The roll-out of large-scale solar power in Queensland – and the continuing rapid uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses – is starting to have an impact on electricity prices in the state, even sending them into negative territory in the middle of the day.
Just one day out from the South Australia state poll, the result is in the balance, and so too is the fate of South Australia’s status as a world leader in renewable energy. It’s an outcome that could have a huge bearing on the pace of the energy transition for the whole of the country.
Just hours after giving a lecture in parliament about the Coalition’s belief and commitment to free markets, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the biggest federal government purchase in living memory – the $6.2 billion buyout of Snowy Hydro.
It’s almost impossible to imagine in a country with such an attachment to individual car ownership, petrol vehicles and long distances like Australia. But in little more than a decade, the way we travel in cars may be completely different.
The brain cells are working overtime at the headquarters of network owners, grid operators, generators, and regulators. Australia’s electricity grid is about to make the leap from analogue to digital, and everyone is scrambling to keep up.
The South Australia Labor government has unveiled plans to build a 250MW ‘virtual power plant’, linking household rooftop solar and battery storage, in what it says will be the world’s biggest.
You would have missed it, if you were relying on mainstream media, but Labor leader Bill Shorten did actually mention clean energy and climate policies in his scene-setting speech for 2018, which may well turn out to be an election year.
The Tesla big battery – the world’s largest lithium-ion battery installation – has only been in operation for three weeks, but already it has highlighted just how unprepared the National Electricity Market, and its rules and regulations, are for this new technology.
There are no prizes for predicting that there will be more batteries in Australia’s electricity grid next year: the trick is predicting how much.
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has chosen to close the year in much the same way as he started it on climate and energy policy: awaiting yet another review, and parroting the ever more absurd claims of the fossil fuel lobby and the right wing of his Coalition government on energy.
When Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk held a party in late September to celebrate a connection agreement for the already half complete Tesla big battery in South Australia, and declared the installation to be ‘not just talk but reality’, the timing would not have been lost on premier Jay Weatherill.
Billionaires get it. A million households get it. And so do thousands of businesses. So why does Australia’s government – and its principal regulators – fail to understand that the way to a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable grid is with more renewables, not less.
On the face of it a twin-pronged system focusing on reliability and environmental outcomes could have appeal. But we just don’t know because the details of Malcolm Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG), and even the basics of how it will work, have not been explained.
It is now abundantly clear what Malcolm Turnbull signed up for when he vowed to leave Tony Abbott’s climate and clean energy policies untouched when negotiating his ascension to the prime minister’s office in 2015: it was for a complete and utter repudiation of everything about climate he once said he stood for.
It’s been another big week for exciting renewable energy technology developments, and dismal energy politics. Here is a wrap over how conservative politicians and commentators continue to ignore the reality, and how business is finally embracing it.
There is a grim precedent for the Australian Coalition government’s decision to push for coal and ignore the majority of expert: the same government’s rejection of climate science.
The potentially industry crippling home battery installation safety guideline proposed by Standards Australia has again been slammed by the industry, as fundamentally flawed and – if passed – certain to throw the energy storage industry into chaos, both in Australia and overseas.
The welfare lobby has a stronger case than anyone to rail against the absurd levels of electricity prices in Australia, and the energy stress it is causing for consumers. Low income households are struggling, and some are being disconnected. Small businesses are having to close.
Hawaii and California took major steps towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the last few days in two initiatives that will demonstrate that high levels of renewable energy is indeed suitable for major economies.
Major transmission company Transgrid says 100 per cent renewable energy is both feasible and affordable, and is urging policy makers to ‘step out in large ways’ because incremental change will not deliver climate goals or potential cost savings.
First they disputed the need to even have clean energy. Then they disputed the costs. Now, faced with the growing reality that renewables and storage are going to be cheaper, cleaner, and smarter and more reliable, conservatives are turning to the one mechanism still at their disposal: To shout very loudly.
If you ever wondered just how comprehensively the Far Right has hijacked the Coalition’s energy policy, it’s worth reading the speech by NSW energy minister Don Harwin we reported on last week.
A major new survey has pointed to the inevitable decline in coal generation, as the ongoing plunge in wind and solar costs make them significantly cheaper than even refurbished coal fired generators.
The International Energy Agency has made a mockery of Australia’s justification for vast new coal provinces, saying that coal-fired generation for electricity will have to be phased out by 2030 if used at current rates without abatement.
Australia’s households and small businesses will be at the centre of the dramatic energy transition occurring around us, and will play a critical role in the switch to 100 per cent renewable energy, and saving around $100 billion in costs from the business-as-usual fossil fuel scenario.