Some great predictions coming from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)’s final report on last year’s widespread energy outages in South Australia. SA Power Networks’ Ron Stobbe (operator of the local network in South Australia and owned by Spark Infrastructure) has predicted that the cost of battery storage will fall dramatically over the next 5-10 years. Stobbe says the cost of rooftop solar is already around 5c/kWh and he expects that battery storage will be around 10c/kWh of usable power. This combination of solar+storage (15c/kWh) represents less than half the cost of grid power in SA right now (35c/kWh).
According to RenewEconomy.com.au, the implications of these prices will be far reaching and are not just for the way the network businesses will be run. Retailers and generators (generally one and the same e.g. Origin) who operate the majority of centralised generators will have to move quickly or face the serious possibility of being left behind with this disruptive technology.
Rooftop Solar and Battery Storage in South Australia – Projections
Stobbe in the AEMO report noted that, of the 850k customers in SA, he thinks 70% of them will have roooftop solar by 2035. He estimates that 50% of these customers will also have battery storage by that date. On their side, the CSIRO have estimated that in SA (a state who already meets half their energy needs through renewables (wind and solar)), 85% of the energy will be sourced from renewable sources by 2035.
SA Power Networks are forecasting the current 650MW of solar power in SA to more than treble throughout this period – and what effect will this have on the current network and the centralised nature of energy? Stobbe noted that “there is no doubt the industry is changing significantly” and that “we have got to change too” – so it’s very interesting seeing the comments coming from big companies like SAPN who can see the writing on the wall.
Is There a Future for Large Generators?
Energy Networks Australia released the ‘Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap‘ late last year and it makes for fascinating reading as we continue the exciting, but the transition into a positive energy future for Australia and Australians. Does this mean we will see the old school model of centralised generators become a relic of the past? What percentage of energy will come from distributed generation rather than these generators in 2020? 2030? This depends largely on the government’s willingness to assist in the transition and how quickly the technology’s able to grow. We can’t wait to see what the 2020’s bring.
P.S. If you’re in Melbourne – keep an eye out for the 2017 Solar Energy Exhibition and Conference on May 3 and 4 – Australia’s peak industry event for solar and energy storage. It’s free to attend and you can register by clicking here.