Thursday, February 13, 2020

Grant on renewable batteries

The below is an extract from the Maltese 2019 budget speech (valid for 2020).

Basically for the year 2020, the government will start giving a grant (25% of the cost up to a maximum of  €1000) for anyone interested in buying batteries to store energy generated from the solar array. 
The intention behind this scheme is that the energy generated from the solar array will be stored in the batteries instead of being sold to our country energy provider (Enemalta) and then self-consumed at a later time by the client himself, thus eliminating Enemalta from the equation.

I really don't know if I should laugh or cry at such an initiative!

All this comedy started simply because Enemalta (after the initial contract expired) is paying a very low rate per KW for the energy sold. If I'm not mistaken this is a mediocre €0.07 per KW while the same energy is bought ranging from €0.12, €0.16 to €0.34 per KW depending on the consumption band. It seems that NOT all energy is equal for Enemalta and it's a good way for them to also make some profit on the energy generated by the households which is sold at a higher tariff.

This will eventually get even worse for more people who have installed solar panels simply because the initial contracts for selling RE units to Enemalta are expiring. During the contract, the selling rate was €0.21 or €0.25 for Gozo (energy generated from the solar panels and sold to Enemalta), the intention being to make it higher than it's bought from Enemalta making it more attractive for people to invest in solar power generation due to the higher selling rate per KW and thus a better return on investment.

However the intention of all this is now clear! Enemalta will encourage clients to install panels and make some money for the first years (actually the first years are used to pay back the initial investment), THEN, it will pay you back a miserable rate, enough so the company can make money. Here we're talking of a minimum of €0.05 per KW profit.

Putting in batteries in an already working battery-less grid-tie system is not straightforward! 
1) Most probably, the most expensive component in the RE system will need to be changed, i.e. the grid-tie inverter. Here we're talking of €2-3K. A hybrid inverter such as the SMA Sunny Island inverter will need to be purchased, one that charges batteries and sells the excess energy (once the batteries are full) to Enemalta.
2) The batteries are expensive! The most practical options are either Lead Acid (least expensive - short lifespan) or Lithium-Ion (much more expensive - longer lifespan). For a 6.5KW 48v lithium-ion battery will cost around €3.5K. The goverement will subsidy this amount and for an investment of €3.5K will reimburse €750 or 25% of the battery cost.
3) Changes to the system, i.e wiring and any miscellaneous hardware needed such as wiring and switching gear.

All these changes will easily amount to €6K and the government is giving a mere €1K maximum on just the batteries! 

In my opinion this does NOT make sense and I'm afraid this scheme has just been created to allow a number of local RE providers to make money, by contracting them to purchase the batteries, additional hardware and make the necessary changes to the already installed systems. 

All this hassle and system changes just because Enemalta is paying its clients a lower rate per KW then it's bought. 
Would it have made more sense if the government ensured that both the buying and selling rates are the same? Is this such a difficult concept to grab? It seems YES, when the main objective of all this is for Enemalta to make more profit.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

EV Licence

I have to mention this since instead of progression we're experiencing regression at Transport Malta!

The government 2-3 years ago waived the €10 licence fee for electric cars and in fact it's now free which is a good thing.
However I would have preferred to still be paying the €10 licence fee simply because now the licence can't be settled online.
It seems that instead of putting more services online, Transport Malta have opted for us, electric car owners to pay them a yearly visit at their office just to settle the license fee.

Why can't it be done online anymore? Why do I have to go personally to their office? Is it worth to save €10, you need to go personally to their office? Is this the way forward?