The past few decades have been exciting for solar energy. In a continuing trend following their creation, solar panels have become cheaper, more energy efficient and are now manufactured from plentiful, non-toxic materials.
We've seen the accompanying technology emerge and evolve to provide individuals and businesses with energy storage technology, such as the Tesla Powerwall. Solar power has been touted as the saviour of both a future energy crisis and the cure to global warming.
Shaping the future with solar power
At the moment, the reality is that solar is still in a state of development. Despite the many benefits and improvements that solar power has seen in the past few decades, there's still one large component that often goes overlooked: the grid.
Most – if not all – solar power is currently supplemented by electricity from a distribution network service provider (DNSP). To make solar more appealing in the development stages, and to encourage the adoption of solar panels in homes, many areas of Australia – such as NSW – offered feed-in tariffs.
This allowed consumers to produce electricity through their solar system and sell it back to their DNSP, with the generated residential energy not only offering a lucrative repayment but causing less overall strain on the grid as a result. With these feed-in tariffs coming to an end in many parts of Australia, the internet is now full of concern for the viability of solar systems.
However, solar is here to stay – and is more viable than ever before.
The reason energy companies fear the solar energy future
Solar – even without feed-in tariffs – is still an inexhaustible form of renewable energy. The energy generated through your solar panels will always be free, and any electricity stored in solar batteries will be yours to use as you wish. As larger batteries become both cheaper and more widely produced, it's not unreasonable to think every home or business will have an solar storage option to accompany their system.
There's a reason why energy companies don't widely support feed-in tariffs any longer; solar is still improving at a constant rate. When the tariffs were introduced, it was a great opportunity for DNSPs to reduce the stress on their larger grid to avoid power blackouts, and offer reduced rates through what is essential crowd-sourced electricity.
It doesn't make much sense, then, to suddenly recall these tariffs across the nation. Unless, of course, you already own a solar system and can see the benefits for yourself. There are a few primary reasons why solar is now a threat to larger power companies:
- Solar panels and the accompanying technology (inverters, storage systems, energy smart meters) are all cheaper than ever before.
- As the prices drop for the technology, the ability to add-on and scale a system to increase personal generation greatly increases.
- Micro-grids allow for energy independence and renewable energy certificates (RECs) offer a genuine form of bankable energy currency.
So why are micro-grids so important, and why do energy companies fear them so much?
Commercial solar installations are a bankable asset
A micro-grid is a miniature form of a distribution network, except without the service provider deciding the price of electricity.
A micro-grid is a miniature form of a distribution network, except without the market determining the price of electricity. In a small, isolated town, there could be a few commercial buildings and a collection of houses. Imagine if, instead of relying on energy from a distant service provider, solar panels on homes and businesses could generate the necessary electricity, sharing and selling it amongst the citizens of the area.
With solar systems scaled to match the energy needs of every consumer, the time could soon come where residents are selling their excess stored electricity to power local businesses. In this slightly utopian future, energy prices aren't determined by a single entity, instead smart meters detect both the required and generated electricity to automatically assess stored energy and distribute it as needed.
With everybody producing solar electricity for themselves as well, there's no reason to put rising costs on energy – there is also no pollution from coal or oil, no ghastly transmission towers everywhere like some sort electrical connect-the-dots nightmare, and no risk of blackouts or unexpected energy bills.
This is why electricity companies are worried, because now it's the people that have the power to choose for themselves.
To discover more about solar and what it can do for you, get in touch with the team at RK Solar today. We can suggest a solar power system and energy storage solution that is both affordable and scalable to your needs, and we're here to help.