Consumers, PV and storage critical to low carbon grid: AEMO

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AEMO underlines push on demand side of grid, wanting new market rules and regulations to facilitate rooftop solar, storage, energy efficiency and demand management. It marks major shift for the grid operator, and for the design of Australia’s grid towards consumers rather than generators.

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solar rooftopEnergy consumers – armed with rooftop solar PV and battery storage – are going to play a critical role in the management of Australia’s grid as it transitions to a low-carbon future, the Australian Energy Market Operator says.

In releasing its new electricity forecast for the next two decades, AEMO says the uptake of solar, storage, demand management and energy efficiency will mean that Australia’s peak demand will keep electricity demand stable for the next two decades, despite a 30 per cent increase in population.

Indeed, the report is dominated by the impact and opportunities of rooftop solar, battery storage and associated technologies and demand controls, and how they are deployed by consumers.

It is a significant shift for AEMO and the energy debate in Australia, which is normally focused on large centralised generation – such as “baseload” coal. But AEMO’s new boss Audrey Zibelman clearly wants to shift the focus to consumers and the demand side of the equation.

This has come as a huge relief for many in the industry who have been advocating for energy efficiency and demand management for years – right back to when Malcolm Turnbull was environment minister a decade ago – but who have met fierce resistance from the generator lobby and energy institutions.

AEMO has looked again at its forecasts and nearly doubled its estimates for the uptake battery storage and now predicts 5.5GW to be installed by households and business to 2037.

It expects a continuing boom with rooftop solar PV – currently being installed at record levels as solar prices drop and grid prices jump – and sees this rising to 20GW, also by 2037.

Zibelman says this will help redefine the grid. Peaks will be pushed into the evening, minimum demand will occur during the day in most states rather than at night, and within 10 years, South Australia will actually have “negative” demand from the grid for a few hours over summer.

All this, Zibelman says, poses challenges to the way the grid is managed. But none of them are insurmountable. Indeed, it presents numerous opportunities for new players, and existing players in the market.

“The energy system is going through a significant transition in how and when consumers use and are supplied energy,” the report says.

“This creates an opportunity for new market arrangements, improved system planning, and new market, network and non-network solutions to support an ‘orderly transition’ and deliver secure, reliable and affordable energy.”

The report says energy consumers are expected to become more active in controlling their energy use, by improving energy efficiency and generating their own energy ‘behind the meter’.

This including businesses, which it notes “are already acting”, clearly taking into account the recent moves by zinc refiner Sun Metals, the vegetable producer Nectar Farms, and Telstra, in sourcing all or part of their energy needs directly through wind and solar.

“The recent spike in rooftop PV installations, and reported actions by large consumers, provide some evidence that many businesses and households are already acting, and this trend is forecast to continue, supported by projected falling costs for PV systems, battery storage, and energy-efficient appliances,” the report says.

aemo demand

This graph above illustrates the important role that rooftop PV, energy efficiency and demand management will play in reducing grid demand. Look above the black dotted line for the developments that reduce demand over the next two decades.

This is consistent with International Energy Agency forecasts of how to meet climate targets, where at least one-third of demand needs to be reduced by demand measures, as the supply side is then cleaned up by the infusion of renewables and dispatchable generation.

Interestingly, Don Harwin, the energy minister in the NSW conservative government, said in a speech on Thursday that the old energy system paradigm “based upon a notion of a baseload of energy demand being supplied by large thermal generators, and then a peak” was changing rapidly.

He agrees with Zibelman that energy efficiency, demand management and clean energy – evidently cheaper than new-build fossil fuels – will play a major role in framing the new markets. “Clean energy has gone from relatively expensive to the cheapest new build technology in a few short years,” Harwin said.

And he pointed to the critical role played by wind and solar and hydro in the heatwave of early February, when the state came close to major shortages, and had to impose load shedding on facilities like the Tomago aluminium smelter.

“Clean energy performed as forecast. Thermal generation did not,” Harwin said.

AEMO sees no problems integrating the huge spike in rooftop solar, given a range of market, network and non network solutions such as storage. These will manage increasing variability with system demand, low daytime demand and increasing “ramping” in morning and evening peaks.

aemo minimum demandAEMO also sees an increased uptake in electric vehicles, but only after 2020. It sees the impact of EV charging on grid demand as relatively minor, and less than a switch to electrification in other sectors as they sought to decarbonise and dump expensive fossil fuels.

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  1. Ray Miller 2 years ago

    Thanks Giles, this article paints a different picture especially as more and more levels of government see the energy transition happening. I feel that energy efficiency is significantly underestimated and with a greater effort in policy and technical specification behind the scenes would offer significant bonus dividends.
    One significant threat I see is what is happening in our built environment, if as one CQU researcher has modeled the expansion of the tropics and could reach Sydney and Perth by 2100 (just 80 years away).

