Perth Solar Energy

Grid at risk as solar booms

Some interesting facts and figures on solar uptake in Australia if not a rather misleading title…

WEST Australians are signing up to sell excess power from home solar panels at such a rapid rate that there are fears they could overload the grid and cause power surges that destroy household appliances.

State-owned electricity transmitter Western Power said it might have to limit the amount of solar power it accepted as the take-up rate soared.
Almost 40,000 applications to connect solar power to residential meters have been approved in the west, against 264 three years ago.

Western Power managing director Doug Aberle said the numbers were not yet a problem, but the growth rate had sparked concerns. ”It’s certainly coming in very rapidly. At the moment we’re getting about 2500 applications per month for PV (photovoltaic) cell connections,” he said. ”We’ve streamlined our systems so that we can enable people to connect, and we’re not at the point, really, near that level of concern . . . but they’re coming on quite rapidly. We’ve got a total of about 30,000 on roofs now.”

He said the network voltage must be stable to avoid trouble, and if a lot of PVs injected power on a hot day the voltage profile could jump, causing a surge.
State Energy Minister Peter Collier said the solar take-up had “vastly exceeded” all expectations and he was monitoring the impact on the grid.
“It’s something we’ve got to watch closely because maintaining the security and safety of the network is imperative,” he said.

But he said there were no plans to slow the phenomenon by cutting the subsidy of 40c per kilowatt hour the state pays to householders for injecting solar power into the grid.
The subsidies, launched in August, are already on track to exceed the $23 million allocated.

NSW recently slashed its subsidy, which was in danger of costing hundreds of millions of dollars, but Mr Collier said WA’s scheme was much more modest. Where NSW subsidised all power generated, he said WA only paid for power injected into the grid.

Original source: Grid at risk.

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