The West Australia government, in an attempt to eliminate the risk of overloading the electricity grid of the state with renewable energy, has reportedly decided to slash the subsidies that it provides to households to supply solar energy to the grid at daytime.
However, the state government will also increase payments to consumers that are exporting solar power to the network at peak times under a long time awaited shakeup of a prominent green energy incentive scheme.
This overhaul is indicative of the things that would be coming up for the rest of the nation, a long overdue change, considering that several millions of rooftop solar systems have been installed throughout the continent.
The revamp in West Australia comes after escalating warnings sounded by AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) that WA’s largest grid was under the risk of becoming completely “inoperable” if the overload of solar energy was not managed in a better way.
Up from zero installations a decade ago, South West Interconnected System currently has over 300,000, or one out of three households, that are equipped with solar systems. The South West Interconnected System covers the southwestern corner of the continent.
In all, rooftop solar represents over 1,200 MW of generation capacity in comparison with an entire system generation capacity of approximately 6,000 MW.
In 2019, AEMO Chief Audrey Zibelman stated that rooftop solar in West Australia had become the state’s biggest power plant and posed as a threat that could crowd out the baseload generators that are required to keep the grid more secure.
Under the changes, the newly devised program would replace the REBS (Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme) which offers the eligible consumers a flat rate payment of 7.13 cents per unit of electricity exported by their solar panels. Households would now be paid 3c per kW hour for the excess solar power they generate across most of the day. These changes were brought into effect from August 31, 2020.