IEEE Electrification Magazine - September 2015 - 23

This decline in demand has been fueled by the loss
of some energy-intensive industries from Australia as
well as increased take-up of energy efficiency measures by households and businesses and, significantly, a rapid increase in the installation of
household rooftop solar PV generation. This has
been aided by a dramatic decrease in the price of
PV generation in Australia over the last few years.
System costs have fallen from between
AUD5,000 to AUD7,000 per kW in 2010, to around
AUD3,000 per kW as of 2015 (see Figure 1).
Figure 2 shows the correlation between rising
electricity prices and an increase in Australian PV
output. In the graph, PV output has been shifted
back 15 months to account for the estimated lag
between a price rise and the time taken for that to
result in a decision to install a PV system.
These two trends have combined to create a
scenario commonly termed by those in the industry
as the death spiral; as more Australians install rooftop solar, they contribute to further reducing demand
for grid-supplied electricity, meaning fixed network costs
drive up the average electricity price, which, in turn, compels more households to install PV systems to reduce their
demand from the grid. However, this so-called death spiral may
finally evolve into the coup de grâce of the traditional utility business model, with the widespread adoption of small-scale storage to
complement PV.

©istockphoto.com/alex belomlinsky

Successful
management of
very high renewable
penetration
minigrids can
provide a blueprint
for higher
penetrations
in the big grid.

Effects of This Distributed Generation:
Storage as a Way to Optimize
Despite the recent steep rises in electricity prices partly contributing to
greater installation of PV systems, most users have remained firmly connected to the grid. The fact that solar generation and typical load curves do
not match have meant that, although overall household consumption has
fallen, most people continue to rely on grid-supplied power for much of
their total energy and all of it after dark.
PV output is strongest when household demand is low (see Figure 3),
meaning there is excess energy produced during the shoulder consumption
period while power cannot be directly supplied by the solar system during
much of the peak period. Solar energy used by the premises at these peak
times is many times more valuable than if it is exported back to the grid.
Currently, electricity generated by rooftop PVs is fed back into the grid
at AUD0.06/kWh, while peak power consumed by the household is worth
AUD0.525/kWh-a difference of AUD0.465/kWh. As prices in the NEM for
excess solar energy have fallen sharply, the economic case for storage has
been further strengthened. This is especially the case if battery energystorage system (BESS) costs continue to fall as forecast.
Apart from daily variations in generation, solar PV generation (and
wind energy) is subject to rapid variations in frequency and voltage output, depending on natural weather conditions, which change constantly,
often extremely quickly. For example, wind speeds in some areas can go
from 15 to 0 m/s within a few seconds.
This short-term intermittency can be offset by strategies, including
plugging into nonrenewable sources when required, controlling load by
	

IEEE Electrific ation Magazine / S EP T EM BE R 2 0 1 5

23


http://www.istockphoto.com/alex

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Electrification Magazine - September 2015

IEEE Electrification Magazine - September 2015 - Cover1
IEEE Electrification Magazine - September 2015 - Cover2
IEEE Electrification Magazine - September 2015 - 1
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IEEE Electrification Magazine - September 2015 - Cover3
IEEE Electrification Magazine - September 2015 - Cover4
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2016
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2016
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2015
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2015
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2015
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2013
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