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Network Charges to Export (Solar) to the Grid? Solar having an impact on 'Big Power'?



I agree with all except the nuclear requirement for Australia. In 1994 Australia was in the forefront of alternative energy technology but when the shortsighted government of the day stopped the subsidies those companies went to Europe especially Ireland to further their research etc. Since then we slumped into the energy backwaters with no foresight, encouragement, risk taking and ever increasing cost for the consumers. After all, we have unlimited and free sunshine and a coastline with free wind that needs to be harnessed effectively combined with small household and large scale battery banks. Let Blockchain enter the energy field in a big way and community based power will be the norm for future power generation and distribution. I suspect that the big energy providers are fully aware of this ‘threat’ and - just like the big banks - they charge us to the hilt to ensure huge profits while they can be made.


There is a very lengthy thread on the pros and cons of nuclear power, which may not come to an unavoidable conclusion but does show the question is by no means as simple as we should automatically use a resource just because it is available.


Maybe everyone has become a bit soft :wink: pedals anyone?

At least in the event of an outage it would keep the tele running long enough to see the end of Master Chef so you’d know who sung the best and who was voted off the island … (apologies to Alf)


It is worth a more detailed read, most notably for all the related content that is non nuclear. It hints at the complexity in the UK market, impacts of effectively their carbon tax and diversity of the energy mix. The UK relies heavily on natural gas for generating base load and peaking. There are commitments in the UK to three new combined cycle gas power plants this year, which suggests nuclear Is not on its own. At least until the gas runs out!

The UK is well ahead of Australia in achieving carbon reduction and also in addressing its energy needs. Details for a different topic.

We have in this topic started down a side track which is really asking questions about future energy options and economic + policy drivers? Given the recent changes in Federal Govt (IE very little) the future for electrical energy generation is no more certain today than it was 8 weeks prior.

It may be even more difficult to predict against the uncertainties in current economic conditions.

A reasonably current view on the economic relativities between different generating options, excluding nuclear. It is all in Aussies too! Zzzzzz!!
Battery storage and large scale solar have come down a little based on the most recent project commitments.

No one is talking grid/network costs.


For those touting nuclear/UK examples its worth noting that ‘new in-progress’ plant in the UK is horrendously over budget, schedule is shot and getting worse (as is budget blow-out).

As far as $ and generation capacity/demand Gas gets first crack, followed by coal and then renewable’s.

When demand dips there’s a good chance that solar and wind have to ‘switch-off’ or get $0.00 etc.
Issue with rooftop solar is that unless the grid goes down it is exporting regardless (and typically a wholesaler if they ‘had’ to do similar would be paying to do so because overloading a grid is a big no no)

I’m not entirely sure how block chain is going to help one way or the other here?

Its a supply and demand issue and being able to get the supply to the demand.
Renewables have a supply consistency issue and Fossil Fuels a cost issue (and reliability/maintenance).


It depends what costs are factored into the generation. If one looks at adding in say carbon capture and storage, fossil fuels are on par with nuclear.

The US government has also looked in detail at Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation and it found in 2023 with including CCS and also existing subsidies to renewables, the following:


The US figures, while may be slightly different to that in Australia due a number of factors including weather, labor costs, development costs, network connection costs etc, it gives an idea of more current (2019) comparative costs compared to that which has been done by the CSIRO (2017).

That is correct and usually additional costs associated with maintaining reliability and stability of the network are not often considered, as they are external to the pure generation costs and usually attached to a network cost.

It is also worth noting that renewables also require ongoing/continuous maintenance. For example, keeping reflector mirrors/PV panel glass clean in the case of solar or regular inspection and servicing in the case of wind.

It is also suggested that there will be additional capacity required for renewables due to the variable nature of the generation. During high generation times, this additional capacity will push prices down (as generation will exceed demand), but in low generation times, the costs would be very high and potentially at the AER ceiling price. If additional and diverse capacity is introduced to increase generation when renewable generation is at a low, this will create additional redundancy which will significantly impact on the cost of the renewable generation. The solution to avoid this is to introduce mass storage like pumped hydro and the SA battery packs. Both are not cheap solutions and may ultimately there may be a bit of additional built in redundancy with storage.

For example, the SA Telsa battery cost $90M to support the network (cost to SA taxpayer is about 4-$5M/year). There have been reports that this battery will ‘provide 30000 homes with about an hour of electricity’. As there are about 9 million residences, the costs for battery support becomes very expensive (say capital cost of $27B for 1 hours power for dwellings only - commercial nor industry included). Once commercial and industrial use, as well as increased demand through higher use of electricity to replace traditional fossil fuels, as well as having sufficient capacity to ensure that the network operates under most conditions, the cost is very high.

It is worth also noting that the $27B would allow the construction of multiple traditional fossil type generators or several nuclear reactors.

At the end of the day, noting will come cheaply and Australian’s will need to pay for the option taken in the future. Any path Australia goes down will also potentially be locked in for 25-50+ years (which is the expected life of many replacement technologies).

