W.A. Energy Minister again hails "great energy revolution" of rooftop solar | RenewEconomy

W.A. Energy Minister again hails “great energy revolution” of rooftop solar

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Mike Nahan says monopoly-busting rooftop solar revolution will lead to “cleaner, greener, more efficient, more flexible” energy system.

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PV Magazine

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.

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The 312 kW system is designed to provide the shopping center with 30% of its electricity supply. Werris Brand/Stuart Hatch

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.

rsz_broadway_312kw_rooftopInfinite 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.

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5 Comments
  1. Ian 4 years ago

    Mr Nathan, don’t crumple, keep the renewables flag flying high. The amazing thing about rooftop solar is the lack of cost to the government. It’s paid by private funds and RECs. All the government needs to do is not to impede the installation of business and household solar.

  2. Math Geurts 4 years ago

    What is the share of WA’s overall energy demand that could be delivered by rooftop solar?

  3. JeffJL 4 years ago

    With the electricity market “in flux” who would pay for Synergy without huge guarantees from the State Government in its proposed sale by the Premier Colin Barnett.

    The sale of the poles, wires and generating assets held by the state (in the entity called Synergy) will only cost WA money in the medium to long term. This ideologically driven policy must be stopped.

    • Peter Grant 4 years ago

      Hi Jeff, Synergy owns the retail and much of the generation for the southwest interconnected system. Western Power owns the poles and wires. There has been talk of selling both of them at various times (including now) but they would be separate deals.

      • JeffJL 4 years ago

        My error. It was not Synergy and Western Power who merged but Synergy and Verve.

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