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Energex says plenty of room for more solar on network

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Queensland network operator Energex says it can incorporate a significant increase in solar PV into its network, despite already having one of the highest penetrations of rooftop solar in the country.

Energex, which covers the south-east corner of the state including Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, has nearly 300,000 households with rooftop solar.

CEO Terry Effeney says the number of solar households is still growing at more than 1 per cent a month, or around 3,000 households a month, despite the removal of nearly all subsidies.

Energex has an average penetration rate of 25 per cent of available households, the highest in the country, and quite possibly the western world. Together the solar on these homes account for around 13 per cent of all residential consumption in the network, and around half their individual consumption.

But he said the network could incorporate more solar, it was simply a matter of sending the right signals to control use and to promote the use of demand management systems to incorporate the solar.

“We can take a greater level of penetration into the system,” Effeney told a Brisbane Global Café forum at the Brisbane City Hall, a lad up event to the G20 meeting this weekend.

“But we have got to think about how we do that …. At a certain point we can saturate the network.”

Effeney says commercial-scale solar and large-scale solar remained largely untapped in his network, and he expected that to grow, although that may depend on tariff arrangements, as discussed here in our story, the network defence against solar PV .

“The commercial sector has not been exploited,” he said. “Solar would be more effective if it was integrated on a lot of Bunnings (warehouse) stores and on top of Woolworths. Those businesses have a lot of coincident load with solar PV.”

(This means that the electricity is produced at the same time as demand, meaning there is no need to disrupt the grid. Indeed, Energex now prevents such installations from feeding back into the grid).

Effeney also said there was room for large-scale solar PV installations. He cited the Sunshine Coast Concil’s proposal for a 15MW solar plant.

“We are going to see a lot more of those installations,” he said. “There is a very substantial opportunity for greater solar penetration.”

He said if solar can be integrated in a cost-effective way – such as with battery storage – this would represent a “double green” for consumers because it would result in lower emissions, and lower costs.

 

   

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  • philipsclassic

    Solar on Woolworths and Bunnings great ideas, been thinking the same myself.
    These are very profitable companies with large market share.
    Surely there is room for a campaign for a roll out of solar panels on Woolworths and Bunnings stores. Something like a real emissions trading scheme may have led to this anyway, but we don’t have one do we.

    • Maurice Oldis

      Theres a 20% return on investment for a start-how does that compare with their actual business??

      • philipsclassic

        I know Woolworths have some of the largest mark ups for groceries in the world. Bunnings is a ‘made in china’ cash cow,

    • JohnD

      Whilst Bunnings tend to own their buildings Woolworths tend to lease part of a shopping centre so yes it would be a good option for Bunnings but not for Woolworths.

  • Chris Drongers

    But, but…. Bunnings would use daytime electricity mainly for lighting and cash registers. That would probably be a lot less than the capacity for generation from their immediate roof; for example the roof of Bunnings at Stafford in Brisbane is 60 x 150m or 9000m2, enough for nearly a megawatt of generation. Bunnings Stafford would never use that much. Bunnings Stafford plus Woolworths Newmarket (another 0.5MW) might possilbly nearly zero out their rooftop generation.
    The Energex statements re commercial generation seem to be a justification for continuing to limit the contribution of larger rooftops to demand reduction.

  • JohnD

    Terry Effeney’s comments about commercial solar are unbelievable because the recent changes to electricity tariffs by his company have tried to kill off solar. Under the old tariff arrangements it was possible to reduce commercial electricity bills by around 30 percent for most businesses operating between 9 and five. The latest tariff structures have included massive increases in both network charges and access charges which is aimed at recovering lost income caused by lower demand. It also greatly effects the ability of solar to reduce the overall cost of their grid connected power. Reducing consumption by one third or more will no longer reduce your bill by a similar margin.

    • Rikaishi Rikashi

      Keep in mind that the value of electricity generated remains the same. It seems likely that the new fee structures allow Energex to make bank on their customer’s solar installations.

  • coomadoug

    For decades we have managed energy by pushing it down the neck of the customer without examining the need with any level of scrutiny. In peak load times when we loose a generator we load shed in a very rough way at the very last resort. We choose instead to provide expensive standby infrustructure that we run very inefficiently with little scrutiny of the total cost effectivness of what is happenning. The wholesale market responds to volitile price signals caused by this archiac process of inadaquate out of date annalysis.
    I am a customer Mr Retailer. Please come into my home with your solar and your load management options and lets be a team. Reduce my power bill, use my roof space and my location. Use my energy management systems you control to contribute to the stability management in the most efficient and clean energy fashion with appropriate reward for the team effort.
    Connect me and integrate my future car, my air con, my water, my various storage options. Inform me in detail about the partnership we have and lets be fair about it.

    • Chris Drongers

      Hear hear Mr Coomadoug. Make it seamless, fair and voluntary or be pushed out of the business.