As the warmer months begin shining brightly over Victoria, it’s not just the temperature that’s rising; the strain on the energy grid is reaching critical levels.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has issued an urgent call for investment in electricity generation and transmission to prevent looming reliability problems in the coming decade, particularly in South Australia and Victoria.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the key challenges faced by Victoria’s energy grid during the summer months, the causes of energy grid failures, and how solar energy and batteries can come to the rescue. We’ll also delve into the concept of Virtual Power Plants and discuss the rebates available for solar batteries in Victoria.
Together, we’ll help you and your household make this summer more affordable and comfortable than ever before.
Ready? Let’s get started.
What’s the Problem with the Energy Grid?
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has painted a bleak picture of the energy grid’s future in its latest market forecasts.
Essentially, it’s warning that the situation has deteriorated significantly since its previous update in February. The most immediate concern is reliability, particularly in South Australia and Victoria. This concern is not limited to a single summer but is expected to persist throughout the coming decade.
AEMO’s message is crystal clear: “imminent and urgent investment” is required to safeguard the reliability of the National Electricity Market (NEM), which encompasses all Australian states and territories except Western Australia and the NT. The core issue lies in ageing coal-fired generators and their increasing unreliability, with a significant portion expected to retire by 2033. This retirement will create a substantial gap in the national grid.
What Causes the Energy Grid to Fail?
Several factors contribute to the deterioration of the energy grid’s reliability.
Ageing coal-fired generators are a primary concern, as many are nearing decommissioning, leading to more unplanned outages than previously anticipated. A staggering 62% of the NEM’s coal-fired generators are expected to shut down before 2033 – a hugely significant number.
Another concerning aspect is the delay in new generation and storage projects coming online. AEMO’s forecasts no longer rely on target dates set by project developers but consider likely delays in project completion. CEO Daniel Westerman has recently emphasised the urgency of the situation, calling for swift investments in transmission, generation, and storage projects to ensure a stable electricity supply.
How Does Solar Energy Help the Grid?
Despite what are obvious challenges, there’s a glimmer of hope – which comes in the form of solar energy.
Many Australian households have already made the switch to solar panels, contributing to a reduction in overall electricity demand. This shift is due to businesses becoming more energy-efficient and households cutting energy use to combat rising costs.
Solar panels not only reduce electricity bills but also alleviate the pressure on the grid during peak periods. If more households embrace solar energy, the need for large-scale, centralised generation can be diminished. This transition aligns with the ongoing energy transformation in Australia.
Do Solar Batteries Help Stabilise the Grid too?
To further enhance the benefits of solar energy and reap the rewards of numerous government incentives currently available, homeowners just like you are increasingly turning to solar batteries.
Solar batteries store excess energy generated by solar panels during the day for use at night or during periods of high demand. They provide resilience during blackouts and help households become more self-reliant in terms of energy supply.
Solar batteries, therefore, also play a crucial role in stabilising the energy grid by reducing peak demand. They store surplus electricity during non-peak hours and release it when demand is high, thus relieving strain on the grid. This technology is particularly valuable during scorching summers when air conditioning and cooling systems drive up electricity consumption.
You can check out G Store’s range of solar batteries here.
What’s more, solar batteries can also allow you to export the excess solar power you generate – and sell it on to help stabilise the grid even further. That’s done via something called a Virtual Power Plant.
What is a Virtual Power Plant?
Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) are an emerging solution to grid stability. These systems aggregate (or combine) energy resources from a broad network of individual home- and business-owners’ solar panels and batteries across multiple locations.
By intelligently distributing this stored, excess energy, VPPs can balance supply and demand, providing grid stability and reducing the need for large-scale power generation.
At G Store, we proudly offer an exclusive partnership with Simply Energy in which you can access membership to the Simply Energy VPP with a huge range of industry-leading benefits including:
- Brand-new Tesla Powerwall
- 15c/kW feed-in tariff
- Additional bill credits
- …and much more
Find out more about the Simply Energy Virtual Power Plant here!
Is there a rebate for solar batteries in Victoria?
In Victoria, we’re very lucky indeed: homeowners can also take advantage of the government’s new solar battery rebate program.
The loan program, offering loans of up to $8,800 interest-free, makes the act of purchasing a high-quality solar battery more accessible by spreading the cost over four years. To be eligible, households must meet specific criteria, including income limits, property value, and the capacity of their existing solar panel system.
As of September 2024, there are over 3,500 solar battery loans still available, offering homeowners substantial savings on battery installation costs.
Don’t miss the boat – find out more about the Victorian Solar Battery Loan program online via Solar Victoria.
So – where to from here?
A raft of recent reporting and research underscores the urgency of addressing grid reliability across the country. With an increasing number of coal-fired generators reaching the end of their lifespan, and the rise of electric heating in winter and climate change in general, Victoria’s energy grid faces mounting challenges. The transition to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and solar battery storage facility, is now becoming critical to maintaining a stable and sustainable energy supply in both Victoria, and across our nation.
Want to know more, or get started on your solar journey?
We can’t wait to work with you!