Extra Aussies Have to Volunteer for Power Rationing • Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Consumer uptake of voluntary “Demand Response” is insufficient to stabilise the grid.

Australia has more rooftop solar than coal power. What’s going wrong?

Ben Potter Senior writer
Oct 2, 2023 – 8.04pm

Energy regulators and retailers are failing to manage the explosion of rooftop solar power and co-ordinate demand by users to stabilise the power grid – measures they admit are the “linchpin” of the energy transition.

Heading into a hot summer, barely 5 per cent of Australia’s record uptake of rooftop solar is being managed in a way that could help stabilise the grid, and only 3 per cent of peak summer demand could be met by so-called “demand response”, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Flow Power sells to commercial and industrial customers, and is trialling a retail offer aimed at households which it expects to launch next year. Mr van der Linden blames large retailers for the dashed hopes for demand response.

They “aren’t partaking in it in a serious way,” he says, and consumers need incentives to set their dishwashers and other appliances to run when it makes most sense for the grid and their hip pockets.

“Why would you participate if there’s no outcome in participating? And while you’ve got retailers offering dumb, flat rates, it just simply won’t work.”

Read more: https://www.afr.com/policy/energy-and-climate/australia-has-more-rooftop-solar-than-coal-power-what-s-going-wrong-20231002-p5e90z

Do we need more evidence that renewables are not fit for purpose?

Nobody talked about “demand response”, or energy rationing, in the days of dispatchable energy, except in extreme circumstances such as major outages or failures.

Only fickle, unreliable renewables require people be regularly coerced or enticed into accepting sometimes their air conditioner will stay switched off on hot days, or they might have to wait to switch the dishwasher or washing machine on, or the continuous risk of lost wages or profits, because plant and equipment must remain idle, because nobody can afford to switch it on.

Of course, these problems only apply to people and businesses which can’t afford higher charges on demand intensive days. Wealthy people and less energy intensive businesses will be able to ignore the restrictions, and push the problems with coping with unreliable energy onto the less well off.

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