Solar Power vs. Blackouts: Can Your Home Stay Lit When the Grid Goes Dark?

In recent years, Australia has experienced a concerning uptick in the frequency of blackouts. These blackouts disrupt the normal functioning of households and businesses across the country. There are many factors that contribute to this, such as extreme weather events, aging infrastructure, and increased energy demand. 

In 2018, the AEMC’s Reliability Frameworks Interim Report, Memory’s chart revealed that 92.7 per cent of blackouts are due to faults in distribution, whilst only 0.24 per cent came from insufficient generation. 

This also led to uncovering the truth about Aussies when it comes to blackouts—they are highly intolerant of it despite having one of the most reliable markets in the world with a reliability standard of 99.998 per cent. Other countries, such as the US, have lower reliability standards that allow for a few hours of lost power per year. 

As Australians grapple with the impact of these disruptions, there is a pressing need for resilient and sustainable solutions to mitigate the effects of blackouts.

In this post, we’ll talk about what has changed the game in the past years: solar power. Solar installations have emerged as a viable solution. They offer a sustainable and reliable source of power. The question is, will solar still power your home amid a blackout? 

If you’re interested in exploring solar solutions further, consider getting FREE solar quotes from Energy Matters to better understand the potential for resilient energy in your home.

Understanding solar power systems

Before diving into the reliability of solar during a blackout, you first need to understand how solar power works. 

Solar power gets energy from the sun to generate electricity through its photovoltaic (PV) cells. Typically, these cells are integrated into solar panels, converting sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter transforms the DC electricity into alternating current (AC), suitable for powering household appliances and the electrical grid. 

Today, there are different types of solar power systems catering to various needs and preferences: 

  • Grid-tied systems: These are connected to the main electricity grid. They allow users to supplement their power consumption with solar energy whilst remaining connected to the grid for additional support.
  • Off-grid systems: These operate independently, relying solely on solar panels and often incorporating energy storage solutions.
  • Hybrid systems: These combine elements of both grid-tied and off-grid setups, offering flexibility and resilience. 

Now that you know the different solar systems, will these give you power during a blackout?

Your solar power during a blackout

You will likely be affected even when your home is solar-powered and a blackout occurs. This is due to the interconnection of your solar system with the grid. Consequently, local electrical teams must undertake grid maintenance, leading to the temporary shutdown of solar systems in the area. 

This precaution is because, during a blackout, solar systems can inadvertently feed excess power back into the grid. To ensure the safety of the electrical teams, it becomes imperative to deactivate these solar systems temporarily.

This is where grid connection matters and why you should know it. In theory, your solar system connected to the grid can remain operational during a power outage, but it won’t likely happen. Your solar installer and the DNSP have programmed it to disconnect during a blackout to prevent excess electricity from your solar system to sent back to the grid. 

The good news? There is a solution to keep your power on amid a blackout in your area. 

Curious about how you can ensure a continuous power supply and stay informed about the latest renewable energy updates, state rebates, and utility bill savings? Don’t miss out on valuable insights – subscribe to Energy Matters’ weekly newsletter now. Stay in the loop with Australian and international news, incentives, and exclusive offers that empower you to maximise your solar investment.

Solar batteries save the day

During blackouts, solar batteries emerge as indispensable components of a resilient and self-sustaining energy solution. With a battery, you can store excess energy generated during sunlight. This stored energy becomes an important lifeline during blackouts, offering homes and businesses a seamless and uninterrupted power supply. 

The main advantage of solar batteries lies in their capacity to provide a continuous source of electricity when the grid goes down. In traditional grid-tiered solar systems without battery storage, excess energy is fed back into the grid in exchange for a feed-in tariff (FiT). However, this leaves the household or business vulnerable to power outages. 

The importance of solar batteries becomes particularly evident during extended blackouts. In these situations, they ensure that critical appliances, lighting and essential devices continue functioning. Moreover, it can draw upon stored solar energy during peak demand periods, alleviating grid stress. 

Most solar batteries have a backup feature, which separates the grid supply from the house. It then powers the home using the excess energy stored during the day. 

Households and businesses can also choose a whole-of-home backup where all electrical appliances and fixtures can get power from the power bank when necessary. It also has the option to isolate specific circuits to power only essential appliances for an essential load backup. 

One important thing to remember about a solar battery system is that it will run on a limited power supply. Therefore, it can only use as much power as is stored. When getting a solar battery, consider how much storage you need by analysing your blackout necessities to ensure you have enough power to keep them operational. 

Thinking about energy independence and reducing the stranglehold electricity companies have over you? If you are, then Energy Matters can help you achieve this goal with home battery systems and energy storage. That is solar energy battery power. You can get your FREE solar battery quotes now.

Virtual Power Plant (VPP)

VPPs represent an innovative and transformative approach to energy management and blackouts. It is a network of decentralised energy sources comprised of solar panels, batteries, and other distributed energy assets connected through a central control system. This interconnected web of energy resources allows for the coordinated and optimised use of distributed energy. It is vital in enhancing grid reliability during blackouts. 

During a blackout, its intelligent control system can swiftly detect the disruption in the grid. In response, it seamlessly switches to island mode, isolating itself from the main grid whilst using its distributed energy resources to continue supplying power to connected homes or businesses. 

The ability of a VPP to operate independently during blackouts is valuable. It ensures a continuous and reliable power supply, even when the broader electrical infrastructure faces challenges. 

In 2019, a Queensland (QLD) coal unit-induced power outage prompted an impressive response from the South Australian Tesla VPP. Despite being in its early stages with only a thousand homes connected, the VPP swiftly detected the frequency drop caused by the outage and injected power into the grid from hundreds of individual residential batteries across South Australia (SA). This stabilsed QLD’s electric grid and supported it until standard capacity was restored. 

Origin Loop VPP is a smart and simple way to unlock your battery’s potential and get more out of your solar system. If you are interested in joining Origin Loop VPP,  don’t hesitate to contact us today and get started.

The bottomline

Blackouts are inconvenient, but with renewable energy and the right systems in place, you can ensure your lights are on during a power outage. A solar battery and/or a VPP opens many possibilities that will help you make the most out of your solar power. These technologies empower individuals and communities to transcend the limitations of traditional power grids. They provide a seamless and uninterrupted energy supply even in the face of unforeseen disruptions. 

Energy Matters has over 18 years of experience in the solar industry and has helped over 40,000 Australian households in their journey to energy independence.

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