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Posted: Jan 8 2018, 09:18 AM
Group: Featured Blogers
Member No.: 17
Joined: 17-January 12
Rep: 142 pts
Solar may overwhelm WA electricity grid, warns Australian Energy Market Operator
Monday, 8 January 2018 4:30AM
Power supplies from WA’s rapidly growing number of solar panels risk overwhelming the State’s biggest grid within years unless measures are put in place to better handle uptake of the technology, a leading energy expert says.
Cameron Parrotte, the head of strategy and innovation at the Australian Energy Market Operator, said that even though about one in four households now had solar panels on their roof, the amount of additional solar capacity was running at a staggering 35 per cent a year.
Solar now represents the grid’s biggest collective generator in the system, accounting for almost 700MW of capacity.
Such is the penetration of solar in WA, the SW grid recently experienced for the first time its lowest point of demand during the middle of the day.
Demand from the grid has historically always been lowest at night when electricity use falls, but in late November the event occurred shortly after noon as output from hundreds of thousands of solar panels offset the need for people to take electricity from the network.
It is believed solar power could displace 100 per cent of traditional generation such as coal- and gas-fired plants for short intervals within as few as five years based on current trends.
While this would happen initially only during specific weather conditions, such as mild, sunny days when demand for electricity was low but production from solar panels was high, the trend could be disastrous for conventional power stations.
Power stations would need to wind back production or switch off entirely to accommodate the increasing output of solar panels, undermining the economics of thermal plant.
Mr Parrotte said demand for photovoltaic cells would continue to run away and it was up to electricity providers and authorities to ensure the grid could cope, rather than try to crimp demand for the systems.
He said solutions included providing incentives for householders to install batteries to soak up excess supply.
“When you talk about comparison to other States, percentage-wise we are flying,” he said.
“Some people then say ‘you’ll start running out of roof space’.
“I go ‘it’s one in four (solar households), what about the other three in four?’
“What you are tending to find is that some people who were the early adopters, some of their PVs are starting to reach the end of their life.
“Instead of putting up another 1kW to replace the 1kW they had, they’re putting in 5kW.”
Can't be a bad thing. Solar may reduce much of the demand on coal and gas fired plants but, unless economically viable storage batteries are available, the grid will only be "oversupplied" with solar power for short periods of the year.
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." - Winston Churchill
Posted: Jan 8 2018, 10:01 AM
Group: Active Member
Member No.: 11
Joined: 20-December 11
Rep: 48 pts
So they work at night wow