The world still has a habit of putting too many of its electricity generation eggs in too few baskets; such as major coal fired power stations and nuclear reactors – sometimes with disastrous results.
Like the Internet, rooftop solar power offers the benefits of a decentralised network, one that can withstand a number of calamities says Max Sylvester, co-founder of Energy Matters, an Australian provider of solar solutions.
“We’re now into the third week of the Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis, with no end in sight,” says Mr. Sylvester. “Not only has Japan’s electricity generation capacity been dealt a nasty blow, but a huge area around the troubled site has been evacuated and radiation is causing untold damage to people and the wider environment.”
Mr. Sylvester says reports have come in that Japan’s wind farms were unscathed from the recent earthquake and tsunami and have been called upon to increase output to make up for the difference.
“Centralising electricity generation is a recipe for disaster – both natural and man-made. A couple of years ago, we published an article about the importance of distributed generation in resisting even human-triggered events, such as a terrorist attack on power stations.”
Mr. Sylvester likens home solar power systems to the Internet. The Internet was originally a U.S. Government defence project, designed to create a network that could withstand all but the very worst of disasters and attacks.
“Households that install solar power systems aren’t just slashing their electricity bills and greenhouse gas emissions, they are part of the distributed electricity generation revolution and playing an important role in energy security for our nation,” says Mr. Sylvester.
“Hazelwood power station in Victoria, one of the filthiest, most emissions-intensive coal fired power generation facilities in the world, supplies up to 25 percent of Victoria’s electricity needs and nearly eight percent of the National Electricity Market. Imagine an event taking Hazelwood out suddenly and for an extended period – it would have quite an impact on the state.”
Additional benefits of a decentralised electricity generation system with solar power as the centrepiece are a reduction of infrastructure investment by network operators and lessening line loss associated with power transmission; which can account for up to 10% of electricity production. Solar panels also generate their peak electricity during peak consumption periods; so with greater uptake, Mr. Sylvester says fewer peak power plants would need to be constructed.
“Toxic waste, water consumption and emissions aside associated with nuclear and coal, the distributed generation benefits of rooftop solar power and medium scale solar farms alone are reason enough to take Australia’s solar power revolution to the next level.. and to do it now.”