Extract from an article by Giles Parkinson
Oh, the irony of it all. Ausgrid, one of the country’s biggest electricity network operators in Australia, is looking to install more rooftop solar as a way of saving money on network investment.
Irony? Yes, because for the last few years – ever since the rooftop solar boom took off – rooftop solar has been decried by its critics as variously a sponge on society, the rich feeding off the poor and a grotesque imposition on the networks.
Now, the networks are turning to rooftop solar to actually reduce their costs – confirmation, if any was needed, of some of the many benefits of rooftop solar, which has already been show to reduce, narrow and delay peak demand, and reduce wholesale electricity costs by a significant amount.
Rooftop solar – along with battery storage – is also the technology at the core of the development of renewables based micro-grids, which networks are starting to deploy in regional areas to reduce the risk of fires and storm damage, and offer a more secure, reliable and affordable mini grid,
Ausgrid – which is based around the Sydney metropolitan area and the Central Coast and Hunter Valley, is now looking to rooftop solar as a key tool to offset some the billions of dollars it spends on replacing ageing network infrastructure.
It is offering incentives of $250 per kilowatt installed to encourage the installation of solar on the rooftops of warehouses and other industrial facilities in Sydney suburbs such as Auburn, Erskineville, Alexandria, Redfern, Randwick, Waterloo and Kingsford Smith.
The idea is to use the rooftop solar, along with energy efficiency, as a way to reduce grid demand and so push out the need for Ausgrid to replace that ageing network infrastructure.
Such replacements will account for around 80 per cent of their operating expenditure over the next decade, and are usually made to prevent a “major equipment failure” that would otherwise cut off power to thousands.
“We consider solar power systems and energy efficiency retrofit activities would offer permanent demand reductions over the typical network need period once installed,” Ausgrid says in a tender document.
Rooftop solar on industrial rooftops is being targeted because it would coincide with the actual demand from the business activities that take place under the rooftop. And it may lead the way to more innovative solutions such as peer to peer trading and local micro-grids.
Ausgrid is allocating up to $2 million for this trial to see if encouraging more rooftop solar in a certain area can help defray costs. If successful it could be used across the network.
The potential is huge: Using rooftop solar can be a cheaper alternative and means those assets – which have burned big holes in consumer wallets – can be used for longer..(continues)
SOURCE: Giles Parkinson , “Ausgrid turns to rooftop solar to save on network costs”, Renew Economy, 03 November 2017
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