The plunging cost of rooftop solar, the anticipated fall in battery costs, and the potential ability to buy a home energy system from the local hardware store, is causing a split between those that believe the grid will follow in the footsteps of the Post Office, and those that insist we can’t do without it.
The Abbott government’s controversial review of the renewable energy target kicks off this week, and the fate of the multi-billion dollar industry could depend on a debate about redrawing the definition of demand, and how to treat the output of rooftop solar.
Adding solar systems at a rate of 13,000 a month, Australian households invested nearly $3bn in rooftop PV in 2013, and have accounted for nearly all clean energy investment in the country in 2014, as utilities pull the plug on large-scale projects.
Environment minister sees future in ‘clean’ coal, and refuses to endorse renewables. This comes as new data shows large-scale renewable projects at a standstill, and as industry finds doors closed in Canberra. Meanwhile, new data show electricity emissions have fallen 5 per cent in past year.
Can generators live off two hours of demand a day? And what if utilities actually tried to slow down the rollout of rooftop solar? If these are questions energy utilities are asking themselves in the current market environment, they may not like investment bank Bernstein’s answers.
IPCC says action on climate change is urgent but affordable. But as the US and others endorse its finding, the Abbott government says it will “wait and see”, all the while dismantling the mechanisms that could achieve higher targets, and the institutions that would tell it why this is a dumb idea.
UBS research shows soaring network costs have made Australia the most expensive market for electricity prices. However, the average increases in costs from renewable-focused countries such as Germany and Denmark have been below average.
Investment bank Bernstein produces stunning graph to show how solar is now cheaper than oil and LNG in Asia. Solar, it says, is “cheap, clean, convenient and reliable”. The solar market share may be small now, but the prospect it could trigger “energy price deflation” has huge implications for energy investments.
Three key issues may make rooftop solar the sleeping giant of Australian politics, with tens of thousands of households affected by low tariffs for exports, and a pushback on connections by utilities. This will be big issue in three big eastern states.
Dick Warbuton, Abbott’s hand picked head of the review of Australia’s renewable energy target, once wrote that nuclear energy was the only alternative to fossil fuels, and quoted some outlandish costs of renewables. Could he change his mind?
Industry body says Queensland and WA networks likely to the first to dump poles and wires, and allow new businesses that will focus on small grids, solar and storage. Australia, with high electricity costs and plenty of sun, could be leading the world in new energy model.