Queensland’s solar PV system owners help reduce peak demand

The recent record temperatures across Queensland have helped demonstrate the positive contribution that residential solar PV systems make to the grid, that’s the word from utilities company Ergon Energy.

Commenting on Peak Outages following the 40 degree surge in temperature across much of Queensland, with record temperatures recorded for some areas in the South East, Ergon said solar power units on private homes were keeping peak electricity demand down in rural areas of the state. Despite the higher than average monthly temperatures Ian McLeod, Chief Executive for Ergon Energy, said that the peak demand shown on Tuesday was 14% less than the record peak of 2285MW from January 2010, at 1957MW.

Ergon Energy is the energy supplier for regional Queensland around Brisbane and the south east corner. There was no statement from the energy retailers supplying other areas of rural Queensland.

In a statement released by Ergon on Wednesday, Mr McLeod highlighted that the heatwave currently being experience by Queensland was the “first real test of where peak demand is heading on those few hot days of the year” after several years of mild, wet summers.

What came as a pleasant surprise to many solar industry stakeholders, several months after pointing this out to the Queensland Competition Authority, was Ergon Energy’s willingness to admit that the “record growth of the last decade may be behind us” and more importantly:

“A reduced peak demand reduces the need for more investment in new substations or increasing the capacity of existing substations and powerlines and this takes the pressure off rising power prices.”

As it to be expected increasing power prices have contributed to lower peak loads, with customers conserving energy and investing in more efficient appliances. Solar PV systems also have an important part to play, allowing customers to offset the cost of their air-conditioning which can make up 40% of customers energy bills and lead to a surge in peak demand on extremely hot days.

In a statement released by Ergon Energy at the end of November, General Manager Service Delivery Southern, Paul Jordon, stated:

“Many customers do not realise the impact that cooling appliances can have on the household electricity bill, while a ceiling fan will generally cost around two cents or less per hour to run, an air conditioner can cost 10 to 25 times that amount.”

With many solar PV installers offering finance deals, regardless of Federal and State incentives, Queensland residents (and home owners Australia wide) can take advantage of the power of the sun and help reduce their energy bills. This can help reduce all residents energy bills by removing the need for expensive upgrades to ‘poles and wires’ as well as preventing the most expensive generators from being utilised.

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Rebecca Boyle

Rebecca is a sustainable development and marketing graduate, with a background in community engagement and research. She has a particular interest in sustainable resource use.
Rebecca Boyle