I also agree. If the comment was about a highly diverse and spread small scale electricity generation system which is operated (automatically) to meet network demand, this is a highly complex system which will come at enormous cost. While in theory it sounds like a great solution and potentially has advantages, there are also many disadvantages and constraints which would need to be overcome.

Effects of climate change on the consumer

The SA battery project is not intended to provide baseload power - and Murdoch’s reporters should know that! It is for situations in which the interstate electricity grid is temporarily (i.e. for several seconds) over-stretched.

If you plan sensibly in a big country with an integrated electricity grid then a combination of solar, wind, tidal, hydro and pump hydro generation is never going to leave us without power. The wind is blowing somewhere, the sun is shining somewhere else (for at least part of each day), the tides will continue to go in and out, and when one of these is falling short you have hydro to make up the difference.

The trouble is that our policy makers are captured by last century’s industry.

That equation has been steadily changing, to the point where renewables are pretty much the cheapest option in most circumstances.

Every time nuclear is mentioned as a ‘cheap’ option I cringe. No nuclear power station has been built without free insurance from government. No profit-making insurance company will touch nuclear power with a barge-pole, because one accident can not just destroy the power plant but wipe out the insurer.


Oh by far however my point in the quoted text was from a who gets paid for what power is produced first.

The UK offshore wind (latest is a 13MW turbine!) has generation costs way down compared to a lot of other sources

Currently for their ‘new’ Nuclear plant the UK is looking at £25 billion (~$45 billion dollarydoo’s) before its produced a single Watt. It is a 3200 MW doohicky so I have no idea how that compares to Aussie generation levels. So technically we’d get bit over half of one :wink:


While interesting what does this discussion deliver? :thinking:

Discussion of generation is pointless without consideration of the impacts on distribution, for renewables the very significant added cost of storage, or impacts of transitional changes in the energy generation mix. How are these costed.

The complexity of the discussion and analysis necessary to present a complete and unbiased assessment is challenging. Referencing the most recent and comprehensive Australian Govt or Industry assessments may be the best place to start.

Comparing cost estimates for new generation in the USA is less relevant, given Australia is a significantly different economic environment.

Ignoring the politics and emotions attached to possible extinction by CO2:

Critically the cost of Solar PV and Wind Generation is a useless data point. Apologies if that causes alarm. Without consideration of the requisite capacity in energy storage, and adding in that cost neither will progress both PV and Wind may prove to be great white elephants!

For a very straight forward Engineering and Economic test for the future of residential power generation is there a base case? IE a solution that uses available proven technology, and has a known cost basis.

One option is to consider the cost of providing a solar PV system and overnight battery storage capacity to 50% of Australia’s residential customers. IE approx 5million homes.
Ignoring any that have already made the transition a cost estimate of approx $5,000 for each PV system (5+ kW for 20+kWh ave) and $15,000 for 12kWh of overnight use/storage would round the investment up to $100B. That’s about the same as the NBN x 1.75?

As an outcome for the network and grid interconnects, the demands on the grid would be able to be reduced, with the battery systems being programmed to top up off peak over night.

There is a great opportunity for levelling demand through the use of exisiting network technology to switch individual residences between different modes. A further outcome might be that with this approach there is no great need to enable export from residential systems, given each residence is intended to be self consuming of all local generation.

Overall total demands on large scale generation for residential use would reduce by up to 50%. a A greater possible benefit if there was any controlled export from solar PV to local non PV enabled customers.

The peak demand leadings on the network would also reduce by a similar percentage.

And importantly GHG emissions from electricity generation for residential use would reduce by 50%. In reality, a greater reduction would arise due to the energy mix for large scale generation already including some low emissions sources.

One likely unknown is how would retailers charge self sufficient customers for grid connection and off peak makeup power? Important since they would loose 50% of their volume! :wink:


And do the relatively recently privatised electricity market out of all that revenue? Not a hope in heck! Even a government of a different colour wouldn’t dare take on the industry, given its history of fighting for relatively progressive issues and losing over the last decade.


It appears difficult to rationalise any costs relating to the grid without considering the bigger picture,

Perhaps there are other ways forward at a lower total cost to the consumer?

The base case suggested of 5million Solar PV plus overnight storage systems however is possible. Given the wealth of half of Australia the total upfront investment is approx the cost most pay for a new second car (on average)! No new government support necessary?

The cost of battery storage is one small drop short of payback in a reasonable time given current electricity prices. Yes, the industry has a lot to loose, and government significant disruption of the sector to manage. Will consumers win out of this, or will consumers face another NBN style disaster of expensive and unequal outcomes?

Perhaps the issue is not with the grid, although it is a convenient way for some of hiding reality behind technology and consumer ignorance?


Your usual insightful comments have missed this time by focusing on what we see is important. When has one of our recent governments made a policy that was not focused on a dollar in a business (or donor) pocket or populist whistling?

