Rooftop Solar Is Now Perth's Largest Source Of Electricity

That's 500 megawatts of solar installed on 20 percent of homes across the South-West Interconnected System [SWIS] region, which includes Perth's metropolitan area, and it's only continuing to grow.

"By 2020 we could have half of Perth's households with rooftop solar," says Curtin University Sustainability Professor Peter Newman. "Despite the boom times we actually reduced our power consumption during this period because people are just not needing it if you've got the PV's [photovoltaic] on the roof."

"We are in the extraordinary position of saying that Perth [SWIS] now has rooftop solar as the largest supplier of electricity, it's the biggest power station in WA."

This has left Western Australia's utility companies in a unique position.

"They didn't predict it," Professor Newman says. "They have all these contracts for coal and gas that go 20 or 30 years and they have even got an old power station out of mothballs, fixed it up, but never turned it on."


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    This is an outrage! How dare they bypass coal fired stations as their main source! What is this? A free world?

    I suppose the qualification of "while the sun is shining at noon" is to be implied in the headline.

      To be fair, Perth is pretty much continually sunny. Except at night. We have ridiculously clear skies the vast majority of the year.

      You have a good point here. The article is vague - is solar power providing >50% of the Watts required by Perth when the sun is directly overhead, or is it providing >505 of the kiloWatt-hours required by Perth across an entire 24 hour period?

      And for both, what period of the year are we talking about?

        I agree the article is vague. I think what it means is that if you count all of the installed capacity of solar on the SWIS network as one 'plant' then it is bigger than any other individual 'plant'.
        It would mean installed capacity under NOCT (normal operating cell temp) conditions so approx clear sky middle of day.
        I doubt that solar makes up >50% of power or energy penetration at any one time.

        source: i havent looked at the raw data but I am a solar photovoltaic engineer

    It will be interesting to see what power companies try to push in the next couple years to protect their assets and revenue.

      Yes no doubt they won't take responsibility for making a poor investment in these long contracts despite seeing that renewable was the future of power from a long time out!

      Raising electricity fees and taxes for people with solar panels systems installed (applied retro actively of course...) seems to be the State Government's main proposed tactic at the moment...

        I know the owners want this to happen.

        But I thought none are doing this - would be election poison!

          I own a solar panel system on my house.

          No freaking way do i want my electricity costs to go up through raised tariffs and taxes simply because I installed a solar system. That was the entire point of installing the solar in the first place - to reduce my costs!!

          Colin and his Government can take a long leap of a short Elizabeth Quay pier if they do this.

    Hi, Perth citizen with a 3kw rooftop solar system here. Synergy (the only electricity retailer in WA, I don't know what the article means by "utility companies" as there is no competition here, unless they are talking about Western Power, which only maintains the electricity network) has already cut my solar rebate a few times over the years, it's down to about 7c per kWh now so I have to generate at least 3x what I consume if I hope to break even on my power bill. To further kick us in the balls, they are looking at introducing a "solar tax" where they are going to increase the monthly electricity connection fee for those of us with rooftop solar. They made that wonderful announcement soon after the Paris Climate talks of all times. They either need to wake up and see what the world is doing regarding clean power generation or at least introduce some competition here in WA...

      That is the sad truth / double edge sword call it what you want. The power company's infrastructure still needs to be maintained, so instead of making the non-solar user pay more, they tax the solar-user.
      From my point of view, either go off the grid (solar & battery) or don't go solar at all. Not worth spending $5-$10k on solar, will never get your money back.

      [EDIT] - my 2c

      Last edited 05/01/16 3:00 pm

        I live in Melbourne and pay back is only 3.5 years.

    Bring on powerwall's and go off grid completely! Except the fiends of cables and crew will find away to get more pay.
    We pay a tax on cables with > 100 year life spans.

      Sell the cables to NBN.

    A few companies already have batteries out similar to the PowerWall. I don't know if they haven't got the same exposure because they are shit or because Elon "Tony Stark" Musk isn't heading them up. Either way, if you really want batteries for your solar, there are some options out there already.

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