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.