Australian Fact-Finding Trip
Tanuj Deora is Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at the Smart Electric Power Alliance. He joined SEPA in January 2015 to lead SEPA’s research, advisory, communications, and programs teams. His previous experience includes leading the Colorado Energy Office, developing wind energy projects in New England and the Rockies, and consulting in the McKinsey electric power practice.
John Pang is a Partner in ScottMadden’s Energy and Clean Tech Practices. John has consulted with utilities around the world. His focus is on clean sources of energy, sustainable utility best practices, strategic planning and cost management.
Getting off the plane in Brisbane, the heat hits you like walking into a wall. It’s a hundred degrees – in November.
We are in Australia as part of a group of about twenty-five U.S. energy industry executives from large and small utilities and innovative cleantech firms. We have travelled halfway around the world for a weeklong, intensive look at Australia’s booming solar market and the energy market transition it has spawned.
Australia not only has more sheep than people, it has more solar panels than air conditioners. That fact and Brisbane’s triple-digit heat are the first clues that our perspectives are about to be disrupted; not only about appropriate autumn weather, but also about what happens when levels of residential solar on utility distribution systems literally go through the roof.
See Figure 1 – Transmission and distribution networks in the National Electricity Market
In the coming days, we will learn that Australia’s distribution, or network, utilities have been extremely successful in integrating rooftop solar onto their systems. For many utilities, a twenty-five percent solar penetration rate is now business as usual. In some cases, customers may be eligible for close to plug-and-play solar interconnection, while also enjoying traditional reliability.