    So as we construct our buildings for today we do need the same strategy as done with our cyclone regulation, make changes to our construction practices to protect the occupants in the future as for the cost of not doing so far outweighs the cost of not.

    • John Boland 2 years ago

      absolutely right. We need to be designing with respect to future climatic conditions, not today’s. An extra benefit is that they will perform that much better under today’s conditions too. One other alteration I suggest is to change the ratings of house designs, as buildings geared for lower total energy use can still be lacking in heat stress resilience. The ratings should be performed to minimise both overall energy use AND heat stress,

      • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

        Building industry lobby is as powerful as coal lobby that’s why Australian buildings have the thermal properties of tents.

        • solarguy 2 years ago

          Sadly, I have to agree with that statement.

        • Brunel 2 years ago

          That is not true. New houses in Vic are required to have a lot of insulation for winter. Not sure if that means a ban on floor heating – I hope not.

          I just moved into a new house and am amazed at how (relatively) warm the house is at 2am when it is freezing cold outside.

          And am not sure if it means a ban on floor to ceiling windows.

          I do think 20% of new houses in AUS should be required to have an orange roof (or lighter) to not absorb as much heat as a black roof.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Suggest you take a tour of a new suburban development before the cladding goes on and check the compliance levels. I have mates who are on these sites most days of the week and it’s reputedly appallingly bad. Entire sheets of sisalation missing because they blew off etc. No air sealing around doors and windows. Many roofs have terrible insulation as I know from the Facebook Group My Energy Efficient Electric Home that Tim Forcey started. People always reporting on that fact.

            You know in WA they don’t even have structural inspections for slabs or frames of housing, no random inspections even, nothing! Glad your house is well insulated! I just moved into an 8.5 star home that in truth is probably better insulated than many 9 star homes.

          • Brunel 2 years ago

            Can floor heating and floor insulation go hand in hand?

            Or are they mutually exclusive?

            The most important thing now is to stop the importation of asbestos building materials and flammable cladding – both of which are imported from the 3rd world.

    • metro70 2 years ago

      FGS You’re destroying Australia now so that some unknowable impacts of 80-100 years from now might possibly be avoided.

      This is all about a very slight short warming trend.

      How long is it? It’s only since the late 70s…and it’s plateaued since 1998…even IPCC says so!

      In the mid-70s all the talk and absolute alarm was about ‘the coming ice age’ and some of today’s warmists were on TV warning about THAT.

      Then in 76/77 an entirely natural phenomenon…the Great Pacific Climate Shift caused a step rise in the earth’s temperature …..that was then followed in 1997/98 by an all-natural uber-El Nino that raised the temperature of the earth to a higher plateau.

      Since then as IPCC admits in AR5…there’s been a PAUSE…no significant rise in global temperature…and that the pause continues ….was reiterated by climate scientists a few months ago.

      Like so much of climate ‘science’ the consensus you rely on…. itself discredits the issue as a science.

      A consensus…especially one announced and thereafter set in concrete decades ago when hardly any of the necessary research had even been done…is anathema to the natural sciences…scepticism is their currency.

      The earth system is 70% ocean but back then with faulty XBT floats…it was impossible to reliably measure the temperature of the ocean, which was not even close to being reliably measured till 2005 with the advent of the ARGO float system…which showed that there was no significant rise in ocean temperature. For part of the famous trend warmists rely on, the only way oceans [ 70% of earth] were measured was by dipping buckets into the ocean here and there.

      How could warmists possibly have known whether CAGW was real if 70% of the globe was never reliably measured till 2005?

      And most of the global temperature is STILL not reliably measured!

      Sea level rise is not ACCELERATING. Rising is natural because ice is melting as the earth is still emerging from the Little Ice Age….if it wasn’t rising it would probably be at the inflexion point before dropping…heralding a new ice age…then we’d really be in trouble!

      If CAGW was real, the oceans would have to be warming and they are not…and the sea level rise would have to be accelerating….but it is NOT.

      Arctic sea ice melt and that of glaciers and permafrost is in part a natural result of the huge deposits of black carbon on the ice…nothing to do with CO2 emissions.…just soot.. from the burning of forests and other biomass in Indonesia , China and other parts of Asia and Africa.

      The only connection with coal is that the black carbon along with other particulates is also produced by incomplete combustion of dirty coal in very old power stations that China is phasing out…not from modern coal-fired power stations and not from Australia’s cleaner coal.

      This whole scam is social scientists trying to assuage their inferiority complex re natural scientists…their desperation to be thought of as scientists when their discipline has no empirical basis…and harbors so much dodginess.

      The science has been corrupted and used as a tool of the Left for global control of resources and everything else…and wealth redistribution as IPCC officials have themselves bragged about…as did the small core of ‘scientists’ at the centre of the hoax….re the unscientific methods …fudging ..lies …propaganda…fake inquiries-data fraud-raw data lost…peer review corruption and intimidation…hysteria…cover-ups etc

      UQ should apologise to the world for the faulty social science ‘research’…[admitted as such]….by one of their faculty members [ former now]…’results’ that have all the world parroting the mantra ‘97% of scientists agree’ so as to dodge answering questions on myriad discrepancies and corruption in climate ‘science’…especially so since he’s been caught impersonating one of Europe’s most respected scientists.

