SA Proving the Point for Solar
A study was recently released by the Victoria Energy Policy Centre centering on South Australia. The results have abundantly demonstrated that renewables definitely do drive down the wholesale purchase price of electricity for consumers. The persisting myth is that if we were to transition to renewables, we would be prostrate in poverty essentially immediately on account of our electricity bills. Then Russia would invade.
Using computer modelling and data spanning 5 years, the VEPC tracked pricing and analysed the factors involved in setting them. After some opening bad news, namely that SA is definitely the most expensive place for average electric bills not in Australia — but in the entire world, some very telling trends become clearer.
Above all that renewables result in cheaper wholesale prices for customers. Solar particularly at $10 per mWh. That's $55 cheaper than the region demand ($51 less than gas). Wind is $28 per mWh, $37 cheaper ($33 less than gas). The primary reason for this differential is that renewable sources of generation have, normally, nil ongoing costs. These better price-points displace the more expensive ones and so bring down prices all across the energy market as it is.
The problem presently is precisely that there are not enough large-scale renewable sources of generation. Which meant that in the aftermath of the closure of the Northern and Playford coal power plants, gas inherited their market share. If gas is expensive — and gas is expensive — while it's the majority source of power, your bills will be high. The solution is fairly obvious: more renewables will amount to lower electricity bills. Fact.
The other instance where SA has served as something of a laboratory for feeling out the efficacy of renewable sources of generation is the Hornsdale Power Reserve. The Tesla tech has startled even the people who paid for it. Neon's head of product development noted the battery kicks on quicker than the human eye can blink (0.13 seconds!).
The consultancy group Aurecon estimates it has already saved consumers $40 million, principally via the FCAS market (frequency control and ancillary services). The battery has proved pivotal in maintaining mains frequency at its normal band.
The most dramatic success came on the inaugural day of the current prime minister, who derided the Hornsdale Power Reserve publically as being about as useful as the Coffs Harbour Big Banana. While Victoria and New South Wales saw widespread outages that day, in SA Tesla's Powerpacks delivered 84MW direct to the grid then stabilised it until the transmission issue was resolved. It kept the power on for the State even while it was islanded.
There are less and less myths and excuses to prop up opposition to the turnover to renewables taking place in the energy market.