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Costa Rica is much more than a lush, green tourist paradise; it’s also a green energy pioneer. The small Central American nation has generated 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources for the past 113 days, and the run isn’t over yet. The country, which draws clean energy from a variety of renewable sources, still has its sights on a full year without fossil fuels

With a 113-day stretch of 100-percent renewable energy under its belt and several months left in the year, Costa Rica is edging closer to its target. Costa Rica could be on track to match the record set with its renewable energy production last year, which accounted for 99 per cent of the country’s electricity. That included 285 days powered completely by renewable sources, according to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute.

Costa Rica is able to take advantage of a multitude of renewable energy sources because of its unique climate and terrain. Most of the nation’s renewable energy comes from hydropower, due to its large river system and heavy tropical rainfalls. Solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy also play key roles.

The tropical nation aims to be free from fossil fuels in just five years. With hefty investments in geothermal energy projects and a forecast for more heavy rains in the coming years, that goal could be accomplished even sooner than originally planned.



Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have set a world record for efficiency for a solar thermal dish generating steam that could be used for power stations.
The team designed and built a new receiver for the solar concentrator dish at ANU, halving losses and achieving a 97 per cent conversion of sunlight into steam. The breakthrough could lead to the generation of cheaper base-load electricity from renewable energy and help lower carbon emissions which cause global warming.
“When our computer model told us the efficiency that our design was going to achieve, we thought it was alarmingly high,” said Dr John Pye, from the ANU Research School of Engineering.
“But when we built it and tested it, sure enough, the performance was amazing.”
Concentrating solar thermal systems use reflectors to concentrate sunlight and generate steam, which can drive conventional power station turbines. It can be combined with efficient heat storage systems and can supply power on demand at a significantly lower cost than solar energy from photovoltaic panels that has been stored in batteries.
The global concentrating solar thermal capacity has grown by a factor of 10 in the past decade, with some of the largest installations in Spain, United States, and South Africa.
“Ultimately the work in this project is all about reducing the cost of concentrating solar thermal energy. Our aim is to get costs down to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, so that this technology will be competitive,” he said.
“This new design could result in a 10 per cent reduction in the cost of solar thermal electricity.
At 500 square metres, the ANU solar concentrator is the largest of its kind in the world. It focuses the power of 2,100 suns onto the receiver, through which water is pumped and heated to 500 degrees Celsius
Information courtesy of Gizmodo Australia



As this blog is written the writing is already on the wall. The feed in tariffs for solar powered homes are being rolled back. It is dramatic and it is going to hurt a lot of Australian households.

The feed in tariff (FITs) is the amount of money that the power companies pay for electricity that is fed back into the grid. When a solar powered home is not using the power that is being generated off their roof, the power is sent back down the grid. This power is paid for on a kilowatt-hour basis.

When solar was in its infancy, the Australian government encouraged solar adoption through FITs that paid up to 60 cents per kilowatt-hour. This was overly generous and provided the homes with a good source of extra income. Now the party is over and the government is reducing the FITs across the nation.

NSW is going to be hit very hard with the FITs being wound back from 60 cents down to 5.5 – 7.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. Victorian households will fair a little better with the FITs being reduced from the 25 cents per kilowatt-hour down to 5 cents.  South Australia will fall from 16 cents down to 6.8 cents.

The rollback is due to start this September and will be completed by January 2017. These changes are going to hurt Australian households and for many, the way solar power is used will change forever.

Solar power for many is no longer going to be a roof top source of revenue. The power produced will need to be used by the home in the most efficient ways possible. Ultimately this will mean that homes will become less dependant on fossil fuel power generation companies – which in the long term is a good thing.

For those who are going to loose their high FITs here are some good tips produced by Energy Consumers Australia:

  • Use more of your solar by setting timers to run big appliances during the day
  • Shop around for the best deal from energy retailers
  • Think twice about using gas power
  • Look into getting a smart meter to monitor consumption
  • Consider getting a solar battery

To sum up, households need to use the solar power well and reduce wastage. To achieve this there are two products currently available to help households:

  1. The solar powered hot water system (heat pump)
  2. A battery storage system

The heat pumps are designed to utilize the solar power during the day so hot water is available day and night. As hot water can account for up to 25% of household energy, the heat pump can provide an enormous saving.

