Origin Energy, Australia’s largest electricity utility, says the energy industry has underestimated the onset of disruptive technologies such as solar PV systems and battery storage.
In comments made to a conference hosted by GE, the largest supplier of energy equipment in the world, Origin Energy’s head of energy markets, Frank Calabria, said the uptake of distributed generation such as solar and storage had taken – and would likely continue to take – the industry by surprise.
The comments by Calabria shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Australia now has a total of nearly 3GW of rooftop solar PV, and one of the highest levels of rooftop solar penetration in the world. That, in turn, has led to falling demand from the grid, reduced wholesale electricity prices, and the mothballing of nearly a similar amount of coal-fired generation as a consequence.
There is now a growing recognition of the disruptive influences of solar within the Australian electricity industry – something they did not want to admit even just 12 months ago.
Energy ministers in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia admit to being taken by surprise by the take—up of solar power systems, even after the ending of most subsidies. Queensland generators and network operators such as Stanwell Corp, Energex and Ergon Energy have also noted the profound impact of solar power, although they vary about whether this is a blight, a blessing, or an opportunity to the future.
Energy efficiency is the world’s most important “fuel,” according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Investments in energy efficiency provide such massive savings that the energy saved actually completely eclipses the energy generated by most forms of generation. This “first fuel” is incredibly important to the world’s efforts to reduce fossil fuel use and carbon emissions and should be focused on even more, the new report argues.
The Energy Efficiency Market Report, as its known, states that “the scale of recent investment in energy efficiency worldwide makes it as significant in its contribution to energy demand as investment in renewable energy or fossil fuel generation.
The report notes that, worldwide, in 2011, energy efficiency schemes attracted about $300 billion in investment funds — which puts it on about the same level as global investments in fossil-fuel power generation or renewable energy.
One million households in Australia are equipped with rooftop solar energy systems. These systems were installed through various initiatives, many of which came from the Australian government. The country is eager to embrace solar energy in order to reduce its reliance on fossil-fuels, the majority of which are imported from other countries around the world. Australia also intends to leverage the power of solar energy to reduce emissions throughout the country. Exactly how much electrical power these solar energy systems account for is often a matter of debate.
Rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in South Australia generated 497 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity in Australia's fiscal year 2012-2013, which ran from July 1st, 2012 to June 30th, 2013.
This is 11% higher than forecasts, and represented 3.7% of South Australia's energy production during the year, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). By 2022-2023 AEMO expects PV output to increase to 1.12 TWh, or 8.9% of the state's electricity supply.
AEMO speculates that the increased production is likely due to a rush to install rooftop PV systems prior to feed-in tariff reductions on September 30th, 2013, but also notes the role of increased energy prices and lower costs for imported PV modules.
The solar Feed In Tariff (FIT) rate of 25.8c has been the most generous in Australia as all other state governments in Australia have reduced the FIT to under 10c per kWh exported..
This FIT incentive will be greatly reduced soon when the SA Power Networks component is dropped for new applications; leaving the feed in tariff at 9.8c per kilowatt hour for surplus exported electricity.
A new all-electric medium-duty truck has entered Australia’s vehicle market, albeit with a hefty initial price tag.
The Smith 10-tonne Newton model all-electric, zero emission truck will set you back around $180,000, nearly double that of a comparable-sized diesel run Japanese truck. However, based on a travel distance of about 200 kilometres per day, the added sales price should pay for itself by the end of its third year according to Smith Trucks Australia.
The Smith Newton EV starts life as D Series Avia truck chassis, which is manufactured in the Czech Republic. The chassis is transported to the UK and converted from a conventional diesel engine to a 120kW electric motor.
Battery power is supplied from a lithium-ion battery that boasts twice the energy storage of its lead-acid counterpart and weighing significantly less.
The 163hp motor allows a driving distance of up to 240km, and requires eight hours to recharge.
Australian trucking company, Toll Group has announced it will trial one of the Smith EV’s. If successful, Toll Group says the vehicles could be used nationally and offers “substantial savings”.