Guest essay by Eric Worrall
What do you do if your catastrophic renewables policies cause power spot price spikes up to $14,000 / MWh ($14 / KWh)? What happens when your green pride is more important than providing affordable, reliable coal power to the people whose interests you claim to represent? You double down and throw more money at useless green technology, of course.
Adelaide charges ahead with world’s largest ‘virtual power plant’
AGL project to roll out 1,000 battery systems to homes and businesses will operate like a 5MW plant, and optimise energy produced from solar panels.
Adelaide will be home to the world’s largest “virtual power plant” – AGL is rolling out 1,000 battery systems to homes and businesses, with backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena).
AGL and Arena say the project will improve network security and dampen a volatile wholesale electricity price in South Australia. However, an energy expert says that at the current size, the system will have a minimal impact on network security or wholesale prices, but might pose a challenge to the revenues of companies that own the poles and wires.
Offered to homes and businesses with solar systems, the $20m AGL project, backed with $5m from Arena, will operate like a 5MW peaking power plant, providing power to homes and businesses during periods at optimal times.
The chief executive of AGL, Andy Vesey, told Guardian Australia: “The beauty of the project is it’s being done over 1,000 batteries, and that’s how we deliver an aggregate benefit to the grid itself.
“But for the consumer, it will have the value of the battery. And it’s being priced at a way that a good investment decision could be made. We’re viewing that the average savings for someone who has rooftop solar right now would be $500 a year. It’s really a way of optimising the energy produced out of their solar panel.”
The system will cost $3,500, and AGL estimates it will take about seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.
Dylan McConnell, from the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne, said that at 5MW, the project would not have a significant impact on the the state’s reliance on gas or on the interconnector.
The net effect of this waste of $3.5 million is minimal protection for 1000 homes or businesses, from the intermittency of unreliable renewables.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 459,000 households in Adelaide in 2006. Using this number implies a cost of $1.6 billion to roll this scheme out to all households – without even considered the cost of protecting industrial users, some of whom are very heavy users of energy.
What will it take to restore energy sanity to Adelaide, and the South Australian Government? All this economic damage, financial waste and energy policy posturing is happening because the greens who run the South Australian government can’t bring themselves to admit their renewables policies have failed. They can’t bring themselves to admit they cannot live without gas backup, and they most definitely cannot live without the cheap Victorian coal power at the other end of that precious interstate interconnector.