Rooftop solar at 23% of homes in South Australia – is storage next?

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SA network operator says solar penetration continues to rise, and admits a change in network tariffs could encourage homes to install battery storage.

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The surge in rooftop solar continues unabated in South Australia, with the local grid operator reporting that another 17,000 homes installed rooftop solar in 2014, a rise of 11 per cent over the previous year – and 23 per cent of all residential customers now produce their own solar energy.

The latest update was included in the annual results of Spark Infrastructure, which owns SA Power Networks, as well as two network operators in Victoria.

South Australia is the star performer, thanks to excellent solar resources and historically high retail prices. It is estimated there is now more than 550MW of rooftop solar on 174,000 installations in the state.

Interestingly, SA Power Networks seems to indicate that solar is helpful to the network. “PV is shifting (the) peak, but also helping reduce stress on the network during heat-waves,” it said in its presentation, echoing comments of previous years. Indeed, the peak is now at 7pm to 7.30pm in the evening, when it would have been late afternoon previously.

This means that the volatility on the electricity markets has been greatly reduced, much to the chagrin of the fossil fuel generators who used to profit from those regular surges in demand.

However, SA Power Networks indicated it would be moving to change its network charges to “demand” based, rather than consumption based. This would address the overall fall in demand caused by the big uptake in rooftop solar.

But executives also admitted it could encourage home-owners to install battery storage. The timing of that, said Sean Kelly, was still unclear. But he said that could provide a further benefit for the stabilisation of the network.

SA power networks 2015

It is a different story in Victoria, however. Powercorp, which services the western suburbs of Melbourne and the central and western regional districts, has a penetration rate of 12.6 per cent, up from 11.1 per cent. But CitiPower, which is based around the inner suburbs of Melbourne and the CBD, has a solar penetration rate of just 2.8 per cent in residential homes, presumably because so many residential accounts are in apartment blocks.



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  1. John P 5 years ago

    Does this rooftop solar uptake suggest that homeowners are intellectually aware of the benefit of the renewables advantage or are they just forced into it by the parasitic behaviour of the power industry – or both – or other?
    I think it was never anticipated.

    • Elisabeth Meehan 5 years ago

      In WA it tends to be the lower socio-economic new suburbs – not as uneducated or silly as you might imagine. Young people, looking at bills and the long term – fantastic!

      I got that info from Scott Ludlam. He says he doesn’t imagine they have all become “deep ecologists”.

      Frankly, I don’t care why. And given that the hip pocket is one of the great motivators, it’s good news for the planet, and the family food budget.

      And word of mouth is the best advertising. People are really keen when they hear about your savings, and SEE your bills! Refunds! Ha!!

      • John P 5 years ago

        If the younger generation is taking the longer term view, then that is most encouraging and much to be desired.
        I’m just surprised that the uptake is such a vibrant community development.
        I’m also interested in the fact that the ‘rooftop solar’ enterprise is now so large that it is impacting on the operations of the networks.
        That wasn’t predicted either!!
        The other interesting component is the response of the Liberal party who want to control and shut renewables down. They seem at a loss as to how to respond to domestic solar.
        It’s wonderful!

    • ben 5 years ago

      It’s largely economic. People here have looked at the figures, such as I have, and realised that we can get a 4 year ROI.

  2. Leigh Ryan 5 years ago

    The next step of course is Battery Storage, but what very few have considered along with Battery storage is smaller not for profit co-op community retailers operating micro-grids where every solar owner is a shareholder in the co-op, these will be small but possibly large enough to also fund and run micro scale nuclear power generators, saving the country Millions and in the process avoiding the current catastrophes of blackouts due to storm and fire and even if they are effected not causing any disruption to neighboring areas.

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