South Australia’s perfect energy mix: Cleaner, greener, cheaper  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

ReNew Economy has a look at how South Australia's increasing dependence on renewable energy should be lowering power bills - South Australia’s perfect energy mix: Cleaner, greener, cheaper.

Not only has South Australia achieved the highest level of wind energy and rooftop solar in the country, and has cut its emissions by a third in the last few years, its consumers have also had a windfall in generation costs: they are paying generators much less for their electricity than they did before the boom in wind farm and household solar began in 2009.

A study by energy analyst firm Pitt & Sherry finds that in 2012/13, the average South Australian paid generators $88 a year less for the electricity he or she consumed than they did in 2009-10.

And that is even after the introduction of a carbon price. If the impact of the carbon price is taken out, the average price paid per capita to generators in South Australia has fallen by $188 over the last four years – during which time the wind industry has grown from virtually nothing to more than 1,200MW, and rooftop solar has done the same (it is now 400MW).

That’s due to a bunch of reasons. The impact of wind energy – which supplied 27 per cent of the state’s generation in 2012/13, has forced down the price of wholesale electricity. Rooftop solar has had the same impact because it subtracts from demand from the grid, as have more efficient appliances and other energy efficiency measures.

Unfortunately for South Australians, their electricity bills, like those everywhere else in the country, have risen because of the massive investment in grid upgrades and expansions, and because retail margins have also risen. Much of the investment in the grid is now being questioned, particularly as new forecasts show that electricity demand may fall over the coming decade rather than increase as had been assumed previously.

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