Australia’s electricity grid predicted to reach ‘tipping point’

Solar Trust Centre Team
Solar Trust Centre Team
September 30, 2019

Australia has an ageing electricity grid. The grid connecting the east-coast network was established in the twentieth century. This grid was designed to source power from two dozen coal-fire stations.

Electricity Grid “Tipping Point”

The Australian Energy Market Commission has warned of an upcoming “tipping point” to the electricity grid. This “tipping point” is predicted due to the rapid uptake of household solar. Australia has approximately 2.15 million solar rooftop systems installed nationwide. The existing grid cannot reliably handle inputs from millions of different energy sources.

The electricity grid risks being overwhelmed unless immediate action is implemented by the government and energy companies. It is proposed that such entities take action to avoid higher power prices for consumers.

Responses to electricity grid issue

AEMC chairman John Pierce has responses to the predicted electricity grid collapse. He has said that the regulator “won’t stand by and allow the current situation to continue”. This comes as energy networks have been forced to cut off solar pv flows from the grid. The power system’s inability to connect new technologies has been cited as a cause for this change.

A review of the electricity grid has been completed by the AEMC’s economic regulatory framework. It asserts that an energy system that does not provide consumers with adequate choice or reward supportive behaviours could drive up costs.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has said that “It is crucial that any changes put consumers first and focus on reducing costs”.

Significance to Australians

Australia has seen an increase in the amount of electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines. This has rose from 9.8 to 12.6 per cent of total generation in 2018. Mr Pierce notes: “Consumers are already doing their part and investing in their own rooftop energy” but continues that “distribution networks are not moving quickly enough to realise the value of those investments”.

Mr Taylor highlights the significance of this issue for Australian consumers: “Australia is the world leader in residential solar, with around 20 per cent of households now having rooftop solar”.

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