Solar storage through a battery system has always been the holy grail of solar power. The battery captures the unused power sot it can be sued when power is required. A battery system ensures no solar power is wasted.

If your home is going to be effected by the reduction in FITs then it is time to act. Call True Value Solar and discuss  this with one of our Solar Experts the various options for saving your solar power.

Solar panel system on house roof, sunny blue sky background

Solar panel system on house roof, sunny blue sky background


Choosing the right panels for a solar power system is a critical decision. There are many panels on the market, which vary in quality, yet to the casual eye they all look very similar. Which brand of panels to choose can be a daunting task, so Choice Magazine made the decision to help the potential buyer.

In the comparison tests that were conducted by Choice magazine two panels stood out as being leaders, Jinko and Q-Cells. Both brands are renowned for their performance and quality and for these reasons are extensively used by True Value Solar.

JinkoSolar manufactures Jinko panels, which is a global leader in the solar industry. The Company distributes its solar panels in China, the United States, Australia, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Chile, South Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, and other countries and regions. This shear size of JinkoSolar provides the reassurance that the panels True Value Australia install are well supported and provides peace of mind.

JinkoSolar has always maintained their quality which is one of the key aspects that sets their panels apart. JinkoSolar’s entire production process is closely monitored. Every cell and module is subjected to at least 36 steps of the most stringent quality inspection procedures and undergoes comprehensive in-house testing in the most advanced UL certified testing lab. It tests its products under extreme conditions such as tropical humidity, desert heat, coastal salt mist or agricultural ammonia enveloped atmosphere. This makes a Jinko solar panel an ideal choice for Australia’s tough climate.

Hanwha Q-Cells was formed by the combining of two of the world’s most recognized solar panel manufactures – Hanwha Solar One and Hanwha Q Cells. This amalgamation allowed for what is now regarded as some of the best solar panels in the world.

As a Tier 1 panel manufacturer the Q-Cells panels are designed to perform in extreme climate conditions. The panels feature excellent high temperature and low light performance and are optimized for high energy yields under a range of conditions in Australia’s harsh climate.

Whether the solar buyer chooses the Jinko or the Q-Cell panels they can rest assured that their panels are performing well and are backed with a solid after sales support service. This provides the peace of mind to a long-term investment.


Home battery sector sets scene for innovation

Anegla Macdonald-Smith – from AFR outlines the benefits of Sonnen

The pilot could see a discount of about $2,700 for homeowners on a battery that can provide 3kW of sustained peak output.

In Germany, one of the world’s leading markets for home batteries, hardly a rooftop solar system is sold these days without an integrated electricity storage system.

Storage has become, in effect, the driver of solar sales, says Oliver Koch, the managing director of German battery provider Sonnen GmbH, which is aiming to make as big a mark in the fast-emerging Australian market for home batteries as it has at home where it is No. 1.

The picture in Germany gives an insight into the transformation likely to take place here during the next few years as home batteries make more of an impact on the way homes nationwide source their electricity.

Koch is predicting a wave of ways households will take up the use of storage systems, and a variety of new business models emerging to make it happen.

Household solar installations (‘000s)

In fact, advances already made in the technology behind today’s batteries means there are “no quantum leaps” to be expected on the technology side for the next few years, Koch says. Rather, the innovation will be seen on the business-model side.

Back home in Bavaria, the concept of a residential community operating its own storage system, allowing households and friends to buy and sell electricity to one another, has become a major driver of sales. Koch sees it being also enthusiastically adopted here.

The so-called sonnenCommunity allows those with solar PV and a Sonnen lithium-ion battery to make available cheap power generated on their rooftops to their friends and neighbours in the community who may not have their own systems.

The generating household makes a small profit on the feed-in tariff and the receiving household gets power cheaper than it would otherwise, provided from a battery system in their friend’s house thanks to a community that combines decentralised power generation, “smart” battery storage technology and digital networking.

Such innovative concepts are expected to be one of the drivers that will increase home battery sales from an expected 2500-3000 units this year, to perhaps 5000-10,000 units next year, according to Sonnen’s Australian CEO Chris Parratt. Morgan Stanley sees battery take-up following solar installation patterns in Australia, on its way to becoming a $24 billion market.

