Electricians say home batteries can save ailing grid

Outside of home with two Tesla Powerwall batteries
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Investing in home batteries is the immediate solution to Australia’s at-risk energy grid, according to electrical peak body Master Electricians Australia (MEA).

MEA CEO Malcolm Richards said governments needed to stop prolonging the pain of the clean energy transition by hanging on to hope billion-dollar infrastructure projects such as Snowy 2.0 and Marinus Link would eventually provide a solution.

“The solution is an absolute no-brainer. The best way to prevent successive summers of blackout pain is to leverage the investments so many of us have already made in the clean energy transition by encouraging home energy storage,’’ Richards said.

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“This would be a game changer that is well within our immediate reach.

“Investing in home energy storage takes away the need to build more transmission lines but governments need to be working together to drive this in the right direction—not catching up when it’s all too late.’’

Richards said one of the major obstacles to effective use of solar and energy storage is that current tariff structures do not reward homeowners for the amount of major infrastructure they offset from their solar panels into the grid.

“Excess energy produced during the day from these solar panels is wasted, rather being stored at the source of its generation and load shifted to times of peak demand in the evening,’’ he said.

“It’s far more logical to invest in battery storage for homes and businesses who are, in many cases, producing more energy than they consume and distributing that to a grid that often can’t cope with the excess load.’’

Richards said the latest report by Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) of an impending summer of blackouts as the grid struggled to cope with El Nino weather forecasts showed the urgency of the situation.

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Measures that would support the grid as coal-fired power stations continue to be decommissioned include:

  • Introducing metering reforms that speed up the rollout of smart meters into every Australian home and business.
  • Providing rebates to incentivise home battery storage to soak up the feed-in from large-scale home solar systems across the country during the middle of the day and returning it to the grid.
  • Legislating a preference for bi-directional-enabled EVs to further support load shifting, turning EVs from a potential drain on the grid to being part of the solution.
  • Urgently reforming consumer electricity tariffs to take advantage of home batteries and bi-directional EVs.
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