Home World Business Small-scale solar cutting billions from electricity bills

Small-scale solar cutting billions from electricity bills

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Small-scale solar systems have cut wholesale electricity costs by up to half in the past 12 months, a study has shown.

The report by consulting firm Energy Synapse, commissioned by a community-based organisation Solar Citizens Australia, found solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in NSW had saved consumers up to $2.2 billion from May 2016 to April 2017.

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During this period, small solar PV systems are estimated to have generated 1540 gigawatt hours of power within the state.

The report says the volume-weighted average price of wholesale electricity would have been between $29 and $44 per megawatt hour higher than the actual average price for the period of $88 per megawatt hour.

The study found that small-scale solar had the largest impact during February, when record heatwaves were experienced, reducing the volume-weighted average price of wholesale electricity by between $119 and $258 per megawatt hour.

There has been a massive increase in renewable energy investment and construction this year.

New solar energy generation has grown by 50 per cent globally, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

The IEA’s Renewables 2017 report says 165 gigawatts of new energy came online from renewables as a whole – including solar, wind and hydro power.

Small solar PV systems are estimated to have generated 1540 gigawatt hours of power within NSW over a 12-month period. Small solar PV systems are estimated to have generated 1540 gigawatt hours of power within NSW over a 12-month period. Photo: Justin McManus

“We see renewables growing by about 1000 GW by 2022, which equals about half of the current global capacity in coal power, which took 80 years to build,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said.

“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”

Small-scale solar installations had an enormous impact on average prices in February, slashing power costs by up to half. Small-scale solar installations had an enormous impact on average prices in February, slashing power costs by up to half. Photo: Cole Latimer

In Australia, there are more than 40 large-scale renewable energy projects that have either started, or will start, construction this year.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thorton said this represented an investment of more than $8 billion.

“These 41 projects will deliver over 4330MW of new capacity, which is crucial to increasing supply in the energy market, replacing old coal-fired generation that continues to close, and ensuring downward pressure on power prices,” Mr Thornton said.

There are 26 projects being built, and another 14 projects that have secured finance with the expectation that construction will start before the end of the year.

“We have already seen six times the investment value in 2017 of what we saw in 2016, and the new capacity will also help with energy security,” Mr Thornton said.

“In 2016, the combined capacity from all projects completed stood at 264.1 MW. This year 2210.2 MW of projects have been committed and 1881.2 MW are in construction with a whole financial quarter still to go.”

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