Towns and estates could unplug from the grid

Regional towns and new housing estates could function viably and economically off the electricity grid, a new report reveals.

The report, What Happens When We Un-Plug: Exploring the Consumer and Market Implications of Viable Off-Grid Energy Supply, found many Victorians could unplug from the grid by 2020 and use renewable energy systems with battery storage.

It has been produced by the clean energy social enterprise Energy for the People and Renew, formerly the Alternative Technology Association (ATA).

A number of scenarios were examined for the financial viability of stand-alone power systems in inner-Melbourne, Werribee and Bendigo. It was found that some regional towns could be viably off the grid today.

Tosh Szatow, director of Energy for the People, said it was exciting that by 2020 cost would no longer be a barrier to individuals and communities generating and storing their own power.

“Our research shows that if we plan well, there is a huge opportunity for energy customers to save energy and money and at the same time make our energy grid more reliable,” Mr Szatow said.

“It also means that communities can be involved in buying back their local energy grid and investing directly in local energy generation and storage.”

The report found new housing developments could become energy self-sufficient precincts. It also pointed towards the need for ensuring stand-alone power infrastructure is managed and installed in a way that does not risk leaving stranded assets.

Damien Moyse, Renew’s policy and research manager, said the cost-effectiveness of stand-alone power would be good for electricity network companies as well as consumers.

“The stand-alone approach would give electricity network companies the opportunity to sell assets that they can no longer afford to maintain, and creates the potential to unwind cross-subsidies from urban to regional consumers,” Mr Moyse said.

“Considering our research focused on Victoria, which has low levels of sunlight compared to most other states and low electricity prices, stand-alone power would be even more attractive in other parts of the country.”

Click here to read a summary of the report.
Click here to read the full report.