Households can help with future grid
As South Australia's future grid is taking shape, SA Power Networks says we could be getting more value from customer investment in energy resources such as rooftop solar, batteries and even electric vehicles.
CEO Andrew Bills has told the Future Energy Conference at the Tonsley Innovation District this afternoon that while more large-scale generation and transmission is needed to support the transition to renewables, there is not enough attention being paid to the massive opportunity presented by customer energy resources embedded in the distribution network.
“South Australia already is a world leader with 350,000 rooftop solar installations, more than 35,000 batteries and significant potential that will be unleashed by electric vehicles as we electrify transport,” Andrew said.
He said there were now more than 37% of customers with solar, with a total installed capacity of almost 2.2GW – more than sufficient to regularly meet the State’s electricity needs in the middle of mild sunny days.
“Electric vehicles are the next big thing influencing energy outcomes,” Andrew said. “They have batteries three to ten times the storage capacity of home batteries and are a great opportunity to utilise the State’s abundance of renewable energy. Emerging technologies like smart two-way chargers for EVs also have real potential to slash energy costs for consumers.
“We can kill two birds with one stone when it comes to electric vehicles, with cheaper transport and cheaper energy for households,” Andrew said.
“Electricity is much cheaper for running a vehicle than petrol/diesel and indicatively we believe that the average household could halve their total energy spend from about $4,500 to about $2,400 per annum by switching to an EV.
“Electric vehicles are also set to explode in numbers as manufacturers move away from ICE vehicles. More than 20 countries and many major automakers have announced plans to phase out new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars between 2025 and 2035 and that will flow onto the SA market,” Andrew said.
With the electricity network to become the primary ‘fuel’ source for transport, Andrew said the good news was that there was enough spare capacity in the electricity distribution network to substantially meet demand from EVs and avoid the need for larger-scale network upgrades ultimately paid by consumers.
“The network has tremendous spare capacity outside peak times. We can unlock this capacity and create significant value for customers and the community by encouraging ‘flexibility’ in energy use. If we get it right, we can significantly increase network asset utilisation and help lower energy costs for all.
“The solution is a mix of incentivising as much electricity use as possible into daylight hours to take advantage of the State’s abundant and still-expanding, low-cost rooftop solar energy; utilising smart energy management systems that look for the best outcome for customers and respond to network signals; and ensuring vehicle charging is spread across the day and week,” Andrew said.