Although some sources still make the argument that the investment case is lacking for installing a battery and solar system here, Koch and Parratt see it otherwise, at least for larger, airconditioned homes in regional areas paying electricity prices during peak afternoon periods of 35¢ a kilowatt-hour or more.

Those prices have already driven the uptake of rooftop solar in some regional areas of NSW to 55 per cent, substantially higher than in the cities.

Indeed, they see the economic case as being one of the key drivers for battery uptake here, alongside the storage and solar-friendly regulatory system. That contrasts with the US, where the desire for back-up power to retain supplies during blackouts provides the motivation.

NSW households have a particular reason to look at storage as the Solar Bonus Scheme comes to an end on December 31, leaving about 150,000 households and small businesses that installed solar systems under the previous generous feed-in tariff system looking for an alternative way to gain from their rooftop panels.

For those households looking to play in the “community” area or something similar, technical features of a storage system will come to the fore, in particular the ability to fully discharge and charge the battery once or twice a day.

Hence the emphasis by Sonnen and some of its competitors on the number of such “cycles” covered in their product guarantees: a system guaranteed for 10,000 cycles would allow a household to participate comfortably in that game, but it’s a different story if the guarantee covers just 3000 cycles where the owner would be thinking twice about risking deteriorating performance after little more than four years.


Solar has taken a bit of a battering recently with the announcement that the feed in tariffs in NSW, Victoria and South Australia are going to be rolled back. Although South Australia is the least effected of the three, this leaves little comfort for most homeowners that have enjoyed their tariffs for a long time.

Not everything is bad news – especially if you live in Adelaide. The South Australian government has decided that it is going to be very generous and is offering solar incentives up to $5000.  This injection of money should see a large uptake in solar power systems.

The solar incentive program in South Australia is unique for two reasons. Firstly, this offer is not being done in any other state. Secondly, this offer covers both solar storage as well as solar power installation. This is the first time solar storage has been offered under an incentive program in Australia.

The South Australian solar incentive program is being run under Adelaide’s Sustainable City Incentives Scheme. As yet there has been no announcement on the details on the funding, except that it would be run on a ‘first come first serve basis’. This implies that the scheme is capped, but the capped amount is still unknown. Hopefully the government will let people know when the cap is reaching its limits.

It should be noted that this solar incentive scheme is additional to the up-front incentives available under the federal governments Renewable Energy Target. Currently this incentive saves up to about 40% off the cost of buying a solar power system for the average home.

The Adelaide Sustainable City Incentives Scheme has been designed for homes, businesses and community organizations. The scheme’s maximum allowable rebate for a solar power system is determined by the client’s system capacity size. The rules for the solar storage are a little more complex. The discount is up to 50% off the price off the energy storage system.

To help you maximize on this generous rebate in South Australia, True Value Solar has bought out Europe’s leading solar battery brand – Sonnen. Designed to the highest level of European design and manufacturer, the Sonnen batteries are the perfect choice for Adelaide’s homes to capitalize on this rebate scheme.

True Value Solar has the right size Sonnen system to fit almost any home size. Sonnen is so much more than just a battery, it is it’s an intelligent storage system that automatically adjusts the energy use so that most of the self-generated solar energy stays in the household.

The Sonnen system adjusts to lifestyle of the home. With the Sonnen system, it monitors the electricity usage throughout the day and night to ensure you maximize the power generated from the solar panels. This allows home to capture that daylight power and enjoy your power when you need it.


Storage Size: 2kWh to 16kWh (Expandable steps of 2kWh)
Operating mode: Single or Three phase
Lifespan: 10,000 charge cycles

Normally the Sonnen Integrated system would be a large investment but with up to 50% off rebate the incentives are huge.

Click here to obtain an in-depth knowledge of SonnenBatterie.


Recently the superior quality of Jinko Panels was highly emphasized in Choice Magazine article. (Read article here »)

Today we bring you further amazing pieces of news about the Jinko Panels.

JinkoSolar proudly announces that its Eagle PR module has created a new world output record of 343.9W for monocrystalline silicon module. TUV Rheinland tested the module under standard testing condition at 343.9W, following its previous record of 334.5W for polycrystalline silicon modules. After doing this, JinkoSolar has now become the new world record holder to date for both mono and poly C-Si solar module.

