Climate Change in Australia


Been meaning to update my rooftop solar status. Installed late July last year. 5.6kw of panels with a 5kw inverter. As you can see from the graph below, have reduced my bills from around $500-$550 a quarter to around $100 a quarter. System was $3,900 to install so looking at just over a 2 year payback, very happy with that.

Noting we also did change our habits a little bit but nothing drastic. Pool pump moved from night to day, run dishwasher in day, try to use washing machine in day.


But but but, … don’t renewables make Electricity bills higher??

You must be doing it wrong. Have you got the panels wired up backwards or something?


I have double and triple checked, but no all appears to be working fine. Maybe Tony and his mates know something I don’t.

Should also add I am carbon negative, using around 200kwh per month and exporting around 500kwh. Saving money and doing my bit for the environment. Just need those batteries to drop in price a little and I could go off grid.


What a morally bankrupt way of looking at the world.

Oh so that bloke over there is stealing mars bars from the milk bar -> “It’s OK little Johnny, that man does it so you can too”

Is that the message we want to send?


Andrews is offering everyone who owns/occupies half price solar with no upfront cost of labor win the election. That would equate to an additional 2.7GW of rooftop solar to the existing roughly 1.3GW that already exists in Victoria. It’s for systems up to $4k. So, $2k repayments on your bill over 4 years. By next year the system size should be up to 10kW. That’s going to feed a butt load of power back into the grid. Clever. Game changer. Don’t screw up Victoria.


Hmmm. I’m all for more solar generation capacity, but it’s got to be done smart, and I’m not sure this is the game-changer that it’s being painted as.

Firstly, there’s a buttload of rooftop solar already, and a hell of a lot of industrial-scale solar and wind coming on line in the next 12 months or so. My mate at AEMO says that the bottleneck isn’t generation capacity, it’s distribution. Weather-driven renewables need a different distribution model to coal power, because they are less controllable and more distributed. You need a very robust and branching distribution grid (preferably with the ability to feed the excess into interstate grids on high-generation days) and you need a very smart, responsive distribution switching system that can cope quickly and smoothly with fluctuations in supply. Currently, the grid is barely keeping up with renewable capacity as it it. Tripling the capacity feeding into the grid is actually going to make things worse on a reliability front until money is invested in the grid. And that’s bad news for everyone - the supply will become less reliable, and the professional idiots who make a living out of panning renewables will leap on it as an excuse to pretend only coal is reliable. Frankly, from what I hear from AEMO, this policy looks more than a bit lie a token election bribe to me. Perhaps there’s some stuff about grid upgrades hidden in the fine print, and if so, I apologise, but simply pouring more solar electricity into the system is an overly simplistic solution that ignores what the main current problem is. But as a silver lining, it’s nice that the cynical election bribes are transitioning to ‘hey, let’s throw money at you to generate clean power, wouldn’t that be awesome?!’ from ‘hey, let’s lock all African teenagers in small boxes and feed then through tubes until they know bradman’s batting average and can sing every verse of Khe Sanh and are therefore no longer criminals’, so I’ll take what I can get.

Second - unless handled very carefully, this could end up being one big honking giveaway of taxpayers’ cash to better-off people. Far as I can see, landlords have very little incentive to install rooftop solar on their investment properties, so tenants are going to miss out. Apartment dwellers won’t have the chance to do this even if they do own their place. Power prices MIGHT reduce a bit due to increase in supply (but see above as to why sheer capacity is not really the issue), but poorer people are otherwise going to lose out two ways - firstly because they’re not going to score a govt subsidy to improve the capital value of the property that they don’t own, and second because with more solar generation capacity, more people will be claiming feed-in tarriffs and using less grid power, so power companies will up connection fees to make up the difference. Which won’t bother you if you’ve got a brand new shiny solar installation that’ll compensate for it, but not so great if you live in a rental without solar, and you’re suddenly slugged with a connection fee increase as a result of a policy you don’t benefit from…


Half of the roofs in the state with new solar+ bills slashed + cheaper wholesale prices. The trolls and conservatives won’t have much left to niggle about. One would imagine NSW election will get a similar carrot in May next year.


If all that was in the Grid by the following Summer, … we’d be virtually blackout proofed.


It’s not just a matter of simply shoving it into the grid. You have to continually manage supply vs demand across all parts of the grid - it’s failing to do this, more than lack of capacity, that causes blackouts. And the more generation capacity feeding into the grid - ESPECIALLY unpredictable capacity - the harder this task gets. The existing management systems are inadequate for this task right now - they sure aren’t going to cope with an extra couple of GW in the system all of a sudden.


Yeah, no idea what the plan is with distribution. Sell it to NSW before they do their own similar election bribe?


Mothball some coal units? They’ll be more expensive anyway.


This should, in theory lead to more “micro-grid” like outcomes anyway. Self sufficiency taking away from transmission network distribution needs.


The way the grid is designed it assumes full use by everyone already. More self sufficiency means less capacity required.


