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Aussies fined for generating power from solar?

13 Jun 2024

It sounds to far-fetched to be true but our cobbers across the ditch are about to be fined if they're using solar to generate electricity.

Well that's not quite true -- but it does make a good click-baity headline doesn't it?

The reality of the situation is that solar generation has outpaced demand in Australia and that's left power companies with a real problem -- what do they do with all that extra energy at times of peak-solar and who will pay for the grid upgrades needed to soak up that power?

Thanks to generous subsidies and high inflow tariffs, huge numbers of Aussies have jumped on the solar bandwagon and thrown PVAs on their houses and businesses. Couple this with the very sunny climate in "the lucky country" and the solar generation capacity there is now enormous.

This has obviously created a huge problem and the Australian government has decided that it's time for those who export their excess energy should pay the price of all the upgrades and changes now needed.

They're proposing a levy on solar generated power that would effectively result in consumers having to compensate the power companies to soak up their excess generation.

This article does a pretty good job of explaining the situation.

A levy on every exported KWh could cost the average solar-equipped home somewhere between $100 and $300 a year, according to the artcle's authors-- although the power companies calculate the figure to be just $6.60. Who do you believe?

Well it seems that the power company has based its calculations on "a token set of panels" whereas most Australian homes and businesses have far larger arrays with much higher generation capacity.

Is this a real problem or just a bit of a grizzle on the part of our Australian cousins?

Well first up, they should be thankful that most got quite significant taxpayer assistance to buy and install their solar system in the first place. It's mainly due to the generous nature of these subsidies that solar has grown so quickly across the ditch.

Secondly, despite the 1.2c/KWh levy being proposed, most will still be actually receiving payment for that excess energy -- it's not like the net sum is a cost to them.

Also, with the rapidly growing rate of EV adoption, many households and businesses will soon be able to soak up a sizeable chunk of that excess energy providing them with a significant net gain over selling it to the power companies and then buying it back later.

Even better, most modern EVs can not only be charged from solar but can also send power back to the house when needed. Your EV becomes a mobile battery storage system.

Within a few short years I expect that most households will have one or perhaps two EVs in the garage (just like they have two ICEVs right now). At this stage, managing excess generation is something that can be done simply and easily. Those who are grizzling now will probably be happy again by that point.

For the life of me, I can't understand why people, power companies and governments aren't recognising that your EV is going to become a key part of your total energy management in the very near future and that, once integrated into a solar generation system, these EVs have the potential to greatly reduce peak-load in the grid.

As I've previously written about, Kiwis are now facing an extra $15 per month levy on their power bills to fund the expansion of our own power grid... perhaps that money would be better spent encouraging solar installations and EV uptake. Remember, in times of civil emergency, your solar array will still charge your EV, even when the grid is down and petrol supplies are unavailable or limited.

Carpe Diem folks!

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