Offgrid threat: Market operator fears Australian solar power users will abandon the electricity grid

AEMOAustralian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The CEO of Australia’s energy market operator says she is “truly concerned” about the offgrid threat of the rooftop solar boom on the electricity network, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Audrey Zibelman, CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), said this week that the solar power revolution could increase the costs of electricity for those unable to install solar, because someone still has to pay for the distribution network’s poles and wires.

These costs are traditionally shared among households and businesses connected to the main grid.

Market operators fear Australian solar power users will abandon the electricity grid.

Market operators fear Australian solar power users will abandon the electricity grid.

Going off-grid could impact the vulnerable

With the potential for more people to go off-grid with solar, the costs proportionally increase for those not able to. This includes many renters, apartment dwellers and low-income earners. Ms Zibelman said this could widen the gap between the  solar haves and the have-nots.

However, she also made it very clear she supports the increase in rooftop solar installations. Her concern focused on the rate of disruption to the sector and its cost and management impacts.

Offgrid threat: ‘Stay connected’ Zibelman urges

Ms Zibelman’s proposal is for all Australians to remain connected to the grid. This would also enable solar panel owners to upload excess power to the grid, earning themselves feed-in tariffs and reducing the cost of their power bills.

She pointed out that the rise in solar panel and solar batteries is the problem per se. It’s more a matter of large numbers of people defecting from the grid too quickly.

Solar and grid hybrid could be the answer

If going off-grid is something you are considering, then do a costs/benefits analysis to make sure it’s the right move for you.

On the other hand, a hybrid between solar power and the grid has its benefits. Solar battery storage can increase the amount of self-generated electricity a house consumes from 30 to 60%.

This means you save on your electricity bills using clean renewable energy while still having guaranteed grid-supplied energy if you need it.