When has a government made plans beyond a 3-year election cycle? Making longer range plans and policy is inhibited by governments disowning and destroying whatever the predecessor party started, that being another facet of the problem. One side is more aggressive in that regard than the other yet it does not seem to hurt them at the polls; a conclusion is another aspect to the problem is us.

Lower cost to the consumer does not generate donations to political parties or dividends to shareholders. I submit that is the crux of any discussion. Technology and feasibility are nowhere to be seen, unless the construction and supply companies help with those donations and dividends. There is nothing that expedites or blocks change better than political ‘works’, especially when the electorate seems unconcerned with whether ‘honest government with good policies for the nation’ results from their votes.


Post election haze, or perhaps just another controlled hazard reduction burn clouding vision! :grin:

Restoration of clarity appreciated!


Have you been reading The Australian/Murdoch rags? :wink:
The reports are nonsense as that is not the purpose of the Horndale Reserve (aka Tesla big battery), it primarily supports the network to keep the frequency where it is supposed to be- ie 50Hz.
It does that far more effectively than any solid or gaseous fossil fuel generator can, as it can almost instantly change output levels or go from output to input in order to keep the grid frequency as close as possible to 50Hz.


Peter Farley, a fellow of the Australian Institution of Engineers, wrote in RenewEconomy earlier this year:

“As for nuclear the 2,200 MW Plant Vogtle [in the US] is costing US$25 billion plus financing costs, insurance and long term waste storage. … For the full cost of US$30 billion, we could build 7,000 MW of wind, 7,000 MW of tracking solar, 10,000 MW of rooftop solar, 5,000MW of pumped hydro and 5,000 MW of batteries. … That is why nuclear is irrelevant in Australia. It has nothing to do with greenies, it’s just about cost and reliability.”


Nuclear waste can be stored on the moon. Everyone knows that. What could possibly go wrong? :joy:


When it sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and faced a savaging from the industry. When it introduced the idea of a network for a 21st century country that was lambasted by the then opposition and then destroyed when that party gained power.

Next question?

Julian Assange’s (alleged - though I had thought it was confirmed) first appearance on the world stage was with the WANK worm, targeting NASA for proposing to launch a nuclear-powered spacecraft.

I realise your comment was in jest, but the risks associated with trying to get nuclear waste off our planet make current treatments of it look like playground stuff. Just imagine a ‘rocket failure’ that spreads radioactive waste across half the planet!


I don’t think it was spelled out with some recent WA block-chain peer to peer schemes - I wonder if the utility still gets a cut in that case. At the moment our one option Synergy in WA get a tidy 26 - 7 cent cut, they’ll be screaming if peer-to-peer goes from trial to large scale reality.


Around a month after our solar & battery system was installed in February this year, I received a call from Ergon to say they were finally going to visit to inspect our system and to change the meter.

I explained to the caller that we already had a smart meter installed and it was already setup for the FIT, to which she said that they would still need to reprogram the meter.

I further advised that the installers had disconnected the off-peak tariff to which she replied that they would remove the ripple relay and there would be a charge of $140 for doing so which would be added to our next bill, and if their was anything incorrect with the installation resulting in a follow-up inspection, there would be an additional charge of over $140.

When the Ergon electrician called a week or so later, he inspected the installation and confirmed that the meter did not need replacing or reprogramming and that everything was satisfactory.

He then spent around 2 minutes to remove the ripple relay and he left.

When I saw the installers installing an identical system at our next-door neighbour’s home, I asked them if they had heard about a charge to remove ripple relays, to which they said that they had not and were very surprised as Ergon allows a free change of tariff each year.

The ripple relay was installed when we bought our current home 4 years ago and there was no charge for setting up the off-peak tariff.

When I later spoke with our neighbour, he said that when Ergon rang him about his inspection, he was told there would be no charge even though they had to replace the old analogue meter.

Our latest Ergon bill arrived this week without any $140 charge included so I can only assume it was just incompetence on the part of the call centre employee.

If we had been hit with this disgraceful rip-off charge, I was set to do everything necessary to have it removed.

The best part was the current bill is over 70% less than the bill for the same period last year and that is despite the lousy wet and overcast weather we have experienced during the billing period.

You beaut solar.

(Waves goodbye to Ergon bill rip-offs with raised hand whilst pointing to a bird on their powerline with middle finger).



Power and Water Authority (the only choice in the NT) have a similar scam. If you go to split tariff, they install a smart meter at one charge, but if you go solar, its more than double - for the same meter, with the same programme. I figure this is the last sting before no more bills for many people - which adds a couple of months to my payback time … I’ve heard from a couple of people ‘in the know’ who tell me it is accepted by insiders that its a scam that nobody has worked out yet, but someday someone will push the issue - they rely almost entirely on ignorance, bluff and the fact there are no alternatives.

That said - I haven’t paid a power bill in 18 months, and figure the next ‘statement’ should be around $800 in credit, so figuring payback on the 5 kW system is going to be as expected - about 2 years - so I’m still not complaining too loudly :wink: