The incumbent electricity industry is using a range of tactics to curtail the spread of solar PV, which is upending their business model. These includes tariffs and connections, and creating friction between the “haves” and “have nots”. Is solar about to experience the same trend of “antis” as the wind energy industry?
The decline is demand, the incursion of renewables and the subtle shift away from base-load generation is reducing the value of black-coal fired generators. The market is changing so much that the state-owned assets held by NSW and Queensland may be unsellable, at least at the prices they are hoping.
China is proposing to introduce an absolute cap on emissions by 2016, and bring forward its emissions peak. It is being hailed as a potential breakthrough in international climate change action. More importantly, it makes the Coalition’s carbon policy look a nonsense, and further undermines the case for the huge coal projects proposed by Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer.
The carbon markets, the electricity industry and even BNEF now think it is more likely than not that Australia’s carbon price will be repealed. It’s just that it’s likely to be decided by someone we’ve never heard of, or a big Labor back-flip. Either way, it won’t be progress.
SunPower, the US solar giant, says module costs continue to fall sharply, battery storage will be economical “very shortly”, and it’s about to move into the energy management business. And it says, solar has “barely scratched” the $2 trillion global electricity market. No wonder the utilities have hit the panic button.
Utilities release a new report that suggests non solar households are paying $30 a year to cross-subsidise rooftop solar. That’s less than one tenth of the cross-subsidy on air-conditioning. But air-con is good for the utilities business, rooftop solar is not.
Joe Hockey refuses to endorse support for renewable energy, saying he had only just received the Budget Papers. Meanwhile, Coalition politicians are said to have signed up to speak at an anti-wind rally outside Parliament House.
Australian network operators say growing penetration of rooftop solar is cutting volumes, but its revenues are up because it can charge more to its customers. Can anyone see where this is headed? Network operators no longer have a licence to print money. Even market analysts have a sell recommendation.
The investment world might be taking greater notice of the global ‘carbon budget’ – issuing warnings about capital risk on investments with a clouded future – but as the world’s atmospheric CO2 levels sail past 400 parts per million, Australia’s politicians plough on regardless.
As utilities in Australia and the US act to protect their business models against the growing impact of rooftop solar and other technologies, new alliances are being formed to protect the rights of solar customers. The “democratisation” of electricity is putting centralised production in direct competition with their consumers.
A new report released by Deutsche Bank says the global coal market faces a combined threat of steadily growing supply and a levelling-off or decline in demand. A threat, it says, that should guide rational decision-making to delay all major expansion. But will governments really act rationally?
$7.3bn private equity fund Denham Capital has invested $75m in 1GW of Australian wind projects, attracted by wind energy generation that is cheaper than that from new-build fossil fuels. Meanwhile, CSIRO spin-off Windlab Systems seeks its growth opportunities abroad, where policy matches demand.
The sweeping success of UKIP in last week’s local elections has implications for Australia. The first is that no policy document should be more than three words long. But Tony Abbott already understands that, and it’s bad news for climate change and clean energy policies.
An analysis by Australia’s energy market operator suggests 100% renewables would cost the country well over $200 billion. In terms of consumer electricity prices, that’s about the equivalent to the cost of the recent network upgrades. And, it notes, it is all quite doable.
In Victoria, consumers are saving billion by not using power, but the scheme is under threat. Energy efficiency remains a no-brainer, but self interest and lazy politics is threatening the gains that have been made. Even the IEA says the energy we don’t use should be the world’s biggest and cheapest power station.
New report finds that up to 80 per cent of world’s fossil fuel reserves could now be “unburnable”, and if left to their own devices Big Energy would invest another $6 trillion in assets that could prove worthless. But as the size and implications of the carbon bubble grows, Australia’s carbon debate is derailed by economic trivia.
Hydro Tasmania’s best efforts to ‘engage meaningfully’ with King Island residents on the prospect of hosting a 200 turbine wind farm have been blindsided by the machinations of the anti-wind lobby. The resulting battle of wills could kill Australia’s biggest wind farm and set back future renewable energy developments.
The leaders of Australia’s electricity supply industry recently gathered to discuss a fundamental problem – the threat of collapse of their century-old business models. New technologies such as solar and battery storage are eating away at the core of their businesses. Could electric vehicles be their saviour?