Since 2014, JinkoSolar has built up a strong annual module shipments momentum and in second quarter 2016 had module shipments of 1,716MW crossing the benchmark of 1,700MW and establishing a new quarterly shipment record, beating its previous record 1,709.9MW in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The uprising numbers suggest a strong hold of JinkoSolar over the solar industry worldwide and be the most renowned company when it comes to solar panels.

We proudly use their highly recognized products within our systems and hence provide full product satisfaction to our consumers.

Click here to read the details of the JinkoSolar high achievement »


Sonnen, the German energy storage start-up, has raised $85m in a fourth fundraising round as it seeks to expand its business and attract more customers on to a renewable energy grid.

Europe’s largest maker of rechargeable energy storage units has secured investments from Envision Energy, the Chinese wind turbine manufacturer, and Thomas Putter, the former chairman of Allianz Capital Partners, in a financing round that has exceeded the previous three combined. GE’s venture capital arm took a stake in the group in June.

Sonnen will use the capital to help it make the shift from being a manufacturer of battery-storage systems to a service provider that aims to displace traditional utilities. “We want to be the utility of the future,” Christoph Ostermann, chief executive and co-founder, told the Financial Times.

Sonnen, founded in 2010, was set up to provide homeowners with lithium-ion battery packs powered by solar energy. Its “sonnenBatterie”, akin to Tesla’s Powerwall unit, enables users to cut monthly bills and rely on clean energy for most of their power needs. Any extra energy is provided by connecting to the power grid.

In February, Sonnen entered phase one of its business expansion with the launch of sonnenCommunity, a virtual network. The initiative connects homes that independently produce energy, allowing them to buy and sell excess energy to each other at a reduced cost of 23 cents per kilowatt hour. That is a fifth cheaper than the 29 cent charge for power from the grid, according to German Association of Energy and Water Industries.

It costs €20 a month to be a member of the community, which covers Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Sonnen said it aimed to begin expanding the virtual network to Italy, Australia and all 50 US states in the next year. “This is a very exciting brand new business field,” said Mr Ostermann.

Phase two of the expansion, called sonnenFlat, eliminates monthly fees altogether. Customers still need to pay for the installation of solar panels and battery pack, but have the option of installing a small device into the wall that, by sending and receiving signals from the grid operator, performs a service that helps to mitigate fluctuations in the power supply.

When there is excess energy from the grid, the device can trigger the sonnenBatterie to charge, extracting excess energy from the grid. If there were a sudden power surge, for instance, thousands of Sonnen batteries would act as a virtual power plant and be able withdraw huge amounts of energy from the grid, helping the operator to stabilise power.

The operator will pay Sonnen for this service; Sonnen, in turn, is paying its customers by providing free energy.

“This is the idea of a new energy market,” said Benjamin Schott, Sonnen’s director of business innovation, earlier this month at ecoSummit 2016 in London. “Every one of us gives a piece of service to the system, and the system works, but I don’t have to then pay for every kilowatt hour.”

Sonnen is working to reduce the upfront costs of joining the network. Mr Ostermann said that a battery costing €25,000 six years ago now costs €5,000. He is hoping to get that price down by another 80 per cent in the next three years.

Sonnen has sold more than 15,000 battery packs. Mr Ostermann said that the company’s German operations, where it derives two-thirds of its revenue, are profitable, but it is investing these profits into international expansion.

He declined to give figures but said that Sonnen expected to turn a net profit by the end of next year, the same time the company may consider an initial public offering. Sonnen would not say what sort of valuation it was aiming for.

“Next year the revenue share coming from abroad will significantly increase,” he said. “We’ve just started ramping out with these investments.”

Article extracted from Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/bbdc7e2e-921d-11e6-a72e-b428cb934b78


When solar was first introduced in Australia as a viable alternative electricity option the governments were quick to offer incentives. These incentives came in the form of ‘feed-in tariffs’ and ‘rebates’ off the purchase price.

Australia has experienced some of the largest uptake in solar, but now the incentives are going to be reduced. In some instances, they will be substantially reduced.

