Leaving the grid  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

RNE has an article on the beginning of the end of the centralised power generation model - SA network operator: Rural communities could quit the grid.

The head of South Australia’s major power distributor says that rural communities – including major towns – could soon look after their own generation needs. And, said Rob Stobbe, the CEO of SA Power Networks, it could be inevitable that all forms of centralised generation and transmission will be made redundant over time.

Stobbe made his comments at the Energy Networks Association conference in Melbourne, where the industry is wrestling with the technology, cultural, and economic challenges of the biggest change in electricity markets in more than a century – and their $75 billion of assets.

The biggest challenge, of course, comes from the emergence of renewables, and distributed generation in particular, which along with storage is threatening to turn the tables on the centralized model.

Rob_Stobbe_-_webStobbe’s prediction that rural communities could go off grid – or create their own micro-grids with just a small connection to the main networks – follows similar remarks by Ian McLeod, the CEO of Queensland distributor Ergon Energy, earlier this week, and from the ENA itself, which has said that regional operators in Queensland and Western Australia would also look to “downsize” their network assets in favour of localized generation and micro-grids. In effect, they are looking to ditch their poles and wires.

Stobbe suggests that is exactly what is going to happen in South Australia, where the power network operator spends 70 per cent of its investment towards meeting just 30 per cent of its 840,000 customer base. Away from the big population centres around Adelaide, there are just three customers for every kilometre of line.

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