This article originally appeared in SMH.
A flood of solar energy on the roof flowing into the power grid leads to congestion in the grid and prompts the energy market regulators to propose new regulations to smooth the flow of household electricity into the grid and to offer incentives for the use of home batteries.
Networks were built decades ago when electricity only flowed directly to customers' homes from large coal and gas generators. Now power lines are moaning under the strain of the world's leading Australian solar power system, which is expected to grow from 2.6 million energy customers, or 20 percent of households, to 50 percent over the next decade.
The energy market rule maker says new regulations are needed to prevent customers from paying larger bills as the network is burdened with more solar energy on the roof. Nick Moir
Currently, network operators are striving to limit the amount of power returned to the network by limiting how much homeowners can sell into the network and limiting the return on their investment in panels, which cost thousands of dollars.
The Australian Energy Market Commission released the proposed rule changes on Thursday to allow grids to provide financial incentives to homeowners who avoid sending electricity to the grid in the middle of the day and instead export it at night. This would encourage greater uptake by home batteries that could store the electricity generated during the day.
A controversial proposal was also made that would allow grids to charge solar panel owners for sending power to the grid when the grid is most congested, such as in the middle of a sunny day.
In Victoria, oversupply is already causing four of the state's five grid operators to impose roof-paneled solar export restrictions on households to prevent disruption to the state's power grid.
The AEMC said its rule changes would eliminate the need to invest in new network capacity to cope with excess power. This would limit network charges, which are roughly half the cost of retail utility bills.
Benn Barr, executive director of the Australian Energy Market Commission. DOMINIC LORRIMER
“One option to deal with more solar traffic – building more poles and wires – is very expensive and ends up with all of our energy bills whether we have solar power or not,” said Benn Barr, CEO of AEMC.
“It is important to do this fairly. We want to avoid a best, best-dressed system as it limits the capacity for more solar energy to enter the grid. “
The AEMC modeled likely scenarios that showed that the average household customer – including those without tiles – would receive a small reduction in their annual bill of up to $ 25 under the proposed changes. However, customers with solar panels would have a small impact on their revenue.
A customer with a typical solar system with an output between two and four kilowatts, who earns an average of US $ 645 per year for feeding electricity into the grid, would receive US $ 30 less after the rule changes.
The AEMC warned against a “doing nothing” approach that would increase congestion and restrict electricity exports. Implemented 10 percent of the time for customers with an average-sized system, annual sales could decrease by approximately $ 30 or $ 80 for exports
restricted for 25 percent of the time.
The proposed rule changes do not impose pricing options on customers that would be left to network operators to comply with the market regulator.