SA’s future: One in four Aussie homes now have rooftop solar panels

Mar 6, 2004
I’ve become increasingly interested in solar power. First as a rational response to the debilitating blackouts of electricity which the Eskom monopoly quaintly calls “Loadshedding“. We were hit hard ten days ago when the substation which services our area literally blew up. Johannesburg’s City Power technicians managed to get us back on line in a few days, no small achievement. But with the sub-station tripping again soon after, it provided a timely warning that a remote company like Biznews requires different solutions in power-compromised South Africa. At around the same time, my interest was further sharpened ahead of the conclusion of with Bright Light Solar. Former hedge fund manager Kevin Shames’s J12 company applies the SA government’s tax incentives and its low cost model by using solar power installations to generate superior returns for investors. Kevin’s company installs its solar solution at no cost to residential complexes – and selling the power to the Body Corporate at a discount to what the complex is currently paying. It also guarantees a discount on future increases passed by Nersa. With that context, I was interested in this Bloomberg story which highlights the potential of solar in a sun-drenched country like ours. As you’ll read, one in four Australian homes now have solar panels. And they’re saving so much that traditional electricity suppliers are struggling to compete. Given opportunity, human ingenuity always delivers solutions to what can appear to be the most intractable problems. Such a pity it usually takes a crisis for politicians to appreciate that the private sector has a far greater capacity for innovation than those who live off taxpayers could ever imagine. – Alec Hogg

(Bloomberg) — With its sunny skies and plenty of available land, it’s not hard to see why large-scale solar projects were drawn to Australia.

Yet a rush of household installations has started to play havoc with the economics of those sprawling facilities. Combine that with the struggle shared by grids around the world as they move from round-the-clock power generation to more volatile renewable sources, and the outlook for large-scale solar in Australia looks less rosy.

About one in every four homes in the nation of almost 25 million now has solar panels and that number continues to rise, increasing power supply and lowering consumption from the grid during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its strongest. It has even forced some utility-scale solar plants to shut down during their peak production times or risk having to pay the grid to take the electricity they produce.

“Rooftop solar is an ever-growing risk for its large-scale counterpart,” said Lara Panjkov, an analyst at BloombergNEF in Sydney. “When rooftop solar operates, it reduces grid demand and suppresses wholesale electricity prices.”