The changes that are going to have the largest impact is the feed-in tariffs. Many homes that signed up early, received very large amount of money for the electricity they sold back to the grid.  In some instances these tariffs were so high that many solar power units were making money for the homeowners!

The high feed-in tariffs are now going, which leaves many homeowners asking what they should be doing now. Not doing anything is really not an option – especially if they live in NSW. It is important that a plan is made and key steps be implemented as soon a possible.

These key steps are as follows:

Step 1 – Use the power generated by you solar power system.

Although this may seem obvious, many homeowners had solar installed but never fully utilized the free power during the day. Items such as hot water units use up to 25% of the homes power. Using a solar powered hot water system (referred to as a ‘heat pump’) can make a huge difference to efficiency of the solar power system.

Step 2 – Reduce your dependency on gas.

Any gas appliance adds cost to the power bills. Using a similar appliance that utilizes solar power instead will reduce the bills. Appliances such as gas heaters can be increase power bills considerably. Warming the home during the day with solar power if far more efficient.

Step 3 – Use a ‘smart meter’ – applicable to NSW homes

Smart meters provide far more options for monitoring your electricity supply. It is important to fully understand all the costs involved in changing to a smart meter. There are many companies offering this service and consumers are advised to read all the fine print prior to purchase.

Step 4 – Get the best electricity price

Homeowners should shop around for the best electricity deal from their grid supplier. There are many electricity companies competing for business.  When shopping for the best price take into account all charges within the package. Ensure there are no hidden fees.

Step 5 – Monitor your electricity usage

Knowing exactly how the solar power system is working and what items are using the most power allows the homeowner to be fully informed. A fully informed homeowner can then make the correct decision about when and what sort of solar battery can be installed. Monitoring systems such as carbonTRACK are worthwhile investments.

Step 6 – Consider a solar power storage system.

Installing a battery allows the ability to use the solar power generated during the day at night. This system provides even greater efficiency to the solar powered home.

It is advised that a monitoring system be installed to ensure the homeowner is able to fully understand what sort of battery size is required and what is the battery’s return of investment.

If you need any further information, please call 13 76 52 and speak to one of our solar specialist that will help you.


The introduction of solar into the Australian market was given a boost by the government in 2 ways. Firstly, the government allowed the excess energy produced by the solar system to be sold back to the grid at 60 cents per kilowatt hour. This was called a ‘feed in tariff,’ or ‘FITs’ for short. Secondly, the government introduced the solar rebate/subsidy to be claimed at the time of installation. This rebate/subsidy amounted to saving thousands of dollars of the cost of a new solar system for the homeowner.

Recently we have seen a dramatic roll back on the FITs taking the tariff from 60 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Now the government is starting to roll back the solar rebate/subsidy from January 1, 2018.

The solar rebate/subsidy has provided Australian homeowners the ability to purchase solar systems at prices far cheaper than comparative systems in other countries. This pricing structures ensured solar was a great investment, with many homeowners paying off their systems in under 3 years.

The planned phasing out of the rebate/subsidy will be over a period of years. The rebate/subsidy will reduce by one-fifteenth of its current amount on the first day of each year until 2030 when it will end.

To make the most of the rebate/subsidy it is important to have a solar system bought and installed prior to the end of this year. This means that the homeowner will need to purchase their solar system during the month of November to ensure the system is installed prior to January 1, 2018.

Currently True Value Solar has a range of solar power options that can be installed and claim the full government rebate/subsidy.

Call the expert team at True Value Solar on 13 76 52 to secure your solar installation before time runs out.




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  • High Efficiency Panels

    We use only the highest quality multi-diode PV panels. Our panels feature a protective glass film covering which makes them weather resistant. The quality of our panels allows us to offer an industry leading warranty with confidence.

  • Quality Inverter

    We have a wide range of inverters available to suit all your energy requirements.

  • Includes Standard Installation

    True Value Solar guarantees high quality installation from Clean Energy Council accredited solar specialists. Installation includes ensuring panels are placed to optimise performance.

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True Value Solar partners with Redback Technologies, an Australian company that manufacturers for unique Australian conditions. Redback Technologies have a proven track record in supplying storage solutions to meet a range of residential needs. They customise their systems to meet your requirements with their sleek modular designs.


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