Australia truly shines with more solar per capita than anywhere else¹. However, according to Michael Mrowka, founder of multi-award-winning smart energy and solar solutions provider REA Global, there are some significant holes in the Lucky Country's solar game. And the solar retailer is determined to help fix these holes to ensure the country's PV foundations are solid, safe, and future-proof.
"Generous government subsidies and a flood of low-quality solar products have created a highly saturated market driven primarily by price," said Michael. "To secure long-term and sustainable clean energy outcomes, there is a critical need for everyone in the value chain – consumers, installers, and regulators – to be better informed about what a worthwhile and tomorrow-proof solar investment actually looks like."
Industry-wide education is key.
Michael believes a significant lack of education about the differences between alternating current (AC) solar systems and direct current (DC) solar systems is at the issue's core.
The difference between AC and DC current lies in the way the electrons flow. In DC, the electric charge only moves in one continuous direction. In AC, electric charge changes direction periodically. Consequently, in a DC system the current is “always on” which means that as DC voltage levels increase, so does the electrical risk. Our homes are wired with AC and not DC for many reasons, one being safety.
"AC solar systems have microinverters connected to each panel allowing the output of every solar module to be converted directly to 240V AC, which is the same electricity that our homes consume," continues Michael.
"Panel-level inverters also help to increase overall energy production by allowing more energy to be harvested in lower light conditions, and they eliminate the electrocution and arc fault risks associated with dangerous DC wiring. In addition, microinverters provide panel-level control, easy compliance with current and future safety regulations, and the ability to add additional panels to a solar system with zero hassle or waste."
In contrast, Michael highlights that the safety profile of DC solar systems can be shocking. "DC systems involve wiring of the entire circuit from the switchboard to each solar module using high-voltage DC cable runs, and the electrical integrity of the entire installation can be compromised by a DC isolator², the same device intended to increase solar safety.”
“When factoring in system downtime and losses due to the possibility of a single point of failure, yearly maintenance costs, safety risks and likely system replacement costs, “cheap” DC solar is not always so cheap. Due to many installers not considering service costs, it can lead to customers not making a worthy investment,” he explained.
Keeping the sun shining on Aussie solar.
To help drive positive change in the industry, REA Global’s mission is simple:
- Inspire positive change through renewable energy leadership.
- Provide solar technology that ensures the highest levels of safety and efficiency.
- Shine a spotlight on the regulatory inadequacies in Australia’s solar safety standards.
To underpin this mission, REA Global employs an in-house renewable energy engineering team so they can lead the way in research-based solar innovation. The learnings from this approach has led to REA Global becoming a strong advocate for all-AC inverter technology, such as the Enphase® IQ™ Microinverter.
The first solar-powered bus Down Under.
REA Global is committed to developing standard-setting solar power systems that leverage Enphase microinverters to help its customers produce more power, maximise energy savings, and rest easy knowing they've made a sound solar investment.
One example is REA Global partnering with multinational transit operator Transdev to install Enphase microinverter-based solar at the first public transport depot in Australia to feature a fully solar-powered bus³. In addition, Transdev plans to electrify the public transport network in Australia to show that it is more economical financially and environmentally to transition to solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) buses.
"Being chosen as the key energy partner for Transdev Australia is a great honour, and it showcases our commitment to developing and implementing advanced solar technology," said Michael. "Enphase microinverters are key to this as the technology enables us to create more solar energy from a smaller space with increased safety and reliability."
A module made for micros.
In addition, using the experience of installing thousands of solar power systems in Australia for over ten years, REA Global has partnered with leading solar panel component manufacturers to create their own module optimised for Enphase microinverters.
The REA Power Series Modules guarantee customers industry benchmark solar performance, including high efficiency, low light performance, and superior high-temperature yields.
A quality love affair.
The solar bus and proprietary module are just two of many initiatives highlighting REA Global's partnership with Enphase in implementing novel projects and multiple innovative applications of Enphase technology.
As a result, REA Global is recognised as an Enphase Platinum level installer, a designation held only by solar retailers that constantly provide the highest standards of customer service and system quality using Enphase products.
"Being a part of the Enphase Installer Network is so important to us, as we are part of a network of knowledgeable installers who can provide superior advice and support to customers," said Michael.
From research and development to award-winning smart building and design to integrated solar power, battery storage and smart home applications, REA Global is paving the way for Australia's clean energy future.