Open the grid to small suppliers of renewable energy
Of the six forms of renewable energy operating in Australia right now, only small suppliers of solar power are able to sell to the grid. Governments through their regulators stop other suppliers from doing so. Activists don’t push for opening up the grid to small suppliers – that is too practical for them. They want coal mining stopped first, then when that’s done they might consider practical arrangements for generating and distributing alternatives. Common sense surely demands that we do it in the reverse order.
We want the energy grid opened up immediately to small suppliers of renewable energy (households, farmers and small businesses) so they generate energy and sell it back to the grid.
There are no technical issues that prevent this being done immediately by energy regulators around the country. It is blocked purely by politics. We call for these blocks to be removed before the next federal election.
Currently, 74% of Australian electricity is generated by coal and gas-fired power stations. Twenty percent comes from utility-generated renewables, and 6% comes from domestic renewable energy production.
Only solar can currently be exported to the grid. We propose that domestic, farm and small business generation of energy (up to 100KWhs) be permitted to be sold to the grid from all six renewable energy sources:
- wind – small 500 watt wind turbines are quite cheap and unobtrusive.
- solar – 1kW can be produced with 5 or less solar panels.
- hydro – small 1kW to 2 kW systems can be set up in streams and below farm dams.
- geothermal – domestic geothermal systems can use refrigerant gasses to directly heat water and provide heating and electricity when the heat is used to pressurized gas.
- wave – small wave generators are already available that can be moored close to shore.
- tidal – currents and inlets of all sizes and can be utilized to generate power.
To do this, we need a nationally guaranteed wholesale trading mechanism. This is quite simple. All it requires is a regulatory requirement that renewable energy generated by consumers MUST be purchased by power companies at a price which is 80% of the retail price ordinarily charged at any given time.
This ensures that power companies who purchase the energy contributions of their customers maintain a guaranteed operating margin of 20%, at all times, for all purchases less than 100 Kwhs.
Payment for these micro contributions would be done by way of account credits that could be cashed in at any time by the customer/prosumer (prosumer = customers who also produce energy). They would not be restricted to using the credit only to make future power purchases from the power company.
The rest of the electricity industry (ie suppliers of more than 100 Kwhs) would carry on as normal. We estimate the take-up of this arrangement would be increasingly rapid as all grid-connected customers realise they can augment their income simply by hooking up renewably generated power from any one of the six potential sources, at a rate that is more than twice what is currently being offered for solar.
Opening up the grid to small suppliers in this way has four key benefits for the country in breaking the paralysis in the energy and climate debate.
1. No government or corporate funding is needed (this is a self-funding system once regulatory change is implemented).
2. It reduces reliance on technological advances in the quality and cost of battery storage.
3. It makes the transition to large-scale use of renewable energy organic, market-based and progressive. Micro contributions from decentralised prosumers at scale become cumulatively huge.
4. It drives grass-roots innovation, at the level of farms, small businesses, community institutions (such as hospitals and schools), as well as households.
The internet is now connected to almost every home in the world. It does not simply transmit access to the internet in a one-way direction, every household user is able to generate content and upload it to the internet in a two-way process.
Similarly, the energy grid is a network connecting household users with power generated from a multiplicity of sources. It is a two-way process. In the early days of the internet, few people imagined that the extent of user-generated content could ever reach the levels we have today.
Sign the Petition.
“I want to send a message to governments and politicians to open up the electricity grid to small suppliers of renewable energy (households, farms, small businesses, community organisations) up to 100 Kwhs.
The grid belongs to us. It was build with taxpayers’ money to serve all of us. Act now.”
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