A widespread misunderstanding about renewables and the grid

Far from being in conflict with the drive for renewable energy, the national electricity grid is essential to its implementation, according to ActewAGL CEO Michael Costello.

“There seems to be an idea if you want green energy and renewable energy then the grid has to go. Yet the PVs on rooftops are only economic because people can feed their surplus power into the grid. Furthermore, the benefits of residential batteries need the grid if they are to be fully realised,” he said.

“The grid is essential to the large scale renewable projects the ACT Government is relying heavily on to achieve its goal of a city run 100 per cent on renewable electricity by 2025. What the ACT Government is doing is building large-scale projects which provide solar and wind power through the grid, which is a relatively cheap, reliable and fair way to deliver renewable energy to the community.

“It’s cheap because it’s on a large-scale; it’s reliable because it is going through the grid, and it’s fair because everyone shares equally with the feed in tariff.”

Mr Costello voiced his views following launch of the ActewAGL/Panasonic solar battery partnership in Canberra, and the gradual rollout of electric vehicle charging stations across the ACT.

“The creator and boss of Tesla, Elon Musk has said batteries need the grid. So will electric vehicles, which are growing fast in Europe, the United States and now in China where vehicles will use renewable energy supplied by the grid,” Mr Costello said.

In response to the CSIRO’s report Change and Choice, which projected it won’t be financially viable to consider disconnecting from the grid until 2030-2040, Mr Costello said it’s not always possible to know the rate of change.

“We are a progressive organisation, which will always aim to stay ahead of the curve. We are successfully rolling out solar PVs, we are successfully selling residential batteries from Panasonic, and over time our fast charge network will be available for electric vehicles,” he said.

“I believe the grid will continue to be essential for the continuity of our energy supply and we’re very well equipped to support renewable energy now and into the future. But in the end, customers will decide what the future will be and, whatever our customers want, that’s what we will provide.”