      And so whole populations take the scam on board without questioning it… large numbers of people are duped and meekly give the tick to lazy spooked governments and the LEFT ….to use the scam in such a way that….in the words of Rudd guru academic David McKnight…on the then emerging issue of climate catastrophe..that he saw CAGW as a great opportunity for Socialists…

      ‘collectivist and egalitarian values associated with socialism will acquire a new relevance in the emerging political situation.’

      The truth about this hoax has been spelt out loud and clear by UN officials at different times but the world is deaf to it because the CAGW hoax has ‘ noble cause’ status.…and because by now those who might have been outraged …like big business…have secured themselves a vested interest in RE and in the whole scam succeeding…by investing in unreliable unsustainable wind and solar.

      Big Business doesn’t care that it’s a hoax…they just don’t want to lose on their RE investment…likewise the celebrity carpetbaggers.

      Here’s UN IPCC’s Christiana Figueres…on dismantling capitalism , national sovereignty and free enterprise to replace it with UN-administered global wealth redistribution under the pretext of CAGW….

      She says…..
      [ “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ­ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial ­Revolution.

      “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to ­intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human ­history.” ]

      …..and UN IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer before Cancun :

      [ “… we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore…” ]

      and…[ ‘most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil….this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources.’ ]

      This truly is the heist of the millennium for the hoax of the millennium.

      Australia’s ALONE…on its own out on a limb…there isn’t any first world country without nuclear or massive hydro that can do without coal…NONE AT ALL…and here we are consigning our coal industry to history with nothing reliable and economic enough to take its place.

      Australia is committing economic and social SUICIDE….for a HOAX.

  2. Tim Forcey 2 years ago


    The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has published an updated forecast of the demand for grid-supplied electricity in eastern Australia (the National Electricity Market or NEM).

    In 2009, demand peaked at 195 gigawatt-hours (GWH). In 2016, demand was down to 185 GWH. And AEMO says demand will continue to fall at least until 2019 (down to 179 GWH). So AEMO are forecasting that demand in 2019 will be only 92% of what it was 10 years before.

    This decline is happening despite eastern Australia’s increasing population and economic activity, including the ramp-up of the electricity-hungry coal seam gas / liquefied natural gas (CSG/LNG) export industry.

    So why the decline? “Behind the meter” electricity generation such as rooftop solar PV, more efficient electrical devices, some shutdown of electricity-intensive industry, behavioural consumer response to increasing electricity prices…

    Were there to be significant “fuel-switching” from gas and petrol to heat pumps and electric vehicles (EV’s), we might see demand for grid-supplied electricity climb again someday, but time will tell..

    The above was first posted on My Efficient Electric Home.

  3. riley222 2 years ago

    Electricity to power vehicles could be light on . Also the production of hydrogen could add significantly to needs.

  4. Alastair Leith 2 years ago

    “AEMO also sees an increased uptake in electric vehicles, but only after 2020. It sees the impact of EV charging on grid demand as relatively minor, and less than a switch to electrification in other sectors as they sought to decarbonise and dump expensive fossil fuels.”

    Interesting, certain politicians have told me advent of EVs mean there’s no Death Spiral thing gonna happen no matter what they do with fixed and FiT charges. Quantification of EVs being less than fuel switching in industry is notable. Be interesting to see the numbers some time.

  5. Roger Brown 2 years ago

    Been watching Fully Charged Show on u -tube . With re-gen in vehicles ,it brings down the cost of recharging your car at home and when doing a long trip. Range is 500 MILES in the tesla P100D . Some councils are using powered street lights as a recharging point and then charging the owner monthly . The UK is so far in front of Australia , they must have more sun than us ? 🙂

    • Brunel 2 years ago

      And yet Westminster does not mandate stinking 4.5L toilets in new houses along with low-flow shower heads!

      Westminster has it right. Banish coal power stations and let people use whatever toilet bowl they like. Especially if the desal plant is powered by wind turbines and solar panels.

  6. Miles Harding 2 years ago

    I as discussing this on the weekend with my local sustianability group. One of our number had surveyed the commecrial roofs in the area, noting the virtually none had any PV at all on them.

    This seemed really odd when the IRR is something like 20 or 25%, which should make this an obvious option and it can be financed and deliver an immediate return. Many of the premises were owned by the businesses groups themselves.

    Our thought was that there is a need to conduct an education campaign in the area. A related campaign to revise the state laws to enable solar power on strata developments and rented premises is also long overdue.
    It likely won’t happen for a long time if we don’t help make it happen, which means activism and enagaement at a community, local government and state level.

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