Blog

IWCE joins the Climate Strike along with our latest home solar client.

IWCE Chair Kathy Bluff and Member Franny Cowap in Hyde Park for the climate strike

Members of Inner West Community Energy joined thousands of students and others at the huge Climate Change Rally in Sydney on Friday.

One of the faces amongst the many thousands was Marjan, owner of the first solar PV system to be installed from our latest round of solar sales.

Marjan’s goddaughter Nicki, took part with her class-mates from Hornsby. Nicki is third from the right in the top row.

Marjan, of Day St, Leichhardt, now has 12 solar panels on her roof, with a maximum capacity of 3.72 kilowatts, being fed into her house through a Solar Edge inverter with power optimisers to boost output due to a bit of shading from nearby trees and buildings – a common issue here in the Inner West.

Marjan had been thinking about going solar for quite some time but had always hesitated. She came to our Solar Information Night at the Royal Hotel in Leichhardt on February 11 and was convinced she had all the information and support needed to just do it.

In five weeks we got it done.

“I’ve been wanting to do it for a while but I’ve always thought it’s too small a house,” Marjan told us. “I’m very careful with my electricity so I thought I don’t use enough to make it worth my while until I went to the meeting at the Royal and I realised that it is worth my while.

“I have seven grandchildren and I’m doing it for them more than for myself. But it’s nice to earn a bit of money. I said to them all: ‘I’ve bought you a present! I’ve bought you all a solar panel and it’s going to be on my roof!’.

“I feel very strongly about this. It’s for the future of this planet.”

Marjan really appreciated the help Inner West Community Energy offered.

“It was fantastic. Really helpful. Because it is a little bit complicated when you start with very little knowledge. And so that meeting really kept me going. It made me go. It made me move. It made me realise that there are people there to help you in particular with finding good people to do the panels – because I’ve heard about people who scam you. That’s what stopped me doing it, too.

“It’s been a really positive experience and I’m really glad I went with it.”

Gavin Gilchrist : 0407 663 125


Going Solar at Dulwich Hill

Jenny Pidcock and Peter Wilkins outside their Denison St house.

It’s taken us a while to pin these two down for a photo but here they are. Jenny Pidcock and Peter Wilkins of Denison St, Dulwich Hill, came to our second Solar Information Night in February last year, held at one of our favourite solar-powered pubs, The Three Weeds in Rozelle.

They can’t recall how they heard about the night and nor can we, but they liked the idea of going solar through a community energy group and they went ahead with a system that was well-sized for their modest needs, a 1.98 kilowatt system with Canadian Solar panels and Fronius inverter.

Thanks for your support, Peter and Jenny.

We have another Solar Information Night coming up on Tuesday, March 26 at the Gasoline Pony in Marrickville. It’ll be our biggest ever as it’s almost booked out.

See our events page here. https://www.facebook.com/events/993458004184471/

  • Gavin Gilchrist 0407 663 125


To tilt or not to tilt?

When you’re ordering solar PV for your roof, is it better to have them flat on the roof or on a tilt-frame, pointing towards the sun?

I was on the roof of a house in Trafalgar St, Annandale, last week, cleaning the 10-year-old panels of an early solar adopter who was unable to climb a ladder herself.

The eight 295-watt Sunpower panels were in excellent condition but they did need a clean, as you can see from the colour of my cleaning cloth!

These panels were on a tilt frame.

I would argue there are four reasons why it’s better to have solar panels tilted towards the sun rather than flat on the roof. (Which direction you point them is another issue, but generally installers point them north at the sun, or north and west to generate more power in the afternoon.)

First, if your panels are on an angle towards the sun they generate more power than if they’re flat.

Second, if they’re tilted they will stay cleaner because when it rains the water will flow off the panels faster, making them self-cleaning.

Third, if the panels are on a tilt frame there’s more air circulating around them, so the panels won’t get so hot. Cooler panels generate more power.

