Local electricity sharing schemes have the potential to play an increased role in the Australian National Electricity Market as the penetration of distributed energy resources (DERs) continues to grow. These models allow participants to share energy between separately owned and operated DERs, however are largely untested.
Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with utility-scale renewable energy plants allow medium to large-scale electricity consumers to meet a proportion of their load demand using renewable electricity. This allows them to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while at the same time reducing their exposure to volatile and peak prices in the National Electricity Market (NEM).
With the increasing deployment of distributed solar PV, and more recently the increased interest in distributed batteries, optimising their deployment configurations and financial outcomes is now receiving more attention. Currently, when a customer exports PV electricity to its neighbours on the distribution network, the full distribution use of system charges are paid. Reducing these payments through the use of embedded networks in apartment buildings or through special arrangements in mini grids could significantly improve PV’s financial attractiveness.
The shift to low-emissions energy production has gained significant traction in Australia and around the world. Community Renewable Energy (CORE) projects are on the rise, reflecting the desire of communities to take control of their own energy goals, and embedded networks (ENs) are emerging as part of the CORE movement.
Recent regulatory reform efforts in the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) have included a number of rule changes aiming to contain electricity price rises driven by network investment by distributed network service providers (DNSPs). One focus area has been the economic inefficiencies of current network tariff arrangements, particularly for residential and small business consumers. These tariffs are typically shaped by limited metering capabilities and equity considerations and have generally involved a major volumetric consumption component.
Increasingly, there are calls for the owners of photovoltaic (PV) systems to pay additional charges on the basis that they are not contributing their fair share to network revenue. Air conditioners (A/Cs) are even more widespread than distributed PV systems, and their use has increased demand peaks and the size of networks required to meet them, the cost of which is typically recovered from all customers. There appears to be limited analysis in the literature regarding the impacts of A/C and PV on the electricity bills of customers who do not have these technologies.
This report briefly discusses the role for renewable energy in reducing greenhouse emissions in Western Australia, including some potential interactions with emissions trading schemes. It then outlines the current policy environment for renewable energy in WA, before proposing policies to drive additional deployment. This report is most relevant for small-scale renewable technologies and has a particular focus on feed-in tariffs, but also discusses the development of community support, the development of the commercial PV market and the removal of institutional barriers.