The largest commercial and industrial solar rooftop, worth 312kW, in the state of Western Australia (WA) was inaugurated last week. State treasurer and minister for energy Mike Nahan attended the event, describing the array as being symbolic of the “great energy revolution” currently underway in Australia, driven by new disruptive technologies such as solar PV.
The 312 kW PV system was installed on the Broadway Fair shopping center in the state capital Perth and was commissioned as a part of a roof replacement project. SunEdison supplied the 942,312W modules, Fronius the inverters and local installer Infinite Energy executed the project.
Speaking at the inauguration, energy minister Nahan described the state’s electricity market as being “in flux” and in the grips of a “great energy revolution equivalent to what we saw 100 years ago when we put these great [electricity utility] monopolies together.”
Nahan continued: “We are going towards decentralization [of electricity supply] and it is going to be cleaner, greener, more efficient, more flexible and people are going to be more involved in the delivery of energy.”
The minister noted that for government agencies and regulators that have a role to play in facilitating the transition, while maintaining services, the process is a “painful” one.
“I can assure you that [grid operator] Western Power and [state owned] Synergy, the ruminants of the old monopolies, are adjusting [to the new energy market] and facilitating these types of changes,” said Nahan.
The energy minister is in an invidious position as he is responsible for Western Australia’s grid operator and utility while clearly supportive of the monopoly-busting capabilities of distributed generation and battery storage.
Synergy has been costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies annually for some years. Nahan acknowledged at this week’s event that at the same time electricity prices for consumers have increased “phenomenally” over the last 10 years.
Infinite Energy CEO Shane Cremin introduced minister Nahan and commended his work in clearing regulatory hurdles to the deploy of battery storage in the state.
“WA still lags behind the East Coast especially in connecting commercial rooftop solar both in terms of cost of connecting to the network and the size of system being installed,” said Cremin.
“It will be a challenge for everyone in this industry to work together to bring these costs down, so here in WA, we can start making use of these significant natural resources that we have.” Research published in January found that 20% of West Australian homes now have a rooftop PV array.
Nahan concurred with the Infinite Energy CEO, noting that he has observed the vast number of flat commercial and industrial rooftops in WA that are “good places to put solar. I suspect these types of installations will be all around Perth over the next ten years. With my [state owned utility] Synergy hat on it makes my knees wobble a bit, but I can stand straight.”
Source: PV Magazine. Reproduced with permission.