Don’t stand alone on solar

Over 20 percent of Eurobodalla homes have solar power. New regulations allowing energy providers to power their customers with stand-alone systems could see that percentage rise further. Eurobodalla Council’s sustainability coordinator Mark Shorter said it took ten years to get from the first grid-connected solar installation to 10,000 kilowatts of solar, but only two further years to reach 20,000. “Since then, there’s been another 2,034 kilowatts added and it would be great to see the shire reach 30,000 by the end of the year,” Mr Shorter said. He said there was an argument for increasing battery storage too and welcomed new Australian Energy Market Commission rules that enable energy networks to use stand-alone systems. “The changes mean networks like Essential Energy can use solar and battery, with generator backup, to service remote customers and communities,” Mr Shorter said. “Council has also advocated for these changes, which could increase grid resilience in remote areas of the shire; power is more likely to remain available during emergencies and more quickly restored if lost.” Mr Shorter said there was a strong business case to install stand-alone systems where small numbers of customers were located at the end of a long electricity distribution lines,  and “reducing vegetation management costs and bushfire risk makes electricity cheaper for everyone overall.” He said householders could also look to solar and battery options. “We had electricity blackouts this summer and houses with solar panels were often in the same boat as everyone else – no power,” he said. “However, solar and battery can power through a blackout, though you pay a bit extra for the right setup. It’s about weighing priorities against cost savings and that varies for each household, business and organisation. “For example, Council has installed 750 kilowatts of solar power across its facilities but only a single battery system, at the Dalmeny hall. At the moment it’s solar panels delivering better financial and environmental outcomes for Council.”

For more information about Council’s solar power rollout and its emissions reductions plan, visit our action for the environment page, or view the AEMC report on regulatory systems for stand-alone power systems