Fourth, and this is rather subjective, I think having panels tilted towards the sun looks better. To me, pointing your panels towards the sun highlights the fact that we’re connecting with the sun’s light to generate energy, and we want to harness every last drop of sunshine. I think they look cool.

There are times when it’s not possible to put solar panels on a tilt frame, such as when the roof space is limited and your can’t space out the panels as is required to minimise shading when they’re on a frame.

Oh, and if you’re a solar household and you’re wandering around the Bunnings cleaning section and you see the product they have that’s marketed as something specifically to clean solar panels, don’t waste your money. Warm water (don’t put cold water on hot panels; indeed don’t do this job in the middle of the day) is all you need. Solar panel manufacturers urge us not to use any chemicals as they can damage the seals and the protective coating on the glass. ashing liquid with a soft cloth are all you need. Don’t use a scourer.

Gavin Gilchrist

0407 663 125

Clean Panels!

Solar information night goes off!

Our latest residential solar promotion kicked off with a bang on Monday night with a packed meeting room at the Royal Hotel in Leichhardt.

Hands up for solar!

This was Inner West Community Energy’s fourth Solar Information Night, and without doubt it was our most successful, with around two dozen households taking the first step towards going solar by inviting one of our preferred solar installers to make a site visit to their homes to come up with a design and a quote.

Our keynote speaker was Nicky Ison, one of Australia’s leading commentators on renewables, energy efficiency and community energy and an Inner Westie herself. (You can read her most recent piece in The Guardian here.)

Nicky Ison with IWCE chairperson Kathy Bluff

Nicky told us there were four reasons Australia no longer needed to make a choice between dirty electricity from coal and clean energy from renewables.

First, the economics of renewables now stack up. The cheapest form of new generation is now wind or solar, backed up by batteries or pumped hydro. The CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operators both say so.

Second, our coal-fired power stations are ageing. They need to be replaced anyway.

Third, Australia has amongst the best renewables resources in the world “It’s not called the sunburnt country for nothing,” she told us. Our competitive advantage is now in clean energy.

Fourth, Australians love renewables. We have the highest per capita household installations in the world. The US, she said, has one million solar homes; Australia has two million.

At Inner West Community Energy we’re working harder than ever to build the number of solar homes in your community. We need to increase the number of houses with solar by around three times to reach the percentage of homes with solar in much of country NSW.

If you know of anyone who wants to go solar, message us via Messenger, text me, or go to our website to send us a message. We’ve had a lot of those the past few weeks!

Thanks again to Nicky Ison and the Royal Hotel staff for making Monday such an enjoyable and productive event.

Gavin Gilchrist Project Manager 0407 663 125

Two more installations & Solar Information Night

Here are a couple of very cool aerial shots of one of our latest residential solar PV systems at Margery’s house in Beattie St, Balmain.

It’s a 3.72 kilowatt system with 12 QCells panels, a Solar Edge inverter and Solar Analytics keeping tabs on everything. Margery had wanted to go solar for some time, but she came to us because she needed a little independent advice on what sort of system she needed, how to organise metering, and who was a trustworthy installer.

Asked why she wanted to go solar, she told us: “To save the planet. And also it helps my electricity bills. I’ve had feedback from people who’ve got solar that it’s saved them a lot and they’re very happy with the outcome.”

And at Colin and Josie’s house in Annandale, here’s the latest increase in community solar power we’ve organised for the Inner West.

It comprises ten 360 watt Canadian Solar panels and SMA inverter with Solar Analytics keeping an eye on things, as we prefer here at Inner West Community Energy. (The system was quoted as ten 340 watt panels but they weren’t available so Colin and Josie were offered 360w panels instead, for no extra cost.)

This brings the total solar capacity installed in this Inner West Community Energy sales round, Round 4, to just over 28.3 kilowatts, worth just under $50,000 That’s $50,000 worth of local investment in cutting carbon emissions, lowering household bills, and promoting small business.


Here’s the system almost complete on Colin and Josie’s roof, with our preferred installers Roland and Blake up there finishing the job.

