Solar Contribution

The Australian Solar Council puts out regular bulletins on all things solar. Two recent releases caught our attention. They are both related. The first looks at the contribution solar energy makes to the grid during peak times and the second looks at its effect on electricity pricing. Here is an extract of the two articles.

Article 1 – “Making Power While the Sun Shines”

Australian Solar Council Article

As Australia swelters through an unprecedented heat wave, solar PV is playing a critical role to make sure that the lights (and air-conditioners) stay on. In an analysis of the amount of electricity produced by solar photovoltatic installations (on 15/1/14), the Australian Solar Council has found that at its peak solar was producing (as a percentage of state electricity use):

  • 9.41% in SA
  • 9.13% in WA
  • 8.64% in QLD
  • 2.80% in VIC
  • 3.59% in NSW

What is more, solar electricity was being produced at peak producing between 2:30pm-5:00pm, right at the hottest part of the day when electricity use is also at its peak.

View the animated version of this graph

“As a community we should be congratulating those people who have made a significant personal investment in installing solar PV, which is now paying dividends for the entire community” said John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council. “Because solar PV produces electricity where it is used, and does not need vast network infrastructure, the power that is produced is all being used to best effect, which adds up to a big saving for solar.”

The second article expands on this theme:

Article 2 – “Privately Owned Solar PV is Slashing Power Bills for All”

Australian Solar Council Article

In a follow-up to our recent advice to Members “Making Power While the Sun Shines“, modelling now shows that solar PV played a significant role in slashing energy prices for the entire community during last week’s heat wave in South Australia and Victoria.

What Happened? Electricity was generated by more than 350,000 privately owned PV systems installed in homes and businesses in South Australia and Victoria, which brought down demand, and added some capacity to the electricity network.

Modelling released by the REC Agents Association (RAA) now shows that during periods of peak demand solar was contributing 606 MW to the grid in those two states.

Why is that Important? Electricity generators sell the energy they produce into the electricity market in half an hour blocks. This wholesale price fluctuates according to demand.

During periods of low demand it may sit at $0.03 per kilowatt hour. During peak demand however, it can rise as high as $13.10 per kilowatt hour.

In similar conditions (in the lead up to Black Saturday) in January 2009 the average wholesale price in Victoria was $4.62 per kilowatt hour.

That stands in stark contrast to the average wholesale price last Thursday afternoon of $0.51 per kilowatt hour. This difference can be attributed, in large part, to the heavy lifting being done by 350,000 solar PV systems slashing peak demand and adding capacity in 2014, as opposed to virtually none in 2009.

These massive blowouts in the wholesale cost of fossil fuel energy are a key driver for increased power bills. This massive cost burden is spread across all electricity users throughout the entire year, in the form of fixed electricity tariffs.

Solar PV’s Heavy Lifting. RAA modelling also shows that at other times of lower demand, such as last Sunday (19th January) solar PV was producing nearly 25% of South Australia’s afternoon electricity demand and 6% of Victoria’s.

It is time to stop the attacks on Solar PV and recognise the real and positive contribution of solar in reducing power prices for the entire community. The community benefits of these Solar PV investments will continue for 30 years and more.

Ordinary people in the mortgage belts of our big cities and in rural and regional Australia have invested a significant amount of their own private capital in solar PV.

This is a valuable contribution to our national energy network and time our solar citizens were recognised.

The extracts above have been reproduced with the kind permission of the Australian Solar Council.

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