariff for my building?

Yes, you typically need a retail electricity account or contract to access electricity from the grid. Tariffs determine the pricing structure based on your usage patterns and the type of building.
What happens if Element47 no longer exists as a company?

If Element47 ceases to exist, or if the Strata Company is dissatisfied with their service, the contract may include a buyout clause allowing the Strata Company to purchase the power purchase agreement (PPA) infrastructure. The operation of the infrastructure could then be managed by other companies specialising in remote meter reading and billing services.
What are demand charges in electricity bills?

Demand charges are fees based on the peak amount of electricity consumed within a specific period. These charges encourage consumers to manage their energy usage during peak demand times to reduce costs.
Can solar panels work during a power outage?

Traditional grid-tied solar panels are designed to shut down during a power outage for safety reasons. However, with the addition of battery storage systems, you can have backup power during blackouts.
What is net metering?

Net metering is a billing arrangement where excess energy generated by a solar system is fed back into the grid, and the energy provider credits the homeowner for that surplus energy, effectively reducing their overall electricity bill.
What are feed-in tariffs?

Feed-in tariffs are payment schemes where energy producers, such as homeowners with solar panels, are paid by energy providers for the surplus electricity they generate and feed back into the grid.

Feed in tariffs for solar panel systems with an installed inverter capacity greater than 5kW must be set to zero export in the Western Power grid or have a retail electricity contract that will enable the purchase for an offered/agreed feed-in rate. Usually this is between zero and 3.5 cents per kWh. 
How can energy efficiency be improved in buildings?

Energy efficiency in buildings can be improved through measures like better insulation, energy-efficient appliances, heat pump hot water systems, LED lighting, smart thermostats, and adopting sustainable construction practices.
What is the role of smart meters in energy management?

Smart meters provide real-time data on energy consumption, enabling consumers to monitor and manage their usage more effectively, optimise energy consumption patterns, and potentially reduce costs. Advanced smart meters store datalogs on the meter which ensure that no data is lost in the event of communications outages. 
What is peak shaving in relation to energy management?

Peak shaving involves reducing high levels of electricity consumption during peak demand periods, which can help minimise demand charges and decrease overall energy costs.
How can businesses transition to using more renewable energy?

Businesses can transition to using more renewable energy by installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other renewable sources on-site, signing power purchase agreements for renewable energy supply, and adopting energy-efficient technologies and practices. 

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