About SEIA

SEIA was formed in 2007 in response to demand from within the industry. Installers who felt they wanted to be unified and represented under one banner with their interests at heart; manufacturers and importers of panels, inverters, batteries etc who wanted to support and grow the solar industry; retailers, researchers and lobbyists who requested a union of like-minded professionals so that all the various interests and concerns of the solar industry could be effectively reflected under one roof.

Our members include:

  • Self-employed and employed installers who are passionate about the future of the solar industry in Australia.
  • Major importers and manufacturers of PV panels, inverters, batteries and associated infrastructure.
  • National Installation Organisations of PV systems for home and business.
  • Private and Government run education facilities.
  • Renewable Energy Consultants.
  • Members of the Public who are interested in, and supportive of, the growth of the solar industry in Australia.
  • Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) trading companies.

SEIA’s strict Code of Ethics does not allow companies or individuals who act disreputably within the industry, or to the detriment of the industry, to become members.

About Solar

We already have a constant power source – the sun. A huge nuclear reactor creating approximately 17,000 times more energy every day than the combined global population needs or uses.

Australia is one of the sunniest countries on earth. Logically Australia should be at the cutting edge of the solar revolution, leading the way both with its technology, incentive and rebate schemes and national uptake of this simple, cost efficient energy source.

Scientists and forward thinking individuals, corporations and governments have been investing enormous resources of time and money into investigating, creating and perfecting both large and small scale energy production by harnessing the sun’s awesome power.

Some of the world’s first solar thermal and photovoltaic power stations have recently started producing clean, green energy for the grid and intelligent individuals right across the global community are embracing solar for their current and future power needs.

The greatest challenge the global solar market faces is scaling up production and distribution of solar energy technology in order to drive the price down to be on a par with traditional fossil fuel sources.

Solar energy can be produced on a distributed basis, called distributed generation, with equipment located on rooftops or on ground-mounted fixtures close to where the energy is used. Large-scale concentrating solar power systems can also produce energy at a central power plant.

There are four ways we harness solar energy: photovoltaics (converting light to electricity), heating and cooling systems (solar thermal), concentrating solar power (utility scale), and lighting. Active solar energy systems employ devices that convert the sun’s heat or light to another form of energy we use. Passive solar refers to special siting, design or building materials that take advantage of the sun’s position and availability to provide direct heating or lighting. Passive solar also considers the need for shading devices to protect buildings from excessive heat from the sun.

More About Solar

History of Solar

Ancient Greeks and Romans saw great benefit in what we now refer to as passive solar design – the use of architecture to make use of the sun’s capacity to light and heat indoor spaces. The Greek philosopher Socrates wrote, “In houses that look toward the south, the sun penetrates the portico in winter”. Romans advanced the art by covering south facing building openings with glass or mica to hold in the heat of the winter sun. Through calculated use of the sun’s energy, Greeks and Romans offset the need to burn wood that was often in short supply.

Auguste Mouchout, inventor of the first active solar motor, questioned the widespread belief that the fossil fuels powering the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century would never run out. “Eventually industry will no longer find in Europe the resources to satisfy its prodigious expansion. Coal will undoubtedly be used up. What will industry do then?”. Mouchout asked prophetically.

In 1861, Mouchout developed a steam engine powered entirely by the sun. But its high costs coupled with the falling price of English coal doomed his invention to become a footnote in energy history.

Nevertheless, solar energy continued to intrigue and attract European scientists through the 19th century. Scientists developed large cone-shaped collectors that could boil ammonia to perform work like locomotion and refrigeration. France and England briefly hoped that solar energy could power their growing operations in the sunny colonies of Africa and East Asia.

In the United States, Swedish-born John Ericsson led efforts to harness solar power. He designed the “parabolic trough collector,” a technology which functions more than a hundred years later on the same basic design.

Solar power could boast few major gains through the first half of the 20th century, though interest in a solar-powered civilization never completely disappeared. In fact, Albert Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics for his research on the photoelectric effect – a phenomenon central to the generation of electricity through solar cells.

Some 50 years prior, William Grylls Adams had discovered that when light was shined upon selenium, the material shed electrons, thereby creating electricity.

In 1953, Bell Laboratories (now AT&T labs) scientists Gerald Pearson, Daryl Chapin and Calvin Fuller developed the first silicon solar cell capable of generating a measurable electric current. The New York Times reported the discovery as “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of harnessing the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization”.

In 1956, solar photovoltaic (PV) cells were far from economically practical. Electricity from solar cells ran about $300 per watt. (For comparison, current market rates for a watt of solar PV hover around $5). The “Space Race” of the 1950s and 60s gave modest opportunity for progress in solar, as satellites and crafts used solar paneling for electricity.

It was not until October 17, 1973 that solar leapt to prominence in energy research. The Arab Oil Embargo demonstrated the degree to which the Western economy depended upon a cheap and reliable flow of oil. As oil prices nearly doubled over night, leaders became desperate to find a means of reducing this dependence. In addition to increasing automobile fuel economy standards and diversifying energy sources, the U.S. government invested heavily in the solar electric cell that Bell Laboratories had produced with such promise in 1953.

The hope in the 1970s was that through massive investment in subsidies and research, solar photovoltaic costs could drop precipitously and eventually become competitive with fossil fuels.

By the 1990s, the reality was that costs of solar energy had dropped as predicted, but costs of fossil fuels had also dropped – solar was competing with a falling baseline.

However, huge PV market take-up in Germany and Japan has forced the industry to expand and grow, mass manufacture of panels in China and therefore cheaper installs for both individuals and big business alike. The long awaited solar revolution is here!

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