SA startup helps solar owners go off grid

household solar, SGDs

By Bill Rutten, Powerdiverter head of growth

Rooftop solar is booming. Towards the end of 2018, Australia hit the two million-installations mark, and this is expected to double in the next few years. For a sustainable future this is great news, but what are the consequences of such astronomical uptake?

Big problems are arising for both the network and solar owners themselves. On one hand, all the solar sent back to the grid (on average 70 per cent of solar is exported) is causing major issues for energy distributors and retailers. The current infrastructure was never designed to cope with energy flowing in both directions.

On the other hand, homeowners are seeing a steady decline in feed-in tariffs as more and more people join the movement. The gap between energy purchased and solar exported keeps growing. On average, households pay more than twice the price for energy purchased compared to what they make selling back their excess solar.

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Luckily, there is a solution, and it’s being developed right in our backyard in SA. “Going off grid” is a hot topic and sought after by most Australian solar owners. Independence from fluctuating prices and generally frustrating energy retailers are among the top reasons. Saving money is up there too, so why aren’t more solar owners going off grid?

Powerdiverter founder Daniel Lawes says solar batteries are a fantastic solution, however they are limited in their capabilities, very expensive and therefore should only be seen as part of the solution.

“We looked at this very carefully and decided the easiest and lowest cost way to store electricity is to divert it into existing electric hot water tanks generating solar-powered hot water,” he says.

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“To do this, we have developed the Powerdiverter that constantly monitors electricity flowing in and out of the home. When excess solar energy starts to export back on to the grid, Powerdiverter then automatically diverts this variable power into the customers electric hot water tank providing free hot water all year round.”

To date, 7000 families with a Powerdiverter have saved a combined total of nearly $10,000,000 and it’s estimated that 80,000 Australian families will have one over the next three to five years.