Asked why he’d decided to go solar, Colin told us: “Basically, to reduce CO2 emissions, and it’s a good investment. Because if I go to any conservative investment, they return less at the moment.”

Inner West Community Energy’s Round 5 starts next Monday night with our Solar Information Night at the Royal Hotel, Leichhardt.

Booking link: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/solar-information-night-tickets-55456534989?aff=efbeventtix&fbclid=IwAR14E1UlyPEkKnvdNryqmc47hVv8Kx9wJjcS6VcGpg4B3sjb4rtLkHewRN4

New system in Marrickville

Sandra Kingston
A new solar system for the Kingston family in Marrickville

Sandra Kingston of Marrickville is a life insurance assistant technical manager who lives here in Marrickville with sons Zeke, 16 and Elijah, 14.

On her roof she’s now got a 6.2kw system comprising 20 QCells 310 watt panels, driving a 5kw Fronius inverter, with Solar Analytics keeping an eye on performance..

She came to Inner West Community Energy in early October, looking for some guidance on getting a good system installed by a reputable solar installer. She’d done a lot of research using Choice and she’d run through their checklist, but the companies she asked to quote didn’t want to visit her house before quoting, and she just didn’t have a level of comfort from dealing with them over the phone.

Through Inner West Community Energy, she completed the Customer Data Form we use as our first step, on October 22. She accepted the quote from one of our preferred installers, Brightside Solar and Electrical, on November 5, and had the system installed on December 10 and 11.

So from the time she contacted us to installation was just over two months, which is pretty typical for our group.

Her primary reason for going solar was simply that “solar makes sense”. “I want to harness the energy from the sun,” Sandra says. “It seems such a waste not to.”

There are now more than two million households in Australia with solar on the roof, according to a report last week from the Clean Energy Council. On average there are now six solar panels a minute going on to the roofs of Australia.

“Queensland continues to lead the nation in rooftop solar, with four of the nation’s top five solar postcodes hailing from the Sunshine State,” the Council said.

“Bundaberg in central Queensland topped the list for the highest number of households with solar power, followed by Mandurah in Western Australia, then three other Queensland locations: Hervey Bay, Caloundra and Toowoomba.”

Sydney’s Inner West has one of the lowest rates of solar PV use in Australia. Under 10 per cent of households around here have solar, compared to many parts of Australia now with over 30%.

At Inner West Community Energy, we’re doing what we can to help lift that figure.

If you want to go solar but don’t know where to start, contact us. Or if you can’t afford solar, or you rent, but you want to help our group, also, contact us.

Gavin Gilchrist, Project Manager: 0407 663 125

Congratulations to school students protesting for action on climate change!

Inner West Community Energy is with you 100%!

Kids rally pic

We also want to see the governments running our community at a national, state and local level do a whole lot more to cut greenhouse emissions. No government that works for us here in the Inner West is doing anything like enough. So maintainyour rage. We share it.

Our second message is about what you can do to help us drive the transition to 100% renewables in our community. This is a practical step that will create demonstrable action to promote clean energy in our neighbourhood.

Ask your parents or carers whether you’ve got solar panels on the roof of your house or apartment building. If not, ask why not.

If they say: “That’s because we rent” then, for now, leave it. Putting solar on rented houses is tricky because landlords usually aren’t very supportive.

If they say, “We’d love solar but right now, we just can’t afford it”, then fine. Can’t argue with that.

But if they say: “We’d love solar but we just haven’t got around to it, and don’t really know where to start” then Inner West Community Energy is here to help. Many of our new solar members could find the money to invest in rooftop solar (it’s a great money saver, after all) but didn’t know where to start to get a good system on the roof at a fair price.

So if the only reason there’s no solar above your head is that nobody got around to it, here’s the plan. Get your most recent power bill, scan it (we need every page) and email it to me, the group’s project manager, and I’ll let you know if solar could work at your place.

Our preferred solar installers are booked out till mid January, but how cool would it be if you could start school next year from a solar-powered house!

Gavin Gilchrist

gavin.gilchrist57@gmail.com

0407 663 125