Glossary of terms

All the renewable energy terms you need to know.

Accredited retailer

A retailer that adheres to certain standards as specified by a separate organisation (e.g., a Clean Energy Council-accredited retailer).

Active roof

An apartment roof that is used for purposes such as gardening, recreation or social gatherings.

Business Renewables Centre Australia

An independent organisation and website that connects corporate energy buyers with renewable energy sellers.

Buyers/buying group

A group of businesses or organisations that enter into a power purchase agreement together.

Carbon neutral

An entity (for example, a business) that does not increase or decrease the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Carbon neutrality can be achieved by counteracting carbon emissions with carbon reduction measures, or by eliminating carbon emissions altogether.

Carbon offset

A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intended to compensate for the emission of greenhouse gases elsewhere.

Carbon positive

An entity (for example, a business) that removes more greenhouse gas from the atmosphere than it produces.

City resilience

The capacity of individuals, communities, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and thrive no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.

Climate change

A change in weather patterns, and the associated changes in the oceans and land surfaces, attributed primarily to the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by human activity, for example burning fossil fuels.

Common area

The shared spaces within an apartment complex (e.g., hallways, gardens).

Common area load

The higher your common area load, the more likely your apartment building will be suitable for solar to power your common areas.

Common property rights by-law

This by-law can be created if a lot owner in an apartment building requests personal use of common property for renovations or another type of use. It can only be made by an owners corporation with the written consent of each owner.

Corporate power purchase agreement

This is struck between a business or organisation and an energy generator. The term ‘corporate’ differentiate these agreements from those struck between energy generators and energy retailers. 

Development Application (DA)

A formal request to undertake development on privately owned land.

Embedded network

A private network that supplies electricity to multiple premises on a parcel of land (for example, an apartment building).

Energy efficiency

The degree to which an entity (for example, a business) uses energy effectively and moderates its need for electricity through energy-saving measures.

Feed-in tariff

The amount a household or business is paid for excess renewable energy that it feeds into the supply grid.

Financial power purchase agreement

A power purchase agreement between an energy generator and a business/organisation that is not arranged by a retailer.Another term for this is ‘wholesale power purchase agreement’.

Generator

A plant or factory that produces electricity, such as a solar farm.

GreenPower (scheme)

A joint initiative of ACT, NSW, SA and VIC government agencies that enables Australian households and businesses to prefer certified renewable energy for their electricity usage, which is then added to the grid on their behalf.

Green Star

A voluntary rating system operated by the Green Building Council of Australia that assesses the sustainable design of buildings, fit-outs and communities.

Grid

The physical network that connects energy producers with energy consumers.

HVAC

An acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

Inactive roof

An apartment complex roof that is inaccessible to residents and/or is currently utilised to house plant and equipment.

Large-Scale Generation Certificate (LGC)

A certificate awarded to an energy generator for producing one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable electricity. These certificates can be traded.

LED

An acronym for light emitting diode. A modern type of lightbulb that uses much less energy than traditional halogen or incandescent bulbs.

Load

The amount of electricity a consumer uses.

Load matching

The matching of the energy buyer’s demand profile to the renewable plant’s generation profile.

Inverter

A device that converts the energy produced by solar panels into usable electricity.

Kilowatt or kW

A measure of electrical power equal to 1000 watts.

Kilowatt hour or kWh

A measure of the electrical energy consumed by a 1-kilowatt machine over the course of an hour (also a measure of the electrical energy produced by a 1-kilowatt generator, such as a solar panel, over the course of an hour).

Marginal loss factor

The amount of electricity that is 'lost' due to physical factors such as electrical resistance during transmission from a generator to the end user. It's a technical term commonly used in PPA discussions.

Megawatt hour or MWh

1000 kilowatt hours.

National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS)

NABERS is a national, government-administered ratings system that measures the environmental performance (or operational resource efficiency, including energy) of a building.

National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS)

A set of rules overseen by the federal Department of the Environment and Energy that organisations must adhere to in order to receive carbon neutral certification.

National electricity market

The name for Australia’s wholesale electricity market. It includes generators, the grid and retailers.

Net zero Energy (building)

A building that offsets at least 100% of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Network distribution companies

The entities that maintain Australia’s grid.

Offsite power

A power-generation system (for example, a solar farm) that exports the electricity it produces to the grid for onward distribution.

Onsite power

A power-generation system (for example, rooftop solar) that services the building upon which it is located (for example, a house).

Payback period

The amount of time it takes for the user of a rooftop solar system to recoup the purchase price of that system through energy cost savings.

Power purchase agreement (PPA)

An agreement between an electricity generator (for example, a solar farm) and a major electricity user that locks in pricing and supply parameters over an extended period of time.

Photovoltaic (PV)

The conversion of light into electricity. The term “solar PV” refers to rooftop solar systems that convert sunlight into electricity.

Rebate

A partial refund for something, often paid by the government.

Renewable energy

Energy produced by non-finite (or “green”) resources such as sunlight, wind and water. Fossil fuels (for example, coal and oil) exist in limited quantities and are therefore not considered sources of renewable energy.

Retail power purchase agreement

This is a power purchase agreement between an electricity generator and a business or organisation that is supported by a retailer – for example, EnergyAustralia. The generator supplies the electricity to the retailer and the retailer passes it along to the business. Another term for this is ‘supply-linked power purchase agreement’. 

Silicon

A common metalloid that is used to create solar cells for solar panels.

Solar cell

An electrical device that converts light into electricity.

Solar panel

A panel comprising multiple solar cells.

Solar PV

See “Photovoltaic (PV)”.

Solar thermal

A technology that uses heat from the sun to heat water. The hot water can either be used by households or used to generate steam – the steam then powers a turbine, creating electricity.

Special resolution

A strata motion that must be approved by 75% of eligible voters in order to pass. Special motions often address strata bylaws or changes to common areas.

Spot price

The price an electricity generator can achieve on the national energy market. The spot price fluctuates in line with supply and demand. It is also called the ‘spot-market price’.

Supply-linked power purchase agreement

This is a power purchase agreement between an electricity generator and a business or organisation that is supported by a retailer – for example, EnergyAustralia. The generator supplies the electricity to the retailer and the retailer passes it along to the business. Another term for this is ‘retail power purchase agreement’. 

Tariff

The cost of a unit of electricity. This term can refer to the price charged by an energy retailer for electricity or the price paid by a retailer for a user’s excess electricity (see “Feed-in tariff”).

Wholesale PPA

This is a power purchase agreement between an energy generator and a business/organisation that is not arranged by a retailer. Another term for this is ‘financial power purchase agreement’. 

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