You could do that, but it wouldn’t solve the problem. Fundamentally, the existing grid and management systems are currently optimised for coal power which is predictable, geographically centralised and slow to vary in output (except for the elderly plants that keep on causing blackouts by shitting themselves inconveniently). If you want to reduce the role of coal, that has to change. The architecture of the grid needs to be redesigned to cope with generation capacity that varies geographically, is widely distributed rather then centralised, and which can change rapidly in a short period of time. This is not interesting and doesn’t make for a spectacular pre-election promise, but it’s got to be done.


I imagine fixing the grid infrastructure would require some federal assistance, at the very least financial, would it not?


People are missing the point, & forgetting that solar panels directly supply the home first, then put excess generation into the grid.

Given our blackouts almost exclusively occur on extra hot days due to over demand, … this many KW’s sitting on roof’s waiting to supply so many homes during such times and hence reducing that demand, … WOULD virtually Blackout proof us.

It’s what they should have done instead of the Billion Dollar Gold plated upgrades to the “Poles n Wires” that costs us all a fortune, … simply to be able to supply those 1 or 3 high demand days per Summer.


Yep, you are on the money once again Blooded One


But tHe PrOBlum Is BAsE SuPplY

You’re right, we need to focus on demand and supply


Does the scheme apply to those already with solar?


This is unfortunately not true.

Panels supply the home first and put excess into the grid, sure. But this will have limited effect on blackout frequency.

Let’s be really clear here - it’s been a LONG time since blackout have been caused by a simple lack of supply. The current rooftop PV generation capacity has seen to that. Blackouts have been caused by abrupt changes to supply or demand and the inability of the distribution system to keep up with them.

To oversimplify massively, the grid is basically a giant electrical circuit. You have generation capacity X, and you have load Y, and it’s the responsibility of grid management to arrange things that the two are approximately equal so that the voltage/waveform that gets delivered to premises is close enough to 240v/50Hz for applicances to run without damaging themselves. If demand suddenly spikes or supply drops (or vice versa) then the system needs to be able to bring more power into the grid (or disconnect excess from the grid) fast, or else things start getting bad. There are series of safety interlocks in the grid designed to flip and disconnect if the grid gets into a crisis state, on the reasoning that shutting down the grid temporarily is better than having short circuits, melted appliances and wires, blown fuses, and electrical fires all over the place.

In an theoretical ideal fossil fuel/hydro grid, supply is generally completely under the control of the grid managers. Demand goes up? Bring another generator online or start releasing water through one of the turbines? Demand goes down? Unplug a generator and you’re golden. this is possible because there are a small number of centralised generators which have predictable output.

In a renewable grid, generators are widely scattered and do not have consistent output. You now have to manage for unpredictable fluctuations in supply as well as demand, and there are so many small generators that it’s more difficult to manage them individually. Note that this does NOT mean that this is impossible, it just means that more sophisticated management systems than those currently in place are required, and the current grid setup (a series of high-tension cables radiating from centres of generation like the Latrobe Valley) are often in the wrong places.

What this means is that you have more fluctuations in a system that is ill-equipped to handle them. And fluctuations WILL happen. The big SA blackouts from a couple of years ago happened when storm winds blew down major high-tension lines. The system could not compensate fast enough, and safety interlocks tripped, cutting off big parts of the grid (all of which took time to fix). There were a couple in Vic this summer that were due to elderly coal plants breaking down. Abrupt changes in supply that the system could not compensate for quickly enough. THERE WAS NO LACK OF POWER - the grid just was not able to get the power from where it was generated and distributed appropriately around the grid.

And the ‘distribution’ thing is key. Just cos your solar power is consumed by your house first, does not make you immune to blackouts (unless of course you’ve bought a battery and gone completely off-grid), nor does it make blackouts less likely. Even houses that generate more solar PV than they consume (like mine) will still experience blackouts when the grid is down. This is deliberate - in an emergency it’s hopelessly dangerous for sparkys or firefighters to be wandering through a disaster-affected area trying to do their jobs, not knowing from house to house whether the power is still on. That means that when a blackout happens in your area and you;re on the grid, you’re affected regardless of how much solar you personally are generating. And an increase in gross solar PV generation capacity is not going to change this. In fact, it may make things worse until the distribution system is improved, because solar has higher variability. I know for a fact that AEMO is already planning ahead for problems in 2023, because there’s going to be a total eclipse and the grid is not yet ready to deal with GW of generating capacity going offline all at once because of a random astronomical event. But hell, even clouds passing in front of the sun could have similar effects. These events cause rapid fluctuations in supply, which is what the grid cannot currently deal with. The more solar you have, the greater % of your generation capacity is subject to fluctuatioh, so the better your systems have to be to deal with it or else you’ll have more blackouts.

It’s not a matter of power, it’s a matter of control.

Look, I love that we’re increasing the amount of renewable generation. It’s great for the emissions problem, but in itself this will not solve the blackout problem (and may make it worse unless further steps are taken). And if these blackout problems DO happen, it’s just handing ammunition to people who’d love to shut down renewables purely out of ideology.

Increasing PV generation capacity in a coal-optimised grid is like putting a v8 engine in a bald-tyred Mazda 323. Sure, you’ve got more grunt, but can you control the result?